Getting yourself ready for a job interview at a big tech giant like Microsoft takes guts. Just applying deserves a pat on the back already.
Now it’s time for some all-important preparation for the lengthy Microsoft interview process…
But don’t stress or panic – thankfully the Microsoft interview process isn’t too daunting. The company’s interviews scored just 3.1/5 on Glassdoor’s difficulty scale, so it sits somewhere in the middle for how hard it can be. So believe in yourself and rely on us here at MentorCruise for some needed advice and insights.
Here’s everything you can expect from the 2022 Microsoft interview process.
Microsoft Hiring Process Overview
It’s all about showcasing your best, most authentic self at Microsoft. This is a company that values uniqueness and integrity. You don’t even need to dress to impress in formal attire – they want you to come in whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
They’ve also updated their interview style in recent years. Now the experience is more about the questions you ask rather than just your expert knowledge. So it’s not just what you know but how you think too. The overall step-by-step process goes something like this:
Hand in your resume, cover letter, and referrals
Brief phone call with a recruiter
Phone screening with the hiring manager
Onsite interview (around 4-5 interviews which generally take half a day in total)
Although this process will vary depending on the role you’re going for (technical or non-technical), every applicant needs to come with impressive industry-wide know-how and plenty of hands-on enthusiasm.
Microsoft also has six core competencies they specifically look for:
‘Adaptability’: Can you think on your feet and adjust to unexpected situations?
‘Collaboration’: Do you work well within a team?
‘Customer Focus’: How easily can you put yourself in customers’ shoes?
‘Drive for Results’: Are you a proactive go-getter?
‘Influencing for Impact’: Do you show genuine leadership qualities?
‘Judgment’: Can you make well-judged quick-fire decisions?
You can read more about what they’re looking for here.
Here’s What the Interviewees Say
A few users on Comparably have shared their experiences, including one anonymous user stating it was “Pretty standard compared to most big tech companies. Mostly coding questions and behavioral questions”. Another described it as “Grueling, stressful, thoughtful, enlightening. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.” Check out the thread for more.
For interview experience and culture, Microsoft scored an average grade of 'A'. This puts them in the top 10% for companies of a similar size on Comparably. Good going if you ask us.
How Long is the Microsoft Interview Process?
Once you’ve landed your first response back, the entire Microsoft interview process can take anywhere between 2 weeks and 1 month before you get an offer. However, the Microsoft internship interview process for students is thought to be a little more lengthy – sometimes up to two months.
Interviewing for technical roles tends to take longer too. The median length of non-technical applications is 22 days, whilst technical applications have a median length of 32 days because it includes more job-specific assessments.
Microsoft Interview Process Timeline
Step #1: Phone Screening
A phone screening involves discussing your background in more detail and answering any questions the recruiter might have after looking at your resume and cover letter. They’ll be looking to see if you’re a good fit.
Remember you can and should ask plenty of questions as well – it’s your chance to figure out whether Microsoft is a good fit for you too. So be polite, inquisitive, and confident. The call will last anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes, so make the most of the time!
Step #2: Phone Interview
This is typically the second step in the Microsoft interview process. Think of it as a more formal phone interview, this time with the hiring manager/s themselves.
This is a chance to show your interest and speak directly with the team that you’ll potentially work with. They’ll be on the lookout for applicants who show the most genuine enthusiasm, so be passionate! Come up with a set of interesting questions and do some thorough research on Microsoft as a company. Look up things like: What tech are they currently working on? Have there been any big company changes? What’s happening in the industry?
The Microsoft YouTube channel is a great place to keep up to date with their goings-on.
Step #3: Onsite or Virtual Interview
If you succeed in the phone calls, you’ll then be invited to a selection of on-site interviews to meet the hiring team in person. It’ll be 4-5 interviews held one after the other, all on the same day. Each of the interviews is conducted by two interviewers and they’ll ask you all sorts of behavioral and coding questions. You might take part in a few technical exercises or tests, so be sure to make an impression.
