Developer position at Amazon Web Services

eg2505

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#41
I have read enough interviews hell from Amazon/Google/FB etc to know it's not even worth it, except if you eat, breath,live,poop code.
I kind of got that vibe when I visited there,
also another thing I personally found annoying, is I was interviewed by 6 people, an hour each time.

they set you up in 1 meeting room, and each time a new guy comes to meet you, they keep asking the exact same questions, time after time,
you kind of get annoyed answering the same exact questions, 1 after the next.

Ithis was one aspect that really pissed me off,
 

TelkomUseless

Executive Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
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7,523
#42
I kind of got that vibe when I visited there,
also another thing I personally found annoying, is I was interviewed by 6 people, an hour each time.

they set you up in 1 meeting room, and each time a new guy comes to meet you, they keep asking the exact same questions, time after time,
you kind of get annoyed answering the same exact questions, 1 after the next.

Ithis was one aspect that really pissed me off,
yip.. read the same.
 

ArtyLoop

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Dec 18, 2017
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#43
Yip. It's a pretty one-dimensional interview (x6). They mainly want you to code with a pen on a white board while staring at you. It's basically an interview to see if you recently passed a course in data structures at university level. You can pass the interview by studying up on the latest data structures.

Experience or previous body of open source work is irrelevant. You could be Guido van Rossum of Python or Linus Torvalds of Linux or have a million lines of the best code published in open source projects, and they'd still ask you to first implement some esoteric trie algorithm from memory on the white board.

They also ask whether you prefer a Mac or a PC. I suspect that's to determine how much of a hipster you are.
Yup. I don't do well in those either.
My present company asked me to code a project, and that's what I did. I did it well, and got the job!
 

eye_suc

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Feb 14, 2005
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3,634
#44
The responses to this thread is mybb in a nutshell. Inferiority complexes are terrible things.

If I'm guessing correctly, OP is a former colleague of mine. I have quite a few ex colleagues who work there. All of them are way smarter than myself.
As a developer, I see working at AWS as the top rung of the ladder. If you are good enough to get in there, you can apply anywhere. If you cannot get in there, then you have more to learn.

Not all people are wired the same way. I don't think the same way as my former colleagues who work at AWS and I'm also a lot less book smart. You are allowed to be different, but you can be different without slandering a company based on anecdotal comments though.
 

cguy

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Jan 2, 2013
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#45
To be frank, if you actually think that they are expecting you to write rote learned answers to data structure and algorithm questions on a whiteboard, you are not smart enough to work there. The interviewers are looking for many things, but memorization ability is not one of them.
 

jsheed_sa

Executive Member
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May 27, 2005
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5,031
#46
To be frank, if you actually think that they are expecting you to write rote learned answers to data structure and algorithm questions on a whiteboard, you are not smart enough to work there. The interviewers are looking for many things, but memorization ability is not one of them.
Yep - that and:

"they keep asking the exact same questions, time after time"

If you think they're asking the same things or angling for the same answers then you've got it wrong. They're all tasked to look for a specific subset of DIFFERENT information - if you're repeating the same stuff over and over again then you're probably not reading the subtleties in the conversation.

Either way it seems most just don't want to consider that they may not have been good enough (at the time, and that's not a crime).

The bar is high for a reason - but its definitely not unattainable.

To each their own - it fits for some people, and others it doesn't.

To shoot it down without any firsthand knowledge seems silly though.
 
Joined
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#47
Yup...
Amazon doesn't give a fark about your work-life balance, or your family, your child, or anything you enjoy in life.
This is so wrong in so many ways that I'm having difficulty figuring out where to even begin. There is a very healthy work/life balance at Amazon, all the people I've interacted with care very much about each other. Engineers are encouraged to decide upon which work they want to undertake and they are mostly in control of their work/life balance. There are realistic expectations set on delivery, not the "death marches" which I've experienced at other companies.

It seems to me that you don't actually know how things operate inside the Cape Town AWS engineering office, as what you've said so far is very far from the truth
 

CamiKaze

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#48
I had a good experience with Tammy Malan and the Kumo team manager that lives in Somerset West. It looks like they really are a good company to work for but... I guess that because the bar is set so high, a lot of people feel that they can't pull the interviews off so they start trash talking the company. Human nature I guess.

