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Amazon Solutions Architect Interview Questions

To help you prepare for a Solutions Architect interview at Amazon, here are 30 interview questions and answer examples.

Amazon was written by and published on December 1st, 2021. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 30

Do you subscribe to the theory of 'Fail Early and Fail Forward?'

How to Answer

Fail early and fail forward refers to the philosophy of taking risks in a process before they have greater impacts and learning quickly from your failures so they can be corrected and avoided in the future. Some organizations like Amazon subscribe to this practice, especially entrepreneurial and innovative companies. More conservative companies avoid failure and take additional precautions when developing new processes, procedures, or applications. How you respond to this question will depend on the nature of the specific Amazon organization. Try to gauge the group's tolerance for risk and the consequences of failures before answering the Amazon interviewer's question.

Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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Amazon Solutions Architect Interview Questions & Answers

  • Behavioral

    1. Do you subscribe to the theory of 'Fail Early and Fail Forward?'

      How to Answer

      Fail early and fail forward refers to the philosophy of taking risks in a process before they have greater impacts and learning quickly from your failures so they can be corrected and avoided in the future. Some organizations like Amazon subscribe to this practice, especially entrepreneurial and innovative companies. More conservative companies avoid failure and take additional precautions when developing new processes, procedures, or applications. How you respond to this question will depend on the nature of the specific Amazon organization. Try to gauge the group's tolerance for risk and the consequences of failures before answering the Amazon interviewer's question.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "I have found the failing early and failing forward is a viable methodology when an organization like Amazon needs to move quickly, and the consequences of failures are minimal. Employing this philosophy helps develop applications quicker, avoiding more serious consequences of failures later in the process. If done properly, it also enables solutions architects to learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating them. Naturally, I take into account the impact of failures and take precautions to avoid major mistakes which will require a great deal of time or resources to correct."

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

  • Communication

    2. How would you describe Amazon Web Services (AWS) to someone outside of Amazon's IT organization?

      How to Answer

      As a solution architect, you are expected to collaborate with teams and individuals from across the organization. This requires you to have well-developed communication skills. One of the challenges is discussing technical topics with people who do not have a technical background. The best approach is to keep your language simple and easy to understand, avoiding acronyms and industry jargon non-IT professionals may not be familiar with. Throughout the interview, the Amazon interviewer will be evaluating your communication skills based on the answers you provide to their questions.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "Amazon Web Services, also known as AWS, are similar to our in-house information technology organization in that it involves hardware, software, and network infrastructure. The difference is Amazon buys the infrastructure, applications, and communications as a service rather than providing it ourselves with In-house Resources. AWS is responsible for maintaining the hardware, licensing the software, and ensuring that the network is up and running at all times. This not only reduces our IT costs, but it also allows us to increase or decrease our IT resources based on changing demands and requirements."

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

  • Creative Thinking

    3. Can you describe a creative solution to a challenging problem you developed in your role as a solutions architect?

      How to Answer

      Interviewers at Amazon will ask you about solutions you have provided to challenging problems to understand your capabilities and determine if you are qualified to address some of the issues they are facing. When preparing for an interview, you should put together two to three stories of how you helped your previous employers address issues similar to the ones described in the Amazon job description. These stories will help you confirm your qualifications and describe your services to Amazon.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "In a recent role, our company was having difficulties communicating with its customers about service issues. I analyzed the situation and determined that most communications were via telephone, which resulted in missed calls, voice mails, and a general lack of connecting with the customer. I proposed a solution involving a chat application customers could use to raise issues with the service desk. We implemented this, and the response from the customers was positive. We took additional steps to develop a FAQ resource and allow customers to text their issues to a central service desk contact. Customer complaints were reduced by 40% due to the steps."

