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Microsoft Interview Process Guide

Posted on 
June 17, 2020
Dipen Dadhaniya
The fast well prepared banner
About The Author!
Dipen Dadhaniya
Dipen Dadhaniya
Engineering Manager at Interview Kickstart. A passionate and versatile web developer packed with full-stack development skills and a curiosity to explore computer languages.

Preparing for technical interviews at Microsoft can be significantly challenging even for experienced engineers. The interview process comprises multiple rounds and candidates are often put through tough tests to see if they’ve got what it takes.

At Interview Kickstart, we’ve successfully trained 3500+ engineers to land their dream jobs at the most successful technology companies in the world. Our rigorous and comprehensive training programs put our candidates ahead of the race, maximizing their probability of getting offers at these companies.

Here's what this article entails:

  1. Qualities Microsoft Looks for in its Candidates
  2. Microsoft Interview Process
  3. Qualifications for Technical Job Roles at Microsoft
  4. Microsoft Interview Questions
  5. Microsoft Interview Tips
  6. Common Technical Topics That Feature in Microsoft Interviews
  7. Microsoft Interview - Resume Building Tips
  8. Average Salaries for Technical Roles at Microsoft

Check out our Interview Guides for other top tech companies including Netflix and Google.

In this guide, you will learn about 

  • Microsoft’s interview process from people who have interviewed at the company.
  • The qualities that Microsoft looks for in candidates. 
  • Technical and behavioral questions asked in previous Microsoft interviews.
  • Useful tips to help you prepare for your  interview and design your resume.
  • Job-specific information for various tech roles at Microsoft such 
  • Microsoft’s company culture - to know what to expect during your interview and, if successful,when you start working at Google.  

Qualities Microsoft Looks for in its Candidates

  • Coding skills

At Microsoft you will be expected to be proficient with at least one programming language; preferably Python, Java, C/C++, PHP, C# or Go. 

You will initially be tested on the programming language you’re proficient in. Focus areas typically include linksets, advanced sorting, Object-Oriented Design, dynamic programming, APIs, and algorithmic problem solving.

  • Analytical abilities

Logical and analytical thinking are highly valued at Microsoft. Microsoft looks for candidates who have the ability to adopt an innovative approach to problem-solving and those who exhibit strong critical thinking capabilities.  

  • Programming and problem-solving abilities

A keyme quality required to crack the technical rounds at Microsoft is your programming skills. Your skill as a programmer will be tested thoroughly through various technical interview rounds. It requires dedicated hours of practice if you want to up your game and bring your best problem-solving skills to the table.

  • Communication skills

Even though you’re applying for a tech position at Microsoft, your communication skills are very important. Good communication is required to coordinate with different teams and establish effective cross-communication channels.  

  • Leadership Skills

Your ability to demonstrate thoughtful and effective leadership is an attribute that will take you a long way in the technical interview process. Strong leaders build strong teams and aren’t afraid of taking challenges head-on. Microsoft gives you the opportunity to showcase your leadership skills during the interviews.How you perform is certain to influence the outcome of your interview.

  • The cultural quotient

‘How much do you know about Microsoft’s products and services? How passionate are you about working at Microsoft? Do you have the right mix of qualities to be hired at Microsoft? Are you going to be a good fit?’ Company culture and how you fit in significantly contributes to the outcome of your interview.Your ethics and morals are what will make for an effective and decisive leader in the future.  

Microsoft Interview Process

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The interview process typically consists of 3-4 rounds of interviews.

1. You’re contacted by the recruiter

If your profile is relevant to the position you applied for, the recruiter will contact you and ask you questions about your profile and areas of expertise. If the conversation is convincing enough, you’ll be asked to appear for the phone screen interview.  

2. The Phone screen interview 

This will involve writing code on a document shared by you and the interviewer. Problems presented in this section can be solved quickly and are relatively straightforward. To effectively solve these questions you should have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of algorithms and data structures.

3: The Microsoft on-site interview 

The real test of your abilities happens at the on-site interview. You’ll be asked to come on-site to the Microsoft office and meet with interviewers in person. The on-site interviews usually comprise 3-4 rounds and may last the entire day.If the on-site interviews go well, you’re more likely to be extended an offer. 

4. HR round and salary negotiations

The final negotiations of your offer occur in this round. You are free to ask any questions relevant to your profile, your compensation, and the general culture of the company.

Qualifications for Technical Job Roles at Microsoft

Senior Software Engineer

This position is for experienced professionals who have adequate experience in various aspects of computer science and programming. Below are the qualifications required to qualify for an interview for this role. 

