Ultimate Guide To Prepare For a Microsoft interview

Preparing for the Microsoft interview can be challenging, especially when the questions are difficult, and cover a wide range of topics. 

However, knowing how to prepare and do it in the right way can help in cracking the interview. There are different things you should be knowing, in order to find out how you can get your dream job, here is a quick preparation guide for you. 

What Is The Interview Process And Timeline In Microsoft Interview? 

While it takes four to eight weeks on average to complete all the processes, Microsoft has its own interview process that you should be aware of. It includes : 

  • Resume, cover letter, and referrals.
  • Call or email the HR recruiter
  • Isth round which might have on phone, campus or coding test.
  • Next is 2 nd round which is the onsite and the fourth interview
  • And then you get the result and offer. 

The first two steps take around 2 to 3 weeks, whereas the last three take around 2 to 5 weeks. In total, the timeline includes four to eight weeks for the interview. 

What do Microsoft Interviews Expect? 

To understand the whole process, it’s important to understand each step and its own steps. 

Well, the steps include : 

  • Getting HR call and email
  • First-round 
  • Second round 

Getting Call And Email From HR

In most cases,  the interview starts with a call or email from HR to discuss the interest and see which group or team is most suitable for you. 

Here the recruiter will use conversation to confirm if you have the chance of getting a job or not.

So it’s better that you are ready and have everything prepared for background and why you are a good fit for Microsoft. 

First Round Of Microsoft 

The first round can be a phone screen, on-campus, or an online test. 

If you did well with the recruiter, then you will proceed to the next step.  However, what happens to this step might vary depending on the team and the role you are applying for.

But here you get a phone screen if you are going for industry hire. If new gratitude then on-campus interview and online test in some cases instead of the actual interview. 

Phone Screens 

Well, it’s also known as a technical phone screen, but it can happen to overuse video via Skype. 

Well to understand here is what you should know : 

  • Each interview might last for around 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Here you speak to a potential manager or peer.
  • They will ask you questions that will be a mix of technical and behavioral. 

As for the technical part of this round – 

  • Well, you can expect the data structure and algorithm questions that you need to solve in an online collaborative text editor.
  • The test editor will not have the syntax highlighting or autocomplete features. 
  • So you won’t get it and have to be used to it when you are doing the preparation.
  • With that, it is unlikely that you might get asked a system design question while you are doing the phone screen.

As for the behavior part, You can expect to receive questions such as tell me about yourself, why you want to work with Microsoft, which one is your favorite product, and why, etc. 

On-Campus Interview

If you are a student, then there is a high chance that you will get an on-campus interview instead of a phone screen. 

Here you will be asked the question which is a combination of behavioral and technical.

You need to solve it using the whiteboard. 

However, in some cases, you even have to do more than one interview on campus. 

Online Coding Assessment 

Microsoft also uses online coding tests sometimes for passing their candidates, especially for onsite interviews. 

This includes a variety of tests,  but some of the common ones that you get are three-question tests. You get 60 – 90 minutes for solving it and it is administered by Codility.

Second Round: Onsite Interviews 

Once you successfully crack the first round, you might need to spend a complete day at the Microsoft office and participate in their four onsite interviews. 

Well, these interviews might last around 60 minutes, and they can be one on one with a bunch of mixed people from the team you are applying for.

Also, it includes the peer, hiring manager and even sometimes you might have a senior executive. 

Types Of Questions 

For the three or four interviews, you will get coding questions which can be data structure and algorithm questions. You need to solve this using the whiteboard. 

In the other one or two, you will get the question for cover system design. 

You will ask questions based on behavioral questions during your all interviews.

The candidate is required to do well in coding and such behavioral questions. 

If you are a relatively young person, for example, SDE II or below, then you don’t get the question asked on system design.

If you do then the bar will get lower for the senior engineer and mid-level, for example, Senior SDE or above. 

Last Round: As Appropriate, AA or ASAPP Interview

Finally, the last interview you do is going to a Microsoft senior executive, it can be a hiring manager or their boss. 

The interview is referred to as ‘ As Appropriate ‘. AA or ASAPP. 

You only get to ask the questions, if you did really well in the last three interviews. 

If you didn’t then you won’t get the AA interview which means you will not get an offer. 

