Microsoft Software Engineer Interview Questions

One of the best ways to size the success of a company is when it needs no introduction. Microsoft is one such company. From being the leader in IT innovation for the past four decades to bringing the computer into every household and business, Microsoft has been responsible for driving transformational change worldwide. And at the heart of Microsoft is every Microsoft Software Engineer who made this possible. 

And so, it comes as no surprise that Microsoft places great value and expectations in the software engineers it hires. Microsoft has one of the most rigorous hiring processes among FAANG companies. Microsoft Software Engineer interview questions are designed to test your analytical, problem-solving, execution, and behavioral skills.

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our interview questions and salary negotiation ebook to get interview-ready! Also, read How to Get Software Engineering Jobs at Microsoft and Microsoft Interview Questions for specific insights and guidance on Microsoft tech interviews.

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In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Microsoft Software Engineer hiring process:

  1. Microsoft Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities
  2. Microsoft Software Engineer Salary
  3. Microsoft Software Engineer Interview Process and Timeline
  4. Topics to Prepare for Microsoft Software Engineer Interview
  5. Microsoft Software Engineer Interview Questions
  6. How to Prepare for Microsoft Software Engineer Interview
  7. FAQs Related to Microsoft Software Engineer Interviews

Microsoft Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

Software engineers are called the Keepers of the Code at Microsoft. Before getting into the interview process, let’s look at the roles and responsibilities a Software Engineer at Microsoft is expected to perform:

  1. Build data structures and algorithms.
  2. Write quality code.
  3. Explore and implement innovative technical solutions to problems.
  4. Test and debug code.
  5. Actively contribute to feature definition and design.
  6. Assess feature feasibility and estimate its development time.
  7. Work with cross-functional teams to meet deadlines.

What Exactly Does Microsoft Look for in Software Engineers?

Whether you are interviewing for the position of a Software Engineer, Software Developer, or a senior role like an Engineering Manager or a Senior Software Engineer, some core value expectations from you will remain the same. 

Microsoft is looking for software engineers who will bring more to the table than just coding skills. Microsoft believes in finding excellence in simplicity, and therefore looks for the following two qualities in their hires:

  1. People who truly believe in Microsoft’s products and align with its mission.
  2. People with high potential as compared to those who already come with significant accomplishments on paper.

Microsoft Software Engineer Salary 

According to Comparably, a Microsoft Software Engineer earns $136,877 annually. 

This includes a base salary of $121,962 and a $14,915 bonus. The annual salary can range from $74,000 to $188,000. The offer you receive will be based on many factors, such as your skillset, experience, and the value you bring to the organization. Your final package will depend on how you perform during the interview and how well you negotiate.

Tips to Negotiate Software Engineer Salary at Microsoft

Negotiating one’s salary can seem daunting at first, and many candidates are uncomfortable doing it in fear of spoiling their chance of getting selected. Here are a few pointers you can keep in mind while negotiating your package:

  • Do not share your current compensation with your interviewer.
  • You are not obligated to share the compensation you are expecting.
  • Build a good rapport with the hiring manager.
  • Do not insist on receiving offers in writing.
  • Check with your recruiter and ask for a relocation package if it applies to your case.
  • Remember to compare your offer with publicly available data.

Salary negotiation is a must-have skill for any role. 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.

Microsoft Software Engineer Interview Process and Timeline

A Microsoft Software Engineer Interview Process takes 4-8 weeks to complete. Microsoft receives a huge volume of applications and wants to make sure that you are interviewed for and placed in the right division based on your skills.

The Microsoft Software Engineer interview steps are:

1. Getting the Interview

2. Round I – Phone Screen

2.1. Recruiter Screening

2.2. Online Coding Assessment

3. Round II — Onsite Interviews

4. Results

1. Getting the Interview

The first step in the Software Engineer interview process is to get an interview with Microsoft. You will need:

  • A captivating cover letter that highlights your individual story.
  • A resume fine-tuned to the Microsoft Software Engineer job description.
  • One or more reliable referrals, if possible.