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

  • Direct

    4. What is meant by the Single Responsibility Principle, and how do you use this in your work?

      How to Answer

      There are many principles used in application programming. The Amazon interviewer is asking you about one of these. You should be able to easily answer this question based on your education and experience. The key is to use non-technical, easy-to-understand language when describing a principle to the interviewer. You may not be familiar with the depth of their technical background or their ability to understand complex concepts. Communicating clearly and effectively helps you in the interview and demonstrates your ability to collaborate with individuals from across Amazon's organization regardless of their technical knowledge. Interviewers are always looking for this skill when interviewing solutions architects.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Direct

    5. Can you explain CAP Theorem?

      How to Answer

      CAP is an acronym that stands for consistency, availability, and partition tolerance. The CAP theorem states that a distributed computer system can at best optimize only two of these at the same time. Your answer should communicate this to the Amazon interviewer and then discuss the tradeoffs between the components of CAP. You may want to provide examples of how you have reduced one of these components to strengthen the other two in certain situations.

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  • Discovery

    6. Please talk about a time when you analyzed a difficult problem and came up with an innovative solution.

      How to Answer

      Amazon prefers people who are creative, innovative, and good problem solvers. Being able to describe when you created an innovative solution to solve a complex challenge will set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your qualifications for this position. If possible, describe a situation that aligns with Amazon's needs. These requirements can be found in the job description or on the company's website.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Discovery

    7. What do you believe your role is concerning supporting Amazon's functional analysts?

      How to Answer

      Solutions architects and functional analysts work side-by-side within any organization. The functional analyst's role is to look at the organization's processes, procedures, and guidelines to ensure they are effective in helping the company attain its business objectives. The solutions architect converts these business strategies into IT services the organization uses to conduct its business. These two teams must collaborate effectively to achieve this goal. The Amazon interviewer wants to ensure that not only are you aware of this, but you also have experience working with functional analysts.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Leadership

    8. Can you describe a key project you recently led as a solutions architect?

      How to Answer

      Amazon hires individuals for one of three reasons: to help them make money, save money, or save time. The fact that you're sitting at an Amazon interview indicates that you demonstrated your ability to do one of these three things in your resume, LinkedIn profile, or from comments from your references. The Amazon interviewer will explore this in more detail during the interview by asking you about specific accomplishments and achievements from your previous positions. You should develop between three and five stories of how you've helped your previous employers make money, save money or save time. You can use the STAR framework when telling the stories. Start by stating the situation, then describe the task you needed to achieve, followed by your actions. Finish by talking about the results you achieved and how they contributed to the business's objectives.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Operational

    9. What is your strategy for securing the IT assets and intellectual property of an organization?

      How to Answer

      During an interview for a solutions architect role at Amazon, you will be asked many questions about how you go about securing the organization's IT infrastructure and the data Amazon uses to conduct its operations. IT security is a top concern among today's business organizations and is one of the reasons they seek to hire experience solutions architects. You should discuss different security measures you take and have several examples prepared of how you've done this in your previous positions. These will serve as proof that you're qualified for this role and encourage the employer to offer you the position.

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  • Solutions Architect

    10. How do you ensure that the software you develop will scale?

      How to Answer

      Organizations like Amazon anticipate that they will continue to grow and expand over time. Therefore, the applications they use should be able to grow or scale as well. This makes the applications more effective and reduces the additional programming and development required to keep up with the organization's expansion. As a solutions architect, you should describe how you create programs that scale with the organization and anticipate future growth. You need to balance scalability with the number of resources the applications require when the organization is in its current state and size.

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  • Technical

    11. How do you define high availability, and what are some steps you take to ensure this?

      How to Answer

      As the name implies, availability addresses the ability of a user or process to access a computing resource within the network. As you can infer, organizations like Amazon prefer high availability since this enables their workforce to perform their duties at any time using IT resources. There are several steps you can take to ensure the increased availability of IT Resources. The Amazon interviewer is interested in learning about your knowledge of these and ensuring that you can use them within their organization.

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  • Technical

    12. When would you use a NoSQL database, and when would using a relational database be better?

      How to Answer

      This question may seem similar to the one you were asked earlier in the interview with Amazon. Interviewers will ask similar questions throughout the interview to explore a topic in more detail or calibrate your answers. This question helps them determine if you are fabricating some of the information you are providing and being consistent throughout the interview. Keeping your answers brief and to the point and not making up answers if you don't understand the topic will ensure that you are consistent.

