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Microsoft Software Development Engineer II Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jul 21, 2014
All Interviews Received Offers

Getting an Interview  

36%
29%
22%

Interview Experience  

73%
14%
11%

Interview Difficulty  

Average Difficulty
44 candidate interviews Back to all interview questions
Relevance Date Difficulty
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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Bellevue, WA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Microsoft in July 2011.

Interview Details – I was interviewing to R&D group in Bing. I had phone screen first, then onsite interview with 4 developers and managers. My interview experience was great -- everybody was very polite and asked interesting questions. Almost all interview questions was related to algorithms, statistics and machine learning. If you want to pass such kind of interview, start to solve problems on Topcoder or Kaggle.

Interview Question – Mathematically prove "Birthday paradox".   View Answer

Negotiation Details – Always try to negotiate. Microsoft is quite flexible here and 10% can be easy to achieve.


No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Bellevue, WA

I applied online - interviewed at Microsoft in May 2013.

Interview Details – I had phone interview with hiring manager. He was really nice and supportive. he asked question about my background and what i do at my current company. explained it well.
then coding question - write a program to add a node to the list.
I asked if i should consider it as sorted linked list.
They always expect the better code, so when you write down "working" code, they'll ask to modify it.
At end, I asked few questions about the team & company & product.
overall experience was good.

Interview Question – write a program to add a node to the sorted list.   Answer Question


1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took a day - interviewed at Microsoft in April 2013.

Interview Details – They wanted a TechPM to do full time development without doing any analysis of what the business flow or work flow is.....they basically wanted labors who can write down code for them without even understanding why they are writing the code. I went thru the loop of 6 rounds....went on well...thought I would clear...But the next day the HM said we can take you for this position as you are more of a tech-functional role...

Interview Question – None   Answer Question


1 person found this helpful

Declined Offer

Neutral Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I interviewed at Microsoft in April 2012.

Interview Details – Regular interview cycle for MS, one HR round for intros, a technical phone screening and one day full of technical interviews (5 in all). Tech interviews required white board skills. In phone screening i was asked to write and read the code out in phone.

Interview Question – Spatial question: In a canvas containing other windows (rectangles) place a new window (rectangle) without intersecting others.   Answer Question


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in April 2012.

Interview Details – It is quick and smooth. I interviewed around 11:30am --- have lunch with hiring manager then meet with a couple of technical fellow then a testing manager and finally the engineering director. All friendly and nice.

Interview Question – What do you think your level in Microsoft if we hire you?   Answer Question


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Easy Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in January 2013.

Interview Details – Like other postings on this site have indicated, the standard hiring process with engineering seems to be one technical phone screen and a day of fun and games on site (provided that the phone screen went well). This was my second interview with Microsoft. Back in 2008, I interviewed for an SDET position for which I received an offer and graciously accepted. I voluntarily left the company 2 years later because I did not enjoy my work as an SDET. Contrary to what the recruiter will tell you, it's quite difficult to move around within the company once you're there. I've found that it's actually much easier to just leave the company and come back on your own terms -- which is pretty much how I did it. Although one piece of advice there: make sure you have a rock star record before leaving because they save that stuff and will review it if you return. This was a bridge that I made absolutely sure *not* to burn on my way out.

I was contacted by an MSFT recruiter about an SDE position. I did an initial phone interview with someone. He was quite personable and asked me a lot of questions about things on my resume. There was one particular personal side-project that he thought was interesting and we discussed it at great depth for maybe 45 minutes. The questions didn't feel quizzical, but rather like he was actually interested and engaged in what I had done.

Then he asked some basic work related questions around how the file system at my current company works. Next, we did some coding in a shared document. This part wasn't bad. He asked me to insert a node in to a binary search tree (BST) and then balance it. All in all, I wrote the code to insert a node, get current balance of the tree, determine the current height of any node, and the rotate_left and rotate_right functions in the case where a rotation is needed to restore the balance. It was around 120 lines of code give or take. All done in the C programming language. Not bad. The bottom line in any interview is that if it's on your resume, it's fair game.

Then they brought me on campus for a full round of interviews. They scheduled me to talk to 4 different folks which were on an itinerary that they gave to me in the lobby when I walked in. What they don't tell you though is that each interviewer is a gate-keeper to the next, so if at any point in time you don't do well, then it's "game over". If, however, you do well, you'll end up finishing the entire schedule, plus doing at 2-3 additional bonus interviews. I went in around 9:30 and left some time after 5. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that you'll receive an offer, but if you're shown the door before you finish (minimally) what's on your schedule, that's probably a bad sign.

I went in there with my coding weapons off safety -- but I didn't feel like I was grilled as thoroughly (technically) as I should have been. I was asked a lot of design questions mostly around locking, thread synchronization, and scheduling, data compression and snapshot operations on file systems. All in all, I didn't have any trouble with anything and the interviews felt more like a conversation about the things that I am passionate about. I expected to write more code than they asked me to -- and certainly I was prepared. Each interviewer will make a recommendation to the next on where to focus their attention in an attempt to find a weakness -- similarly, they'll also recommend areas to skip if your skill level in that particular area is already of known (good) quantity. They're constantly probing in different places throughout the day, scanning for a weakness, and if you're strong in something, my observation has been that they will adjust their approach (as opposed to continuing to set'em up and allowing you to knockin'em down). I demolished the first couple of coding problems early on and I think that's why they changed vantage points to a most holistic approach -- they wanted to know if I could see the "big picture". At one point in the day, I even asked for another coding problem at which point, I was politely declined. So then I offered to give them one instead. Again, denied, lol.

