Amazon Case Study Interview: Everything You Need to Know
If you’re interviewing for a business role at Amazon, there is a good chance that you’ll receive at least one case study interview, also known as an Amazon case interview. Amazon roles that include case study interviews as part of the interview process include:
- Business Analyst
- Business Development
- Corporate Strategy
- Product Manager
- Product Marketing
To land an Amazon job offer, you’ll need to crush every single one of your case interviews. While Amazon case study interviews may seem ambiguous and challenging, know that they can be mastered with proper preparation.
If you are preparing for an upcoming Amazon case interview, we have you covered. In this comprehensive Amazon case interview guide, we’ll cover:
- What is an Amazon case study interview
- Why Amazon uses case study interviews
- The 6 steps to ace any Amazon case interview
- Amazon case interview tips
- Resources to prepare for your Amazon case interview
What is an Amazon Case Study Interview?
Amazon case study interviews, also known as Amazon case interviews, are 20- to 30-minute exercises in which you are placed in a hypothetical business situation and are asked to find a solution or make a recommendation.
First, you’ll create a framework that shows the approach you would take to solve the case. Then, you’ll collaborate with the interviewer, answering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions that will give you the information and data needed to develop an answer. Finally, you’ll deliver your recommendation at the end of the case.
Case interviews have traditionally been used by consulting firms to assess a candidate’s potential to become a successful consultant. However, now a days, many companies with ex-consultants use case studies to assess a candidate’s capabilities. Since Amazon has so many former consultants in its business roles, you’ll likely encounter at least one case study interview.
The business problems that you’ll be given in an Amazon case study interview will likely be real challenges that Amazon faces today:
- How can Amazon improve customer retention for their Amazon Prime subscription service?
- How can Amazon improve its digital streaming service?
- How can Amazon increase ad revenues from merchant sellers?
- How should Amazon deal with fake products among its product listings?
- How can Amazon Web Services outcompete Microsoft Azure?
Depending on what team at Amazon you are interviewing for, you may be given a business problem that is relevant to that specific team.
Although there is a wide range of business problems you could possibly be given in your Amazon case interview, the fundamental case interview strategies to solve each problem is the same. If you learn the right strategies and get enough practice, you’ll be able to solve any Amazon case study interview.
Why does Amazon Use Case Study Interviews?
Amazon uses case study interviews because your performance in a case study interview is a measure of how well you would do on the job. Amazon case interviews assess a variety of different capabilities and qualities needed to successfully complete job duties and responsibilities.
Amazon’s case study interviews primarily assess five things:
- Logical, structured thinking: Can you structure complex problems in a clear, simple way?
- Analytical problem solving: Can you read, interpret, and analyze data well?
- Business acumen: Do you have sound business judgment and intuition?
- Communication skills: Can you communicate clearly, concisely, and articulately?
- Personality and cultural fit: Are you coachable and easy to work with?
Since all of these qualities can be assessed in just a 20- to 30-minute case, Amazon case study interviews are an effective way to assess a candidate’s capabilities.
In order to do well on the personality and cultural fit portion, you should familiarize yourself with Amazon’s Leadership Principles before your interview. At a high level, these principles include:
- Customer obsession: Leaders start with the customer and work backwards
- Ownership: Leaders are owners and act on behalf of the entire company
- Invent and simplify: Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify
- Learn and be curious: Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves
- Insist on the highest standards: Leaders have relentlessly high standards
- Think big: Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results
- Frugality: Accomplish more with less
- Earn trust: Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully
- Dive deep: Leaders operate at all levels and stay connected to the details
- Deliver results: Leaders focus on key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion
The 6 Steps to Solve Any Amazon Case Interview
In general, there are six steps to solve any Amazon case study interview.
1. Understand the case
Your Amazon case interview will begin with the interviewer giving you the case background information. While the interviewer is speaking, make sure that you are taking meticulous notes on the most important pieces of information. Focus on understanding the context of the situation and the objective of the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you do not understand something. You may want to summarize the case background information back to the interviewer to confirm your understanding of the case.
The most important part of this step is to verify the objective of the case. Not answering the right business question is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
2. Structure the problem
The next step is to develop a framework to help you solve the case. A framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components. Another way to think about frameworks is brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.
Before you start developing your framework, it is completely acceptable to ask the interviewer for a few minutes so that you can collect your thoughts and think about the problem.
Once you have identified the major issues or areas that you need to explore, walk the interviewer through your framework. They may ask a few questions or provide some feedback.
3. Kick off the case
Once you have finished presenting your framework, you’ll start diving into different areas of your framework to begin solving the case. How this process will start depends on whether the case interview is candidate-led or interviewer-led.
