Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated May 27, 2014
All Interviews Received Offers

Getting an Interview  

35%
34%
14%

Interview Experience  

50%
36%
13%

Interview Difficulty  

Average Difficulty
40 candidate interviews
Relevance Date Difficulty
4 people found this helpful

No Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Grants Administrator Interview

Grants Administrator
Seattle, WA

The process took a day - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in October 2011.

Interview Details – I received an email advising a request for a phone interview. On the phone interview the recruiter immediately set my expectations that they are reviewing several candidates and that any information would not be relayed to me for a few weeks. The interview lasted about 45 minutes and consisted of general resume questions and scenario questions.

Interview Questions


2 people found this helpful

No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Research Assistant Interview

Research Assistant
Seattle, WA

The process took a day - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in May 2010.

Interview Details – I responded to an internal university posting for a graduate research assistantship at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The announcement asked for a resume, cover letter, and a list of references. Two weeks after the closing date of the announcement, I was contacted by phone to schedule an interview. The HR representative disclosed that it would be a panel of three interviewers, and that the interview should take approximately one hour. I wore a suit and brought copies of my resume, along with a pad of paper and a writing utensil. The questions were scripted, with some room for follow-up questions, as necessary. As anticipated, the interview took about one hour. I was contacted one week later, being informed that I did not receive the position.

Interview Question – Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?   Answer Question


1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

IT Support Interview

IT Support
Seattle, WA

The process took 6 weeks - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in July 2011.

Interview Details – Applied directly on the Gates Foundation website. One week later I received an email from HR to schedule a phone interview with a senior HR person. All my interactions with the Gates Foundation during the interview process, was professional friendly and helpful, even when telling you you didn't make the cut they were friendly. The only issues I had I was the waiting 6 weeks to find out I didn't make the cut to move on the next level.

Interview Question – All questions related to experience on your resume.   Answer Question


8 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Program Coordinator Interview

Program Coordinator
Seattle, WA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 6+ weeks - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2011.

Interview Details – I first heard from a recruiter about two weeks after applying online. I emailed a contact I have there as soon as I applied, and I think the referral I got from her helped me to get through the resume screening process (the recruiter later told me they had hundreds of applicants for the position). The recruiter set up a time to talk to me and told me to plan for about a 45-minute call. We ended up talking for less than half an hour, and it was all very basic (i.e. questions about my resume and background and lots of time for me to ask questions). She told me I would hear back the next week and the following week I got an email to set up a time to talk to the hiring manager. This conversation was around 45 minutes and was more questions about my resume and experience. A few days after that I heard from a different recruiter who set up a time for me to come in, and I spent four hours at the Foundation the following week (this is now a month after the initial contact). I spoke to the people I will be working with as well as higher-level people and the recruiter. Most of the questions were again about my background, and everyone I spoke to gave me time to ask questions as well. This is not an interview where anyone will try to trick you, and it's much more about making sure the person they hire is a good fit and is dedicated to the mission of the organization. It was overall a good experience and I would recommend focusing on why you are qualified and what you can bring to the position.

Interview Questions

Negotiation Details – Keep in mind that the benefits here add a LOT to the offer. The extraordinarily generous retirement contributions and top-notch health coverage mean you end up with more money in your pocket, and the support they give their employees can make a slightly lower salary worth it.


3 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Easy Interview

Program Officer Interview

Program Officer
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in January 2009.

Interview Details – One phone call interview from HR. 4 1:1 interviews in a very McKinsey style. Now interview process consist of many more 1:1 interviews. They can be very repetitive.

Interview Question – Some questions seem a little silly, but they are designed to observe your logical thinking.   View Answer

Negotiation Details – I was told that these were standard scales and there was no negotiation. But it is possible to negotiate!


7 people found this helpful

No Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Program Assistant Interview

Program Assistant
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2011.

Interview Details – I received a phone interview from applying online. The phone interview went well and the Recruiter even mentioned that she as going to pass my information along to a Hiring Manager and asked why I hadn't applied sooner. I felt that it was very positive. However, I was not contacted and didn't received a response to any of my follow up emails for three weeks.

Interview Question – They questions were very basic. Please go over you resume ith me in detail and elaborate on your experiences. Why do you want to work for the Gates Foundation? What are you hoping to get out of our conversation?   Answer Question


5 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

IT - Business Analyst Interview

IT - Business Analyst
Seattle, WA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in December 2010.

Interview Details – I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was treated during the interview process. They were very gracious in all e-mail to me, thanking me for considering employment there. Given the recent economy and some people still not working, they treated me like I was considering them more than the other way around.

I had a recruiter phone interview first. Very nice woman and we had a good conversation. (Now that I'm with the company, we still keep in touch.) We discussed my past experience and qualifications. Normal first interview type of questions. At the end of that call, she discussed the salary and the benefits. That was helpful. I had been working at a for-profit for 14 years and thought I would be offered less money. I was very surprised to find that I would be making at least as much, if not more at the Gates Foundation. Plus, the benefits are amaziningly better and there's a pension contribution that is given (not based on tenure or job level).

