Amazon Program Manager interviews are really challenging. The questions are difficult, specific to Amazon, and cover a wide range of topics.
The good news is that the right preparation can make a big difference and can help you land a job as a program manager at Amazon (or AWS). To help you get there, we’ve put together the ultimate guide below.
Here's an overview of what we'll cover:
1.1 What interviews to expect
What's the Amazon Program Manager interview process and timeline? It takes takes four to eight weeks and follows the steps below. If you're interviewing at AWS, you can expect a similar process.
- Resume screen
- Recruiter phone screen
- Amazon writing exercise
- First-round interview
- Onsite interview
Let's look at each of these steps in more detail below:
1.1.1 Resume screen
First, recruiters will look at your resume and assess if your experience matches the open position. This is the most competitive step in the process, as millions of candidates do not make it past this stage.
You can use this free guide to help tailor your resume to the position you’re targeting.
And if you’re looking for expert feedback, you can also get input from our team of ex-Amazon recruiters, who will cover what achievements to focus on (or ignore), how to fine tune your bullet points, and more.
1.1.2 Recruiter phone screen
In most cases, you'll start your interview process with Amazon by talking to a Recruiter on the phone. They are looking to confirm that you've got a chance of getting the job at all, so be prepared to explain your background and why you’re a good fit at Amazon.
You should expect typical behavioral and resume questions like, "Why Amazon?", "Why do you want this role?", or "Tell me about one of your current projects". When answering even the most common interview questions, be sure to express your understanding of Amazon’s Leadership Principles (more on that below).
1.1.3 Amazon writing exercise
If you passed the HR screen, in some cases you may be asked to take a written test. The exact nature of this can vary depending on the role you’re applying for. It could take the form of a two-page essay on a given topic such as "Talk about an experience in which you were able to simplify the lives of your customers", or it may aim to test your numerical skills or another skillset important to the role.
Not everyone is asked to do this, but in case you are, keep a lookout in your inbox (we’ve seen reports of candidates not realizing they had a written test because the request went into their spam folder).
If in doubt, you can always double-check with your recruiter. They are there to help you navigate the interview process.
1.1.4 First-round interview
If you've passed the HR screen as well as any written tests, you'll be invited to a first-round interview. This may be a phone call or it may take place over video chat using Amazon Chime, the company's video conferencing product.
It should last 45 to 60 minutes. You'll speak to a program manager peer or a potential manager (it’s also possible that you're given two separate interviews, one with each) and they'll ask you mainly behavioral questions as well as some program management questions. They’ll want you to reference their Leadership Principles and it’s a good idea to reply in the STAR format.
The role of the phone screen is to make sure it's worth bringing you onsite. Your interviewer will therefore try to make sure there isn't an area where you are particularly weak and don't stand a chance of meeting the hiring bar.
1.1.5 Onsite interview
If you crack the phone screen, the next step is to spend a full day "onsite" at the Amazon offices doing five separate interviews. Due to COVID-19, this is currently done as a ‘virtual onsite’ using Amazon Chime.
These interviews will last 45 to 60mins and will be one-on-ones with a mix of people from the team you’re applying to join, including peers, the hiring manager, and a senior executive.
You can expect to be asked a lot of behavioral questions, as well as some program management questions and the occasional role-specific question.
One common mistake candidates make is to under-prepare for behavioral questions. Each interviewer is usually assigned two or three leadership principles to focus on during your interview. These questions are much more important at Amazon than they are at other big tech companies like Google or Facebook.
Finally, one of your last interviews will be with what Amazon calls a “Bar Raiser”. These interviewers are not associated with the team you’re applying for, and focus more on overall candidate quality than specific team needs. They get special training to make sure Amazon’s hiring standards stay high and don’t degrade over time, so they are a big barrier between you and the job offer.
1.2 What happens behind the scenes
Your recruiter is leading the process and taking you from one stage to the next. Here's what happens at each of the stages described above:
- After the phone screens (and any written tests), your recruiter decides whether to move you to the onsite or not, depending on how well you've done up to that point
- After the "Onsite", each interviewer files their notes into the internal system, grades you and makes a hiring recommendation (i.e. "Strong hire", "Hire", "No hire", "Strong no hire")
- The "Debrief" brings all your interviewers together and is led by the Bar Raiser, who is usually the most experienced interviewer and is also not part of the hiring team. The Bar Raiser will try to guide the group towards a hiring decision. It's rare, but they can also veto hiring even if all other interviewers want to hire you.