AA interviews have their two important roles, 

  • The first is to make sure that there is no blind spot left in the candidate’s assessment. 
  • For example, if the previous three interviews established that you are better for technical hiring, but are not sure about culture fit, then the AA interview will focus on behavioral questions.
  • Well, the second role is to sell the company to candidates if they did extremely well in their previous interviews.
  • The idea here is that the company wants to make sure you are accepting the offer if they find you are the one for the job. 

What Microsoft Is Exactly Looking For? 

At the end of all interviews, the interviewer will grade the candidate’s performance using the form of standardized feedback. 

Well to understand, here is what information you get in it. 

Notes From Interview

The first thing you get is the interviewer file the notes that they had during the interview.

Well, it mostly includes questions that they asked along with the summary of answers the candidate gave and any additional impressions such as good communication, weak knowledge, etc. 

Competencies Assessment 

The interviewer will grade the candidates depending on their different competencies. 

With this, they try to determine if the candidate is meeting the bar or if they are suitable for them. 

In other words, here the candidate requires to be convinced if they are good and better than what they are looking for. 

Well, the exact list of Microsoft competencies that they are looking for might depend on the different roles, groups, and levels. 

But here are some of the main ones that you can consider :

  • Creativity
  • Passion for technology
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical ability 
  • Etc 

Recommendation For Hiring 

With each interviewer, they give the hire recommendation at the end of each stage’s interview

The different options that they add in this one can be: Strong hire, no hire, hire, or strong no hire. 

Suggest Follow-Ups 

The feedback forms are easy to access for all the interviewers which are in the loop. 

Each interviewer can make a suggestion for the following topic and for the next interview. 

For example, If a candidate didn’t check the edge cases in their coding question, then the interviewer might flag them for understanding the next interviewer so they can see if you need to do the feedback.

What You Should Know About Behind The Scenes?

To know in-depth, you should know what happens behind the scenes of the interview. 

Well, the recruiter is leading the whole process where you jump from one stage to another. 

With each stage, this is what exactly happens : 

After The First Round 

Well, in the first round, once you have cleared this one, the recruiter and hiring manager decide to move the candidate to the onsite interview or they don’t. It depends on how well the candidate has performed. 

After The Onsite 

Each interview adds notes and files them into the integral system, grading and making the recommendation to hire or not.

But if the candidate receives a hire recommendation and grade from all the interviewees, they will get an offer.

However, in some of the cases where the candidate has to do the AA Interviews and the hiring manager can decide to hire even if you get the no hire. 

When You Get An Offer 

If everything goes successfully well, and you get an offer. The recruiter will stay in touch with their offer.  It can be usually within the week of onsite, however, it can be longer. 

But it’s important that the recruiters and people who prefer the candidate have little influence on the process. With this, the candidate can get help but it’s limited only to do that. 

How You Should Prepare For The Microsoft Interview? 

Now you know what you should expect during the interview,  it’s important that you know how to prepare. 

 Well to start with it, here is what you need : 

Learn About the Culture Of Microsoft 

One of the important things that should be part of your interview preparation is to learn about the culture of Microsoft.

It’s important and most people fail in doing that. But before you invest ten hours in preparing, you should do the research to know if the company is actually good or not. 

Microsoft is prestigious and tempting for a lot of people to join. 

However even though it’s a prestigious company, it is not going to make you happy every day, if you are not comfortable with their culture, type of people, and way of working they have. 

If you know the people who used to work or are still working in the company, you should get in touch to know what the culture is like. 

Along with that, you should get everything in detail. If they left the company, find out if it’s their personal reasons or something because of the company. 

Do The Practice On Your Own 

When you are going for the interview, you have to answer three different types of questions, i.e. Coding, System Design, and Behavioral. 

The first step of doing the preparation should be brushing up on these types of questions and practicing the answering on your own. 

Do The Preparation For Coding Interview 

For a coding interview, it’s important that you use the step-by-step approach which is actually recommended by Microsoft. 

Well to understand how the STAR approach recommendation works in Microsoft, here are different steps to know. 

Step 1: Situation 

The first situation is to make sure you are understanding the problem in the correct way. The first approach should be focused on finding out what the situation is. 

  • You can write down the problems which are provided by your interviewers. 
  • Make sure you are asking the question to clarify if you have any doubts. 
  • Agree on the inputs as well as outputs. 

