My Rollercoaster Ride to join Microsoft. Part I: The MBA Full-Time Recruiting Fall 2002

Well this post was long in coming. 3 months ago Gretchen (the prolific Moongal from MS Tech recruiting) had made me promise that I should write the whole story of "my Rollercoaster story" to Microsoft. Here it is in 4 parts that spans 3 yrs 2002 – 2005 and about 6 different “rounds”. And with a list of “things I did wrong”, “things I learnt from it” and “what I recommend for new wannabe-Softies!”. Okie maybe the list on the “things I did wrong” is going to be longer – but I never did promise balance did I?


My Rollercoaster Ride to join Microsoft. Part I: The MBA Full-Time Recruiting Fall 2002

So my MBA was from Carnegie Mellon, which for reasons unknown is not a core school for MBA recruiting for Microsoft [One of my side missions here is to change that perception of course ;-) ].


Fall 2002 - I met SC, Director of a Biz group (all names are initialized just so I don’t get into trouble ;), besides it’s not necessary for the story), for a 45 min interview. After the usual behavioral qns, and running through the resume – the only real qn I remember that lasted 20-25 mins was a question that went “So Tepper School of Business at CMU has dropped in the Business week rankings published last week by 5 places, the largest drop in the rankings. Is it justified? What is going wrong? What should change? Where do u think the ranking is justified at?”


So – after a night of Googling (I know I said the G word but MSN-ing just doesn’t sound like a verb enough) SC on his background, work and what makes him tick and positioning my stories to meet his background ….. I get this curveball from hell.


Forget my answer. Suffice to say that my answer was good enough to rank me #3 on the campus recruits and they called 2 ppl to Redmond for the final rounds. Bummer!


What did I do wrong: I was a little too analytical and rational in my answer than going Ra!-Ra!-East or west, Tepper’s the best. And since it was a marketing job that I was interviewed for, it is understandable that pure marketing passion is a major criteria of decision making. (atleast for SC). Ofcourse there probably was a ton of other things I did wrong J


What I did right: I emailed a thank you note immediately after the interview and got a response back (that’s a good sign right). And when I was finally rejected I sent a note that read “I accept your decision and would like you to help me be a better person in showing me what I could do better for my career search in the future. What could make me a top candidate and professional for the future?” SC loved that tone and email and wrote a long mail – which pretty much stated – I was a great candidate, but given the job openings they had – they needed someone with a different background! Oh well.


What I learnt from it:

a) Do not over analyze your interviewer. Yes do the extra-homework on him/her before the interview but do not expect them not to go outside their comfort zone. Atleast not when they are from MS.

b) Wear the marketing hat, be analytical and results oriented – but remember its all about Marketing! Passion Baby. Bring it On!!

c) Never challenge the decision, take it in the right spirit but do question respectfully and answers do come.


Bottomline: No job at MS upon graduation. (Hey why else is this a Part I of IV Story? )