- You get an offer. If everything goes well, the recruiter will then give you an offer, usually within a week of the onsite but it can sometimes take longer
You’ll be asked a wide range of questions during your Amazon program manager interviews. As a result, it can be really challenging to make sure you’ve covered all of the necessary areas in your preparation.
To make this process easier for you, we've identified the three primary types of questions you’ll encounter, using real Amazon program manager interview data from Glassdoor. Below you’ll find a summary of the question types, as well as the frequency with which each question type is asked (given as a percentage).
Here are the results of our analysis:
- Behavioral questions (66%)
- Program management questions (28%)
- Role-specific questions (6%)
2.1 Behavioral questions (66%)
Amazon’s program manager interview process heavily focuses on assessing whether you live and breathe the company’s 16 Leadership Principles. The main way Amazon tests this is with behavioral questions, which you'll be asked in every interview.
In case you’re not familiar with Amazon’s Leadership Principles, let’s quickly run through them:
- Customer Obsession
- Bias for Action
- Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
- Invent and Simplify
- Dive Deep
- Are Right, A Lot
- Deliver Results
- Think Big
- Hire and Develop the Best
- Learn and Be Curious
- Insist on the Highest Standards
- Earn Trust
- Strive to be Earth's Best Employer
- Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility
Below is a breakdown of each leadership principle and how you’ll be asked about it during your interview process with Amazon. When we couldn’t find enough question examples on Glassdoor for this role, you’ll see that we’ve included questions we found in the Amazon technical program manager interview (Amazon TPM), as it’s very similar.
2.1.1 "Customer obsession" interview questions
Customer obsession — "Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”
Customer obsession is about empathy. Interviewers want to see that you understand the consequences that every decision has on customer experience. You need to know who the customer is and their underlying needs, not just the tasks they want done.
Example "customer obsession" questions asked by Amazon*
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult client / customer
- Tell me about one of your projects where you put the customer first
- Tell me about a time you said no to a customer request and why
- Tell me about a time you made something much simpler for customers
- Which company has the best customer service and why?
*All Amazon TPM questions
2.1.2 "Ownership" interview questions
Ownership — "Leaders are owners. They think long-term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”
Interviewers at Amazon want to avoid hiring people who think, “That’s not my job!” This is particularly important for program managers as they work on cross-functional projects and are responsible for overall delivery. When answering ownership questions, you’ll want to prove that you take initiative, can make tough decisions, and take responsibility for your mistakes.
Example "ownership" questions asked by Amazon
- Describe a time you sacrificed short-term goals for long-term success
- Describe a time when you went over and above your job responsibility in order to help the company
- Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership
- Describe an instance where you had to make an important decision without approval from your boss (*Amazon TPM question)
2.1.3 "Bias for action" interview questions
Bias for action — "Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.”
Since Amazon likes to ship quickly, they also prefer to learn from doing (while also measuring results) vs. performing user research and making projections. They want to see that you can take calculated risks and move things forward.
Example "bias for action" questions asked by Amazon
- When was the last time you took a risk? What calculations did you make?
- Tell me about a time when you had to move forward without all the information
- Tell me about a time you had to make an urgent decision without data. What was the impact and would you do anything differently?
2.1.4 "Have backbone; disagree and commit" interview questions
Have backbone; disagree and commit — "Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.”
Any group of smart leaders will disagree at some point. Amazon wants to see that you know when to challenge ideas and escalate problems to senior leadership. At the same time, they want to know you can sense the right time to move forward regardless of your disagreement.
Example "have backbone; disagree and commit" questions asked by Amazon
- Tell me about a time where you disagreed with a coworker or manager
- Tell me about a time where you pitched an idea to your boss and were shot down
- Tell me a time when you didn’t agree with a decision that was made. What did you do?
2.1.5 "Invent and simplify" interview questions
Invent and simplify — "Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here." Because we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.”
Amazon relies on a culture of innovation. Answering invent and simplify questions is an opportunity to show your ability to create solutions when there is no obvious answer. You’ll also want to show that you know how to execute big ideas as simply and cheaply as possible.
Example "invent and simplify" questions asked by Amazon
- What is the most innovative project that you’ve worked on?
- Tell me about a time you solved a big problem in your company
- Tell me about a time when you had a plan but ran into some obstacles. What did you do about it?
