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Zoe Goldring and Gretchen Ledgard - What is it like to interview at Microsoft?

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They are famous in the weblog world -- known as the "JobsBloggers" Gretchen Ledgard and Zoe Goldring give lots of tips on how to get hired at Microsoft.

Since every team we've interviewed lately says they have jobs open, we thought it would be fun to talk about what the interview process is like.

In this interview we talk about how to get noticed and resume tips.

Gretchen works in the talent acquisition and engagement organization -- you can think of her as a "Community Program Manager" for Microsoft Technical Recruiting.

Zoe keeps her eye out for software development engineers, testers, program managers, and other technical people.

The tips talked about here are focused on core technical positions.

Another site, in addition to the JobsBlogs, that has tons of information for people who want to work at Microsoft is Chris Sells' "Interviewing at Microsoft" site.

In this video she gives a great tip: don't drink coffee! (One candidate spilled an entire cup in her office).

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  • Mav PhoenixMav Phoenix Hero by fate
    A very insightful video, the dress code surprised me.
  • jonathanhjonathanh My mod color is red
    Wait, we have a dress code?  Damn, NO-ONE tells me this stuff...
  • One follow-up comment in regards to the recommended interview attire:  My fellow recruiting weblogger, Heather Hamilton,has asked me to point out that I was speaking specifically about people interviewing for Development, Test, and Program Management roles.  For that, it's definitely ok to dress "business casual" (slacks, sweater, button-down, etc), but for marketing roles (for which Heather recruits), you should still wear a suit.  When in doubt, ask your recruiter.  He or she will steer you in the right direction. Smiley
  • Great Video spot.
  • MunMun Yummm... I like code :-)
    Great video, and good to put faces to the Technical Careers @ Microsoft blog Smiley

    Interesting to hear that Microsoft doesn't necessarily look for a degree in candidates... Maybe there is hope for me after all! Smiley
  • GaryBusheyGaryBushey The blob in the upper right hand corner is my dog
    Great Video.  Been reading your BLOGs for a while and it is nice to be able to put a face to the names.
  • ZippyVZippyV Fired Up
    Scoble, you forgot to ask some questions about the 'funny' part of their job!

    Funny things in a cv, people wanting high positions but have zero-knowledge, spies from other companies who want to infiltrate Microsoft, and so on.
  • Great video but these long video's are killing me!
  • Zippy - that's a really good question.  You're right ... we do get a lot of people who apply for positions well beyond their experience and that's always amusing.  Things like:  "I believe that my 5 years as Lead Cook at IHOP has prepared me for the opening as the Director of Windows."  And people are serious. 

    As for corporate spies ... wow, that's a good one.  Honestly, I've never thought about that. Kinda like "secret shoppers," huh? 

    A couple years ago, it was trendy to make one of those human billboards that read "Hire me" or "Will Code for Food" and then stand on the street corner near MS.  For some reason (and I have no idea why), I was the person typically assigned to greeting them and talking to them about Microsoft.  Never a dull moment ... Smiley
  • Jeremy WJeremy W that blogging guy
    So, Gretchen, I guess the video was approved? Wink

    Great video guys, I really enjoyed it. Can't wait for #2 where Scoble goes under the gun!
  • Come on , the longer the video the best.
    It's like drugs ! I'm addicted to it. I refresh the page yesterday more then 20 times to see if you guys did update.
    I ... neeeed ... MORE Wink

    Since I started watching C9 videos , it became my dream to work ar microsoft.
    Hope someday I will have the chance to meet Zoe and Gretchen and everybody else Wink
  • BlueFirehawk02Blue​Firehawk02 I Code, Therefore, I Am
    Is "Because of hot chicks like you work here" a valid answer for "why do you want to work at microsoft?"
  • Tom ServoTom Servo W-hat?
    You just put yourself on the blacklist for a HR job at Microsoft. Grats!
  • crispybitcrispybit Mr. Crispy himself
    hehe, I remember that reception desk, it's purrrrrrrdy, hopefuly next time I walk up to it I will be able to say "Uh yes I have an appointment with so and so at 10:30"
  • BlueFirehawk02Blue​Firehawk02 I Code, Therefore, I Am
    Doah! lol.
  • phunky_avocadophunky_avoc​ado Dude! It's the (grilled) cheese.
    We recently had someone apply for a senior development position.  She asked as a minimum salary of $150K!  Her background (as listed in her resume) included things like bus driver, janitor, Kmart register checkout person...


