*All of these views are my own and have no affiliation with Microsoft
1. Understand the recruiting process
For some reason, Microsoft is not always clear on the recruiting process. There are two types of processes you can go through college hire or experienced hire.
With new grad/ college hires, when you interview for PM or SWE you will either interview in one location all day while the interviewers rotate through, or you will go around to different offices interviewing. When you interview, your recruiter will tell you, “Let your interviewer know what team you are interested in working for. They will take your preferences into account”. In every situation I have heard, this is completely misleading and wrong. The team you are interviewing with is the team you will work for. If are interviewing with the Xbox team, you will be working for the Xbox team even if you say your preference is Windows.
When you interview with Microsoft, the team you are interviewing is the team you will be placed on. When you apply through the job portal you are applying to a specific position with a specific hiring manager.
2. Your interview process
Your interview loop will typically be 4-5 interviews depending if you are interviewing for an internship, a new grad position, or as an experienced hire. Each interview will be 1 hour, with a possible 1-hour lunch interview. Your last interviewer will be your hiring manager, who takes into account the feedback of all your interviewers and makes the final decision.
3. Each Organization has its recruiting process
One of the difficult parts of interviewing at Microsoft is that it is inconsistent. Unlike Google or Facebook, there is no list of interview questions. Each organization, team, and employee in Microsoft can ask whatever interview questions they would like to assess you for Microsoft. That is why sometimes you hear PM candidates get coding questions and other times they do not.
4. Don’t just apply to the black hole
The dreaded job portal. Microsoft receives over 50,000 applications from interns and new graduates every year. On top of that, 1000s of people are applying for the open positions on Microsoft’s job portal. For new grads, make sure you get a referral and get the attention of your Microsoft campus recruiter. The hardest part of landing a job or internship at Microsoft is getting the interview. The on-campus recruiter for your college is the one that selects candidates to be interviewed. For experienced hires, it is all about impressing the hiring manager for that position. I strongly suggest cold emailing the hiring manager of the open position.
5. Referrals Referrals Referrals
Microsoft employees get a bonus if you are hired through a referral, so people are more than willing to give out referrals. Make sure you always apply with one. Referrals carry less weight for college students.
6. Fit with the Culture
Microsoft is huge in culture. Satya has turned the ship around and is focusing on building culture. Check out this article where Satya discusses it: https://qz.com/work/1539071/how-microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-rebuilt-the-company-culture/
However, each team at Microsoft has its own culture, so it is more accurate to say make sure you are a team culture fit.
7. Show a deep passion for how technology shapes the world
Microsoft’s mission statement is, “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Hiring managers are looking to see if candidates resonate with the mission statement that Satya has set. I highly recommend reading Satya’s book: https://www.amazon.com/Hit-Refresh-Rediscover-Microsofts-Everyone-ebook/dp/B01HOT5SQA
8. Have a deep understanding of the team you interview with
Always make sure you know what team you will be interviewing with. If you interview with the Azure team, make sure you can explain cloud computing. If you interview with Xbox, make sure you can explain the gaming landscape.
9. Hiring negotiation
The easiest portion of your hiring package to negotiate will be your stock options. Also, always negotiate your offer.
10. Practice Practice Practice
For SWE, I have heard that questions are around Leet code Medium and make sure you understand object-oriented programming. For PM, practice your product questions and behavioral questions. Use Stellar Peers or Lewis Lin’s slack channel to find mock PM interview partners.
11. Keep your LinkedIn up to date
Microsoft recruiters are highly active on LinkedIn, so make sure you keep yours up to date.
12. Everything is team dependent
Don’t judge Microsoft off of a few rumors or feedback from a couple of friends. Microsoft is SO BIG that everyone’s experience will vary. I love my manager at Microsoft, but I’ve met a manager that I wouldn’t want to work for. Your interview and work experience with Microsoft is going to vary based on the team and manager.
13. Should I apply for PM or SWE
For new grads, Microsoft lets you pick between PM or SWE. The Microsoft Program Manager position is the Product Manager position at Google and Facebook. Microsoft does not have an official position called Product Manager. Make sure you know what you are applying for. PMs at Microsoft will define what feature is being built while the software engineers build it.
14. Submit a solid resume
Your resume should be one page, your bullets short concise and to the point, not overly designed, easy to read and display the relevant experience. Don’t try to include everything in your resume, just the couple of things that will get you hired.
15. Just Hustle
My biggest advice on getting a job at Microsoft, Google, Amazon, or any of the big companies is just hustling. I always hear one of two stories: “I just applied and with luck got the job”, or “I grinded”. Don’t leave your application to chance. Make sure you write a solid resume, network or impress your on-campus recruiter, and make sure your resume isn’t overlooked. The benefit of Microsoft is they don’t care where you went to school or your background. They are just trying to hire the smartest people that are the best cultural fit.