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2-month Prep Plan to Ace the Microsoft Software Engineer Interview

The Microsoft interview for software engineers is one of the toughest technical interviews to crack. That’s mainly because of the stiff competition, an arduous interview process, and an acceptance rate of less than 2%. The Microsoft interview process aims to test one’s ability to solve complex problems in coding and scalable systems design. Many times, even engineers with several years of experience fail to get past the grueling interview rounds, owing to Microsoft’s supremely high standards while making hiring decisions.

To ace the Microsoft interview and land that coveted offer, it takes more than just knowing how to solve coding problems. Recruiters and hiring managers look at a bunch of aspects before making a hiring decision. That is exactly what we’ll discuss in this article. We'll look at what you should include in your Microsoft interview prep plan if you want to ace the interview.

If you’re a software engineer, coding engineer, software developer, engineering manager, or tech lead preparing for tech interviews, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! 

Having trained over 10,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the most challenging tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have landed lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest-ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $1.267 Million!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.  Our reviews will tell you how we’ve shaped the careers of thousands of professionals aspiring to take their careers to new heights. 

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Let’s go ahead and look at what the ideal Microsoft interview preparation plan looks like. We’ll also take a look at the Microsoft interview process, some sample Microsoft interview questions, and cogent tips to ace your interview.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • Microsoft Interview Process for Software Engineers
  • How to Prepare for the Microsoft Interview in 2 Months
  • Microsoft Interview Questions
  • Prep Tips to Crack The Microsoft Interview
  • FAQs on Microsoft Interview Preparation

Microsoft Interview Process for Software Engineers

The Microsoft interview process for software engineers is among the toughest technical interviews. The interview evaluates your programming and design skills while also evaluating you in areas such as behavioral psychology and leadership.

The Microsoft interview process consists of three main stages -

The Initial Recruiter Screen

In this round, a recruiter from Microsoft's human resources will get in touch with you after you’ve evinced interest in the position. In this round, recruiters aim to understand your professional skills, experience, and other relevant personal details. The main idea is to figure out if your profile is the right match for the role in question.

The Technical Phone Screen

This is a remote interview round that aims to filter in the right candidates for the On-site interview.  The Technical Phone Screen fundamentally tests your ability to solve coding problems in core data structures and algorithms. You’re given 1-2 coding problems in core data structures in this round. A hiring manager who conducts this round will ask you to brute-force the problem solution and write error-free code (either on a shared document or a remote interviewing tool). The Technical Phone Screen lasts about 30 minutes.

If your performance in the round is satisfactory, you’re invited to the Microsoft On-site interview. 

The Microsoft On-site Interview

The On-site interview is the most important part of the Microsoft interview process and comprises 3-4 rounds. These rounds include coding, systems design, and behavioral interviews, each spanning about 30 minutes. There is more focus on systems design and behavioral interviews for senior developer and managerial positions. For junior positions, coding interviews have a higher weightage in the On-site round.

How to Prepare for the Microsoft Interview in 2 Months?

Having a sound prep strategy in place is extremely important if you wish to crack the Microsoft interview. Here, we’ll look at a strategic 2-month Microsoft interview prep plan that will get you through the grueling rounds of Microsoft interviews with ease.

Week 1 and 2

  • Start your prep by brushing up on concepts in core data structures. Spend week 1 going over basic data structures and algorithms concepts, including Arrays, Linked Lists, Strings, and Sorting Algorithms.
  • Practice at least 1-2 coding problems every day. Improving your problem-solving skills is key to acing Microsoft’s coding interviews. Identify patterns in coding problems and use analogous solutions patterns to approach new problems.

Week 3 and 4

  • Spend the next couple of weeks going over the advanced algorithms and data structures concepts. Spend adequate time solving problems in Trees, Graphs, Graph Algorithms, Recursion, and Dynamic programming. 
  • Continue to solve at least 1-2 coding problems every day. Make sure to solve problems of varying difficulty. Solving medium to hard Leetcode problems is highly recommended.  
  • Start doing timed assignments and periodic tests to expose yourself to get used to the interview environment.

Week 5 and 6

  • Begin prepping for your systems design interview. Spending a minimum of two weeks to prepare the important design concepts is highly recommended. 
  • Cover the critical systems design topics, including Network Protocols, Database management, API modeling, Server maintenance, Sharding techniques, Caching, and Loading. Knowing these above concepts is crucial to building scalable systems with low latency. 
  • Check out this Ultimate Systems Design Checklist to get the complete list of subtopics to prepare for your interview.

Week 7 and 8

  • Spend the next two weeks practicing mock interviews with FAANG hiring managers.
  • Interview Kickstart gives you the unique opportunity to practice several mock interviews with current FAANG hiring managers, industry experts, domain experts, and professionals with decades of experience. You’ll get constructive actionable feedback that will put you miles ahead of the competition. 
  • If you are preparing for a domain-specific interview, Interview Kickstart gives you the unique opportunity to practice domain-specific mock interviews with domain experts. For instance, if you’re a backend developer, you can practice back-end-specific mock interviews with backend experts from the industry.
  • Spend the final week prepping for your behavioral interview. A lot of experienced candidates lose out because of failing to meet the expectations in behavioral interviews. Practice structuring your responses to behavioral questions in the STAR format. 
  • Spend time creating a good project portfolio. A strong project portfolio can give you a significant edge over the competition.