    Gretchen wrote:
    Zippy - that's a really good question.  You're right ... we do get a lot of people who apply for positions well beyond their experience and that's always amusing.  Things like:  "I believe that my 5 years as Lead Cook at IHOP has prepared me for the opening as the Director of Windows."  And people are serious. 

    As for corporate spies ... wow, that's a good one.  Honestly, I've never thought about that. Kinda like "secret shoppers," huh? 

    A couple years ago, it was trendy to make one of those human billboards that read "Hire me" or "Will Code for Food" and then stand on the street corner near MS.  For some reason (and I have no idea why), I was the person typically assigned to greeting them and talking to them about Microsoft.  Never a dull moment ... Smiley
  • Skewtzsc00ter Always in motion the future is..
    Wow, what a way of bringing some ease to people coming in for interviews.  Even for those who wish to work for MS.  I like how you show us what goes on during the interview process.  Can't wait for the white board portion.  This should be interesting. 

    I mean, any interviews I've been to never had anything like that.  It was usually the standard sit in a chair type interviews and the occasional walk around the company.

    Great stuff!
  • Interesting not how I thought it would be. Nice insight.

  • lennlenn Fo' Shizzle
    I just noticed that Gretchen is wearing what is perhaps the coolest shirt I have seen in a Channel 9 video.  A Spongmonkey shirt! 

    I need one Gretchen, where did you get it!!!!

    For those of you who wonder what the hell I am talking about ...

    http://www.rathergood.com/moon_song/

  • A question I can answer for Gret while she is gone!

    Lenn... Find out where to get yourself a Spongmonkey shirt in her post here:
     
    http://blogs.msdn.com/jobsblog/archive/2004/08/19/217560.aspx
    or you could just go directly here:

    http://www.cafepress.com/rathergood/252666

    - josh
  • phunky_avocado wrote:
    We recently had someone apply for a senior development position.  She asked as a minimum salary of $150K!


    An experience I will not forget is having a Microsoft recruiter essentially laugh at me during a phone interview when I answered the 'salary expectation' question for an SDE position. I believe her words were along the lines of:

    "We pay our administrators more than that."

    I'd asked for about 30% more than I'm earning now... I suppose I could have made a horrible miscalculation in the currency conversions, but I don't think so.
  • ZippyVZippyV Fired Up
    Come on people, I want to read more funny stories!
  • LazyCoderLazyCoder quit looking at me!
    Carefull posting about the Spongmonkeys. I posted about them and people started to blame ME for creating them!
  • What a load of crap. Like Microsoft's interviewing has some sort of science behind it. How often do you cycle recruiters? I have never seen the same recruiter more than once. 

    I have been through the interview process several times. Once I got hired. During my 4+ years working there my average review score was 3.5. Managers said they had never seen anyone progress and get promotions as fast as I did.

    Then some manager reorged the division and he didn't have any use for web dev's so he eliminated my position (plus others too)  to make head count in other places.

    So more interviews... Did I get hired again? NO! Why? did I loose my passion for working for MS or working in technology? NO!! Still have it (at least I had it. It's burnt pretty bad now...). Did I get dumber and less capable of doing the work? NO!

    So logically, how can this be? If the hiring process at Microsoft is not a pile of crap, why wouldn't someone who interviewed me see the value I have??

    Microsoft interviewing is non scientific. Extremely flawed and nothing more than a cruel joke that Microsoft staff play upon their victims. They are on the inside. You are an outsider. Interviewers REALLY enjoy judging people and putting them in the hot seat. I think they are sadists.

    Bitter? Me? Yes! I worked my * off for Microsoft and got rewarded in the end with a boot up my *.

    Can you say Open Source? How about Linux? Believe me. DO NOT come to Microsoft to interview unless you are a masochist. 
     
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    I'm sorry you've had such a bad experience.
  • MisterDonutMisterDonut The Disco Godfather
    variable wrote:
    What a load of crap. Like Microsoft's interviewing has some sort of science behind it. ...

    I have been through the interview process several times. Once I got hired. During my 4+ years working there my average review score was 3.5. Managers said they had never seen anyone progress and get promotions as fast as I did.
    So more interviews... Did I get hired again? NO! ...