I was also told that it is usually the guys that come fresh out of varsity that nail interviews because data structures and the rest are still fresh in their mind compared to some guys that have been developing in the industry for years, like at banks where there isn't really any growth.
 
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#49
Yip. A guy I worked with went to them in USA for his studies and toured Amazon. Even he said they said straight , you will eat, breath Amazon while working there. No time for family etc.
This is not what I've experienced, everyone is empowered within Amazon to push back and I've had engineers tell me all the time that they can't get to a task I've requested them to look at, in which case I either find someone with capacity or I push back to the original requester. This is expected and is part of the organisational DNA. Engineers scope their work and determine how long it'll take them to deliver, this is then used when coming up with timelines.

I've found that there is a ready acceptance within the company that project dates might slip based on a variety of factors and whilst it's not something that is encouraged, it's something that is dealt with very pragmatically by either re-dating the project or re-prioritising other work in order to avail more resources for the project.
 

CamiKaze

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#50
This is not what I've experienced, everyone is empowered within Amazon to push back and I've had engineers tell me all the time that they can't get to a task I've requested them to look at, in which case I either find someone with capacity or I push back to the original requester. This is expected and is part of the organisational DNA. Engineers scope their work and determine how long it'll take them to deliver, this is then used when coming up with timelines.

I've found that there is a ready acceptance within the company that project dates might slip based on a variety of factors and whilst it's not something that is encouraged, it's something that is dealt with very pragmatically by either re-dating the project or re-prioritising other work in order to avail more resources for the project.
The best way to demystify working for Amazon is to tell everyone here what a typical week looks like I guess.
 
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#51
@software_dev_manager Do you work for the Kumo team?
I was at your Kumo dinner last year. It was perfect.
I am a bit scared of doing the tech challenge... I forgot most of my Com Sci theory as all we do is just code and deliver when at work.
No, I'm in the EC2 team. We are right next to the Kumo team.

Just freshen up on your fundamentals (data structures, algorithmic complexities) etc and you should be OK. We don't try and trip up candidates or trick them, we just want to be sure that they know what they're doing as there's a lot of CS fundamental application within our space.
 
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#52
Might be referring to the 6x one hour interviews or whatever it is you guys do these days.
The interview process is normally a full day at the Amazon campus if you manage to make it that far through the process. It'll be a series of back to back 1 hour sessions, each one with a different interviewer. It's actually 5 1 hour sessions with an hour for lunch as well (the lunch hour is not part of the interview, although almost everyone seems to think it is)
 
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#53
This guy went 2 years ago to the USA. And for his Masters they had to go , and he said they said straight that is how it works there. He didn't apply or anything, it was whole class that had to go... so no need to bullshit me (or the company).
This seems to be based on anecdotal evidence. I'd invite anyone with actual experience at AWS (especially at the Cape Town office) to provide a perspective. I asked 4 engineers just now how they feel the work life balance is and the responses were between fine and good.
 
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#55
You guys do realise that there's a huge difference between Amazon and AWS right?

One is retail and the other is cloud.

There's a BIG difference between working customer support at Amazon vs say working engineering or development at AWS.

Personally I have no issues with any work life balance at AWS. As with most jobs you can meet your metrics and go home, or you can go above and beyond - but that's on you and certainly not enforced.

The opportunities are there if you want to grab them, but you're not forced to take them - far from it. YMMV.
Well said. It seems a lot of the "c**p working conditions" talk comes from people talking about Amazon customer service positions
 

cguy

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#56
I was also told that it is usually the guys that come fresh out of varsity that nail interviews because data structures and the rest are still fresh in their mind compared to some guys that have been developing in the industry for years, like at banks where there isn't really any growth.
I would say that is partially true. If someone goes into a job after they graduate that uses no CS, and they don’t study anything externally to compensate, then it will decay over time, and it will be harder for them to pass the interview. They may still get a job, but it would be for a team that does not require the same level of CS background.

