How to answer Amazon "Deliver Results" interview questions

The fourteenth Amazon Leadership Principle is “Deliver Results.” If you’re preparing for an interview at Amazon, you should ask yourself what the company means by delivering results and how this principle relates to the role you’re applying for.

If you don’t know about the Amazon leadership principles, consider first reading this article about interviewing at Amazon.

The “Deliver Results” principle

Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.

What does the “Deliver Results” leadership principle mean?

This is the fourteenth and last Amazon leadership principle, and in many ways, it’s the most important.

Delivering results is the one thing you absolutely must do if you work at Amazon. The other thirteen principles are important, but they’re merely building blocks to this final one. In other words, if you ignore your customers but still get the results, then you’ve succeeded, even if you’ve disregarded the first principle. Common sense says that paying attention to your customers is important, but if you can figure out a way to succeed without paying attention to customers, then you’re doing the right thing.

In the words of the principle itself, if you “rise to the occasion” – meaning succeed in what you were doing – you’ve shown yourself to be a leader.

 You may be asking yourself, “What is the point of the other principles if you don’t actually have to follow them?” I can understand your confusion because you’ve been studying the other thirteen principles, and now I’m telling you that they’re not crucial. It’s not that the other principles aren’t important, because they definitely are. It’s just that you need to think of them as the building blocks, and look at “Deliver Results” as the final product. The first thirteen are intended to be the steps you need to take to get results.

How to Answer Questions Related to the “Deliver Results” Leadership Principle

So how do you actually show in your answers that you’ve delivered results? You need to tell stories about successes.

You can use a phrase like this to show your investment in delivering results:

“I was able to have a lot of responsibility and decision-making ability for X project, and by doing Y tasks, I delivered results in Z number of launches.”

In this phrase you talk about the tasks you did in order to create a particular result. This will fit easily into your PAR format answer – the situation or problem is the project you were working on and the action step is the tasks you did in order to create successful results.

Interview Questions Related to the “Deliver Results” Principle

If your interviewer asks about this leadership principle, she or he might ask one of the following questions:

  • Describe a situation where you had to face a particularly challenging situation while working on a project and what you did to overcome it. (Note: The challenge could be with respect to timeline, scope, people, or a combination thereof.)

  • How you check your progress against your goals?

  • Do you set and communicate smart team goals, expectations, and priorities; help employees stay focused/help others remove barriers/roadblocks towards meeting team goals?

  • Tell me about a time when you were able to persevere through setbacks and overcome obstacles to deliver outstanding results.

  • Tell me about a time where you not only met the goal but considerably exceeded expectations. How were you able to do it?

  • What’s the most complex problem you’ve ever worked on?

  • Have you ever worked on something really hard and then failed?

Sample Answers for “Deliver Results” Interview Questions

Question: Tell me about a time you not only met your goals, but exceeded expectations.

Answer given by a Senior Technical Account Manager

“There was one time when I was working as a consultant for USAF. On one of the daily standup calls, the client (USAF Project manager) mentioned that most of his other applications do smart card authentication. He wanted to add that feature to the Oracle Application I was working on.

So, even though this wasn’t a formal request from him I ran with it. I started a conversation with Oracle on understanding the products we could leverage to get job done. I set up meetings with their product teams, got to know the product, discussed our requirements, and decided that we could come up with a solution. I implemented that solution in our development environment. I had the proof of concept done before the next sprint started in four weeks.

I just about knocked the project manager’s socks off when I showed him that POC! The feature wasn’t technically part of the project plan, and he had no idea I would try to add it. He was really pleased.”

I like this story because the account manager says a lot about himself in a succinct and relatable way. He answers the question exactly and shows he goes above and beyond when he “Drives Results.” It comes natural to him, and he takes pride in it. (And yes, he got the job!)

Question: Describe a situation where you had to face a particularly challenging situation while working on a project and what you did to overcome it.

Answer given by an Agile Coach

“Our company recently migrated from SDLC to Agile. It was a difficult transition due to the mindset of my peers. They were used to delivering projects in a waterfall methodology for such a long time it was difficult for them to completely accept Agile principles.

I had already delivered a large project with Agile using Jira as the tool while working very closely with our business partners and analysts. I could see my manager was struggling with bringing everyone completely on board. So I took the initiative of learning Rally and setting up all my peers with workspace in Rally. I also created a guide with instructions on using various functionality in Rally for them to set up their teams and how to get started with Agile ceremonies. My manager was appreciative of my efforts.

Not every organization/team was going to go Agile at the same time, so we had a large integration project this year where the team was still waterfall whereas ours was Agile. This project was an ideal candidate to form a vertical stack Agile team and collaborate throughout the year to deliver. I was able to present a case to senior management of their organization to form a cross-organizational Agile team. Today we have a cross functional and cross org Agile team that has a set cadence.”

This story is about one of the most challenging parts of any business – culture change. When choosing your own stories, try to think of challenging situations that the interviewer may have experience him or herself. To “Drive Results,” the Agile Coach took control of the situation by learning new tools and methodologies, and then introduced those concepts to his immediate team. He then used what he learned to drive change in other parts of the organization.

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 I’m happy to say that after working with me, my clients, who range from entry level to executive level, have done well in their interviews and gotten the job they wanted at Amazon.

If you’d like to work with me to prepare for your interview, email me at jennifer@interviewgenie.com to schedule a free 15 minute consultation or a full interview prep session.

Interview Genie is an American interview prep company specializing in interviews at American companies.