I applied through a staffing agency and the process took 5 days - interviewed at Volt Information in June 2008.
Interview Details – After talking with the recruiter, they set me up with 2 interviews on-site at Microsoft. Two days after both interviews, I heard back from the recruiter with an offer, which I accepted the next day.
Interview Question – Write a function to determine if two binary trees contain the same data & structure. Answer Question
The process took a day - interviewed at Volt Information in May 2010.
Interview Details – Spent an hour a a coffee shop with a panel of three interviewers with an open conversation about the position and what is expected of me in the position. One of the most if not the most comfortable interviews i have ever had.
Interview Question – What do you know about Keywording View Answer
Negotiation Details – As a Volt Temp employee there was nothing i could negotiate.
I applied through a recruiter and the process took a day - interviewed at Volt Information in February 2010.
Interview Details – Pretty standard fare. Phone interview. Coding questions. Interview loop involved 4 people as I recall.
Interview Question – Write an algorithm which takes as input a node and returns whether or not the tree structure contains a loop. Assume that a node has at most two pointers to children, but no pointers to parents. Answer Question
I applied through other source and the process took a day - interviewed at Volt Information in July 2007.
Interview Details – Friend sent my resume to MS, and received a call from Volt to notice me they wanted to interview me. I told them I did not want to talk through the phone, so I got confirmation for an in-person interview two-weeks after. I had three 1:1 interviews each for one hour. The questions are focused on bacis knowledges of software engneering and small codings including: how to find a dup integer in an integer array (1 to n); how to convert Rome Clock time (use I, V X as numbers) to digit clock. The interviewers are very nice. After another two weeks, I got a call from recuiter and have a salary discussion.
Interview Question – Write a function converting a roma clock time to a digit clock time Answer Question
The process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Volt Information in October 2008.
Interview Details – There is an initial phone screen by a recruiter who clearly only cares about the commission on your hire, several antiquated web based skills assessments that you must complete from home prior to getting an invite to a 5 person panel interview. This process later changed to a cattle call where prospective employees were herded in by the 30 lot and interviewed for 5 min or less by varying levels of employees with little to no interviewing experience.
Interview Question – Tell me what the word "Empathy" means to you? View Answer
Negotiation Details – There isn't one. You take it or leave it.
I applied through college or university and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Volt Information in October 2007.
Interview Details – We went were interviewed by a supervisor. Then ask to come back the next day to take various test. Depending on how we did on the test we invited for a final interview.
Interview Question – Can you handle difficult customers? View Answer
Negotiation Details – Not given the opportunity to negotiate. I would ask if all employees are compensated equally.
I applied through a staffing agency and the process took a day - interviewed at Volt Information in March 2008.
Interview Details – My contract in March 2008 was ending as a Senior STE and I posted my resume to Career Builder and Monster. Very quickly I was getting lots of staffers recruiting me, mostly for a Microsoft A- Contract position (either as a STE 3/4 or SDET 2/3).
Volt (an IT staffing firm that I've worked with before) and Excell both got me several interviews in March 2008. I don't know about the rest of you, but I generally enjoy the interviews, especially if it's for (what I consider) a cool gig that has the potential to expand my skill set (Also I have interviewed candidates myself at MS, so I am familiar with the format and types of questions they ask.)
First the staffing agency rep will interview you to see if you're a suitable candidate for the open job - generally asking how many years of skill x, y and/or z you have and how proficient you feel about the skill and your level of interest in the work the client wants. The staffing agency recruiter may also ask you to take an online test as well if they feel you may be a bit weak in something (take it - the test will also HELP YOU gauge your skill compared to the world as well. The one time I initially did poorly, I asked if I could retake the test - the staffing agency rep said yes, but I really did some cramming before the retake, and I did much better). Next, I asked the staffing agency rep the salary range - generally if it's in the ball park of what I want/expect I do a little negotiations at this point and usually get a little more than the top range the agency is willing to pay a contractor
The staffing agency rep sends your resume to the client for consideration (and I suspect the staffing agency rate charged to the client for your services). Generally, Microsoft will do a 30 to 60 minute phone interview if they find your resume/application interesting (and affordable). If all goes well, then the client will arrange an interview with you through the staffing agency. I've seen out of state contractor candidates flown in for these interviews (but this may not be typical).
The typical MS interview can last up to 4 hours and consists of 2-3 employees interviewing you serially. If the first interviewer likes your answer's, you are passed on to the next interviewer, if not you are then politely asked to leave. Finally, if all the “underlings” agree you are a good choice, then you will normally be passed on to the team’s General Manager for a final interview.