  • BS, MS or an equivalent degree in Computer Science or a related technical field.
  • 5+ years of proven, practical experience in C/C++/C#.
  • Proven systems programming experience.
  • Development and system design skills.
  • Experience with optimizing low-level code.
  • Proven experience in developing software code for large projects.
  • Good communication skills in the english language.
  • Experience working with product design, machine learning, Unix/Linux OS, and network systems. 
Senior Program Manager 

This is a prominent and coveted position at Microsoft; one that requires adequate experience in design, project management and coding. 

Below are the qualifications and experience required to apply for the Program Manager position at Microsoft.

  • An MS or BS degree in Computer Science or equivalent experience.
  • 6+ years of product development and project management experience, with specific emphasis on user experience.
  • Proven experience in developing UI/UX platforms for consumer interaction. 
  • Demonstrated excellence in communication and verbal skills. 
  • Proven understanding and experience in cloud and data services. 
  • Effective relationship-building skills and the ability to interact with cross-functional teams to deliver time-bound results. 
  • Experience in computer science programming, including being adept with C/C++ and C#. 
  • Experience in IOT programming is an added advantage. 

Microsoft Interview Questions

It’s important to note that Microsoft, like all other top-tier tech companies, has a number of interview questions that they keep rotating between. Questions and problems  are frequently removed from the rotation and replaced with new ones on a regular basis. 

The most effective and efficient way to prepare for technical and behavioral interviews is to look for conceptual themes and patterns, rather than looking for the most commonly asked questions at Microsoft

If you want to ace interviews at the most competitive companies, place emphasis on pattern recognition and build your problem-solving skills. This is the only way to solve problems that you have never seen before and the only way to fully explain your solutions during interviews. 

That’s precisely what we cover in our ‘Technical Interview Masterclass’. To learn more, you can sign up for our free webinar.

To know more about the type of questions asked at Microsoft interviews,here are some of the most commonly asked questions.These questions test your strength in programming concepts, coding, and design. 

Microsoft technical interview questions 

  • How to design a URL shortener. 
  • Sorting an array – 0s, 1s and 2s. 
  • Print a pattern without using a “loop”.
  • Find the middle element in a linked set and reverse a linked set. 
  • Problems involving Kadane’s Algorithm.
  • Problems pertaining to data types and storage types in C language.
  • You’re given a Binary Tree, check if it is a BST.
  • Write a code to evaluate if two trees are identical or not.
  • Finding the nth node in a singly-linked list.
  • Write code to convert a certain binary tree into its mirror tree.
  • Designing redo and undo operations using computer language. 
  • Problems involving structures and classes in C language.
  • Deleting a node from a linked list.
  • Adding three numbers, each represented by a linked list. 
  • Checking for a root-to-leaf path in a given tree structure.
  • Returning multiplication and division of numbers that are represented as strings.

Behavioral questions at the Microsoft interview

  • How would you address conflicts at your workplace?
  • How do you approach big challenges at work?
  • What is your course of action if you disagree with your manager on something?
  • How do you stay focused to deliver projects in a time-bound manner?
  • How do you bring-in passion to your everyday work?
  • How would you react to failure while working on a project?
  • How do you take negative feedback from your superiors?
  • How do you multitask when  tight deadlines?
  • How do you learn something you don’t know but is essential for the project at hand?
  • If your co-worker doesn’t cooperate on an important issue and you need help, how would you deal with it?

Microsoft Interview Tips

Technical interview tips for the Microsoft interview

  • Know the  role you’re applying for

Microsoft has about 150,000 employees working across various domains covering tech, marketing, R&D and innovation, among others. Even within the technical domain, there are multiple roles. Hence, your first step should be learning about the role you’re applying for. 

  • Understand the Microsoft interview process

Once you’ve identified the role you want to apply for, find out details about the interview process. Usually, interviews involve solving coding questions. Your efficiency and acumen to structurally approach coding problems and solve them are tested.

The process usually  comprises two key rounds viz. the phone screen  and the on-site interview (as explained earlier in this guide).

  • Practice adequately

The questions you’ll be asked, will be very different from the kind of problems you work on in your job, especially the technical questions. Hence, it’s critical to practice solving a variety of questions. More importantly, you need to learn to identify the patterns these questions are based on as you can’t possibly practice every problem ever asked at a Microsoft interview. Identifying patterns and learning how to solve questions based on these patterns makes for an efficient way of learning. 

This is what is covered in 'Interview Kickstart’s Masterclass’. To get a better understanding of the course, sign up for our free webinar

  • Clarifying doubts

Often, candidates fail to address concerns that arise during an interview, especially pertaining to understanding the question asked. When in doubt, clarify.

  • Research other candidates’ experiences

Learning from other candidates’ experiences at Microsoft’s coding interviews can keep you ahead of the game. Reading the experiences and reviews of candidates and questions they’ve posted in forums or discussion platforms should form a key element of your strategy.