Next, I was set up for all day interviews. I was actually being considered for 2 different jobs. I interviewed with 6 people that day in a conference room. They very nicely had me pre-order lunch but I was in the conference room all day w/ no breaks. Even my lunch was an interview. I didn't eat much as it is awkward to interview and eat (plus, I would have no doubt gotten something stuck in my teeth and that was not the impression I wanted to leave w/ anyone!).

I knew my chances were very good after that series of interviews. I rec'd good feedback and thought I had a good showing. However, I did go back for 2 more interviews late on a Friday afternoon. It was to meet the director of the dept and a person who would be my co-worker (who wasn't available during the first round).

Again, things went well and I thought I might hear next steps the following week. I was blown away when the recruiter called my cell phone before I had even arrived home. I called her back and she verbally gave me the job offer on a Friday night at 6:30pm! Throughout my experiences, everyone was really great, respectful, and complimentary.

The only thing that gave me pause was what I was hearing through my background research (I knew people who had contracted with the Foundation) and even existing employees mentioned this during the interview. That is, that it can be a hard place to work and to get things done. The reasons mentioned were that it is still a young company, working on process and organizational maturity. I see that is true now that I'm here. However, it's also exciting to be part of that building process. It has a bit of a start-up feel. People are really passionate and want to make a difference. Both in the world through the Foundation's mission, but also at the company. If you'd like to join a company where you can be part of the creative input to the processes, systems, and culture, you may like it here!

Interview Question – Pretty basic interview questions for my role. How would I handle this situation or give me an example of a time when you worked on...   View Answer

Negotiation Details – The offer was good. I didn't negotiate.


5 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Program Assistant Interview

Program Assistant
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in February 2009.

Interview Details – I was surprised that I had to be brought in three separate times to interview. Each time the recruiters were scrambling to find individuals to interview me (due to original people being out sick). I was also surprised that during the interviews the people interviewing me were late, or not even sure of what they were asking/looking for in an assistant.

To be fair, 2 of the 4 people who interviewed me are no longer with the foundation (due to their own decision), and it was these two who were the least prepared.

Interview Questions

  • "If person A asks you to schedule meetings, but then person B asks you to make travel arrangements, and then person C tells you to drop everything and do their tasks - what would you do and how would you prioritize?"   View Answer
  • "Have you ever created secure portals on a SharePoint site, and if you have explain how you did it"   View Answer

Negotiation Details – There was no negotiating; I felt that the offer given to me was fair albeit much lower than what I was making at a for-profit corporation ($12,000 less!).


3 people found this helpful

No Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Business Analyst Interview

Business Analyst
Seattle, WA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in February 2010.

Interview Details – The group I interviewed was very busy growing and traveling, so the process took long. I had 2 phone interview, 1 all day interview and another half day interview. It took about a month to hear that I was not offered the position.
I really like everyone there.. it feels like an academic culture trying to become a "company" culture (ie faster, more efficient, etc). I currently work in the for profit sector and the feel of the place was really different. I really wanted the position and continue to look for positions at the Foundation. The pay would have been higher than my current position.

Interview Question – Nothing difficult. Wanted to know about experience with Excel.   Answer Question


6 people found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Average Interview

Project Manager Interview

Project Manager
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in May 2010.

Interview Details – Initial phone w/ HR, followed by phone w/ hiring manager. 1:1 you sit in a room while people come to you. I ate lunch alone, in the room (it was explained that they seem to think that people like a breather to be on their own. er, lunch w/ potential co-workers is where you get a real sense of what it is like to work there.. so that was concerning). You do not get to see where you will work, or who co-workers are aside from those involved in the interview. Interview Qs depended upon the person, but for the most part clearly untrained in determining best fit. A few illegal Qs thrown in, but I think these were ignorance over intentional fact finding. Major attitude w/ junior peers, which is to be expected, I suppose. Not one person could clearly explain how things work or identify specific projects or tasks- everything described in a vague sort of way. I got the distinct sense that decisions are not made easily, or by any specific person or persons. The environment described as collegiate, but seems more like "under managed" is more accurate. Initial follow up emails were not responded to (probably because I wasn't going to be offered the job, but still. "nice to meet you, too" - is that so difficult?). I don't think they would've bothered to tell me that I wasn't going to be offered the position if I hadn't been diligent about following up. My criticisms are not coming from bitterness- to be honest, if I had been offered the job it would've been a difficult decision. Something was not right, and I got the feeling that I was not given an accurate picture of what the job really entailed (despite direct questioning) or what the environment was really like- it was like talking to politicians. To turn down an opportunity to work at Gates would've been major... I probably would've taken it and been miserable within a month.....so in the end best outcome...

Interview Question – Do you get along with all types of managers? What managing style do you prefer?   Answer Question

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