How should I prepare for the Amazon video/phone screen during COVID?

Nick Dimitrov

Nick Dimitrov

15 Oct, 2021


The Amazon phone screen interview has changed a lot in these COVID pandemic days of working from home.

Hello, I'm Nick, a former Amazon Bar Raiser, and today I'd like to talk about the Amazon Phone Screen.

The Amazon Phone Screen has changed a lot in these days of working from home, in these days of the COVID pandemic. Previously, the phone screen was what it said it was: a screening of the candidate, by the Hiring Manager or somebody else on the team, via a phone conversation, via a phone call.

Now, the phone call is increasingly replaced by a video call. Amazon is using the Chime video service: their proprietary video-call technology. And they are transacting both the phone screen and the virtual onsite interview loop via a sequence of Chime video sessions. So, when recruiting contacts you and they are helping you setup your phone screen, your very first question should be: "Would this be a voice call by phone, or would this be a video call?". Because your strategy of how you handle the call should be different.

If it's a video call, obviously, you should treat it as if it's a regular interview, a video interview. If it's a phone call, that gives you a little bit more latitude and freedom to maybe have a few notes in front of you. The substance of the call is primarily unchanged, despite the work from home days and despite COVID.

On the substance side of things, expect a roughly a 45-minute or a 60-minute conversation, where Amazon is going to ask you both behavioral/Leadership Principles questions and functional/subject matter expertise questions. So, on the behavioral side, get ready with maybe two, three, four (at most) stories from your career, your professional accomplishments. Unpack them in the STAR/SOAR format and make sure that they illustrate a sufficient number of Amazon Leadership Principles. Get ready with those stories ahead of time. Practice them in front of the mirror, and that should take of roughly half of the preparation for your phone screen with Amazon.

On the functional side, on the subject-matter-expertise side: roughly 50% of the questions during the phone screen will be functional. And, there is no way to prepare for these ahead of time. Just make sure that you Google online and go through things like Glassdoor, Quora, of prior questions that Amazon has asked to candidates in your job family, in your job function. On balance, I would expect five or six questions in total. Half of them would be behavioral and the other half would be functional.

Now, let's revisit the video format, which is the difference here in the work from home era. It's going to be a video call. Make sure that you have a well-lit room, that you have a good microphone, that the interviewer can see you clearly. Make sure that you look at the camera or look at yourself, in the video window, so that your eyes don't wander around the screen. That would help prevent the interviewer from thinking that you're reading, which might have a negative impact on how they perceive your performance.

If you follow these steps, you should be in a good position to perform. And, best of luck to you. Stay in touch. Follow up with any questions. You got this. Bye bye.

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