- Tell me about a situation where the problem was really difficult but you came up with an easy solution
2.1.6 "Dive deep" interview questions
Dive deep — "Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdotes differ. No task is beneath them.”
Program managers need to identify technical dependencies, anticipate problems and quickly fix them if they arise. Interviewers want to see that you are excited about trying to prevent projects from derailing and about stepping up when things don't go as expected.
Example "dive deep" questions asked by Amazon
- Describe a situation where you had to do a detailed analysis in order to reach a solution
- Tell me about the most complex problem you have worked on (*Amazon TPM question)
- Describe an instance when you used a lot of data in a short period of time (*Amazon TPM question)
2.1.7 "Are right, a lot" interview questions
Are right, a lot — "Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgement and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.”
Amazon expects its Program Managers to produce solutions as quickly as possible and to make a lot of decisions with little information. You’ll want to demonstrate skill in taking calculated risks and show that you're comfortable disproving your own opinions before moving ahead.
Example "are right, a lot" questions asked by Amazon
- Tell me about a time where you didn't have enough data to solve a problem
- Tell me how you deal with ambiguity
- Tell about a time when it was hard to make choice
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that had a number of possible solutions. What was the problem and how did you determine the course of action? What was the outcome?
2.1.8 "Deliver results" interview questions
Deliver results — "Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.”
Amazon values action over perfection. When answering questions related to delivering results, you’ll want to indicate that you dislike slipped deadlines and failed goals.
Example "deliver results" questions asked by Amazon
- Tell me about a time when you had to handle pressure
- Tell me about a time when you had a plan but ran into some obstacles. What did you do about it?
- How do you prioritize in your current role? (*Amazon TPM question)
- What's your approach to managing projects and delivering on time? (*Amazon TPM question)
2.1.9 "Think big" interview questions
Think big — "Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.”
Amazon is huge and its program managers need to build products that reach significant scale to make a difference for the business. As a result, interviewers will want to see that you can develop and articulate a bold vision.
Example "think big" questions asked by Amazon*
- Tell me about your most significant accomplishment. Why was it significant?
- Describe a time you proposed a non-intuitive solution to a problem. How did you identify that it required a different way of thinking?
- Give a specific example where you drove adoption for your vision and explain how you knew it had been adopted by others
*All Amazon TPM questions
2.1.10 "Hire and develop the best" interview questions
Hire and develop the best — "Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.”
As mentioned above, Amazon wants new hires to “raise the bar.” Interviewers will want to see that you are not afraid of working with and hiring people smarter than you. You should also show you enjoy coaching younger colleagues and know how to get the most out of top performers. You’ll notice the examples listed here are general interview questions, but they provide a perfect opportunity for you to address this principle.
This leadership principle is typically discussed in interviews for very senior engineering positions that involve people management or building a team (e.g. Senior Program Manager, etc.).
Example "hire and develop the best" questions asked by Amazon*
- Describe a time you provided feedback that was helpful to a peer
- Who is your best employee / resource and what makes them the best
- Tell me about a time you helped boost your team morale
- Tell me about a time you hired or worked with people smarter than you are
2.1.11 "Frugality" interview questions
Frugality — "Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.”
At every touchpoint, Amazon tries to provide customers with as much value for as little cost as possible. Interviewers will be looking for how you can support this idea while maintaining a constant drive for innovation.
Example "frugality" questions asked by Amazon*
- Tell me about a time you successfully delivered a project without a budget or resources
- Describe the last time you figured out a way to keep an approach simple or to save on expenses
*Both Amazon TPM questions
2.1.12 "Learn and be curious" interview questions
Learn and be curious — "Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.”
Amazon demands constant improvement in every part of their business. You’ll want to show that you are interested in learning new things and exploring new ideas.
Example "learn and be curious" questions asked by Amazon
- Tell me about something you learned that made you better at your job
- What is the worst mistake you’ve ever made?
- When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond, and how did you grow from that experience?
2.1.13 "Insist on the highest standards" interview questions
Insist on the highest standards — "Leaders have relentlessly high standards — many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.”
Amazon takes the view that nothing is ever “good enough.” They’d like to see that you push for standards that are difficult to meet.
Example "insist on the highest standards" questions asked by Amazon
- Tell me about a time when you not only met a goal but considerably exceeded expectations. How were you able to do it? What challenges did you have to overcome?