My day ended sometime between 5pm and 6pm. I can't exactly remember what time it was (perhaps 5:30), but it was dark out (and cold!). Having done it twice now, the one best piece of advice I'd give to anyone is to get a lot of sleep the night before, rather than study. Studying the night before won't save you. :) Regardless of the technical level of difficulty, this process can be quite nerve-racking. Emotionally, it takes its toll and by the end, I was exhausted.

They called me three days later and said that they wanted to move forward with an offer.

Interview Question – Design a scheduler to run many functions at different times. It needs to (obviously) be thread-safe. Each task which is scheduled to run will have a time stamp, containing a desired execution time, a function pointer (containing the desired function). Also, find a way to supply the arguments to each function. Implement the mechanisms for scheduling/removing work to be done. How would you handle functions that must be serialized as opposed to ones that didn't need to be?   View Answer


2 people found this helpful

Declined Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 days - interviewed at Microsoft.

Interview Details – Initial phone call screening by HR person. Why Microsoft? What are your strengths etc.?
Flew over to Redmond.

Day long interviews with various members of the team.

First: Implementation of memcpy. Coding optimization
Second: UI design questions. Thorough understanding of UI controls and when to use what and why. Messaging between applications.
Third: Lunch interview. general career goal questions
Fourth: Coding style questions, approaches to reduce an n2 problem to n

Interview Question – UI controls discussion - wasn't expecting that.   Answer Question

Reason for Declining – Got a better offer


2 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in November 2012.

Interview Details – The interview process is somewhat unpredictable. There are multiple interviews, typically between three and five. The interviews themselves have somewhat unpredictable content. Some teams leave it up to the individual interviewer to determine what to ask. At the other end of the spectrum, some teams determine in advance what they want to assess and which interviewers will cover each area. Some interviewers give algorithm and coding questions, others do just an algorithm or a coding question. Some interviewers ask for past demonstrations of particular social skills.

Interview Question – Rotate a square image by pi/2 radians.   Answer Question


1 person found this helpful

Declined Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Microsoft.

Interview Details – Phone interview and onsite interview

Interview Questions

Reason for Declining – Didn't want to move to Redmont


No Offer

Negative Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer II Interview

Software Development Engineer II
Redmond, WA

I applied through a staffing agency and the process took 5 weeks - interviewed at Microsoft in September 2012.

Interview Details – I first received an tentative invitation from a Microsoft recruiter to attend a "hiring event." Several days later, I had a technical phone interview with an engineer with a very heavy accent. Apparently I passed because I was given a formal invitation to the hiring event in Redmond. Microsoft paid for my airfare, car rental and hotel.

I arrived at Microsoft early to find the doors locked. Other interviewees and I stood outside until another interviewee, who happened to be already inside, opened the door for us. We slowly met the Microsoft recruiting staff. With one bright exception, they were dressed like slobs and had few answers. It was only then I learned the group with whom I would be interviewing--it was a group in which I had no interest. I would have rejected the interview outright had I known this information from the beginning. I seriously considered walking out.

The dozen of us were each ushered into small, very nice, interview rooms with a table, two chairs and a white board. We all had four, 45 minute, interviews with a 15 minute break between. This bothered me because I'd been led to believe that this was a whole day event and had made my schedule with this in mind.

It was very obvious that the first hiring manager had already made up his mind. He was a bit rude. He would ask questions and then try to interrupt me mid-sentence. When I didn't let him, he got upset. I don't remember his technical question, but it was absurd.

The next two interviews were interesting, though the third of the day was entirely about solving a problem with no other questions asked. I thought them extremely pointless. The last interview was the one of the most interesting in my career. The manager was a fascinating man and spent his entire time asking me pointed questions in an attempt to see where I would fit in his organization. He explained what various teams did and made it clear that he didn't know where I would fit due to my skill set and experience--something I was wondering about myself. The questions helped me form my greatest skill in a different way, which I found very useful.

All-in-all, I found the process frustrating, pointless and offensive. I failed to see how all but the last manager could determine anything. I found that the hiring staff and one hiring manager to be very unprofessional. Above all, they acted like I was dying to work there. I was made to feel like a cog in a wheel and had no doubt that is what it would be like to be a Microsoft employee (that may not be true, but is how I was made to feel.)

To top it all off, despite reassurances otherwise, I wasn't told the results of my interview until I contacted the recruiter. His response was curt and entirely unhelpful.

I should add that I've never been to the Seattle area and found that I didn't like it. The traffic, especially bad.

Interview Question – While phrased longer, given a set of teams, which one would I be the most effective on and which one would I enjoy being on?   Answer Question

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