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Top 5 mistakes for failing AWS Solution Architect interviews

Many candidates came to me for coaching help after failing their first, second or even third attempt of interviewing for AWS Solution Architect positions.

Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. From debriefing with clients on their past experiences and coaching them to land AWS offers, I have identified the top 5 mistakes for failing AWS Solution Architect interviews that you should avoid.

Mistake #1: insufficient technical interview preparation. During the initial stage of the interview process, you’ll have a technical skill screening. If you fail this one, you will not progress to virtual onsite loop. Unfortunately, a lot of candidates don’t spend enough time to prepare for the technical questions. At minimum you should give yourself 4 to 8 weeks to get ready. If you have no prior cloud experience, you should allocate additional time and potentially get AWS certifications.

Mistake #2: use too many Amazon Leadership Principles (LPs) buzz words in the answers. “I am extremely customer obsessed”, “I have a strong backbone”, “I think big” — too many candidates mechanically mentioned the LP words multiple times to demonstrate they possess the LP attributes. Your stories/examples should naturally demonstrate the leadership principles. If you have to literally mention the LPs multiple times, you probably don’t have the right narrative.

Mistake #3: try to guess what leadership principles are mapped to an interview question. Some candidates try to guess what leadership principles are behind a question. Instead of answering a question directly, they try to tell a story that maps to the leadership principle they’ve identified. You need to focus on answering each question directly. Don’t over think.

Mistake #4: Lack details and specificity. Some candidates like to tell stories in general terms without getting into enough details and specificity. Amazon has a very detail oriented corporate culture. You need to get into enough details to help interviewers to understand and appreciate what exactly you did, how you did it, and the specific positive outcome you drove. General and vague answers will not get you into Amazon.

Mistake #5: Poor presentation and writing skills. The AWS Solution Architect job has a strong pre-sales component. It requires candidates to demonstrate solid writing and presentation skills. Clear, logical and structured verbal and written communication is absolutely critical. Some candidates are very strong on the technical side, but have a hard time to explain themselves. It’ll take some practices and repetition to hone the communication skills.

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