- Describe a project that you wish you had done better and how you would do it differently today (*Amazon TPM question)
- How do you ensure standards are met when delivering projects? (*Amazon TPM question)
2.1.14 "Earn trust" interview questions
Earn trust — "Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odour smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.”
The key part of that principle candidates often miss is the “vocally self-critical.” Amazon wants program managers who focus on fixing mistakes instead of figuring out who to blame. You’ll want to show that you take action when something is wrong and acknowledge your own faults before blaming other people and teams.
Example "earn trust" questions asked by Amazon*
- How do you earn trust with a team?
- What are you most often criticised for?
- What was the feedback in your latest performance review?
- Tell me a piece of difficult feedback you received and how you handled it
- A coworker constantly arrives late to a recurring meeting. What would you do?
*All Amazon TPM questions
2.1.15 "Strive to be Earth's best employer" interview questions
Strive to be Earth's best employer — "Leaders work every day to create a safer, more productive, higher performing, more diverse, and more just work environment. They lead with empathy, have fun at work, and make it easy for others to have fun. Leaders ask themselves: Are my fellow employees growing? Are they empowered? Are they ready for what's next? Leaders have a vision for and commitment to their employees' personal success, whether that be at Amazon or elsewhere.”
Similar to the principle “hire and develop the best,” this principle is more likely to come up in interviews for senior and/or managerial positions. In this case, you’ll want to show that you’ll not only boost your team, but also create a safe, diverse, and just work environment. Essentially, if “hire and develop the best” means picking and training a top team, being “Earth’s best employer” means keeping that team safe, enriched, and engaged once you’ve got them.
Example "strive to be Earth's best employer" questions asked by Amazon
- Tell me about a time that you went above and beyond for an employee.
- Tell me about a time you saw an issue that would negatively impact your team. How did you deal with it?
- How do you manage a low performer in the team? How do you identify a good performer in the team and help in their career growth?
2.1.16 "Success and scale bring broad responsibility" interview questions
Success and scale bring broad responsibility — "We started in a garage, but we're not there anymore. We are big, we impact the world, and we are far from perfect. We must be humble and thoughtful about even the secondary effects of our actions. Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to be better every day. We must begin each day with a determination to make better, do better, and be better for our customers, our employees, our partners, and the world at large. And we must end every day knowing we can do even more tomorrow. Leaders create more than they consume and always leave things better than how they found them.”
Amazon wants its employees to understand the responsibility of working for a vast, impactful company. Show how you measure the impact of your decisions, both in your workspace and in the world around you (e.g. sustainability, justice, etc.). You must always be willing to improve.
Example "success and scale bring broad responsibility" questions asked by Amazon
- Give me an example on when you made a decision which impacted the team or the company.
- Can you tell me a decision that you made about your work and you regret now?
2.2 Program management questions (28%)
The second most frequently asked type of question in program manager interviews are questions focusing on program management processes and skills.
Depending on your specific role or functional area, the day-to-day program manager responsibilities can vary significantly. Sometimes you might work at the program level (i.e. across a few different projects). In other situations, your work could look very similar to that of project managers or product managers.
And just as the role itself can vary, the questions you'll be asked during your interviews will also vary. As a result, we'd suggest practicing two broad categories of program manager questions:
Program management process
Program management skills
As you can see, each category has some sub-categories within it. But don't worry, they're actually fairly easy to remember when you understand what each category represents.
If you're familiar with project management, you may notice that the 5 categories listed under program management processes are roughly aligned with the PMBOK project management process groups. For our purposes, all this means is that "process" questions are aligned with the lifecycle of a project (i.e. kick-off, planning, execution, monitoring, and then closing).
Then, the "skill" questions cover a handful of questions that are commonly asked in Amazon program manager interviews to assess your leadership and partnership abilities. Facebook and Google commonly ask questions on 'Estimation' too, but our data suggests that the Amazon tends not to. Nevertheless, if you're interested, you can find example estimation questions in our cracking program management interviews guide.
Right, let's begin by digging into the process questions all at once, then we'll cover the skill questions one-by-one. You should get a feel for the categories as we work through them.
2.2.1 Program management process questions
As we mentioned, each of the process questions you'll face in your program management interviews can be roughly connected to each stage of a project's lifecycle.
Below, we've provided example interview questions for each of these project processes. These are all roughly aligned with the PMBOK process groups.
