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Senior Editor Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Redmond, WA
Anonymous Interview Candidate in Redmond, WA
Application Details

I applied through other source. The process took 2+ weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in October 2008.

Interview Details

Did an "informational" interview with a team member (would be a peer) representing the hiring manager. Good fit, so we scheduled a full interview loop, which at Microsoft is a day-long series of 1:1 meetings followed by an "as-appropriate" meeting by the hiring manager's supervisor. In the Microsoft Learning group, you also do an hour-long presentation to show your skills as an instructor. Usually each interviewer is assigned to focus on one area (e.g. data analysis, people management), and this person passes along notes to the next interviewer to probe further into any area of suspected weakness. If any one person in day's series of interviews does not recommend hiring, the decision is usually a no-hire, but this is not always the case.

In this instance, the presentation and all interviews went extremely well except one. Unfortunately, that interview was with a person equivalent to the hiring manager with whom the candidate would need to work closely. This person asked questions in a vague and puzzling manner so that it was extremely difficult to understand the actual question. To be clear, this was not an interview method; rather it was the interviewer's personality. One of the other interviewers actually described this person as strange and difficult to get along with, but with a good heart. In any case, this particular interview was so disasterous it was clear that the relationship would not be a good fit, and since I already had a job at the company there was not an incentive to "fix" the situation by pandering to the one person. If you find a person on the interview loop to be troublesome, it is a good idea to avoid joining the team. Better to work in a group where you are really a good fit. The lesson in this case is simply that, at Microsoft, you need to be successfully with every person on the interview loop, and you will most likely have 5-7, each lasting an hour.

Having interviewed successfully at Microsoft and conducted many interviews for the company, I would say that the most important things to be prepared for are as follows:

1. Be prepared to talk about examples of projects that can back up different points you might need to make: "Here is a project where I needed to get things back on track," or "Here is a project where there were personality conflicts," or "Here is a project where I set goals for success, measured success, and made adjustments afterward." They want real-world examples of what you have done, not general discussions about what you might do."

2. If you suspect that the interviewer is probing into a particular area, do not try to answer quickly and hope cover all areas of your expertise with this person. Most likely the interviewer has been asked to go deep on one area (either because it is that person's background or because this is a suspected area of your weakness). In this case, you'll want to take your time to answer thoughtfully. It is appropriate to ask questions yourself to learn how the group has done things in the past or what it's 5-year plan is.

3. Metrics matter at Microsoft. It is better to measure something incorrectly but consistently than not to measure at all. Or as many people at Microsoft say, "You should never do anything you can't measure." So think about different ways to measure success/efficacy at different levels (customer satisfaction, project cost, reach, click-through).

Regarding compensation, this varies depending on the time of year, the recruiter, and the group. If it is nearing the end of the year they may be more generous with stock options (I was lucky in this regard for my first full-time job at Microsoft).

Interview Questions
  • If you completed a project successfully, but there was a perception that the project was not successful, how would you prove otherwise?   Answer Question
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