Getting ready for an Amazon (AWS) solutions architect interview? We've got you covered. We'll break down what to expect in the interview, what questions you'll get asked, and how best to prepare for a solutions architect role at Amazon.
Amazon's solutions architect role is great for those who love to work at the intersection of technology and sales.
There are three main stages in the AWS Solutions Architect role.
In the online screening (you may or may not get this stage depending on how you apply and your previous qualifications), you'll be asked about technical concepts. The topics will range from data structures to internet infrastructure questions. To get a better sense of what's asked, review Amazon's list of software development topics.
If selected, you'll be advanced to the phone screening where an Amazon Solutions Architect will reach out to ask you more specific technical questions to assess your fit for the role. The questions here will be in two categories. First, the interviewer will ask you to explain and answer questions about technical concetps (e.g. APIs, CDNs, load balancers). Then, the interviewer will spend about half of the interview asking behavioral questions about Amazon's Leadership Principles. These questions follow more of a "Tell me about a time when..." format and will always map to 2-3 of Amazon's leadership principles.
The on-site interview will consist of 4-6 interviews with Amazon employees, plus a technical presentation at the end of the interview loop. In the on-site, there will be at least one technical round focused on technical concepts, two or more rounds focused on Amazon's leadership principles, and one or more system design interviews. At the end, you'll also have a 30min presentation where you'll present on a specific technical topic and the interviewers will role-play as customers. Read more below to see specific examples of interview questions asked and how to answer them.
The interview questions for Amazon solutions architect candidates generally fall into three categories. The first is system design interview questions, where you'll be asked interview questions on how to build complex systems. The next is general technical knowledge questions, where you'll be tested on your understanding of technical concepts that may come up in your role as a solutions architect. Lastly, Amazon is notorious for their leadership principle interview questions, which are behavioral interviews focused on Amazon's core values.
In Amazon's system design interview questions, you'll be asked to design a complex system, and work back and forth with your interviewer to come to a solution.
In this interview, Amazon is looking for the following:
The best way to prepare for system design interviews is to watch our practice system design interviews like this one on how to design TikTok, and try your hand at some practice system design questions in our interview question database.
Keep in mind that these interviews are often in a whiteboarding format, done virtually.
The technical questions you'll receive in Amazon's solutions architect interview will not be like the algorithms and data structures questions common in software engineering interviews. Instead, the interviewers are looking to see if you have the technical know-how to work with AWS's complex systems.
You'll be asked questions on a variety of topics, including data encryption, load balancing, mapreduce, and a variety of other relevant technical concepts in cloud computing and technical infrastructure.
To prepare for these interviews, review technical concepts found in our system design fundamentals course to make sure you have a deep understanding of the technology questions they may ask you.
Knowledge of AWS systems is important, but in-depth technical knowledge of AWS is less important than simply knowing the key elements and fundamentals of technical infrastructure. Do a brief review of AWS-specific architecture with Amazon's online courses and certifications to get ready for the interview.
You'll be asked to showcase a technical presentation on a problem that you've solved before. Your audience will be both technical and non-technical, and you'll be asked to showcase a problem that you solved, how you solved the problem, and the system design components relevant to the solution.
If unsure about how to structure the format, lean on the STAR method - talk about the situation, task, action, and results, and structure your presentation around these four elements.
Your interviewers are assessing for both technical knowledge/expertise as well as your communication and presentation skills. After all, effective Solutions Architects are a customer-facing role. You'll also be tested on your objection handling, as the interviewers in the room may grill you or ask you questions "out of scope" as they role-play customers.
Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job."
Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.
Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.
Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.
Note: This leadership is less frequently touched upon in the interview.
Leaders have relentlessly high standards — many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high-quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk-taking.
Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.
Note: This leadership is less frequently touched upon in the interview.
Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdotes differ. No task is beneath them.
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.