Our data from Glassdoor suggests that Amazon doesn't put so much focus on "Kick-off" and "Closing" stage questions but we included them anyway, using examples from program manager interviews at Google and Facebook. That way you can get a sense of questions across the whole project lifecycle.
Example program management process questions
- How do you kick-off a new project? (*Google question)
- Tell me about a program that you managed from kick-off through execution (*Facebook question)
- How do you plan projects?
- Tell me about a time when you sacrificed short-term gain for something that would create long-term value for the business.
- Tell me about a time you had a plan and you encountered some obstacles. What did you do about it?
- Tell me about a time when you optimized something
- Tell me about a time where you had to work on a tight deadline
- Have you worked in an Agile environment in the past? Give me an example of how you managed that
- Your entire team can only use one spreadsheet. How would you optimize the design of the spreadsheet to make sure it works well for everyone? (*Google question)
- How will you handle reporting multiple projects when some of them are falling behind in schedule?
- Tell me about a time you used analytics to make a decision.
- Tell me about a project you managed. What were some of the metrics you used to determine the success of the project? (*Facebook question)
- How would you derive metrics? (*Google question)
- How do you know if a project is done? (*Google question)
2.2.2 Leadership (program management skill questions)
This is the first of two skill question sub-categories. These questions are a bit more unique, in that they require more explanation than the individual process categories we've just covered.
For leadership questions, you can expect these to sound very much like behavioral interview questions. However, we've separated leadership questions from behavioral questions, because they tend to focus on leadership areas that are particularly important for program managers (which may be irrelevant, or at least less important, in other roles).
We'd encourage you to practice with the sample questions provided below.
Example leadership questions
- Tell me about a time you shared a common vision with your team for a project you were leading?
- Tell me about a time you had to disagree with an executive.
- Have you ever overpromised to a client?
- Tell me about a time when you used feedback about your team to drive a change. How did you gather or receive feedback on your team's performance? What was the outcome?
- How do you advocate for a commitment to a priority, when that priority is not high on someone else's list? (*Facebook question)
- How do you manage timelines in a highly matrixed environment, where there is no top down authority? (*Facebook question)
- Imagine you are working with a lot of engineers in this role. Given that engineers speak a slightly different language, how would you approach communications? (*Google question)
2.2.3 Partnership (program management skill questions)
The other skill questions we'd like to cover are partnership questions. Similar to leadership questions, the format of these questions will look similar to behavioral questions.
But the primary focus for partnership questions is to evaluate your ability to work with a variety of stakeholders to move programs and projects forward. To do this, you'll need to build and maintain good working relationships, and you'll need to be able to influence other people's priorities without having direct authority over them.
Practicing the below questions will help you prepare for your interviews and they'll also help you get a clearer sense of the environment that program managers operate within.
Example partnership questions
- Describe a situation when you had to earn trust of the project team and break the resistance for changes. How did you do it and what was the biggest challenge?
- Tell me about a time when your team’s goals were out of alignment with another team you relied on in order to meet those goals. How did you work with the other team?
- Tell me about a time when you had to influence without authority.
- Have you ever collaborated with multiple teams? What challenges did you face? (*Facebook question)
- How would you convince someone to get your work done if they happen to have a difficult personality? (*Google question)
- Give an example of how you've worked with cross-functional teams and what role did you play? (*Facebook question)
- Tell me about a time someone changed your mind on a topic. How did you feel about it? (*Google question)
2.3 Role-specific questions (6%)
Amazon program manager interviews tend to focus on the two areas we've just covered above. However, not all program manager jobs at Amazon are the same, so you should also do your homework on the job description and any other details about the role that you can find.
You'll want to be prepared to speak knowledgeably about the functional area where you'd be working. If your role would be in a technical area, or if you'd be working closely with engineers, then your interviewers may also decide to ask you a few technical questions to evaluate your depth of knowledge and your ability to communicate about technical details.
Below you'll find several example questions that you can practice with. All of these are real Amazon program manager interview questions from Glassdoor, we've just edited the phrasing in some places to improve the grammar and clarity.
These example questions are focused on technical topics, specific products, or functional areas. When you begin practicing for your own interviews, you'll want to customize the questions below to a product or topic that is relevant to your target role.
Example role-specific / technical questions asked by Amazon.
- Tell me about a time you went the extra mile to solve technical issues
- Describe your most challenging project and provide technical skills and information
- Could you develop chemical programs for Amazon?
