Interviewing at Microsoft – Part 2

For the record I was never asked this question by Microsoft. Cartoon used with permission of

Part II: The Day of the Interview. I got to the Microsoft lobby about 10 minutes early. After a somewhat anxious period of waiting in the reception room, I began the interview loop.  I ended up interviewing with five people – some were managers, some were peers and some were dotted-line managers with whom I’d be working with as part of a matrixed organization. (read Part I here)

All of the interviews were interesting, collegial and detailed. Only one interviewer really grilled me – but that was because I didn’t pick up on his copious hints and blew a question. Luckily, he gave me a second chance and I did much better, although not great, with that answer. Except for that one tough question, the day felt more like the interviewers were trying to see if I’d fit into their organization, not wondering whether I could do the job. The presumption seemed to be that if I had made it this far, then I could probably do the job.

Before you start to think that my experience was perfect, there was one off note about the interview process. I wasn’t told where, when or with whom I’d be interviewing with until the day before the interview. This lack of information added some stress. Fortunately, I got the specifics in time to finish my interview preparation and research using Bing

After the five scheduled interviews were over, I was escorted out feeling that I had done well, but… you never know. I could have done great, but someone else could have done better.

On the way home I called the recruiter to let her know how I thought the day went and she called me back to say that the feedback was positive, but that she wouldn’t know anything either way for a while. Now came the hard part: waiting.

The next night the recruiter called saying she had both good news and bad news. I asked for the bad news first. She said they had “decided to make me an offer, but…” — at this point, I wanted to explode with curiosity. Then she let me off the hook and said, “…it’s actually all good news.” So, we chatted about the details and she sent a confirmation email to tide me over until the formal offer letter came through. The whole process from initial contact by a recruiter to starting work took less than 7 weeks. And now, the thrill ride is just beginning.

If you think the interviews are challenging, wait until you have to start absorbing all information that Microsoft throws at new hires. The phrase that everyone uses is “drinking from the fire hose.” I’m not sure if it is a fire hose or if it is a 72 inch water main inundating you with so much information that your head overflows. Either way, I’m having the time of my life in a dream job and I am still ecstatic that they hired me.

Best of luck in your interviews. – Thom Mitchell

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