Step 2: Task 

The next one is to outline the task of how you are going to solve the problem.  This step includes finding out about your actual task.

  • Talk through the idea that you have out loud for solving the problems. 
  • Starting with the case which is simple and working toward finding a solution without doing the coding.
  • Think about the test cases which are different and you can use them for this testing later. 

Step 3: Action 

Once you know the situation and task, it’s time to find out about the action plan. 

The action is to write clean code for solving the problem. 

  • Start writing the clean code, and make sure you keep the variable and function names clear.
  • Modularize the code with the use of helper functions.
  • Make sure you are checked with the interviewer before you go to use the library. 
  • Bugs and forgotten variables are also good as long as you are catching them at an early stage. 

Step 4: Result 

After everything is done,  now is the time for testing the solution and suggesting improvements. 

  • You need to run through the different cases that you developed in step 2. 
  • Incorporate the feedback from the interviewer into the approach.
  • Analyze the time and space complexity of the code as well as suggest improvements. 

Get Ready For System Design Interview Preparation

For Microsoft’s system design interview, Microsoft does not provide any specific recommendations. However, you can get it on Amazon. 

Well to understand that in detail, here are the steps you need to know. 

Step 1: Also Questions To Clarify 

The first and crucial step is to ask the questions. Not just the questions, but the right questions can help you in getting more clarity. 

  • Understand the goal of the system first
  • Establish the scope of what exercise is going to be needed
  • Gather the scale and performances which are needed 
  • Talk though if there are any assumptions you are making and do it out loud. 

Step 2: Design At High Level But Then Drill Down it 

Well, next you need to designate a high level, however, make sure to drill down and design each everything.

  • Layout the high-level components 
  •  Then make sure to drill t down and design each of the components
  • Start with what you are most comfortable with and pick the component.
  • Work with the interviewer which can help you in providing the right details. 

Step 3: Bring It Together 

Once you have your plan ready along with each detail and everything that you need to solve. 

Now you just have to bring everything together. 

  • Refer back to all the requirements which are needed to meet and make sure you did it.
  • Discuss if there are any trade-offs that your decisions make
  • Summarize the system and how it would work end to end. 

Preparation For Behavior Interview 

For behavioral interviews, it’s important that you know how to deal with that. 

You Should write down the answers which are common behavioral questions that are needed.

You can find a great way that can help you in parking and make sure you pay attention in order to get confidence and way of doing it. 

Practice With Your Peers 

Doing practice on your own is good, however, it comes with a limitation. So the main challenge of doing the interview like the coding interview is communication while you are doing what you are doing. 

  • That’s why you should practice live coding interviews with the people who are interviewing. 
  • If possible, you should start by practicing with friends. He can help, especially if your friend has experience in software engineering interviewers. 

Practice With The Ex Interviewers 

Practicing with your woman and ten with peers, both can take you so far. 

You can also do it for free. But at some point, you might consider that the feedback you are getting is not helping you anymore. 

Once you reach that stage, it’s important as well as recommended that you interview the ex interviewer from the top tech. 

If you know anyone who did software engineering and have experience in running interviews. then you can consider asking them for help. 

It can help you in principle multiple times until you get the knowledge of what you are doing. 

Tips For Preparing For Microsoft Interview To All Roles

Well, the process of preparing can depend on the role that you are applying for. 

Be prepared for demonstrating how you are meeting the qualifications of the job which is needed. Also, share the experience and examples of your past work. 

To make sure you are preparing well, here are some of the Microsoft interviewees.

Make Sure To Do Your Research 

It’s important that you do the research and don’t stop understanding the position which you are going for.  You should be knowing about what Microsoft is doing and what makes them stand out from its competition.

Make sure that you are praying for the questions that might be asked.

This helps in giving you chances for the opportunity for what exactly you are going for.

Know About The Core Competencies

The interview will include questions based on competency as well as regarding the resume. So when you are going for the interview, this is important to keep in mind the core competencies. 

Think of examples that you can help you in sharing and incorporate into the conversation. 

Here are some of the core competencies which you should know : 

  • Collaboration: the first is to communicate effectively within the team and across it.
  • Drive For Results: Working tenaciously for delivering the commitment which is constantly seeking the bigger challenges, holding yourself as well as others accountable.
  • Customer Focus: Microsoft’s mission is to empower the person and everyone in the organization to achieve more.
  • Influencing To Impact: Successfully persuading as well as influencing others and effective communications.
  • Adaptability: With the ability to deal with ambiguous as well as uncertainly the situation, or the problem with agility.
  • Judgment: One more is to effectively scope the complex problems and use the business acumen for making the knowledge decisions. 