    So logically, how can this be? If the hiring process at Microsoft is not a pile of crap, why wouldn't someone who interviewed me see the value I have??

    Microsoft interviewing is non scientific. Extremely flawed and nothing more than a cruel joke that Microsoft staff play upon their victims. They are on the inside. You are an outsider. Interviewers REALLY enjoy judging people and putting them in the hot seat. I think they are sadists.

    Bitter? Me? Yes! I worked my * off for Microsoft and got rewarded in the end with a boot up my a**.


    First off, sorry about your loss of job. It's not fun when anyone "gets the boot".

    Second, I don't work for neither Microsoft nor any affiliates / partners, but would like to one day, assuming they like health-care professionals that also are software engineers.

    But, there are a number of reasons people don't get jobs, despite being qualified for them.  Probably the most important of which is personality. I know of one individual specifically who was a *genius* at development.  Problem is, no one liked this person during the interview: their personality was abrasive and they were a "hot-dog". However, this person managed to get hired after some arm-twisting politics.  Because the company in question took a major turn in a direction that this person didn't like, (I.E. Moving towards a Microsoft technology instead of an open-source equivalent), this great developer became too abrasive to work happily in a team. This person now no longer works for the company in question. 

    The point being: There is a lot of science to interviewing and skills are just one aspect. Perhaps your tendency towards bitterness was showing through?

    Sincerely, best of luck in your future job interviews, if you are still looking, and congratulations, if you have already found a job.

  • Whats the use?

    I've been a member on here for a while but havent posted but really this one hit a really sensitive issue with me. I'm just turning 21 and i have been working for a ISP maintaining there wireless network and doing alot of networking etc. However i have probably the worst educational background in history and i don't forsee me able to get a BS or MS any time soon i graduated highschool and have since been trying to do an online course just to get some form of associates degree to get a little degree under my belt.

    But I think the biggest turning point that an applicant can see like my self that really looks like a shut door is when we see "This position requires a B.S. or M.S." And i have really yet to come accross one decent job opening on the job board that doesnt have it.

    I just don't get if it's worth to set my sights on ever being able to reach a job at microsoft when i really doubtfully will ever be able to get my BS or MS anytime soon to get a decent software engineering or network engineering job. (Being in the caribbean temporarily makes alot of things harder can't wait to get back to the US Smiley )
  • Jeremy WJeremy W that blogging guy

    Chris,

    If you ask just about any recruiter (and this interview with Zoe / Gretchen higlights this as well), you don't "need" a degree. I know many MS'ers who don't have degrees (including, ahem, Lenn here).

    But, it definitely helps because ultimately you need to get noticed to get hired by Microsoft. No degree==less chance of being noticed.

    Also, most MS job postings don't actually say "require". They say "preferred", which is a pretty accurate statement.

  • Jeremy WJeremy W that blogging guy
    variable wrote:
    Bitter? Me? Yes! I worked my * off for Microsoft and got rewarded in the end with a boot up my *.

    Can you say Open Source? How about Linux? Believe me. DO NOT come to Microsoft to interview unless you are a masochist. 


    MS Interviewing==bad
    Conclusion==use open source...........
  • I was interviewed by Microsoft (Redmond) to work on Avalon (typography) last year. We couldn't do a personal interview because I live in the UK, so we opted for the phone option. I had three succesful phone interviews, HOWEVER, the fourth interview was a complete disaster Sad it lasted for nearly three hours (over the phone) and it finished at midnight (my local time). The fact that I was up am 6am on that day and the interview started half an hour after finishing work didn't help either.

    Anyway, to cut the story short, I nearly fell asleep towards the end Smiley and I just couldn't wait for the interview to finish.... Alas, I didn't get the job (lack of OS development skills), but the whole thing was a unique experience!

    Mo.
      
  • phunky_avocadophunky_avoc​ado Dude! It's the (grilled) cheese.
    I just had a phone interview with MS.  It was fine.  But that is not the same as being there in person.

    I interviewed recently for a startup in the Bay Area started by three MS employees of long standing and who were hugely successful with a previous startup.  They were a bunch of pompous, holier-than-thou, and "we-are-so-much-smarter-than-you" pricks.  I didn't go back to the second, final interview.

    That's my XP with MS-related interviews.


    variable wrote:
    What a load of crap. Like Microsoft's interviewing has some sort of science behind it....[snip, snip, snip]...DO NOT come to Microsoft to interview unless you are a masochist. 
     