Microsoft Interview Questions

Questions asked at the Microsoft interview can be split into three categories:

  1. Coding interview questions
  2. Systems design interview questions
  3. Behavioral interview questions

Let’s look at some sample Microsoft interview questions in each category.

Microsoft Coding Interview Questions

Coding is a key evaluation area in the Technical Phone Screen and On-site interview rounds. Following are the essential coding topics to prepare for the Microsoft interview.

Let’s go ahead and look at some sample Microsoft coding interview questions:

  1. Write a program to find out if a given String is a Palindrome or not.
  2. Write a program to print the missing elements in a given 2-Dimensional array.
  3. Write a program to find the identical nodes for a given Binary Search Tree.
  4. Write a code to determine if a given Binary Tree T is a Binary Search Tree or not.
  5. For a given directed Graph G, write a code to perform Breadth-First Search.

Want access to more coding problems to practice for the Microsoft interview? Check out these Microsoft Interview Questions for Software Engineers.

Microsoft Interview Questions on Systems Design

Systems design interview questions are asked during the design round of the Microsoft On-site interview. 

Before we look at some sample interview questions on distributed systems design, let’s look at the essential topics to prepare for the systems design interview.

  • API Modeling
  • Concurrency
  • Sharding Techniques
  • Caching and Loading
  • Network Protocols
  • Databases
  • Servers
  • Online Processing Systems
  • File Systems

Below are some sample Microsoft systems design interview questions:

  1. What factors will you consider while designing the security framework for Windows OS?
  2. How does API modeling come into play while building mobile applications?
  3. What design aspects will you consider while building a platform like Instagram?
  4. How would you go about designing a Chatbot service?
  5. What database aspects will you consider while designing an e-commerce application?
  6. What server aspects will you consider while building a gaming application?

Microsoft Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interviews are supremely important and significantly influence the hiring decisions of recruiters.

Microsoft behavioral interview questions are typically around the following areas:

  • Workplace ethics and conduct
  • Relationships with coworkers and superiors
  • Challenging past projects
  • Work-life balance
  • Professional and personal challenges

Below are some sample Microsoft behavioral interview questions:

  1. Tell us about a time when you had a conflict with a coworker over a work-related issue.
  2. How do you keep unnecessary distractions at bay during work?
  3. How do you manage stressful situations in your personal and professional life?
  4. What is your idea of a good work-life balance?
  5. Tell us about a time when you failed to meet the deadline for a project.

Prep Tips To Ace the Microsoft Interview

These superb tips will help you ace your Microsoft interview:

  1. Start your Microsoft interview prep at least 8 weeks before your interview. This will give you enough time to prepare all the essential concepts in coding and design, practice mock interviews, and prepare thoroughly for the behavioral interview.
  2. Hone your problem-solving skills. Practice at least 1-2 coding problems every day and keenly observe patterns in the problems you solve. Use existing patterns to approach new problems. 
  3. Think out your solution aloud in the interview to give recruiters an idea of your solution path. 
  4. Practice Whiteboard coding, as you’re often asked to write code on a whiteboard at On-site interviews. 
  5. Spend at least a week preparing for your behavioral interview. Structure your answers and responses in the STAR format. 
  6. Spend time creating a good project portfolio. List out the important projects you’ve worked on in the STAR format.
  7. Practice mock interviews with industry experts and FAANG hiring managers. 
  8. Use this Comprehensive Technical Interview Checklist to get interview-ready.

FAQs on Microsoft Interview Prep Plan

Q1. How many interview rounds are there in the Microsoft interview for software engineers?

The Microsoft interview typically takes place over three stages - the initial recruiter screen, the technical phone screen, and the on-site interview.

Q2. What are the coding concepts to prepare for the Microsoft interview?

To answer Microsoft interview questions on coding, you should prepare the following concepts in core data structures and algorithms - Arrays, Strings, Linked Lists, Recursion, Sorting Algorithms, Hash Tables, Graphs, Trees, and Dynamic Programming.

Q3.  How much time should you spend preparing for the Microsoft coding interview?

To cover all the important coding concepts around core data structures and algorithms, you should aim to solve 1-2 coding problems every day for at least 2 months before your Microsoft interview. 

Q4. How many Microsoft interview questions are asked in the technical phone screen interview?

In the Microsoft Technical Phone Screen, you’re generally asked one or two problems in core data structures and algorithms. The Technical Phone Screen is a remote interview typically conducted via a remote interviewing tool.

Q5. What is the salary range of software engineers at Microsoft?

Salaries offered to Microsoft software engineers range between $154k and $504k per annum. 

Gear Up for Your Microsoft Interview

Are you getting ready for your upcoming Microsoft interview? Register for our technical interview webinar.

At Interview Kickstart, we’ve trained over 9,000 engineers to land lucrative offers at the biggest tech companies. Our instructors, who are FAANG hiring managers, know what it takes to nail tough tech interviews at top technology companies.

Register for our FREE webinar to learn more.

Interview Preparation
Last updated on: 
August 10, 2021

Utkarsh Sahu

Director, Category Management @ Interview Kickstart || IIM Bangalore || NITW.

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