Cracking the Amazon Data Science Interview

Updated on 
June 17, 2024
by Nick Singh
By Nick Singh
created at : 

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With Amazon always growing and putting customers first, landing a Data Scientist job there is like hitting the data world jackpot. I'll be honest about my bias – I've been part of Amazon's data journey and even co-wrote a book with a friend who's a FAANG Data Scientist. I can tell you firsthand, it's exciting and challenging!

I’m here to break down everything you need to know to conquer the Amazon Data Science Interview to help you take that next step in your career.

The Amazon Data Scientist Interview Process

The interview process at Amazon typically spans about a month from start to finish. During this period, you'll go through multiple rounds of interviews with several senior Data Science team members. Here's a breakdown of the process:

Round 1: Recruiter Screening

This initial step is crucial, so don't underestimate it. Use this opportunity to showcase your soft skills, which might not be evident from your resume.

  • Format: Phone Call
  • Duration: 30-45 minutes
  • Interviewer: Recruiter or Talent Acquisition Specialist
  • Questions: Culture fit, Understanding your Experience, Logistics

Round 2: Technical Screening

The technical screen is usually conducted on a platform called "CollabEdit," where the interviewer can observe and evaluate your work. For this role, you might have between one to two technical screens.

  • Format: Virtual video call
  • Duration: 45-60 minutes
  • Interviewer: Hiring Manager/Senior Data Scientist
  • Questions: Technical Skills (SQL and Python), Machine Learning

Insider Tip: Amazon values speed and accuracy in SQL. With many applicants vying for this role, the SQL screen is a straightforward filter to eliminate candidates, so aim for flawless execution. 

The best way to prepare is by solving real SQL interview questions, such as those asked by Amazon. We cover these in our article "6 REAL Amazon SQL Interview Questions" and have created an interactive coding pad to help you practice:

Final Round: On-Site Interviews

Within 1 to 3 weeks after the Technical Screen, you’ll be notified if you've progressed to the next stage. The On-Site interview consists of five back-to-back interviews, each lasting 45 minutes and focusing on different topics.

  • Format: Virtual video call
  • Duration: 45 minutes each
  • Interviewer: Hiring Manager/Senior Data Scientist
  • Questions: Data Analysis and Design, Technical Analysis, Behavioral Questions

Questions Asked During the Amazon Data Science Interview

The Amazon Data Science interview process is thorough and covers a variety of question types to assess your technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit. Here are the main types of questions you can expect:

Technical Questions

SQL Questions: Amazon places a strong emphasis on SQL proficiency. You might be asked to:

  • Write complex SQL queries to manipulate and analyze data.
  • Optimize SQL queries for performance.
  • Solve real-world data problems using SQL.

Python Questions: These questions assess your ability to use Python for data manipulation and analysis. You might be asked to:

  • Write Python scripts to process data.
  • Use libraries such as Pandas, NumPy, or Scikit-learn.
  • Implement data structures and algorithms in Python.

Machine Learning Questions: These questions evaluate your understanding of machine learning concepts and your ability to apply them. You might be asked to:

  • Explain various machine learning algorithms (e.g., regression, classification, clustering).
  • Discuss the trade-offs between different algorithms.
  • Solve problems involving model selection, feature engineering, and model evaluation.

Data Analysis and Design Questions

These questions test your ability to analyze data, draw insights, and design data-driven solutions. You might be asked to:

  • Interpret data and generate hypotheses.
  • Design experiments and A/B tests.
  • Develop and assess metrics to evaluate the success of a solution.

Behavioral Questions

Amazon uses behavioral questions to assess your fit with their leadership principles. You might be asked to:

  • Describe a time when you solved a complex problem.
  • Talk about a project where you had to work under pressure.
  • Discuss how you handled a disagreement with a teammate.

Example Behavioral Questions:

  • "Tell me about a time when you had to dive deep into data to solve a problem."
  • "Give an example of a situation where you had to make a decision with incomplete information."
  • "Describe a project where you demonstrated ownership and delivered results."

Scenario-Based Questions

These questions present hypothetical situations to understand your problem-solving approach. You might be asked to:

  • Solve a business problem using data.
  • Explain how you would approach a new data science project.
  • Design a data pipeline for a specific use case.

Example Scenario-Based Questions:

  • "How would you design a recommendation system for"
  • "What approach would you take to identify fraudulent transactions in a dataset?"
  • "How would you improve the customer experience on Amazon Prime?"

Preparing for these types of questions by practicing your technical skills, reviewing key machine learning concepts, and reflecting on your past experiences will help you succeed in the Amazon Data Science interview process.

Resources to Help Prepare for the Amazon Data Science Interview

Preparing for an Amazon Data Science interview requires a mix of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and understanding of Amazon's leadership principles. Here are five valuable resources to help you get ready:

  1. DataLemur: DataLemur offers a wide range of coding problems, including SQL and Python challenges, which are crucial for technical screening.
  2. A/B Testing Guide: This guide walks you through how to run consumer experiments, which is a frequent topic due to how important product experimentation & interpreting test results is for Amazon Data Science roles.
  3. Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell: Athough it focuses on software engineering, this book covers important coding interview concepts and includes practice questions that are useful for data science interviews.4
  4. Amazon's Leadership Principles: Understanding Amazon's leadership principles is essential for behavioral interviews. Reviewing these principles and preparing examples of how you embody them will help you perform better in interviews.
  5. “Data Science for Business" by Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett: This book provides a comprehensive overview of data science concepts and applications in business, which is crucial for understanding the type of problems you might encounter at Amazon.

Using these resources, you can effectively prepare for the different aspects of the Amazon Data Science interview, from technical skills to understanding the company culture. Good luck!

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