Random Tips on Interviewing for Microsoft

A co-worker recently asked me to share some tips on interviewing people at Microsoft.  I wrote a few up and figured I'd share them here as well. I love interviewing people and I get a lot of my style and tips from Gretchen since she’s done more interviews than I ever will.  Anyway, here is my perspective on interviewing for Microsoft. 

  • In the back of my head I’m always thinking “Could I work for this person” when I make my recommendations.  This approach makes me tune some questions such that I’m honestly hoping to probe into areas where I feel the candidate could teach me something. If I feel like I learned something during the interview it’s always a good sign.  It also helps when to think about this when looking for diversity of thought… what perspective or talents does this person bring to the team that we’re missing?  
  • For Microsoft PMs I generally look for “well roundedness”.  The vending machine series of questions I ask are designed to go after aptitude for interaction design, technical architecture, and testing.  Since PMs are best when they can be a jack of all traits I don’t expect ideal candidates to excel at every competency, but I look for strengths in all three (dev/test/pm) since you’ll eventually be working with every discipline, writing code one day, and helping people test the next. 
  • At least 50% of my questions have to be ones that I ask consistently. The rest of the space I reserve for customization based on the resume or role.  It helps set a good bar. 
  • I always like to start interviews (after chit-chat) with the standard “canned” questions for which most people expect such as something that’s really obvious from the resume.  I think it puts people at ease for harder questions. 

Anyway, feel free to share your tips. These were just the ones off the top of my head.