March 01, 2005

The Microsoft Interview - Part 1

I had interviewed with MS more than a year ago but did not blog about the experience since I thought its not ethical to do so. I was surprised to see JobsBlog ask for links to Microsoft interview experiences. So I thought, heck, if Gretchen is asking for it, why not do it!! And while I am at it, lemme throw in some free advice.

Note: I still dont find it ethical to give out questions that were asked. Altho I shall give out a few of them (which already exist if you Google for "Microsoft Interview Questions")

Lets start off right from square one.

Advice 1: Dont give up on applying. I changed the format/wording of my resume many a time and kept updating it with new projects/technologies I was working on. When you strike the right balance, you will get noticed.

- I had applied to MS sometime in Jan 2002 (for an internship) during our career fair. Not that I had stellar programming skills then, but MS was the only worthwhile company which came on campus. Then I applied again. Online. Then again I applied when they were visiting Syracuse in Oct 2002 or so. One fine day I got an e-mail from a MS recruiter where I had to answer some questions she had sent as an attachment. Didnt hear anything from her after that and I was asked to be patient. :-) Once again, they were in SU in Jan 2003 and once again I applied. Still no response. Mid 2003 I graduated and was training with a company in NJ (read: Working for free) when I got an e-mail asking if I was ready to interview with MS at the Syracuse campus.

- Oct 2003, I found myself interviewing for the SDET position. This was the first time I was ever interviewing in my life so I was all nerves. This was a half an hour interview at the SU campus. And I felt this interview was brilliant. I was interviewed by Navi Ahmed who was a Test Manager in the Windows CE group. Very friendly person who laughed at almost everything. He started off with regular questions as to why testing, why MS, spoke about one of my projects, discussed some OOD principles, asked me a coding question and then a logic question. Finally I was asked if I had any questions.

Advice 2: Be methodical in your approach. Talk out loud and clear. Even if you are stuck with a problem, talk about all the possible ways you are thinking of getting to the solution (even if they end up being not quite right). Also, if you are being tested in an area you are not comfortable with, make it clear. They would rather test you on your strengths. (Note: This does not mean you can show all your experience in C++ and when asked questions in C++, say you are not comfortable with it! But if you have limited experience in MFC and your interviewer goes into details of MFC, let him know you aint a pro!!)

- When I look back on my interview, few things stand out in my mind. My answers to certain parts of these questions were wrong. The logic part, I got it right, but it was not the best way to solve the question. I confused overloading with over-riding. Lots of disasters. What I noticed is I considered many options (including the right one) before I chose the wrong one. Where I rocked was the way I wrote code and the way I tested it. I was very methodical, clear and verbose in my explanations.

- Fortunately I asked Navi by when I would expect the results and if I dont hear from MS who should I get in touch with? I was given a timeline of 2-3 weeks and if I did not hear from MS, to get in touch with my college recruiter. The way the interview went, I came out thinking it was all over and I am definitely not flying to Redmond anytime soon.

Advice 3: Dont try to guess how well you fared.

- Almost a month went by and I had not heard of anything from MS. I thought they probably dont care about sending out rejections, but nevertheless, I mailed Lisa who was the college recruiter for SU. I got a quick reply from her saying she would check into the issue and let me know. After a week, I got a mail from Lisa that I was flying to Redmond to interview for a STE. There was some problem with the paperwork and the results had not reached her. She might have never noticed this had I not mailed her and asked.

Advice 4: Always follow up. Not only does it show your interest in the position, but it could actually get you a step closer to the job.

- STE??? I had applied for SDET (my second option was STE). But then, I had heard that MS fits you into the role they think you are best suited for. Probably they thought I was a better fit for STE rather than a SDET!

Advice 5: If you are inclined towards a particular position, dont compromise on it.

- Lisa's mail particularly said that someone from MS would get in touch with me regarding my travel schedule. About 10 days pass and I have no mail. So once again I got back to Lisa, asking if it usually takes this amount of time or is there some problem. Once again Lisa said she would look into it and the very next day I got a mail asking me about my travel plans. I was flying to Redmond and interviewing on 26th Jan 2004.

Advice 6: Once again, if anything you feel is wrong, get in touch with your assigned recruiter. They are highly friendly and helpful!

If you got so far, you probably wanna click the link below.

Part - II


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its more than 2 weeks that I haven't heard from MS. I came out exactly thinking the same thing - I ain't going to Redmond. But after reading ur blog - my hopes are back (Advise 3 is awesome ;-)). Will keep u posted!

2:25 AM  
Blogger APOO said...

Yup, always follow up.

Glad this blog entry helped. Good luck!

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:-) Got a call for PM!

Not only does ur blog provide with info abt this interview process, but also tells to b confident n positive!

Thanks a ton!

6:07 PM  
Blogger APOO said...

Get ready for abstract design questions!

Look up the MS interviewing stories on that link. They are split into parts, but pretty interesting on how they hired a PM.

6:25 PM  

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