  • Hmmm well i guess there might be a chance in all hell, maybe i should post in here alot to get people to see my name before i move back to the US Smiley It's just hard to really picture someone wanting me to work at Microsoft, i hate hearing people shoot down MS mainly because one of my biggest goals is to get into a good job with microsoft in the long range. I figure posting in forums and stuff and testing software is great but to have Microsoft Employee on my card would really be nice.

    Would be nice to know its not a pipe dream though.

    Maybe Zoe or Gretchen can get me in the door when i get back Wink

    Chris
  • Argh.  I tried to download this video last night at home (trying to watch it through the site caused the media player to loop through a cycle of "Buffering...1%" and "Buffering...30%" endlessly).  Anyway, it was a poky download (60 mb it said, but suddenly at 10 mb it said it was 'done').  So I played it.  At about the three minute mark, right after she says "Here's Joe Smith", it stops.  Must be a sign of some sort.  Hmmm.  Well, is there a way of of fixing this, or is there something I should adjust?  Yes, I have a slow connection (read: 56K).
  • killingtimekillingtime Chances are excellent that I am not your soulmate.

    Working at MS is, and isn't, what you think.

    I had a completely different view before I arrived here as a contractor then again as full time.  MS is a big company, with big company issues, but it's still fun - the people help.  The folks I work with are funny, creative, hard working and the best part is they are all smarter than me at something - learning from others (and teaching them) is one of the highlights of working here for me.

    Also, I have 9 hours of college - but most don’t make it a big deal (and most assume I do).  If I wanted my managers managers job, then yeah, MBA required, but I enjoy doing my small part here.

     

    I was offered a blue spot after 2 or 3 months of contracting here.  While the pay wasn’t (note past tense, took a while to catch up, but worth it IMO) as good, the long term benefits are much greater. The interview went fine - the director scared me a bit, as did the SQL gal, other than that (yes, there was the old cliché of the guy who asks you a bunch of riddle logic questions), standard fare.

     

  • Hi Gretchen, nice to see you on channel9! Someday I'll have to take to journey to Redmond, do you need any Window washers? Do you remember me?
  • Ah ... you are the "guy named Paul."  Am I right?  Still no resume, eh? Smiley
  • MisterDonut wrote:


    First off, sorry about your loss of job. It's not fun when anyone "gets the boot".

    But, there are a number of reasons people don't get jobs, despite being qualified for them.  Probably the most important of which is personality.

    The point being: There is a lot of science to interviewing and skills are just one aspect. Perhaps your tendency towards bitterness was showing through?



    Donut,

    You are full of holes. Flat out, my personality going into interviews at MS was pristine, happy, positive, energized. Remember, I have been employed at MS and know what it takes to get hired there right?

    I can give you line by line, blow by blow reasons why I did not get the jobs I interviewed for. Those reasons are all about technical knowledge.

    One example: 2,2,3,3,3,5,5,6,6,9,9
    Write a routine that finds the number in the above set that shows up an odd number of times. Do it _now_ without any reference. Do it while under the pressure of someone waiting for you to do it.

    I already said I'm a web dev. A Microsoft web dev. Most of my career at MS was ASP 3.0 using VBScript. We'll cut to the chase here Donut, on what the interviewer was looking for. The interviewer wants to see you use a hash in the solution. If you didn't use a hash you flunk. Have you ever tried to implement a hash in VBScript? To be honest I was using C# in the interview. C# has an inherent hashtable type. Everyday I look improve my C# skills. However, at interview time, I had used the hashtable type so infrequently that I couldn't remember the syntax. I told the interviewer this. Didn't matter. I solved the problem but I didn't use a hash. I failed. If I could have flipped through a ref book for 15 secs or had intelli-sense I would have remembered the usage. At this point the interviewer turned cold and said I have no further questions. I went down the elevator and out the door…

     

    In _all_ cases that I failed in Microsoft interviews (AFTER I WAS A MS EMPLOYEE) it was due to not being able to speak like I write CS textbooks on any issue the interviewer brings up. I could have aced another interview if I remembered these simple words: “SQL Execution Plans” On the job I could have brought that to mind is a minute or so. In an interview the pressure kills.

