Role Of An Amazon SDE
Roles as an Amazon software development engineer (SDE) are much sought-after positions by those with the necessary skills and expertise.
In today’s world, business growth often relies on the use of innovative technologies. Amazon’s SDEs use their creativity and knowledge of complex software to devise new technologies that meet the demands of consumers and the needs of the Amazon business.
Their knowledge of programming, software design, and the architecture of systems means they can design complex systems that enable the Amazon business to grow and scale, meeting the needs of their customers.
The Amazon SDE recruitment process is comprised of several assessments that evaluate individuals on the knowledge needed to be successful as a software development engineer at Amazon. Given the competitive application process for Amazon SDEs, it is vital to fully understand each stage of the recruitment process and what is required of you.
This article explores the assessments that all applicants’ to Amazon’s SDE roles must complete as part of the recruitment process. Also covered are some tips to ensure you perform at your best.
Application Process For An Amazon SDE
The recruitment process to gain a position as an Amazon SDE is rigorous. The process varies slightly depending on the level of the role, with the stage thoroughly evaluating the skills and practical knowledge required to succeed in these highly coveted positions.
Online application form
The first step in the application process is to complete Amazon online application form. When completing the form, applicants must meet the job requirements detailed in the vacancy description. If in doubt, applicants can check their eligibility for roles using Amazon’s best fit job match functionality on the Amazon website.
All applications for positions must be made through the dedicated Amazon recruitment portal: amazon.jobs. Candidates must create their account on the recruitment portal and apply directly to their preferred vacancy, ensuring that all requested information is provided and accurate and up-to-date contact information is included.
Some applicants may be invited to attend a short phone interview, usually lasting around 30 minutes. The interview allows the recruiter to get to know the candidate, their experience, and whether they are a fit for the Amazon SDE role based on this.
The phone interview is also a good opportunity for applicants to get to know a little more about the role, ask any questions they may have, and fully understand the requirements for the remaining parts of the recruitment process.
Questions in the telephone interview vary from motivational questions about why applicants are interested in the position to technical questions so the interviewer can gauge an applicant’s technical capabilities as relevant to the role.
Candidates successful at the application review stage/telephone interview are invited to schedule an Amazon online SDE assessment.
This stage of the recruitment process is comprised of separate assessments, with the difficulty level varying according to the level of position applied for. All assessments are taken on one of two platforms (AMCAT or HackerRank) and are not proctored, meaning they can be scheduled at a convenient time for the applicant.
In general, the assessments evaluate candidates on their practical knowledge and understanding across areas such as:
- Code debugging
- Ability to solve technical problems
- Personality assessment that looks at an individual’s workstyle
Applicants that complete the online assessments and meet the required benchmark, progress to the final stage of the SDE recruitment process: the interview.
The interview process for Amazon SDEs is lengthy lasting several hours. Depending on the role and location, the interview may be via video conference or in-person.
The first part of the interview is usually conducted with a hiring manager or hiring team member. In this interview, candidates are evaluated in three separate areas.
- Their knowledge of coding
- Practical knowledge and experience in designing software systems
- Behavioral questions that determine a candidate’s motivations for working at Amazon, how they react in workplace situations, and their fit for the role and working at Amazon.
The final part of the interview is with an individual outside of the hiring team. This part of the interview is intended to be challenging enabling the selection of only the best candidates that fit the role and working culture at Amazon. This part of the interview is often termed the ‘bar raiser.’
Amazon SDE Coding Assessment For Interns and Junior Positions
The Amazon SDE coding assessment varies according to the level of experience required for the role. Those who are less experienced and hence suitable for interns or junior positions complete the Amazon SDE 1 assessment. This assessment comprises three separate tests: OA1, OA2, and OA3.
Amazon OA1 (Part 1): Code Debugging
The OA1 is the first part of the overall SDE1 assessment. This online test is focused on an individual’s knowledge and practical application of code debugging. Candidates are given seven questions with 20 minutes to complete the test.
Questions are presented as a problem with a series of codes. The series of code contains a bug, meaning that it can’t solve the problem given. Candidates must identify the bug in the code and fix the code. Questions require candidates to understand commonly used programming languages such as C, Java, and C++ and can involve determining what functions do and solving typecasting errors.
It is worth noting that candidates need to use their knowledge and understanding and practically apply this to solve the problems presented when working under time pressure.