Accelerate The Microsoft Culture

At Microsoft, the company believes that living in culture is important for achieving the mission.

Selecting the people who have the skills and mindset in the right way can help.  Not just the company who is today but what they aspire to be.

The company is based on a growth mindset culture. It is designed for driving innovation and collaboration. 

Microsoft believes that being to learn it all instead of knowing it all fosters much curiosity and permits us to be inclusive as well as seek much more new as well as reverse the perspectives. 

So when you are going for the interview, it’s important that you consider key aspects of Microsoft culture. 

Growth Mindset 

Well, the true learners who get the new skills are much more rapid as well as connect with others to help and bring more ideas to reality.

Diverse & Inclusive 

Being open to learning about individual biases as well as changing behavior according to that. 

If there are any value differences, seek them out and invite them.

One Microsoft 

The next one you should focus on is that Microsoft looks for candidates which actively seek collocation with others as well as look for common ground, contributing to building success and prioritizing the customer as well as a team. 

Customer Obsession

The other one is the ability to learn about the perspectives of the customers. With that, you have empathy regarding their experiences. And add their incorporate insights in the decisions and deliver what they expect. 

Values 

The next thing you need to know about Microsoft is when they come together, they treat everyone with utmost respect and integrity. Also accountable for the words and actions to each other. 

Managing The Expectations 

The managers of Microsoft help in bringing the culture to life. As the model, coaches as well as care for their people. 

As they can help in reinforcing the culture and help you in creating an environment where everyone is performing their best. 

Envision With Company’s Future

The company encourages that the vision board of candidates should be beyond what they are applying for. 

At the company, you can build your career and access different disciplines and teams. 

You need to envision the company’s future with yours. 

Make Sure To Be Yourself

The company values candidates who are unique and authentic. So make sure you are being what you are, and bring your own perspective as the company invites you as you are. 

The company even allows you to wear what you want, not to impress but to stay comfortable. 

Demonstrate What You Think And Curios For 

When you are preparing for the interview, you should demonstrate what you think and show your curiosity. 

Microsoft encourages you to see not just what you know, but what you actually think.

Be ready for sharing how your thought process works. Also for explaining the opinion and choices. 

This assessment helps inspire the interviewer to assess your fundamental knowledge, capability, and learning potential. 

Well, the interviewer doesn’t expect that you are going to know everything. Also, make sure you are asking the question to clarify the question. It can help in showing integrity along with the ability to be resourceful as well as collaboration. 

Be More Specific

It’s more important that you are specific. Consider using the STAR ( R ) model when you are answering the questions. This can help in making your response much more clear and more structured. 

Well STAR method is also divided into : 

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result
  • Reflection 

Ask For The Interview Timeline

When you are going for the interview, you should know the timeline and how long it will take, and what process it will take. This can help you in preparing mentally and you know how to deal with it. 

Be sure that you are asking about the timeline before the interview, this can help you in preparing well and mentally ready for it. 

Make Sure tO Do The Follow-Up

When your interview is done, do follow up with the process so you are updated and on the same page. 

Follow-up can help you in getting clarity about the next process and you can do better preparation. 

Stay Connected 

You can also stay connected with the interview and the people who were in the interview process. Also, you can follow the company on social media to get updates from time to time. 

Apply For The Role You Want

Find the job you are interested in and make sure you are clear about what you are actually interested in. Then create your profile which will help in setting you in the right direction and help recruits to get insight into what interests and experiences you have. 

Know Where You Want To Go 

The company considers that their valuable candidate thinks about the vision which is beyond the role and out of the box.

This vision also extends to knowing where they want to go and grow in the company. 

Work Well With Peers And Others 

You also need to know about how you work with others, the company looks for candidates who know how to work well with peers. 

You need to be ready for answering the questions which are related to the reactions on a professional level and maintain the former supervisors as well as colleagues. 

Showcase What Qualities They Look For

When you are going for the interview you first need to know the qualities and requirements that the position holds for an interview. 

You should have a strong desire to learn, a passion for ecology and intelligence along with a willingness to work hard. 

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