You may also be asked to demonstrate skills with tools that are relevant to the role. For example, you may be asked to demonstrate Excel VLOOKUP functions, pivot tables, or SQL queries.
If you’d like to get additional practice with technical questions, consider reading our separate guide for the Amazon technical program manager interview.
Now that you know what questions to expect, let's focus on how to prepare. Here are the three preparation steps we recommend to help you get an offer as a program manager at Amazon or at Amazon Web Services. For extra tips, take a look at our guide to program manager interview prep.
3.1 Learn about Amazon’s culture
Most candidates fail to do this. But before investing tens of hours preparing for an interview at Amazon, you should take some time to make sure it's actually the right company for you.
Amazon is prestigious and it's tempting to assume that you should apply, without considering things more carefully. But, it's important to remember that the prestige of a job (by itself) won't make you happy in your day-to-day work. It's the type of work and the people you work with that will.
If you know anyone who works at Amazon or used to work there, as a program manager or in another role, talk to them to understand what the culture is like. The leadership principles we discussed above can give you a sense of what to expect, but there's no replacement for a conversation with an insider. Finally, we would also recommend reading the following resources:
- Amazon's technology culture video mix (by Amazon)
- Amazon vision and mission analysis (by Panmore Institute)
- Amazon strategy teardown (by CB Insights)
3.2 Practice by yourself
As mentioned above, you'll encounter three main types of interview questions: behavioral, program management, and role-specific / technical. Below, we've compiled resources and tips to help you prepare for each of these. Let's get into it!
3.2.1 Behavioral interview preparation
For behavioral interviews, we recommend starting with our leadership and people management primers, then learning our step-by-step behavioral interview method. Then create a bank of 10+ personal stories that demonstrate your qualifications and top skills.
Once you've got a bank of stories you can practice using them to answer the behavioral questions we've listed above. You should emphasize different aspects of your story depending on the exact question asked.
With practice, you'll get used to tailoring your stories to fit the question. And when you have a few stories mentally outlined in advance, it can help you to communicate clearly, and to come across as well prepared during your interviews.
3.2.2 Program management questions
To prepare for the program management questions you'll face during your interviews, it's important to brush up on program management basics. A big part of a program manager's role actually comes back to project management skills. As a result, we also recommend brushing up on project management fundamentals using a free guide, like this one published by Wrike.
This will give you an opportunity to refresh your memory on the key aspects of project management, like scope, schedule, resources, stakeholders, etc.
In addition, you should make sure you're on top of common concepts used in Agile project management. A great resource for this is Atlassian's Agile project management guide. In particular, we recommend brushing up on the difference between Kanban and Scrum, and the common structures used in Agile projects (e.g. epics, stories, themes, etc.).
Once you've refreshed your memory on project management best practices, you should go through the list of program management questions we've listed in the previous section and draft answers for those. If you want to practise using interview questions not just from Amazon but also from Facebook and Google, see our non company-specific program management interview guide.
3.2.3 Role-specific / technical questions preparation
You should also make sure you're well prepared for role-specific questions, and you should learn as much information as you can about the role, industry, and/or functional area to which you're applying.
You can begin by doing online research, and carefully understanding each part of the job description. It's also a great idea to reach out to any connections you have that are involved in similar roles. Your recruiter may also be able to provide you with some additional information in advance.
If you want to really make sure you're prepared for any technical questions that may arise, you might want to take a look at our Amazon technical program manager guide.
3.2.4 Practice out loud
One more thing we recommend you do when you are preparing on your own, is to practice out loud. This may sound strange, but it will significantly improve your confidence and the way you communicate your answers during an interview.
Play the role of both the candidate and the interviewer, asking questions and answering them, just like two people would in an interview. Trust us, it works.
3.3 Practice with peers
Practicing by yourself will only take you so far. One of the main challenges of program manager interviews is communicating your different stories in a way that's easy to understand. As a result, we strongly recommend practicing with a peer interviewing you. A great place to start is to practice with friends or family members if you can.
3.4 Practice with ex-interviewers
Finally, you should also try to practice program manager mock interviews with expert ex-interviewers, as they’ll be able to give you much more accurate feedback than friends and peers.
If you know a program manager who has experience running interviews at Amazon or another big tech company, then that's fantastic. But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.
Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practice 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from leading tech companies like Amazon. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.