It’s a Seattle rite of passage for newcomers: Pike Place Market, the Space Needle. The Amazon interview.

Today, Glassdoor released a list of the toughest companies and organizations to interview with for a job, with Google, Facebook and Amazon all making the cut, as we reported earlier.

This news is nothing that new, really. The interview processes at Silicon Valley giants has long been lauded as a difficult, arduous process. Any after-work beer session commiserating with your colleagues is probably marred with war stories of the interview process for one of these outlets. In fact, author William Poundstone wrote an entire book about it, Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?.

But with Amazon in our backyard, and, ahem, hearing about some rather painful and hilarious moments spent interviewing with the colossal retail outfit (a personal favorite is one “bar-raiser” who, red-faced, stammering and rocking back and forth on his chair, yelled at a potential candidate, “But…THIS IS AMAZON!”), we thought it might be fun to take a closer look at the curveballs thrown toward prospective employees.

All told, it may really be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to get a job at Amazon. Here are just a few more interview process experiences Glassdoor sent over:

Amazon Associate Vendor Manager Candidate

Interview Details: The interview asked very obscure questions and I felt very uncertain about the interview afterwards. I received another email telling me I made it to the next round of interviews and I scheduled another phone interview which was also quite obscure. I then received an email telling me I did not get the position.

Interview Question: For the music department we have to forecast the first two weeks of sales so that we can have enough inventory, Dave Mathews Band is coming out with a new CD, how would you go about forecasting sales?

Amazon Software Engineer I Candidate

Interview Details: The interviewing process took about 4 weeks. There were 2 technical phone interviews followed by an on-site visit that consisted of 6 technical in person interviews. They focus almost exclusively on your ability to manipulate data structures, design good object oriented code and solve basic/intermediate puzzles.

Interview Question: Write the code to read in characters from a file and print out the top 10 most used. What if they are 32 bit
characters? What if it’s a 4GB file and you only have 1GB of ram?

Amazon Brand Specialist Candidate

A sign outside Amazon’s HQ in Seattle. Photo: Matt Shobe

Interview Details: I found the first interview to be challenging as the job description I had been provided with was not really a high level job description and lacked specifics I would expect to know before an interview. During the interview, my interviewer stressed the importance of forecasting and data analysis involved with this job and asked questions in regards to my experience with these…Amazon will hire the best and wants people with high intellect who can work together. While I thought I had done a good job during the first interview, I felt I had nailed the second interview. Unfortunately, I was not selected.

Interview Question: If you strongly believed in an idea and were in a situation where your colleagues did not support your idea, how would you react?

Amazon Merchandising Specialist Candidate

Interview Details: I had 7 interviews, one was just with HR, and another one was just a test for writing. The other 5 were 45 minutes long and one was with what they called a bar-raiser. Someone who is put there to ensure you don’t get the job.

Interview Question: How many trees are there in Washington state?

Amazon Program Manager Candidate

Interview Details: A lot of the interview questions involved provided detailed examples of my experience in leadership, teamwork, communication, project management, problem solving and critical thinking. They want to understand how you process information and think through a problem. The bar raiser was my favorite and most challenging interview.

Interview Question: You have two products to launch in a new country before the holiday and you have the resources to only launch one product at a time. Walk me through how you would deal with this situation.

Do you have any Amazon (or Facebook, or Google) interview nightmares to share below?

Comments

  • Hmmm

    The chart shows that Amazon tends towards the bottom on positive experiences, near top on negative experiences, and near the bottom on employee satisfaction. They are growing fast with a very small margin, while heading into a new tax situation.

    • Guest

      All these data are self-reported. All I learned from that chart is that Amazon drives more ex-employees and rejected job candidates to whinge on Glassdoor’s unintentionally hilarious forums than do other companies. Either that, or other companies do a better job of encouraging their employees to give positive reviews on Glassdoor.

      What’s next from GeekWire — restaurant reviews based on Yelp average scores?

      • Anonymous S

        The reviews are definitely highly skewed. For the most part, the only ones who are going to feel compelled to post without their company pushing them to are disgruntled ex-exployees or rejected interviewees who want to vent anonymously about their bad experience.

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