Insist on the highest standards - Amazon interview preparation


Leadership Principles are guidelines of the culture and values of the company. The 16 Amazon leadership principles are just the thing that makes Amazon unusual. In this article, the focus is on the 7th leadership principle: Insist on the highest standards.

Your Amazon interview is on the corner and you are not sure what Amazon means in its phrase: “Insist on the highest standards”, what Amazon means by “the highest standards”. And how this leadership principle applies to your role in the company.

See also:

In this article, we’ve covered:

  • How does Amazon explain this leadership principle and what does it mean?
  • Interview questions related to the principle “Insist on the highest standards”
  • How to answer behavioral/16 leadership principles interview questions

How does Amazon explain the “Insist on the highest standards” leadership principle? What does it mean?

According to the 7th Amazon leadership principle, you should always try to deliver high-quality services and products. Always set a higher standard of your service. Never stop if you encounter a problem. Find a solution to the problem by yourself. Never compromise on the quality.

Because leaders have relentlessly high standards and they are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high-quality products, services, and processes.

What does it mean?

With high standards, you demand the best of yourself and those around you. Amazon has set its expectations through - service level agreements (SLAs).

An SLA is a set of agreed-upon standards by which any service or product will perform. In an Amazon SLA, even the worst outcome will outpace industry standards.

You should show your interviewer that you insist on the highest standards. Below I’ll list how:

  • Set SLAs for everything and don’t take shortcuts on instrumentation.
  • Be self-critique about your work - that way you’ll be sure the quality is the best it can be.
  • Accept coaching from your manager and improve the quality of your work.
  • Demand high-quality products, services, and solutions from your team
  • Coach employees about setting their high standards and exceeding customer expectations.

As a people manager, do you:

  • Raise the quality bar by demanding that your team deliver high-quality products, services, and solutions?
  • Teach and coach employees about setting their high standards and exceeding customer expectations?
  • Provide feedback to employees when work is of high quality, and coach to continually improve work? · Ensure the quality bar remains high by delivering high-quality work and demanding it of others’ work?
  • Continually self-critique your work to make sure the quality is the best it can be?
  • · Accept and seek out coaching and feedback from your manager and others about improving the quality of your work?

As an individual contributor:

  • Tell me about a time when you have been unsatisfied with the status quo. What did you do to change it? Were you successful?
  • Tell me about a time you wouldn’t compromise on achieving a great outcome when others felt something was good enough. What was the situation?
  • What measures have you personally put in place to ensure performance improvement targets and standards are achieved?
  • Describe the most significant, continuous improvement project that you have led. What was the catalyst to this change and how did you go about it?
  • Give me an example of a goal you’ve had where you wish you had done better. What was the goal and how could you have improved on it?
  • Tell me about a time when you have worked to improve the quality of a product/service/solution that was already getting good customer feedback? Why did you think it needed continued improvement?
  • Give an example where you refused to compromise your standards on quality/customer service, etc. Why did you feel so strongly about the situation? What were the consequences? The result?

How to answer behavioral/16 leadership principles questions

There are two ways of answering leadership principles interview questions: STAR and CAR method. I explained the STAR method in the previous article, so you can use the link above to learn more about it. Below, I will explain the CAR method.

The CAR method is very similar to STAR. It comprises 3 parts:

Context - Describe the situation of a relevant example from your experience.

Action - Explain what action you took, your steps, and the rationale behind it.

Result - Talk about the outcome of your action.

Whatever method you choose, you should be concise in your answers, while emphasizing your leadership skills and showing a superior knowledge of your expertise.

Prepare some examples in your current job to show that you already have those leadership assets. Remember that Amazon takes these principles seriously and candidates who cannot show their strength in these principles usually don’t get the position even if they are technically talented. Some candidates didn’t perform quite well, but since they showed strong leadership principles, the company ended up hiring them, arguing that the technical part is easy to coach, but leadership principles are not. The questions are not like “Give me an example showing that you have a bias for action leadership principle” but it is going to be more descriptive like “Tell me about a time when you have worked against tight deadlines and you had little time to think about all the alternatives”.

If you want to get specific feedback about your areas for improvement, there are some services like mock interviews on the interview help platform, where an experienced coach will give you feedback on your performance.

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