Monthly Archives: January 2014

My Amazon interview experience

It all started back when I was still working at SAP. A few colleagues mentioned Amazon was opening up another office in Yaletown. I believe it was in January 2013 or so. I wasn’t very interested at first, but after hearing about it a couple times, I gave it some more thought and decided it wouldn’t hurt. I was going to leave SAP at the end of April, and if Amazon turned out to be a good fit, I just might go there. This was before I interviewed and got offers for Palo Alto, one other company, and the company I worked for from May to July.

There were a few listings on their website, so I applied to a “Web Development Engineer” posting for Vancouver as I felt it was the best match for my skills and experience. I wasn’t actively looking for a job at that point, so I didn’t think much of it and pretty soon, forgot I had even applied. Then, out of the blue, I was contacted by one of Amazon’s recruiters on May 24th 2013 for an interview on the 29th. I seriously considered declining it as I had just moved to my new job for a month, and was certainly not looking to leave (yet).

As many people know, I absolutely hate speaking on the phone. First of all, I’m more of a listener, and when I’m speaking with a stranger for the first time on the phone, that comes across as unenthusiastic or uninterested. Secondly, it forces me to context switch and break my mental train of thought. Whether or not it’s pre-scheduled does not matter; I’m forced to abruptly pause my work and move my attention to something else.¬†As a freelancer, I have the option to cut myself off from virtually any environmental disruptions, and prefer to allocate small time blocks to update or communicate with people/clients. Third and most importantly, it’s synchronous communication. When I have to pick up the phone and speak to someone, not only am I making an expensive context switch, I have to be wary of tone, wording, and other things that cause the other party to misunderstand me. Aside from that, I’m unable to give any issues more in-depth and careful thought, which really defeats the whole purpose of discussing them. But in those recent months I had been looking to make a conscious effort to expose myself to more social/human interaction, so I decided I would give it a try. I had nothing to lose anyways; I was working on stuff I enjoyed and this phone call would have no effect on me other than cause a bit more nervousness.

Phone interview:

I took the morning off (and made it up later) to do the phone interview. When I picked up the phone the interviewer introduced himself as a Web Development Engineer from Seattle. Continue reading