If, however, the job that they do do, involves a fair amount of CS, engineering, and careful software engineering practices, this too will be evident in their answers and will also put them in line for a more senior position.

E.g., I don’t currently have Quick-Sort memorized, but just knowing that it involves selecting a pivot and moving data to either side means that I could:
1) Derive it on a board and cover all edge cases.
2) Observe that it is a divide and conquer style algorithm.
3) Observe they it is a randomized algorithm with O(nlogn) expected complexity, and O(n^2) worst case complexity.
4) Observe that it is in-place.
5) Observe that it can be stable.
6) Observe that it would typically be faster than O(nlogn) worst case in place algorithms such as heap sort because it has coherent memory access patterns.
7) Suggest a strategy to parallelise it.
8) Suggest a strategy to implement it on an FPGA.
9) Suggest a strategy to implement it on a GPU, or parallel CPU.
10) Suggest better algorithms for 7-9 that are more suited for the type of hardware (eg sorting networks, or Bitonic sorting)
11) Suggest hybrid algorithms (when the memory footprint is small enough due to the division a heap sort of insertion sort may be better for the lower nodes). Small sorts can be written as a SIMD sorting network.
12) Write a statistical proof of E[O(nlogn)] complexity, and show how a median selection change it could be made to make it an O(nlogn) worst case.
13) Show how this could be done out of core or distributed over a supercomputer grid.
14) Describe the real algorithmic complexity in terms of time, space, number of nodes, cores bandwidth and die area.
15) Talk about lower bounds in sorting.
16) Consider whether or not partial sorting is better for the problem being solved.
17) Explain the motivation for every line of code I write and every algo result I consider.
18) Explain how it can be implemented recursively or via a stack (and why they are essentially the same).
19) Use indexed data to avoid expensive swap operations.
20) And off course, a lot of soft skills, such as communication, response to criticism, etc., while explaining the above.

The above is what we (I can’t speak for Amazon, but image it is similar) typically look for when asking an algo question of a very senior engineer. If one just regurgitated QS Code without showing any of the sophistication above, the interviewer will know.
 
Last edited:
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#58
they set you up in 1 meeting room, and each time a new guy comes to meet you, they keep asking the exact same questions, time after time,
you kind of get annoyed answering the same exact questions, 1 after the next.

Ithis was one aspect that really pissed me off,
To be frank, if you actually think that they are expecting you to write rote learned answers to data structure and algorithm questions on a whiteboard, you are not smart enough to work there. The interviewers are looking for many things, but memorization ability is not one of them.
There is a lot of info online around the Amazon interview process & what it is trying to elicit from candidates. Each person interviewing you is interrogating one or more leadership principles and their questions are designed to explore the principles that the interviewer is interviewing for. cguy is correct in that memorization ability is not one of the attributes that interviewers are looking for.

You can get more info on the process and expectations on the amazon.jobs website

https://www.amazon.jobs/en/working/working-amazon

https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/interviewing-at-amazon

https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/in-person-interview
 

CamiKaze

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May 19, 2010
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12,894
#59
There is a lot of info online around the Amazon interview process & what it is trying to elicit from candidates. Each person interviewing you is interrogating one or more leadership principles and their questions are designed to explore the principles that the interviewer is interviewing for. cguy is correct in that memorization ability is not one of the attributes that interviewers are looking for.

You can get more info on the process and expectations on the amazon.jobs website

https://www.amazon.jobs/en/working/working-amazon

https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/interviewing-at-amazon

https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/in-person-interview
I currently have an Amazon assessment to complete and I will be doing it in the week. Going to be a rough week having to prep for this and balancing it with my ML course and assignment.
 

Brenden_E

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Aug 30, 2006
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4,108
#60
This seems to be based on anecdotal evidence. I'd invite anyone with actual experience at AWS (especially at the Cape Town office) to provide a perspective. I asked 4 engineers just now how they feel the work life balance is and the responses were between fine and good.
Reminds me of this guy in our complex that told me he's not a racist. Then he called over his gardener and asked, "Sipho, tell this man do you think I'm a racist?"

I'm not saying the work/life balance isn't good, but your example here is pretty silly.
 
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