I received the following question during one of my recent webinars:
"How long should a behavioral answer be? I usually go for 4 to 5 minutes. Is that OK or too long? I have read all sorts of 'keep it under 2 to 3 minutes'."
Here is what I think:
No. Don't try to fit it within 2 to 3 minutes. That would backfire. If you try to truncate it too much, without explaining all those illustrations and make all the relevant topics, you're going to give the interviewer a lot of work to come up with fact-finding questions during their Q&A session.
So, do not constrain yourself. If you follow this framework, you're doing the job for the interviewer, and they're not going to cut you off. 5 to 6 minutes is usually a good idea. It really also depends on the level where you are interviewing at Amazon. If you are interviewing with more senior-level folks, at the Director level or above, the interview is going to feel more like a conversation. It's not going to be this boxed question-and-answer session.
Or it also depends on the type of accomplishment you are describing. If you are describing an accomplishment that took you three years to complete: you devised the project, then you built it, then you shipped it, then it had a bunch of service issues. You can talk about that for a while. So, read the interviewer and figure out what is the best approach there, but try to stay within 5 to 6, 7 minutes, maybe, and read the interviewer along the way.
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