Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
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Software Developer, Video Interview
I applied through a recruiter. The process took 7+ weeks – interviewed at Amazon.com in June 2011.
HR rep pulled my resume from an online job board (oddly enough I only had my resume up for 2 days). I had applied to amazon directly before, so I guess their internal job system is not very good. A week later I had the first phone screen. I had to write some Java code on paper (without any references) over the phone and then read it to the guy. We also talked about IMDB and he asked me what feature I might like to add to IMDB.com and went through some object oriented design on that feature as well. About 3 business days later the recruiter set up another phone interview. That interview asked me some more questions, a little general problem solving questions but more about me asking questions about imdb.com. Afterwards there was a coding assignment via e-mail. The time limit was 2 hours and I did not finish the assignment on time. I sent both what I had after 2 hours as well as the finished product and how long it took me (an extra half hour). Overall I was not expecting to hear from them again. 2.5 weeks later they said they wanted to do an on-site interview in Seattle, WA. I suspect I came into the process pretty weak though for not finishing on time.
Amazon put me up in a nice hotel, paid for all the expenses. Their campus was very nice, they had just moved in about a year ago but even with that little bit of disorganization everything was great. Around 9 AM the HR rep got me (a different rep from the phone) and she gave me an overview of the day as well as answered some questions. She also tried to ask about salary, but I really did not know. Then I had several technical interviews followed by lunch with a potential boss followed by one or two more technical interviews. I believe that I had 5 technical interviews in all. Each one consisted of writing java code on the white board. In any case after the white board experience all I can say is that I even appreciate notepad for writing code..... My day job is not programming Java, so while the core language is fine for me, a lot of the API's I do not have memorized and need to refer to the API docs. Occasionally I program in C# which also adds to library confusion. But anyway there were all sorts of problems. I think I solved all of them, although were there syntax errors or small bugs? Probably. Usually at the end of the interview the interviewers would take digital pictures of the white board. I think someone who codes Java all day has a distinct advantage. There were also some sketch the solution problems. Or asking if you could solve things better…or what if you wanted to solve the problem for a billion numbers…Mostly it was coding on the white board though.
The last interview I kept making silly errors and then the interviewer would find an error that I would work through, then he would find another one that I would work through. The total process was only 9-2 with a 45 minute lunch break but with all the stress and constant white board coding I was pretty tired by the end of the day......
They said they would let me know within a week and I got a brief call (which I missed) saying they decided not to move forward. I was not even expecting to get an interview after the second phone screen, so it was a pretty good to see Seattle and interview with one of the tech juggernauts.
I think the interviews went okay, but not GREAT. Often after solving/answering technical questions we would run right up against the time limit and the other interviewer would come in, so I did not get much time to ask questions except for lunch. Therefore, I did not have much time to sell myself. Overall the actual job they were interviewing for was not a good match for my skills at all, I was surprised that the HR rep pulled my resume for that job, so I could not really sell any ready made experience off my resume for that job anyway. I think I could have done the job, but it is not a no brainer did that in my previous job sort of thing.
Overall the interview process seemed okay. 2 months is a long time and many companies have a much shorter process (although a few have a longer one). I am being very selective and looking to do something different from my previous work, which means I get much less interviews than someone just searching for their next job e.g. a Java developer looking for his/her next gig. Overall they don't give any feedback about why they picked or did not pick you, which in my view sucks, but even getting a "no" is better than most companies do, so I cannot complain too much. But certainly if I ever was selected to interview again, I would not have the feedback from my mistakes this time to not commit the same mistakes next time.... Which may result in wasting their time/money again. Still it's hard to know if you sucked, or they just had some superstar candidates....
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