     

    The hiring manager that originally hired me into my Microsoft position said, “You were hired because you have proved that you can learn what’s put in front of you and you continue to learn.”

     

    So I hope the non-equation is painted clearly enough here.

     

    I got hired because I proved I had the right stuff in that I could and did continually learn what was put in front of me. I didn’t get re-hired because I couldn’t satisfy the interviewer that I know enough. Is that your interviewing science?

  • Gretchen, did any of those people with electronic billboards on them ever get hired?

    Dpen
  • I'm not sure, but I don't believe any that I dealt with directly have been hired.

  • variable wrote:


    One example: 2,2,3,3,3,5,5,6,6,9,9
    Write a routine that finds the number in the above set that shows up an odd number of times.


    Odd observation:

    2-2+3-3+3-5+5-6+6-9+9=3

    Probably meaningless, and this would not have helped you in this situation anyway.
  • ajaj

    In any organization, things are very clear

    1. You need to upgrade and it has to be constant
    coz, Changes are constant

    2. If you say , you know something means YOU KNOW THAT THING WELL

    3. Its typical of the interviewer to expect a hashtype, it needs no intellisense but a little presence of the sense.

    4. Most behavioural interviews expect to judge your behaviours to find out whether you chicken out easily or you have a die-hard attitude or atleast if you are /can think in the right direction.

    5. Last, the interviewer is human and no science can say how a person thinks.. Perspective still changes. So just becoz you had a bad experience does not mean their interview process is not scienthific.

    Also, just b4 signing off... everything in the world thats a fact is scienthific (but whose perspective?)

  • rasxrasx Emperor of String.Empty
    23,040 views and counting! Only about 40 posts... Hmm...

    I hate intelligence tests. And this is coming from a person who has taken a degree in physics. I did not get this degree by dancing and smooth talking. Moreover, I got this degree almost entirely surrounded by people who were hostile toward and/or morbidly curious about my very existence for five solid years.

    So I mentioned this before and will say it again that testing should be done on the computer. Any testing on the whiteboard should be subdordinate to how the applicant can use the machine itself. Test the communication skills when the computer test is over...

    I have not seen this video (to avoid getting pissed off) but I assume that the whiteboard is featured.
  • fabulousfabulous .NET Developer, unofficial Evangelist, geek
    Great video there guys. It is making me think that my long time dream of working at Microsoft is possible in this life time.

    I am relatively new here (signed up a long time ago but started to participate a couple of days ago) and I must admit that I knew nothing of you blogs.Now that I do I will frequent them.

    Like someone said, I would like the sequel to this video. It was an eye opener and for someone who dreams of working there someday, it was very exciting to watch and 21 minutes is too short.

    I have one question...Do you guys consider community participation in your criteria? By community participation I am referring to online programming forums. The reason I am asking is that there is no Microsoft office near me and the only thing I can do to promote any MS technology is via a public forum.

    I would like to know what else is necessary that can be done for recognition by MS. In my country a degree is not the best solution since the curriculum is not sufficient for one to have market value. I have had to learn what I can from short courses, books, forums and the tried and trusted trial and error.
     
    Another thing comes to mind, how often to you make contact with non-US potentials?
  • Hi Fabulous - I'm so glad you enjoyed the videos.  It would be great to do a sequel down the road, if Robert invites us back for more questioning. Smiley  Everyone got to see Zoe's office, but they didn't get to see mine. Smiley

    Yes, we definitely consider community participation.  I know a lot of recruiters lurk in newsgroups and public forums, etc, but sometimes that's low on our list since it's really time-intensive.  We don't have a lot of time in the day so we sometimes have to go for the biggest bang for our buck - which is searching our database, networking with people we know, etc. If you run across MS people in the forums, definitely let them know you'd be interested in working at MS.

    Since a lot of our searching (of resumes, of course ... but even of blogs, websites, forums, etc) is by technology keywords just make sure you are focused on the same technologies for which we are seeking, even if it's in your spare time.  And by all means, apply at http://www.microsoft.com/careers, if you haven't already. that's the best thing you can do.

    As for people outside the US, we definitely consider them.  We want the best person for the job.  That said, the US government hit its visa cap for new applications last year, and we hear it's going to hit extremely quickly this year.  So the barrier of obtaining a visa sometimes makes it hard for us to hire people outside of North America for jobs based in the US.

    Thanks for the great questions!
  • ksbksb
    (My first post!)