After each round, you’ll get a ‘hire’ or ‘no hire’ score – and if you get more than three nos, your day might end earlier than expected. The interviews will probably get harder throughout the day, ending with an interview with the highest-ranking senior position.
One aspect Microsoft looks for is future ambition. They love applicants who look beyond the role they’re applying for and towards a long-term career across a variety of disciplines within the company. So make sure you illustrate your drive to continually keep learning and building your skillset.
Note that Microsoft’s interview process is currently entirely virtual – but this might change in the near future.
Step #4: Decision Making/ HR Decision
This part is a waiting game. You’ll usually hear back within a week of the on-site interviews. There are three ways it can go too: a rejection, an instant offer, or an invite back for a final HR round – this time with questions based on whether you’re the right fit culturally. They also might discuss salary and benefits.
At this stage, it’s best to get clued up on Microsoft culture. FYI, they’re all about having a growth mindset and making a real difference in the world.
How to Nail the Interview Process
Use STAR to Adapt Your Resume and Cover Letter to What They Want
There’s lots you can do to build a strong profile for the tech market. It’s best to change certain parts of your resume to showcase more of what Microsoft is looking for.
Take a good look at the job description and add in a few stories or examples of key skills or attributes. You can do this using the STAR method response to frame your answers (Situation, Task, Action, Result). It’ll allow you to explain your knowledge more clearly with specific examples told from your individual point of view.
Situation - Begin your response by explaining briefly about a certain situation. Think of this part as a story opener. Something short to set the scene.
Task - Then begin to explain things in more detail, whether it’s a problem you solved, a goal you worked towards, a project you completed, or a situation you encountered.
Action - This is the part where you’ll explain your processes. What was your strategy? What steps did you take? How did you implement your skills?
Result - Lastly, explain the outcome of the actions you took and reflect on what lessons you learned or what new skills you gained.
Build Your Network To Get A Foot In The Door
Networking is becoming more and more useful in getting your foot in the door at big tech companies like Microsoft. Who you know can make a huge difference.
Consider attending tech industry events like trade shows and conferences. Not only will you hear about exciting industry news first, but you never know who you might bump into. So don't be shy of being forthright about your desires to work at Microsoft. There’s nothing wrong with passion and ambition, especially if you’re the right person for the job.
Practice Answering Behavioral And Technical Questions
Microsoft wants you to demonstrate not just what you think, but the whys and hows of your thought process. Answer their questions with logic and explanations.
Remember, Microsoft will never expect you to know absolutely everything, so just focus on clarity and integrity in your responses.
Microsoft Interview Azure Questions
These are the type of behavioral-based questions you’ll be asked and the best ways you can respond:
“What do you think are the main qualities of working at Microsoft?” [Refer back to their six core competencies.]
“Tell me about a time when you took a risk.” [Use the STAR method to tell a positive story about a specific situation you’ve previously encountered and overcome.]
“How does your employment background fit this role?” [Pick a few of Microsoft’s core competencies and use the STAR method to explain how your background has built you these skills.]
“What do you think this role's day-to-day might look like?” [Refer to the research you’ve done on Microsoft culture and current events.]
What role do you tend to take in a group project, and why? [Demonstrate leadership skills or individual thinking. But be true to yourself.]
For more technical roles, expect Microsoft program manager interview questions about specific technical or programming aspects. You also might be asked to solve some sort of puzzle or work something out about an interesting scenario.
You should also be prepared for pushback questions that ask you to clarify or explain your response further.
Despite its gigantic presence in the tech industry, rest easy knowing the Microsoft interview process isn’t too intimidating. Do plenty of industry research and come with a curious mind. Remember, Microsoft values the applications that demonstrate the criteria through specific examples, big ideas, and buckets of enthusiasm.
Get started with MentorCruise by connecting with a mentor today. They’ll have plenty of handy tips and advice on smashing a Microsoft interview.