Microsoft interview study guide: Part I of II

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This posting details a candidate´s viewpoint and advice on interviewing with Microsoft. Our guest poster, Joe, has further recorded his insights on his recently relaunched blog My Technical Interview Experience.

Preparing for the Microsoft interview can be an overwhelming task. You have very little time to study for what seems like an endless amount of material and it can be difficult to determine what information is pertinent and what isn’t.

Back when I was studying for the Microsoft interview, I remember how stressful it was and how I wished there had been some sort of guide that told me exactly how to prepare. Now that I’ve been through the Microsoft interview (and many just like it), I’m here to present you with what I wished I had: a comprehensive study guide that specifically tells you how to prepare for your recent college graduate / intern SDE or SDET interview at Microsoft. I’m confident that if you study for all of the bullet points listed below, you’ll be in good shape for your interview.

Behavioral Questions
At Microsoft, behavioral questions don’t appear as frequently as they might at some other companies. Interviewers will spend most of their time grilling you on technical concepts and testing your coding skills. However, it’s still very likely that behavioral questions will appear at some point during the Microsoft interview.

Below, I’ve listed some behavioral questions that I feel are most likely to be asked by interviewers at Microsoft:
• Tell me about yourself.
• Why do you want to work at Microsoft?
• What are your strengths?
• What are your weaknesses?
• What are your short term career goals? What are your long term career goals?
• What was your favorite class and why?
• What is your favorite programming language and why?
• Why should we hire you?
• Why did you major in computer science?
• What are some qualities of someone who is an effective team player?
• What are some qualities of an effective SDE / SDET ?
• Tell me about a time when you failed.
• Do you write code in your spare time?
• Tell me about a project you did in your spare time.
• Tell me about a time when you were the leader of a group or project.

Resume Questions
Regardless of what company you’re interviewing with, you should always be prepared to talk about all items on your resume in full detail. At Microsoft, interviewers will especially be interested in your past work experiences and technical projects. Below, I’ve listed some common resume questions about your technical background that you should be prepared to answer during the Microsoft interview:

For each of your technical projects (including work projects):
• Can you tell me about Project X?
• How did you go about designing Project X?
• How did you go about coding Project X?
• How did you go about testing Project X?
• Tell me about something clever you did while working on Project X.
• Tell me about a tough bug you fixed on Project X.
• If Project X was a group project, tell me about a conflict you had with a teammate and how the issue was resolved.

For each of your work experiences:
• Tell me about your experience working at Company X.
• What did you like / dislike about working at Company X?
• Tell me about a time where you went above and beyond the normal call of duty to complete a task at Company X.
• Tell me about a conflict you had with a co-worker at Company X and how the issue was resolved.

Read Part II of this post on Friday.

Work at Microsoft!

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