    Great video. I've been fortunate enough to successfully interview with MS for both intern and full-time positions. A great experience and something I look forward to going through again. This video captures that experince quite well.

    The best thing about MS is smart people working on cool products.
  • kylekyle Please give me a job.
    Is this a good place to plead for a job at Microsoft?

    My resume is located at http://www.agricosales.com/kyles_stash/resume/resume.doc .
    I have no salary requirements.  I would love to code at any salary, and I will move.
  • Hi Kyle - the best place to plead for a job is at http://www.microsoft.com/careers. Smiley

    And check out our blog, if you haven't already. Smiley
  • thebeingsthebeings nephews rock!
    Just a comment or two about this post - actually the original post.

    Now - I personally have never worked for Microsoft - but have been working towards working there some day - hopefully soon ( waiting to see if i get 2nd interview ).

    Anyhow - the reasoning behind writing this - guy.. calm down a bit.. There are times in a business where you have to let some people go. That is a fact of life in the business world. Sometimes you can hire - sometimes you fire.

    All that aside - be happy that you got 4 years! Some of us don't even have our foot in the door yet. If you take the time to think for a moment what it is you have under your belt. You worked at Microsoft for 4 years. Now I'm not the "pro" on resume writing - but it doesn't take a genius to realize that having MS on your resume/cv will certainly make you seem like a great candidate.

    Lastly, as to not over do this thread even more so - I totally agree with what was said in the reply about "Perhaps your tendency towards bitterness". Take time to reflect on that. In fact - when I read your post - it was the first thing that came to mind.

    Anyhow.. Good luck!


  • thebeingsthebeings nephews rock!
    Variable,

    #1

    "my personality going into interviews at MS was pristine, happy, positive, energized"

    - did this fade perhaps? did you lose the energy? - I'm not poking - I'm only trying to understand what happened with your scenario.

    #2 "write a routine..."

    - how long ago was this? was this during the transition to asp.net and a more OO approach to programming. I could totally see why this question is feasible.

    #3 "I got hired because I proved I had the right stuff in that I could and did continually learn what was put in front of me."

    - did you continue to learn throughout your stay with microsoft - like - did you continue to expand your skill set and take on new technologies / products released by ms and others? just curious..


    please remember - i mean no harm by my questions - its just to gain further insight.


    wish you the best
  • thebeingsthebeings nephews rock!

    open source has its pros and cons..

    business wise - i dont recommend it especially to the non-techies..

  • Man,

    It sounds like you are bitter. While I also question the "scientific" nature of an interview, I obviously don't feel as strongly about it as you do.

    I think it is impossible to count on a lot of accuracy when people are involved. I have never been hired by Microsoft and when I was interested in a job, I never seemed to get past the phone interview.  The times when I was not interested in relocating I would get past the phone interview but decided against the day long ordeal. I have no way of knowing how it would have turned out. I always find it somewhat funny that my skill set changed very little in the phone interviews I failed and the ones I passed......

    I have heard good things about the interview process, usually from people who got hired and I have heard the bad. For instance a really really bright developer ran into an interviewer that seemed to be reading from a cheat sheet when asking questions. It became disconcerting for my friend because when he started to dig into the details of an issue it was obvious that the interviewer had no clue about the particular area and when trying to work through the problem with my friend became flustered that he might actually be wrong.  My friend never made it past that one person. 

    I am pretty sure he was qualified since the area in question was something he just finished perfecting on my team. Was he turned down because he butted heads with the interviewer.. Probably... Is he working on stuff he loves now... Yes...  Life goes on.

    I still think the root of the difference with interviews and hire and fire decisions are the people involved.

  • Hi Zoe & Gretchen,

    Ive heard and seen people work their bottoms off in my school 'preparing' for a microsoft interview- they revise all thier coursework, read books on interviewing etc.


    I wonder if all that is required? The palindrome question in the second video seems simlpe, but lets say i didnt remember C syntax and mess up in writing the program but wrote a good and correct algorithm- what kind of impression does that give to the interviewer?

    Lets say I did n number of courses during my degree program? Iam sure noone expects us to know all the coursework?

    I just want to know what the interviewer is expecting out of the candidate? A general tip given is: Know whatever you have on your resume inside out. are we supposed to know the minutest implementation details of all projects?

