Microsoft has one of the most challenging interview processes that puts even accomplished programmers with several years of experience to the test. The hiring process is essentially built to evaluate your problem-solving skills. You need to become a good problem solver to give yourself the best chance at acing the interview.
The interview questions asked at Microsoft’s technical interview are challenging and tricky, requiring diligent practice to solve. With a good prep strategy in place, you can certainly fancy your chances of acing the interview rounds and landing a lucrative offer.
In this article, we’ll look at some common Microsoft interview questions for software engineers and developers. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The Microsoft Interview Process
- Topics to Cover for Microsoft Tech Interview
- Microsoft Coding Interview Questions
- Microsoft Systems Design Interview Questions
- Microsoft Behavioral Interview Questions
- How to Prepare for Microsoft’s Technical Interview
- Nail Your Next Microsoft Tech Interview
The Microsoft Interview Process
Just like technical interviews at FAANG companies, Microsoft's interview comprises three main rounds, namely:
- Initial phone screen with the recruiter: A recruiter from human resources will get in touch with you after shortlisting your profile based on the role’s requirements. You’ll be asked elementary questions about your experience, skills, and core capabilities. Upon passing the initial phone screen, typically by meeting the role’s requirements, you’ll be invited to the preliminary coding round.
- The initial coding round: This round happens with a hiring manager who evaluates your general approach to problem-solving. You’ll be asked to solve 1-2 coding problems on data structures and algorithms within a stipulated time. After getting past the initial coding round, you’ll be invited to Microsoft’s in-person or on-site interview.
- The on-site interview: This interview comprises three or more rounds, depending on the seniority of the role you’re applying for. The main rounds include a coding round, a design round, and a behavioral round.
Want to learn more about Microsoft’s technical interview process? Check out our Microsoft Interview Guide to know everything there is to know about the interview process at Microsoft.
Topics to Cover for Microsoft Tech Interview
Microsoft's coding interview requires you to be proficient with core concepts around algorithms and data structures. Following are the broad list of topics to prepare for the Microsoft technical interview:
- Arrays, strings, and linked lists
- Sorting algorithms — quicksort, merge sort, heap sort, etc.
- Hash tables and queues
- Trees and graphs
- Graph algorithms, including greedy algorithms
- Dynamic programming
Depending on the role you’re applying for, you can also expect some questions on system design. Here are some topics you can prepare for:
- Scaling distributed applications
- Sharding techniques
- Distributed file systems
- Object modeling
Microsoft Coding Interview Questions
At Microsoft’s coding interview, you can expect questions around core data structures and algorithms.
Below is a list of commonly asked coding questions that feature in Microsoft's technical interview. Note that the questions are meant to give you a fair idea of what to expect at the interview. Mugging up solutions to problems will definitely not cut it. Identifying patterns and approaching solutions based on patterns is the way to go about it.
- Given an array of integers and unique values, write a code to find if the sum of any two integers in the array is equal to a given value.
- You’re given a two-dimensional array with integers of unique values. Write a code to make the entire row or column zero if any given element in the array is zero.
- You’re given two linked lists, and each linked list has an integer value. Write a code to add the two linked lists and return the sum value.
- You’re given the root of a binary tree. Write a code to show the node values at every level.
- You’re given a binary search tree where two nodes are swapped. Write a code to correct the given binary search tree.
- You’re given a rotated array which is sorted. Write a code to find a particular element in the given array.
- Write a code to check if a binary tree is a valid binary search tree.
- Write a code to check if the permutation of a given string is a palindrome or not.
- Write a code to check if a given binary tree is balanced or not.
- You’re given a string in the form of a sentence. Write a code to display the characters in the string in reverse order.
- You’re given a string. Write a code to find non-letter substrings that are palindromes.
- You’re given a list of stock prices with the value of buy and sell for each stock. Write a code to determine at what level of buy and sell maximum profit can be derived.
- You’re given an unsorted array with positive integers from 1 to n, but one element in the array is missing. Write a code to find the missing element in the unsorted array.
- Write a code to validate a given IP address.
- Write a code to clone a linked list with the succeeding arbitrary pointer.
- Write a code to find the least common ancestor of a binary search tree.
- You’re given a positive integer with n number of digits and a target number. Write a code to find all combinations of digits in the integer that add up to the target number.
- You’re given a text and a pattern. Write a code to find if the given pattern matches the text by using pattern matching.
- You’re given the root node of a directed graph. Write a code to clone the graph where the cloned graph has the same edges and vertices as the original graph.
- You’re given a two-dimensional array with a set of elements.
- You’re given a Binary Tree (BT), write a program to print the vertical traversal from the leftmost to rightmost levels.
- You’re given a string “S,” write a function to calculate the length of the longest substring that has only unique and distinct characters.
- You’re given a linked list “L.” Write a code to find the missing element in the given linked list.
- Write a code to find the middle element in a given Linked List “G.”
- You’re given a grid MxN with “x” number of people. Write a code to find the shortest distance that all the people must cover in order to meet at a given point in the grid.
- You’re given two Linked Lists, “A” and “B,” that are sorted. Write a code to merge the two Linked Lists.
Looking for more practice problems along with solutions? Check out our Problems to find a long list of problems asked in technical interviews, along with the most optimal solutions to them.
Microsoft Systems Design Interview Questions
The systems design interview is an important component of Microsoft's technical on-site interview. In order to ace the design round, you’ll need to be good with building arbitrary scalable systems with low latency. Your knowledge in database management, network protocols, concurrency, API modeling, and data processing is also key to acing the design interview. Below are some important questions to expect on distributed systems design.
- Design an in-memory database system
- Design an IP blocking system
- Design a voting system where people can cast their votes, and the final votes of each candidate are tallied
- Design a system to find 100 top-selling products in a certain category within a given time window
- Design an online bookstore that allows users to view prices and make purchases
- Design a system where an office administrator knows how many people are present on each floor of the building, given that the building has three floors
- Design a system to upload images with tags — users would be able to visit and search for images by entering the tags
- Design a notification service that can send notifications to multiple users/devices
- Design a comprehensive workflow system that responds to pause/continue functions
- Design a scheduler service that can manage huge schedules with no lag and minimal latency
Microsoft Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral interviews are an extremely important part of the hiring process. The questions below depict the type of behavioral questions asked at Microsoft’s on-site technical interview:
- Tell us about the most challenging project you worked on in the past? What lessons did it teach you?
- Tell us about a time when you had to ask for help from an uncooperative coworker? Did it affect the progress of the project?
- What is the most exciting thing about being a programmer?
- Why do you want to work at Microsoft? What is your favorite thing about the company?
- What would be your stand if your supervisor asked you to do something against the ethical code of conduct?
- How often do you prefer taking vacation breaks? Do you think they help?
- What is your take on maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
- How important is mental health, according to you? What do you do to maintain sound mental health?
- Tell us about a time when you apprised the entire team about crucial learnings from a project?
- Tell us about a time when you had to make important decisions with little information.
- Tell us about a time when you had a disagreement/argument with your supervisor.
- Tell us about a time when you had to change the course of a project and approach it from a whole new angle.
- How do you maintain healthy relationships at work?
- Have you been in a difficult situation as far as the progress of a project was concerned? How did you handle the situation?
- Have you missed a project deadline in the past? What was the reason, and how did you go about the situation?
How to Prepare for Microsoft’s Coding Interview
Looking for professional tips and guidance to ace Microsoft’s coding interview?
This comprehensive guide on cracking coding interviews will help you pace your prep and get ready for your next interview.
Nail Your Next Microsoft Tech Interview
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