You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone whose life has not been influenced by a Microsoft product directly or indirectly. That is the sheer magnitude of scale at which this tech giant operates. And right at the center of this action is a Microsoft Program Manager.
Program Managers or PMs are also known as Technical Program Managers or TPMs. At Microsoft, PMs are expected to deep-dive into technical aspects when planning, designing, and outlining the roadmap of a product, in addition to performing all the duties required of a product manager. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Microsoft Program Manager hiring process:
Before getting into the interview process, let’s look at what exactly a PM at Microsoft is expected to:
In a Program Manager interview, Microsoft is looking for potential associates who bring more to the table than just product management skills. Staying true to their core value of finding excellence in simplicity, Microsoft looks for the following two qualities in their hires:
According to Comparably, a Microsoft Program Manager’s average compensation is $145,360 per year. The annual salary can range from $113,000 to $195,000. Your offer, however, will depend on various factors, such as your experience and the value you bring to the organization. How you perform during the interview and how well you negotiate will decide your final package.
Salary negotiation is a must-have skill. Read The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineers to hone your negotiation skills and get an offer that matches your value.
A typical Microsoft Program Manager Interview Process can take anywhere between 4-8 weeks to complete. This is because the volume of applicants is huge, and timelines vary with different divisions at Microsoft.
The Microsoft PM interview steps are:
The first step in the Microsoft Program Manager interview process is to bag an interview with Microsoft. You will need:
If your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter will call you to test the waters and get to know you better. It may or may not include a video call. A Microsoft Technical Program Manager phone interview is a mix of behavioral questions to see if you are a good culture fit and a product design coding assessment on a remote online editor to gauge your technical skill levels as a software developer. This round lasts for around 45-50 minutes.
Find out how to face phone screen interviews with ease.
Once you pass the recruiter screening and preliminary technical interview, you get called for an onsite interview. These interviews are based on product design, technical knowledge, behavioral aspects, and strategy. Each of the rounds lasts about an hour.
You are given a real-life problem in this round that you need to solve with code on a whiteboard. The assignments are usually related to data structures and algorithms. Recruiters want to see how you approach a given problem, how you plan your code, and how you execute your plan.
This round is conducted for more experienced software engineers. They are asked to build a system design around a given problem. System design interviews test your ability to design large systems with various constraints and requirements.
This round focuses on evaluating whether you are culturally a good fit for Microsoft or not. It involves behavioral questions. Check out the following articles for sample interview questions:
This is the final act! The HR department will contact you with an offer if you have been selected. This time taken varies, as data aggregation and making the final call take time and depend on several factors.
The program manager is expected to be well-versed in data structures and algorithms as well as systems design. You can plan your prep around the following topics:
Practicing is the key to cracking any interview, and the same goes for Program Manager interviews at Microsoft. In this section, we have listed some of the frequently asked questions at TPM interviews. We have categorized them for your convenience.
Most-Asked Program Manager Interview Questions at Microsoft:
General/End-to-End TPM Interview Questions:
TPM Interview Questions on Prioritization:
Kick-off/Sunset TPM Interview Questions:
TPM Interview Questions on Planning:
TPM Interview Questions on Risk:
TPM Interview Questions on Agile Methodologies:
TPM Interview Questions on Technical Systems Design:
TPM Interview Questions on Explaining Tech Concepts:
TPM Coding Interview Questions:
TPM Interview Questions on Leadership:
Microsoft Program Managers are responsible for designing and executing end-to-end programs. You must have a knack for planning, prioritizing features, and delivering on time. Program Management will include project kick-off, planning ahead of time, effective execution, monitoring closely, and finally, closing the project properly.
In a Microsoft Technical Program Manager interview, you will be expected to demonstrate your technical knowledge. You should be able to explain every aspect of your coding assignment solution. This is also a test of how well you communicate technical details as you will be working closely with designers, engineers, and cross-functional teams.
When practicing, make it a point to think out loud and explain your thought process.
You may be asked standard Microsoft Technical Program Manager interview questions such as describing past experiences of leading a project, collaborating with cross-functional teams, handling difficult associates, and more such behavioral questions.
When answering such open-ended questions, use the STAR or CAR method to structure your responses. We have covered these methods in detail in the Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions article.
Systems design interview questions are meant to test your understanding of large distributed systems that are scalable, reliable, and cost-optimal. Questions about systems design can be tricky as they are often ambiguous, and you will have to deal with the unstructured nature of the discussion. While practicing for systems design questions, follow these steps to ensure you’re covering all ground:
Check out System Design Interview Preparation Tips for more.
Question 1: What does a program manager do at Microsoft?
A Microsoft program manager acts as a product manager and facilitates in-depth product development. At Microsoft, PMs are expected to deep-dive into technical aspects when planning, designing, and outlining the roadmap of a product, in addition to performing all the duties required of a product manager.
Question 2: How do I prepare for the Microsoft manager interview?
You can follow an interview prep plan that tackles every TPM recruitment round in detail. Practice as many Microsoft program manager interview questions as you can. You can also go for an interview prep bootcamp like Interview Kickstart that offers a one-of-its-kind, tailor-made prep interview course for Product Managers. Sign up for the FREE webinar on How to Nail Your Next Tech Interview to learn more.
Question 3: How many interview rounds are there in Microsoft for TPMs, and long does it take?
The Microsoft Program Manager hiring process consists of job application, phone screening, coding assignment, and a set of onsite interviews. A typical process can take up to 2 months or more, depending on which Microsoft segment you have applied in.
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