Microsoft Interview Questions & Reviews
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Content Developer Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
Interviewed at Microsoft
Interview Details – I was employed at Microsoft for many years. I have interviewed once as an external applicant, and at least 20 times as an internal candidate. I was also an As Appropriate interviewer (AA), in that I was trained to be the final interviewer who's interviewing specifically for Microsoft potential. I've interviewed and hired many people over the years. I hope this information helps. :)
Expect one or more standard phone screens followed by an invitation for on-site interviews. I don't know much about the phone screen process since I was a product group manager and not part of the initial recruiting. In my experience, the best way to prepare for a Microsoft interview is as follows:
1. Create a table with the elements of the job description in one column, your level of competence with that requirement in the second column, and a specific example of when you applied that skill in the third. Have one row for each requirement, each responsibility, and for any other qualities mentioned in the job description.
2. Write a two or three sentence answer to the question: Why do you want to work at Microsoft?
3. Be clear about what you have learned. Where have you failed? What did you learn from that and how did you apply that knowledge to a subsequent situation?
4. Write two to three sentences about what your unique contribution has been to each position you've held. This is referred to as your "super power." Are you the person who finds flaws in the plan? Are you the person who has big ideas? Are you the one person who's not afraid to disagree? Find your thing and lead with it.
Microsoft wants its employees to be self-critical and willing to grow. You will need those skills in order to succeed as much as you need technical or professional skills.
I've seen other posts with more details about the process, so I won't repeat them. Just be honest about yourself. You don't need to dredge up and reveal the worst things about yourself, but you should be willing to expose who you really are, where you need and want to grow, and what your unique contribution to the company or group might be.
Interview Question – How did working at your last job change you? Answer Question
Negotiation Details – I didn't negotiate and realize now I should have.
Program Manager Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Microsoft.
Interview Details – Setup through University Recruiting.
One on campus interview. Interviewer asked me what I am passionate about and asked me to design an app for it on paper.
Next Onsite. It will be 8 hours long and 5 rounds. Two junior level PMs, one engineer, and two exec level PMs.
Asked me to design systems on whiteboards and pointed out edge cases, which I had to address in the design. Last interview with the top exec and was very pleasant conversation about why I wanted to be a PM then design a product problem.
Interview Question – Nothing really. Even if it comes up. Stay calm and take a moment to think about it. Always think back to the user and you'll be good. Answer Question
Software Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in October 2013.
Interview Details – I got the opportunity to do a phone interview for them because of a connection. The recruiters were very nice. We exchanged some emails and set up a phone interview. I wasn't very well prepared but I did ok, not good enough though.
Interview Question – I wasn't expecting a technical question in my phone interview, so it didn't go well but if I had prepared I probably would have done very well. Answer Question
Senior Software Development Engineer In Test Lead Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in September 2010.
Interview Details – I was very impressed with the efficiency of the hiring process.
After submitting my resume on Microsoft.com/jobs, I did not hear from the team I applied to. But within a week, I was contacted by a different team about a job that was a better fit. There was a technical phone screen which included homework to write code and email it in. Then I was invited to fly to Redmond for an interview. I met with six interviewers in one day, which included my manager, a couple peers, and a direct report. It was a grueling day, but there were no big surprises or questions I was not prepared for. During the interviews, it became clear to both me and to the interviewers that I was qualified for more than the position they were hiring for. They had the flexibility to change the scope of the job (and the level) to better fit my qualifications.
The whole process - from first visiting the web site to getting an offer took about a month.
Interview Question – There was a detailed technical question about a test strategy for a complex system built with a domain-specific language. When I answered in general terms, the interviewer kept pressing for more specifics and detailed examples. I finally realized that she didn't really understand the problem. I confronted her with "This is your job, isn't it? And you don't know how to do it!" She admitted I was right. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – I was able to negotiate for special needs on a relocation package.
Intern Interview (Neutral Experience)
I applied through college or university and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Microsoft.
Interview Details – 1 HR interview that included behavioural questions in addition to ligh technical questions, followed by 3 onsite interviews. 2 interview were focused on coding, and the third was purely testing.
Interview Question – Nothing unexpected. Answer Question
Associate Consultant Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in October 2012.
Interview Details – I applied through the MACH (Microsoft Academy of College Hires) website for the Technical Account Manager position. They conducted interviews for this and the Associate Consultant position simultaneously. The first contact was an email to schedule a phone call. The phone interview went really well - the interviewer was friendly and it was more of a conversation than an interview. The only specific question I remember involved being in an office with a window and trying to determine the weather outside without using the internet (the answer boiled down to - go outside/stick your hand out the window). The interviewer encouraged me to read two books: How to Move Mt. Fuji, a collection of Microsoft interview questions and The Nordstrom Way, a history of the clothing company with a strong emphasis on customer service that Microsoft tries to emulate. Protip: READ THESE BOOKS. Many of my questions during the interview phase involved some version of these mental puzzles, and one of them basically mimicked a scenario from the Nordstrom book. Other than that, they were mostly hypothetical scenario questions - how would you respond to X, if person Y said ___, how would you respond, etc.
Interview Question – Name as many Microsoft products as you can (surprisingly difficult if you haven't really studied the full stack). The most difficult technical question I got was: how to you prevent scammers from creating fake banking websites to steal user login information. View Answer
Software Development Engineer II Interview (Neutral Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied in-person and the process took a day - interviewed at Microsoft in July 2014.
Interview Details – 4 tech interviews, detailed questions, game of life, matrices, design questions, hash table questions. Talked through what it means to be a developer, why you want to be a developer, what to expect etc.
Interview Question – moving pixels in MxM image over time. Answer Question
Internship Interview (Neutral Experience)
Interviewed at Microsoft
Interview Details – There are two rounds of interviews. The first I did at school. Had I gotten to the second round, I would have been flown to Seattle for an interview. They asked a lot about previous programming projects I had done and how I would change various aspects of them to do different things.
Interview Question – I had a programming question about sorting balls to find the lightest or heaviest one. Blanked on using a base case which really hurt my chances. Answer Question
Product Advisor Interview (Neutral Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in July 2012.
Interview Details – Copies the Apple store. First will be a group interview where they show videos of the fun things that happen. Then 1-1 with an Assistant Manager. If you pass that on to a 1-1 with the store manager.
Interview Question – Would you move for the job. Was weird for a regular retail job. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – None
Software Development Engineer (SDE) II Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took a day - interviewed at Microsoft in July 2014.
Interview Details – This is just a phone screen in which the interviewer asked basic questions. I was actually not very interested because I had just learned that 18,000 people are being laid off from their jobs. One interesting question was: If a single bit has two possible values (0 or 1) than how many possible values in an 8-bit byte?
Interview Question – Write a function to remove duplicates from a list of characters. View Answer
Interviews for Top Jobs at Microsoft
See What Microsoft Employees Are Saying
Pros: “Wide variety of very interesting and opportunities to make an impact on the world like few companies in the world can. The company is starting to make the right decisions faster, but this…” “Wide variety of very interesting and opportunities to make an impact on the world like few companies in the world can. The company is starting to make the right decisions faster, but this is a work still in progress.” – Full Review