Amazon logo

Amazon (AWS) Solutions Architect Interview Guide

Learn how to prepare for the Amazon Solutions Architect interview and get a job at Amazon with this in-depth guide.

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.

Interview Process

There are three main stages in the AWS Solutions Architect role.

Online Screening

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.

Phone Screening

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.

On-site

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.

Sample Interview Questions

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.

System Design

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:

  • Structure: Do you take a systematic approach?
  • Comprehensiveness: Does your approach cover all requirements?
  • Feasibility: Is your answer practical and could be implemented?

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.

Technical Knowledge

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.

Technical Presentation

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.

Leadership Principle: Customer Obsession

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.

  • Tell me about a time when you declined a customer requirement.
  • Tell me about a time when a customer gave you critical feedback.
  • Tell me about a time when you developed something for a customer that they did not ask for.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Customer ObsessionCustomer Obsession: Pain Point
Customer Obsession: Pain PointVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Ownership

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."

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project outside of your scope.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to leave a task unfinished.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: OwnershipOwnership: Long-Term
Ownership: Long-TermVideo Answer
Ownership: Status Quo
Ownership: Status QuoVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Invent and Simplify

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.

  • Tell me about the most innovative project you worked on, why it was innovative, and what the challenges were.
  • Tell me about a time when you gave a simple solution to a complex problem.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Invent and SimplifyInvent and Simplify: Simple Solution
Invent and Simplify: Simple SolutionVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Are Right, A Lot

Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.

  • Tell me about a time where you made a decision without having complete information.
  • Tell me about a time you made a design decision where a lot of people had opposed you. Why did they oppose you?
  • Tell me about a time you made a design decision where a lot of people had agreed with you. Why did they agree with you?
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Are Right, A LotAre Right A Lot: Instincts
Are Right A Lot: InstinctsVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Learn and Be Curious

Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.

  • Tell me about a skill you recently learned. How did you learn it?
  • Tell me about an experience you went through that changed your way of thinking.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Learn and Be CuriousLearn and Be Curious: New Skill
Learn and Be Curious: New SkillVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Hire and Develop the Best

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.

  • Tell me about a time when one of your team members had difficulty doing a project. What did you do?
  • Who is the most important person in your life and why?
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Hire and Develop the BestHire/Develop The Best: Team Member
Hire/Develop The Best: Team MemberVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Insist on Highest Standards

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.

  • Tell me about a time when everything was going well on a project, yet you worked on an improvement that no one had asked for. What was the improvement? Why did you think it was important? How would you measure success?
  • Tell me about a time when you raised the bar.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Insist on Highest StandardsHighest Standards: Raising the Bar
Highest Standards: Raising the BarVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Think Big

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.

  • Tell me about a time when you initiated work on a project that both impacted a majority of your team and had a lot of opposition.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a bold and difficult decision.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Think BigThink Big: Difficult Decision
Think Big: Difficult DecisionVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Bias for Action

Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk-taking.

  • Tell me about a time when you had a conflict and you had multiple ways to resolve it. How did you evaluate your options? Which solution did you choose and why?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a decision too quickly and what you would have done differently.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Bias for ActionBias for Action: Calculated Risk
Bias for Action: Calculated RiskVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Frugality

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.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with limited time or resources.
  • Tell me about a time where you turned down more resources to complete an assignment.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: FrugalityFrugality: Turning Down Resources
Frugality: Turning Down ResourcesVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Earn Trust

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.

  • How do you earn the trust of stakeholders?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project that got delayed. How did you handle it? Once you know it would be delayed, explain the actions you took afterwards.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Earn TrustEarn Trust: Mistake
Earn Trust: MistakeVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Dive Deep

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.

  • Tell me about a time when you had a problem and you had to go through several hoops to discover the root cause.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a problem yet no one was willing to investigate since they thought it was outside their scope of ownership.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Dive DeepDive Deep: Root Cause
Dive Deep: Root CauseVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Have Backbone

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.

  • Tell me about a time when an idea you proposed was not agreed on. How did you react?
  • What do you believe that no one else does?
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Have BackboneDisagree and Commit: Idea Proposal
Disagree and Commit: Idea ProposalVideo Answer

Leadership Principle: Deliver Results

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.

  • Tell me about your proudest project.
  • Tell me about a time when everyone else on your team gave up on something but you pushed the team towards delivering a result.
Featured lessons on Leadership Principle: Deliver ResultsDeliver Results: Tell me about your proudest project
Deliver Results: Tell me about your proudest projectVideo Answer

Learn everything you need to ace your Solutions Architect interviews.

Exponent is the fastest-growing tech interview prep platform. Get free interview guides, insider tips, and courses.

Create your free account