In my first interview, she asked me to develop a test case suite for testing a traffic light, then coding a c# procedure to manipulate a string on a white board. The second interviewer asked another string manipulation question (on a white board) and then what set of strings I would test it with (Never forget the null case!). Then he asked me about my experiences of deploying databases. Based on my answers, he decided to pass me on to a different impromptu interviewer – she grilled me a lot about my deployment experiences. I was supposed to be interviewed by the General Manager, but he was unavailable, so the interview chain ended and the second interviewer thanked for my time. This sequence of interviews felt weird, so I was a bit surprised when the phone call came two days later from the staffing agency asking if I would accept a different SDET II position then what I started out interviewing for (and I’m not sure if I met the bar for the original SDET III position).
Fortunately I quickly gathered my wits, and negotiated the position back to a SDET III (after all, “that IS what I interviewed for”) and negotiated the salary up by $1.75/hr from the offer. Basically I was still hired as an SDET III, but instead of writing C# Web client test automation, I became the OS/SQL database services setup guy for the (WHOLE - dev, test and PM!) team’s backend servers. My contract which was for six months also got extended out to a full year (Microsoft like many other IT firms, limits the total time a contractor works for them, usually imposing a 100 day between contracts).
Overall, the interviewers where moderately friendly, polite and kept on track. Note Microsoft NO longer asks contract candidates to solve logic puzzels)
Interview Question – Generally getting the C# sytax correct on a white board (no intellisence to help out) Answer Question
Negotiation Details – 1) Staffing agencies will take from 25% to 50% (or MORE) of the rate they charge their client and turn the rest over to you (less any taxes withheld, insurance, 401K, etc.). About 15% the rate the client rate is used to cover SSI match, workers comp and other government fees - from the rest they have to pay you and their overhead (or even another firm, if they are subcontractors).
2) Many agencies will charge the contractor more for medical/dental insurance then it costs them, thus earning some money this way as well - keep in mind though, this usually is still cheaper for the contractor then to try to get your own health insurance. If your spouse (parent if you're young enough) covers you with their policy, it is probably be cheaper for all not to get the insurance through the staffing agency, or for your spouse to drop his/her insurance.
3) Keep in mind, the client already has invested collectively more effort and time in the interview process and the post interview decision process they you have. By extending you an offer, they really think you are a decent to fantastic match. (Or they may have a lack of well qualified candidates either to skill scarcity and/or internally, the work environment is such that they do not attract many qualified candidates – although this is probably not known until AFTER you start working…)
Based upon the above points, If you don't negotiate your salary upfront with the staffing agency (or even if you do), you might be able to counteroffer and up your rate by a few to several dollars\hr ($1/hr works out to about $2000/year). Don't accept the offer right away and tell them you need to sometime think about their offer. You might also volunteer that you have some other interviews scheduled or other offers on the table. Usually, the first offer is not normally the best offer and the client and/or agency will come back with a slightly to a much better offer. (Although in this time of recession, this may be a risky strategy, unless YOU KNOW you did EXTREMELY well through the interview process and/or you really DO have other offers).
I applied through a recruiter and the process took a day - interviewed at Volt Information in June 2009.
Interview Details – Three interviewers, seperately interviewing the candidate for 30 minutes each, no breaks between. This position was at Microsoft (Issaquah Campus) to work on the team that coordinates sales informationa nd strategies to members of the district sales teams. Each part of the interview team asked questions about a different aspect of the job. One asked questions about the overall view, such as a the company, the department, and the team, as well as specific job duties. One interviewer spoke about operations and asked how my particular skills, attributes, and experiences might apply (or not) to day to day mundane tasks completed by team members. The last interviewer was the team manager in charge of the program and he asked questions about my background (e.g. why I left consulting, etc.).
Interview Question – Do you like to ski at Alpental? View Answer
I applied through other source and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Volt Information in September 2008.
Interview Details – Once they did the initial phone screening, then there was an on-site meeting to answer the same basic questions. I was asked to answer some basic questions that needed to be brought to the on-site interview. Next, the client did a phone screen that was a situational interview. Basically, they described worst case situations in a day and asked how I would handle those situations. Finally, I had an on-site interview at the client site where a panel of two interviewed me for the position. More situational questions that turned out to be based on the current office environment.
Interview Question – It's 15 minutes before the office closes for the day and a client calls with a critical issue or emails you with a critical issue, what do you do? You find out later that the client has left for the day, will that affect how you support the client? If so, how? View Answer
I applied online and interviewed at Volt Information.
Interview Details – I applied for the accounting position on a job board one night and received a call the following morning to schedule an interview.
Interview Question – Why do you want to leave your current job? Answer Question
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