2016 Software Engineering Internship Amazon Interview Experience

Update 02 December 2016 
This post received attention on HackerNews and Reddit,
as well as other Internet imageboards, please see those pages for additional
discussion. 

If you'd like to view the source code for this page, it is hosted on GitHub.

This document is intended to show my process with getting an Amazon interview this year. So far, it has been a terrible experience, and I have refused to continue with the next step due to strong privacy considerations.

I hope this is informative to others interested or currently applying for an internship at Amazon.

First, I applied online, and a couple months later, I got an e-mail with a link to two online assessments.
The first part was a relatively normal "debug this code" multiple choice test, I was given 24 minutes for 7 questions. Most of them were simple off-by-one or boolean logic errors.
The second part was a logical reasoning assessment. I had 35 minutes for 24 questions.

Update 02 December 2016 
I have received a cease and desist notice from Aspiring Minds, the company
who created AMCAT, the test I received. I originally had a few questions from
the test below, which are now removed.

To describe the images, they were
1) a reading comprehension question
2) a "find the odd one out" pattern matching question
3) a question about what can be inferred from mathematical statements
4) a mathematical "find the pattern" analogy question 
            

Below are a few of the questions, the entire set is uploaded here (link removed 02 December 2016).

(images removed 02 December 2016)

Hopefully these should convince you that this test has absolutely nothing to do with programming skill.

Second, I received a second online assessment, facilitated via proctor.io. I first had to install Google Chrome (Chromium worked), which I did, and then install the Proctorio extension and allow it to operate in incognito mode. Then I received these exam instructions.

In particular, I am not a fan of tracking physical location, all running applications, or other browser tabs (I'm not sure how this works with Chrome's sandbox, though).
At this point I refused to continue, sending the following e-mail to the recruiter at Amazon. If any other potential interns get a similar test, please strongly consider the privacy implications of such a testing platform, and consider a similar response.

Hi,

I received an online assessment from Amazon for a software engineering internship interview. However, this assessment raises extreme privacy concerns:

	The following information will be collected during the duration of the exam:

	Your microphone
	Your webcam
	Your physical location
	Your clipboard
	Your mouse location
	Your browser size
	Your browser tabs and windows
	Your head movements
	Your eye movements
	Your mouth movements
	Your entire screen
	Any website you visit
	Any other applications running
	Number of display screens connected


These are unacceptable requirements (along with the 'must use Google Chrome' requirement).

I can suggest alternatives:  I am available for an on-site interview <during these dates>. I am also available for a video chat at any time.

Are either of these possible?

Thank you for your time,
<my name>
			
I have not yet received a response, but I will update this document when I do.

This page was archived on the Internet Archive on 01 December 2016.

My final note is to ask a question. To what extent should personal ethics play in deciding where a (software) engineer should work?
What if the engineer has no other choices for a job, and needs to (make rent/pay the bills/eat food)?
It is true that it'd be pretty easy to circumvent the tracking, by placing paper over the webcam, running the browser in a virtual machine, spoofing data to the browser, and so on. However these are infeasible for most non-technical people, so I don't think it's a real solution.

Update 12 December 2016 
First I received an e-mail from Amazon saying that there were no other
alternatives to taking the Proctorio test. When I again refused, I was told
that Amazon will not be continuing the interview process with me.