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  • Technical

    13. What are monolithic, SOA and microservices architectures, and how do they differ from one another?

      How to Answer

      Solution architects develop many different types of It architectures. These are designed specifically for the types of operations an organization like Amazon executes and the needs of its users. IT infrastructures can support different times of architectures and services, utilizing the resources within the infrastructure. The Amazon interviewer may be interested and your familiarity with these and whether you implemented them in your previous roles.

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  • Technical

    14. Can you describe some of the differences between concurrency and parallelism?

      How to Answer

      Sometimes the Amazon interviewer will ask you about two terms that seem to be similar but are slightly different. Only the most qualified solutions architects will be familiar with the nuances of these types of terms. An excellent way to answer a question like this is to first explain the terms' similarities and then contrast, demonstrating that you are aware of their differences.

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  • Technical

    15. Please discuss the concept of elasticity as used in your role as a solutions architect and how it contrasts with scalability.

      How to Answer

      As with any profession, some of the terminology used may have special meanings. The Amazon interviewer is asking you about a concept specific to your role as a solutions architect and to contrast it with another concept. Reviewing the terminology, processes, and procedures used in this job before the interview with Amazon will keep them fresh in your mind and allow you to easily respond to these types of questions. Knowing where to find the information is another way to respond to the question if you are unfamiliar with the topic.

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  • Technical

    16. Do you prefer to create programs aligned with interfaces or implementations, and why?

      How to Answer

      Creating programs aligned either with interfaces or implementations are two methodologies used when developing software. Knowing the differences between these, including their benefits and liabilities, is important. Being able to describe this to the Amazon interviewer will help you establish your qualifications for this role and separate you from the other candidates. Since this is a technical question, keep your answer brief and to the point.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    17. What does system resiliency refer to, and how would you achieve this here at Amazon?

      How to Answer

      System resiliency is similar to high availability in that it relates to systems being available when needed. Solutions architects build resiliency into systems using several different methodologies. Interviewers at Amazon will be very interested in your ability to do this since organizations lose money when their IT systems are down, and their employees can't do their jobs. It would be best to have a portfolio of solutions to design system resiliency and high availability.

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  • Technical

    18. Can you define the acronym SOLID and discuss its key principles?

      How to Answer

      Organizations like Amazon use Object-Oriented Design, or OOD, to develop their software products and applications. Since you are expected to know this, you should be prepared for many questions addressing OOD principles, including ones asking you to define OOD terms and concepts. An effective way to respond to this question is to first describe what the term SOLID means, then discuss each element of the acronym.

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  • Technical

    19. How are DRY and DIE principles used in software engineering?

      How to Answer

      By asking this question, the interviewer assumes that you know the acronyms DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) and DIE (Duplication is Evil) and how they are used in software engineering. If you know the acronyms, answer the question using them since the interviewer at Amazon has indicated that they know what they mean. If you are not familiar with the acronyms, state this to the interviewer and ask them to clarify the question. You always why make sure that you are answering the question which the interviewer is asking.

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  • Technical

    20. Are there any issues with employing sticky sessions in your systems architecture?

      How to Answer

      This is an example of a follow-up question. Interviewers will ask follow-up questions if they need more information about a topic or want to dig into it in more detail. You should anticipate follow-up questions any time you provide the Amazon interviewer with an answer. If they immediately ask a follow-up question, they indicate a strong interest in the topic, and you should spend more time discussing it. If the follow-up question is asked later in the interview, it is a way for them to correlate your answers to ensure you are consistent throughout the interview. Keeping your answers brief and to the point and not fabricating answers will help you to maintain consistency.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    21. What is meant by "Session Affinity," and how does this relate to the concept of sticky session load balancing?

      How to Answer

      Session affinity, sticky sessions, and load balancing are interrelated and address how processes are run within an IT architecture. Knowing this and describing it to the Amazon interviewer will demonstrate your qualifications as a solutions architect. Since these terms and concepts are unique to the IT industry, try to keep your answer simple and easy to understand, avoiding the use of acronyms or industry jargon the interviewer may not be familiar with.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    22. What are the differences between a binary and mutex semaphore?