Each question should be answered in just under 3 minutes to complete the test within the 20-minute time limit.
Amazon OA2 (Part 2): Coding and Workstyles
The OA2 is the second part of the SDE1 Amazon assessment. This test is a two-part assessment lasting around 70 minutes. The assessment is split into two parts:
- Algorithm question
- Data structures question
This assessment evaluates candidates on their coding knowledge and ability to produce an efficient yet optimal solution to the problem presented.
Once both questions in the coding section are completed, candidates then move on to the workstyles assessment questionnaire. This questionnaire lasts up to 20 minutes and is focused on ascertaining whether a candidate’s workplace behaviors, style, and values match those required for the position.
Amazon OA3 (Part 3): Technical Problem Solving
The final part of the SDE1 assessment is the OA3. This assessment is split into two parts.
The first part of the assessment looks at candidates’ ability to deal with the problems they would likely encounter in their role at Amazon. The assessment lasts 2 hours and is a video simulation showing an SDE’s role at Amazon and the daily tasks and responsibilities that an SDE undertakes.
Candidates are shown different scenarios and asked to respond as to how they would react in the given situation. Situations can range from dealing with tight deadlines, managing workload, prioritizing tasks, working in teams, and dealing with conflicts or difficult situations.
The second part of the OA3 is logical reasoning assessment, designed to evaluate an individual’s problem-solving ability. The test comprises 24 multiple choice questions with a time limit of 35 minutes. Given this is a timed assessment, the candidate’s ability to work under pressure is also assessed.
Amazon SDE Coding Assessment For Experienced Positions
Those applying for roles that require previous experience complete a different set of SDE assessments. While the structure is similar to the SDE1 assessments, the difficulty level varies accordingly.
Amazon Coding Assessment
The experienced coding assessment comprises two coding questions and a questionnaire that evaluates an individual’s approach to coding.
The coding question is generally presented as a scenario, along with the necessary detail that an individual needs to solve the issue, such as input, output, and constraints.
The coding questionnaire requires candidates to detail how they approach coding, coding problems, and their preferred way to solve coding issues.
The overall assessment lasts 105 minutes. Information gathered from the coding questionnaire around an individual’s approach to coding may also be used at the interview stage should the candidate be successful at online assessments.
Amazon Workstyle Assessment
The experienced SDE workstyle assessment evaluates candidates’ on their suitability for a role at Amazon and their fit for the role they have applied for.
The assessment takes the form of a questionnaire that is based on Amazon’s leadership principles. Questions are asked that evaluate candidates on their values, traits, and characteristics when in the workplace and in relation to the role they have applied for.
Questions are also aligned to the position’s level and responsibilities, such as leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution.
The questionnaire generally takes 15 minutes to complete.
The final part of the experienced SDE online assessment is the completion of a feedback survey.
This part of the assessment is short, lasting around 5 minutes. The survey is an opportunity for those at Amazon to seek feedback from candidates on relevant topics and processes aligned to the role they have applied for.
Tips For Passing The Amazon SDE Coding Assessment
The Amazon SDE coding assessment is a challenging assessment designed to thoroughly evaluate an individual’s knowledge and practical ability. You can do several things to help you perform to the best of your ability in these assessments.
Before completing assessments, ensure that you practice tests with the types of questions you will be asked to sit. Practicing means, you become familiar with how the questions are structured and the test format.
Simulate test conditions
Many of the SDE coding assessments are timed tests. Simulating test conditions by practicing tests under timed conditions and in a room free from distractions means you simulate the pressure you will feel when you take the test itself. You can then practice strategies to keep you calm when it comes to taking the test itself.
Know the Amazon leadership principles
The Amazon workstyle questionnaires are based on Amazon’s leadership principles. Refreshing your memory of these principles means that you are aware of the characteristics and traits Amazon looks for in its employees and can bear these in mind when answering the questions.
Ensure you are well rested
Amazon assessments are lengthy and require you to focus entirely on the questions. To do this, it is essential that you have had a good night’s sleep before test day and have eaten and are well hydrated.
The assessments are timed assessments that also evaluate an individual’s capacity to work under pressure. If you feel one part of the assessment hasn’t gone well, it is important to stay calm. Don’t dwell on things but remain positive and focused on answering the remaining question to the best of your ability.