If the case interview is a candidate-led case, you’ll be expected to propose what area of your framework to start investigating. So, propose an area and provide a reason for why you want to start with that area. There is generally no right or wrong area of your framework to pick first.
If the case interview is interviewer-led, the interviewer will tell you what area of the framework to start in or directly give you a question to answer.
4. Solve quantitative problems
Amazon case study interviews may have some quantitative aspect to them. For example, you may be asked to calculate a certain profitability or financial metric. You could also be asked to estimate the size of a particular market or to estimate a particular figure.
The key to solving quantitative problems is to lay out a structure or approach upfront with the interviewer before doing any math calculations. If you lay out and present your structure to solve the quantitative problem and the interviewer approves of it, the rest of the problem is just simple execution of math.
5. Answer qualitative questions
Amazon case study interviews may also have qualitative aspects to them. You may be asked to brainstorm a list of potential ideas. You could also be asked to provide your opinion on a business issue or situation.
The key to answering qualitative questions is to structure your answer. When brainstorming a list of ideas, develop a structure to help you neatly categorize all of your ideas. When giving your opinion on a business issue or situation, provide a summary of your stance or position and then enumerate the reasons that support it.
6. Deliver a recommendation
In the last step of the Amazon case interview, you’ll present your recommendation and provide the major reasons that support it. You do not need to recap everything that you have done in the case, so focus on only summarizing the facts that are most important.
It is also good practice to include potential next steps that you would take if you had more time or data. These can be areas of your framework that you did not have time to explore or lingering questions that you do not have great answers for.
Amazon Case Interview Tips
Below are eight of our best tips to help you perform your best during your Amazon case study interview.
1. Familiarize yourself with Amazon’s business model
If you don’t understand Amazon’s business model, it will be challenging for you to do well in their case interviews. If you are interviewing for the Amazon Web Services team, you should know how Amazon makes money as a cloud service provider. If you are interviewing for the Amazon Prime team, you should be familiar with how their subscription service works.
2. Read recent news articles on Amazon
A lot of the times, the cases you’ll see in an Amazon case study interview are real business issues that the company faces. Reading up on the latest Amazon news will give you a sense of what Amazon’s biggest challenges are and what major business decisions they face today. There is a good chance that your case study interview will be similar to something that you have read in the news.
3. Verify the objective of the case
Answering the wrong business problem will waste a lot of time during your Amazon case study interview. Therefore, the most critical step of the case interview is to verify the objective of the case with the interviewer. Make sure that you understand what the primary business issue is and what overall question you are expected to answer at the end of the case.
4. Ask clarifying questions
Do not be afraid to ask questions. You will not be penalized for asking questions that are important and relevant to the case.
Great questions to ask include asking for the definition of an unfamiliar term, asking questions that clarify the objective of the case, and asking questions to strengthen your understanding of the business situation.
5. Do not use memorized frameworks
Interviewers can tell when you are using memorized frameworks from popular case interview prep books. Amazon values creativity and intellect. Therefore, make every effort to create a custom, tailored framework for each case that you get.
Read our comprehensive case interview framework guide to learn how to create outstanding frameworks.
6. Always connect your answers to the case objective
Throughout the case, make sure you are connecting each of your answers back to the overall business problem or question. What implications does your answer have on the overall business problem?
Many candidates make the mistake of answering case questions correctly, but they don’t take the initiative to tie their answer back to the case objective.
7. Communicate clearly and concisely
In an Amazon case study interview, it can be tempting to answer the interviewer’s question and then continue talking about related topics or ideas. However, you have a limited amount of time to solve an Amazon case, so it is best to keep your answers concise and to the point.
Answer the interviewer’s question, summarize how it impacts the case objective, and then move onto the next important issue or question.
8. Be enthusiastic
Amazon wants to hire candidates that love their job and will work hard. Displaying enthusiasm shows that you are passionate about working at Amazon. Having a high level of enthusiasm and energy also makes the interview more enjoyable for the interviewer. They will be more likely to have a positive impression of you.
Resources to Prepare for Your Amazon Case Interview
If you’re looking for the best way to learn and practice case study interviews to land a job at Amazon, give our one week case interview course a try. The material in the course has helped 6,000+ students land offers at top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain, so it’ll be more than enough for your Amazon case study interview.
Try the course for free today.
If you are considering alternative resources to use, below are the two books we recommend. They are available in digital or paperback format on Amazon.
- Hacking the Case Interview: Learn exactly what to do and what to say in every step of the case interview. This is the perfect book for beginners that are looking to learn the basics of case interviews quickly.
- The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook: Hone your case interview skills through 65+ problems tailored towards each type of question asked in case interviews and 15 full-length cases based on real McKinsey, BCG, and Bain interviews. This book is great for intermediates.