    Also, are coding questions asked in PM interviews? because PMs dont code (please correct me if wrong)

    what kind of non technical and non design questions should one expect in a PM interview, given that the careers website say most hires for PM are comp science backgrounds?
    are we supposed to think Cost/Business perspective while responding? If so how would someone expect a CS guy to know that?

    Thanks
      
  • KSGKSG
    I'm neither Zoe nor Gretchen, but I'm a PM who does do interviews at Microsoft and I will say that we do ask coding questions.  I asked one this morning in fact.  It probably depends on the team.  I'm a PM on the C++ team so our product has a lot to do with code Smiley 
    <p>
    If you have an interview, good luck! 

    Thanks,

    KSG
  • Hi KSG,

    THanks for your reply.

    It'l be interesting to know what exactly a program manager does. I have read enough descriptions/profiles but its still not clear to me as to how a program manager is involved in the software developement aspect of a product. Most descriptions say that PMs define feature set, hold meetings, manage timelines.. how are these things related to software development?

    Do program managers build architecutres? As in lets say theres a certain product- Is it the program managers job to come up with a software architecture (class heirarchy etc)? Are they supposed to care about details like 'use recursion instead of iteration' kind of issues? Do they write/read/troubleshoot code?

    Thanks!

    goofy

  • This is an interesting topic indeed.

    I have interviewed at Microsoft several times. I have been told NO n times, I have been offered a possition n times, I have only taken a position once. (Where n is more than once).

    One of the turn downs was actually by Zoe. It was very pleasent to talk to her but I was puzzled that she did not see my potential....yes indeed, I even said..."now is personal" not with her but with it.

    After Zoe's turn down I went on a short vacation to relax, came back, tried again, and voila! I got hired! Of course it helps I am single and have no financial pressure.

    Now on to my $0.02: Learn a topic from top to bottom. Say patterns, or relational theory, or ASP. Just learn the darn thing well, don't be afraid to even mention flaws with that thing you know well.

    The rest just make sure you can have a pleasent conversation about other topics. If you dont' know something say so and ask "Would you tell me how you would do it"... while they explain, carefully listen to the choice of words the interviewer uses and use them yourself. (THis is key, remember...big KEY).

    If you know something (the answer to something) do not stop talking until they tell you so. segway on to another topic you also know. Don't be pushy either as in using commands like "wait, wait, wait" or "let me finish". Practice story telling not to lie but to get the right tone of voice.

    Your body must also speak. If the interviewer is saying "...here is the important thing..." you lean back and open your eyes. If the interviewer says "...this is kind of funny..." you lean forward and smile....you get the idea, don't sit there dead.

    Well, now I work at Microsoft and like it very much. I have run into lots of weird people and know some managers that I wish got phoned interviewed by Zoe so they wouldn't be here; And even being inside I don't stop to build a network of contacts for a rainy day.

    The other day, I was having some beers and playing pool at a bar. I met this high end PM (I looked him up in the address book) short of calling HR that same night and moving me to his group he did all sorts of promises that ...you guessed it! He would not remember the next day. (Of course this did not happen and it is just something similar I saw once in a movie Wink

    Later
  • One example: 2,2,3,3,3,5,5,6,6,9,9
    Write a routine that finds the number in the above set that shows up an odd number of times. Do it _now_ without any reference. Do it while under the pressure of someone waiting for you to do it.

    The interviewer wants to see you use a hash in the solution.

    Are you sure about that?  If only one number in the list appears an odd number of times, then a much more efficient solution than a hash table is simply to take the XOR of all the numbers in the list.  I'd have assumed that's what they were looking for.  It's not really like MS to test whether you know specific APIs.

  • Wow!!!
    Great Vedio
  • lars0,

    I totally agree with you that being so picky with syntax just doesn't seem right from a MS recruiter, as mean as a recruiter can be. And also, where would the program end? Because, not remembering HashTable syntax would lead me to write a hash table from scratch. There's simply no end to the stuff. Your XOR solution is so elegant, that I'm pretty sure the problem did actually specify that there was only 1 number repeated an odd number of times.

  • I just finished watching all three videos for this sequence.

    All three contained Very insightful and useful information I would say (on several levels at that).

    Learning in general is a passion for me.  Just recently I have taken up programming (I use a program that has the LUA language embedded in it, AutoPlay Media Studio 5 (Pro for me)).  I maintain a Website for such issues (free projects for all to use).  And, you can find me and a great bunch of other developers over at the Indigo Rose Corporation forums, day or night.

