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5 tips to crush on-site interviews from my own experience

Jorge Ferreiro - Published 4/2/2018

I did my first on-site at Amazon a few months ago. Here’s what I learned.

Two months ago, I interviewed with Amazon for a Software Engineering Intern position. It was the first time I’d done on-site interviews, so I didn’t know what to expect and how to prepare for them.

People tend to think that on-site interviews can be hard and unpleasant – and they will be, if you don’t prepare properly, technically and mentally.

In this blog post, I’ll share some tips I learned from my experience. Hopefully they will help you or, at least, give you a different perspective!

1. Define what success means for you

Interviews have a probabilistic component: you may be a perfectly capable professional, but not a good fit for the company’s needs at the moment. Or the hiring managers may be looking for a different profile. Temper your expectations, and don’t pressure yourself.

Here is some advice I got : “If you screw up, it's not the end of the world. You'll have more on-sites in the future.” I totally agree with her. It's not a huge deal, whether you get an offer or a rejection. You just need to continue to grow your interview experience and gain the confidence you need to land the jobs you’re most interested in.

If you screw up, it's not the end of the world, because you'll have more on-sites in the future

Fear of failure is common, but don’t be afraid of the outcome. In my case, I equated success at my Amazon interviews with having fun and learning during the process, whether it led to an offer or not!

2. On-site interviews are bidirectional: they learn from you, and you learn from them

Some people tend to look at interviews as college exams: you prepare for them, you take them and then wait for the results (i.e. an offer or a rejection).

This is true, in a way, since interviewers are evaluating your profile, skills, etc., and you need to prepare for them. However, I think it’s not the right way to think of an interview. You’ll likely feel inferior and spend your time trying to make a good impression instead of evaluating the opportunity and working collaboratively.

So, whenever you get the chance, analyze your interviewers from different perspectives, technically and professionally, and remind yourself that on-sites are great opportunities to evaluate your future colleagues, figure out how well you fit in the company culture, and try to answer any doubts you may have.

3. Learning their company values is key to your success

Some companies – and especially the big ones, like Amazon, Google, and Facebook – will evaluate your soft skills based on their company values, since they establish a common context for all employees and define what personality traits they look for in new hires.

In my case, I walked through each of The 14 Amazon leadership principles and thought about two or three different situations in my life where I had applied them. This helped me organize my thoughts and focus my answers on the key areas I knew they would be looking for.

Depending on the job level, some values are more important than others, so pay special attention to the most relevant ones based on the expectations for the position you’re applying for. When in doubt, ask your recruiter to help you out.

4. Each interview round is isolated

When things are going well, a feeling of “momentum” appears. This happened to me in my Amazon interviews. I felt I was doing a good job and I was enjoying the process. At a certain point, I was thinking, “I want more of this! Next round!”

However, this doesn’t always happen. So if you bomb in any of the interview rounds, put that behind you! Don’t let negative feelings shake your confidence and, as a result, ruin the rest of the interview rounds.

See each new interview as an opportunity to redeem yourself

Normally, each interviewer doesn’t know anything about your previous rounds, which is supposed to prevent bias and is fairer to the candidate. So it may be helpful to see each new interview as an opportunity to redeem yourself and show your potential.

5. Interviewers are normal human beings

You’ll encounter interviewers who are more aloof, others who are friendlier, etc. It doesn’t matter – the important thing is that you do your job. Don’t overthink it. For example, one of my interviewers at Amazon was very direct and to the point; others were super-friendly and more collaborative, etc.

Each round felt completely different, and it was totally normal. Always remember to have a positive attitude and solve the problems they ask you to solve.

So the best tip is to assume that we are all different, and remember that you have to be yourself and as professional as possible. Don’t try to behave like someone you’re not, and just focus on each interviewer’s expectations


That’s it! I hope this article has helped you! In my case, my interviews went well, and now I’m doing a SDE Internship at Amazon in their European HQ! 🚀😄

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