  • Be proficient with at least one programming language 

Microsoft looks for candidates who are proficient in at least one programming language; preferably C/C++, C#, Python or Php.

  • Research on technical topics for interviews 
  • Common technical topics covered at interviews include dynamic programming, linked sets, Object-Oriented programming, algorithms, and design. 
  • Show them what you’ve got!

To elaborate, let’s look at some key characteristics recruiters at Microsoft look for:

  • An innovative problem-solving approach
  • Demonstrable analytical thinking
  • A strong interest in technology
  • Behavior and conduct during the interview – 
  • The ability to apply concepts and a multi-dimensional approach to problem-solving

General Interview Tips 

  • When communicating with recruiters, speak with clarity. 
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions about problem statements. 
  • Approach the interview with a calm mind. A relaxed mind will help you perform well. 
  • Cross-check everything on your test to see if you’ve missed out on anything.
  • Research the company and its products, and, if possible, your prospective  team. 
  • Adequate practice and identifying question patterns will keep you ahead of the competition. 
  • Take breaks while preparing for the interview. Don’t burden yourself. 
  • Refer interview prep books for better clarity and understanding of the interview process.Study experiences of other candidates.
  • Attend mock interviews. You can ask friends in technical roles to interview you. However,  a better approach is to attend mock interviews with hiring managers or technical leads from top tier companies. 

We, at Interview Kickstart, have 15 mock interviews with experienced professionals as part of our Masterclass. Attend our free webinar to know more.

Common Technical Topics That Feature in Microsoft Interviews

  • Linked Lists
  • Strings and Arrays
  • Trees and Graphs
  • Dynamic Programming
  • Basic Maths and Statistics
  • Searching and Sorting
  • Algorithms
  • Recursion and Backtracking
  • Operating Systems – Identifying and Preventing Deadlocks, Threads and System Design
  • Object Oriented Programming

Microsoft Interviews - Candidates’ Experiences

  • Experience of a college graduate
    "I got referred to a specific team at Microsoft as New Grad hiring was halted for 2016. Talked to a manager on the phone for an hour, and was asked about my resume and did an interview question. Was flown to Seattle 2 weeks later and had an onsite interview with the team at Redmond. It consisted of 5 interviews with coding and culture-fit questions. I was at the Microsoft Campus from 9AM to 4:30PM. The process was nice, and the interviews were more conversational than say Google onsite interviews. I got a call 2 days later with an offer to join the team."
  • Mark Stathom, Software Engineer applying to Microsoft:
    "Took part in an interview event which lasted about half of the day. Four rounds of approximately one-hour interviews with short breaks in between. The questions were based on algorithms and Big-O notation for run-time and space complexity. Questions were either straight from or similar to questions mentioned on IK. Make sure you understand the complexity of the code you are writing or at least be able to walk through the calculation of it. "
  • Amy Riviera, experienced Software Architect:
    "I attended the MS 30 min on-campus interview last week. I prepared a lot of behavior questions before but it turned out that the interviewer didn't ask any behavior questions. The coding problem he asked me was to find the next larger element in a BST. He didn't even define the BST and the function declarations for me, so I had to define it by myself."

Microsoft Interview - Resume Building Tips

  • Introduction section

Keep this section crisp and short. Ideally, a one-page resume is what most recruiters consider ideal. Regardless of how many projects you’ve worked on or how many years of experience you have, try to limit your resume to a single page. 

  • Use bullet points to highlight your employment experience

Use bullet points for clarity r. List your experience across domains in the form of bullet points and mention only necessary information.

  • Highlight knowledge in programming languages

Recruiters hiring for technical positions at top companies look for candidates proficient in at least one programming language. List your strengths in a given programming language. 

  • Highlight aspects pertinent to the role you’re applying for

A lot of candidates ignore this rather vital point – only include information relevant to the role you’re applying for. 

  • Use the right words to convey the right message

It is essential to use key action-words. Use words such as ‘developed’, ‘designed’, ‘built’, and ‘created’.

  • Include subheadings

Make sure to include subheadings but keep them crisp and simple. 

Average Salaries for Technical Roles at Microsoft

  • Principal Software Engineer: $182,841 per annum
  • Principal Program Manager:$188,794 per annum
  • Principal Software Engineering Manager: $187, 717 per annum
  • Senior Software Engineer: $148,009 per annum
  • Software Architect: $149,468 per annum

We hope you found this guide useful. 

Learn more about how to crack the toughest technical interviews by signing up for our free webinar!

Last updated on: 
September 25, 2023

Dipen Dadhaniya

Engineering Manager at Interview Kickstart

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