    My day job covers telephone and in-person technical support for our services and the customer's hardware (usually their home based computer(s)).

    As far as the interviews... I now take the stance that I am not going to try to impress the interviewer(s), but I will remember to try and stay relaxed... as when I am dealing with any given customer I work with currently. They just as well should see me as I usually am.

    Now, does M.S. have any positions in Florida open? (Wink)  Or, can one work from home for any of their positions?

    My wife and I want to move to a warmer climate state (like Florida) sooner than later!

    Well, that's my first post.  I hope I can get the choice of either cookie or cracker! (grin)

  • ShiggyShiggy Gonzo
    Well done.  Very informative and personalized video.  And, might I add, easy on the eyes.
  • Hi Zoe and Gretchen!

    I am not sure about US, but this is what happened to me in UK. I got a telephone call from a recruiter from MS, incidentally I was looking after my two kids [ages 2 and 1] at that time and couldn't properly speak to the person at the other end. The fact that i had kids with me and due to them i couldn't speak to the recruiter as i should have turned him off. My attempt at speaking at a later date were not met with much enthusiasm. Needless to say i never heard anything back.

    My point is, when you guys make the first phone call, is it expected that the people at the other side will be all ready to recieve the phone call especially when no prior notification of the phone call has been made [this leads me not to believe the smart casual dress policy, more like formal and ever ready].

    Second thing is that Zoe in the video said that Recruiters at MS are trained in some manner not to make first minute judgements. If this is so then why wasn't my attempt to redo the whole phone thing taken seriously. I mean at the end of the day if the guy recruiting can't understand the basic of things how can they make decisions as to who is fit for a certain technical role or not?

    i am not holding a grudge, just wanted to voice my opinion and say that not everything is how it seems to be.

    Take care


  • Where is the next part ? i cudnt find it in this thread at least.
  • thehelen.oftroy wrote:

    Where is the next part ? i cudnt find it in this thread at least.


    uh - never mind - found it !!
  • I had the telephone interview with the Hiring Mgr and was told to go to Atlanta for the actual interview. I told him about my visa(H1B) and he thought there was nothing wrong.

    When I got the recruiter on the phone, we were planning the trip and told her about my visa situation which she already knew before, she said she'll check with the lawyers and never heard from her. Called her several times but never got any feedback. Nice way (I mean very professional way) of ending the process!!!

  • Wow, so you're also flying up to Redmond for the Interview? I heard there are about 20 positions currently open in this field.
    I'm also a Technical Writer and I will be visiting the campus by the end of this month. I was doing some research in this blog...very insightful.
    Have you seen any channel 9 videos specifically related to technical writers? What there work day is like and what kind of interview process they go through?
    That would be very insightful. Good luck to you!

    -Kiutpi

  • <Deleted by User>


  • <Deleted by User>

  • Gretchen,

    How about this story.

    Your man of 21 put on his resume 10 years of experience. His reasons?....overtime.
  • tsilbSlackmasterK This Space ​Intentional​ly Left Blank
    Didn't see a link to part 2, it's here:
    http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=18857
  • Does anyone have a link to the third video for this series?  I'm having a hard time tracking it down on ch9

    thanks
  • http://www.emicrosoftinterview.com has tonns of information which can be used to prepare for MS interview

  • Hi Niners - If you don't know already, Zoe and I are back with our own company, JobSyntax.  In fact, it's been around for a while.  But if you still have burning questions about technical recruiting, we're hosting a jobseeker chat on Tuesday, 10/10/06 at 10 am PT.  You can find out more information about the topic and how to sign up here on our blog.

    Carry on. Smiley

     
  • Did Gretchen Ledgard said Google for the information?!?
    Seems like she doesn't believe MSN Search. Ouch!!!Tongue Out
  • I was not able 2 hear the video played.Could you please update.Thanks..
  • http://mschnlnine.vo.llnwd.net/d1/ch9/2/7/4/8/1/zoe_gretchen_2004_what_is_it_like_to_interview_at_microsoft.wmv

    For those unable to view the video within the page, the above link should allow you to download the video (about 61mb) although the audio seems a bit off on my system.
  • Hello,

    I am unable to view this view.. Is it available still ?

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