      How to Answer

      Once again, you are being asked about two terms used within this profession. In this case, the Amazon interviewer wants you to compare and contrast these since both of them control how an application gains access to the resources it needs. This will confirm your knowledge of the topic and inform the interviewer whether you've used these items in your previous jobs. Since this is a technical question, you should keep your answer brief and to the point, using simple and easy-to-understand language. You should also be prepared for a follow-up question indicating that the interviewer has a specific interest in this topic.

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  • Technical

    23. What are some of the steps you recommend to protect Amazon from a 'DOS' attack?

      How to Answer

      One of the key responsibilities of a solution architect is to work with the IT organization to develop systems that protect Amazon's proprietary information and other confidential resources. Interviewers will ask you about your ability to do this and may ask specific questions similar to this one about certain types of attacks they have already experienced. Suppose the Amazon interviewer asks multiple questions about a specific type of security threat. In that case, you can assume that it is challenging the organization, and you should focus your answers on how you've prevented or defeated these types of attacks in your previous roles.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    24. How is the term deadlock used in your role as a solutions architect?

      How to Answer

      As with any profession, solution architects use terms, concepts, processes, and procedures specific to their daily activities. This is an example of a term having a meaning similar to one with a more general definition. Since this is a technical question, you should keep your answer brief and to the point and anticipate a follow-up question from the Amazon interviewer. You may also want to confirm that your answer aligns with the interviewer's understanding of the term.

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  • Technical

    25. What does the acronym ACID stand for?

      How to Answer

      This should be easily identifiable as a technical question since it asks you to define an acronym. No interviewer expects you to be familiar with all the acronyms, terminology, processes, and procedures used in this profession, but you should know about the more common ones. To be prepared for these questions, you should review these items before the interview with Amazon so that they are fresh in your mind. If you don't know the definition of an acronym, admit this to the interviewer, then discuss how you would locate the information.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    26. What are the benefits of clustering?

      How to Answer

      Clustering involves connecting computer resources that perform similar functions and use similar data with each other. The key benefits of clustering include availability and performance. Interviewers at Amazon will ask you about this technology to determine if you have used it before and know how to cluster IT resources. This also indicates that they employ clustering in their environment. When discussing the benefits of clustering, you may also want to bring up its vulnerabilities.

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  • Technical

    27. Please explain domain-driven design.

      How to Answer

      There are many types of design methodologies used when developing software applications. While you may have ones that you prefer, you should be aware of all of them so you can discuss their merits, benefits, and the rationale for why you use the ones you employ. Knowing the types of design methodologies Amazon uses will help you frame your answer as compatible with theirs or recommend alternatives to help them become more efficient and productive.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    28. What is a lower latency interaction, and why is it desirable in an application?

      How to Answer

      Latency is the time it takes for a communication to occur within an IT Network. The higher the latency, the slower the applications of the more time the user spends waiting for responses to their queries or input. Therefore, low latency is always more desirable. Not only should you know this, but you should be able to provide the Amazon interviewer with examples of how you reduce latency between applications and across the network.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    29. What are the advantages of using a NoSQL database instead of an RDBMS?

      How to Answer

      One of the technologies solutions architects deal with frequently is databases. Therefore, you should have a deep understanding of the different types of databases and compare and contrast them. Knowing which type of database to use for a specific situation will demonstrate your qualifications for this role. If possible, you should try to determine which type of database Amazon is currently using to emphasize this when answering these types of questions.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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  • Technical

    30. Please discuss some of the differences between asynchronous and parallel programming?

      How to Answer

      As a solutions architect, the Amazon interviewer will expect you to be knowledgeable about a wide range of topics related to information technology and how computing systems address business issues within an organization. While it is virtually impossible to be familiar with all the terminology, processes, and procedures used in Amazon's IT organization, you should be knowledgeable about the more common ones, and especially those that Amazon may be using. You can identify these by researching the company. Sources for information include their website, the job description, and conversations with current and former Amazon IT staff members.

      Written by William Swansen on December 1st, 2021

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