2. Round I — Phone Screen

Once your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter will call you to get to know you better. A Microsoft Software Engineer phone interview is a mix of behavioral questions to see if you are a good culture fit and an online coding assessment on a remote online editor to test your coding skills as a software developer. Each phone screen lasts for around 45-60 minutes. 

2.1. Recruiter Screening

This is the first call you will receive in the Microsoft Software Engineer interview process. It is usually a phone call; however, sometimes, it may be in the form of a video call. The recruiter will ask you questions about your experience and career aspirations. A general overview of your technical knowledge may be included.

2.2. Online Coding Assessment

You can expect data structure and algorithm questions for the coding interview, which you will have to solve on a remote collaborative text editor. The editor will not have features like syntax highlighting and autocomplete, so you will need to practice coding without those features when preparing for your interview. It is unlikely that you will be asked system design questions at this stage.

Find out how to face phone screen interviews with ease.

3. Round II — Onsite Interview

If you pass the recruiter screening and coding assessment, you will be called for an onsite interview. This is a day-long process at Microsoft’s office and involves four onsite interviews. These interviews are based on product design, technical knowledge, behavioral aspects, and strategy. Each interview lasts for 60 minutes.

Onsite interviews are usually one-on-one with people from the team you’re applying to be a part of. This may include current Microsoft Software Engineers, a hiring manager, and a senior executive. Most of the interviews will be based on data structure and algorithm questions, which you will need to solve on a whiteboard. You may also be asked a system design question.

Behavioral questions will be a part of all interviews and will focus on evaluating whether you are culturally a good fit for Microsoft or not. It involves behavioral questions. Microsoft tends to spend more time on behavioral questions as compared to its counterparts like Google and Facebook. Check out the following articles for sample interview questions:

Microsoft Senior Software Engineer Interview Process

While the main interview process remains the same, the level of expectations from a Microsoft Senior Software Engineer candidate is higher. Microsoft Senior Software Engineer interview questions are the same coding questions as a software engineer, but you will be expected to do better than the lower-level candidates. Microsoft Principal Software Engineer interview questions are often based on system design and architecture.

Check out System Design Interview Preparation Tips for more.

Microsoft Software Engineering Manager Interview Process

Microsoft Software Engineering Manager interview questions are similar to those of a Senior Software Engineer, but the level of expectations is even higher. You will also be asked questions based on past experiences to assess your leadership qualities. A tech lead from Microsoft will be a part of this interview panel.

AA or ASAPP Interview

If you pass the first three onsite interviews, you will be asked to sit for an “As Appropriate” or AA or ASAPP interview. The idea behind this interview is to make sure that no blind spot is left in your previous interviews and that no aspect of your technical knowledge and skills goes overlooked. 

4. Results

If you clear the ASAPP Interview, a recruiter or hiring manager from Microsoft will get in touch with you with an offer. The time taken varies, as data aggregation and making the final call take time and depend on several factors.

Topics to Prepare for Software Engineer Interview at Microsoft

As a software developer, you are expected to be well-versed in data structures and algorithms as well as systems design. You can plan your tech interview prep around the following topics:

Microsoft Software Engineer Interview Questions and Practice Problems

In this section, we have listed some of the frequently asked questions at Microsoft Software Engineer interviews.

Microsoft Software Engineer Phone Interview Questions:

  1. How would you describe a good day at work?
  2. How do you plan on contributing to Microsoft’s mission and values?
  3. Why do you want to work at Microsoft?
  4. Tell me about a time you resolved a disagreement with your team.
  5. What is the most challenging work situation you ever came across?
  6. What would you say has been your biggest defeat?
  7. Which of your traits do you personally like the best? Why?
  8. If you could change anything you wanted, how would you improve any Microsoft product?
  9. What is your least favorite Microsoft feature? Why?
  10. Describe a time you had to take a calculated risk.
  11. Describe your research project? What are the areas where you can improve?
  12. What is your least favorite thing about an office?
  13. How do you manage productivity when working from home?

Also, check out Phone Interview Questions to Ask the Interviewer.

Microsoft Software Engineer Coding Interview Questions:

  1. Find the intersection of two sorted arrays. (Solution)
  2. Merge overlapping intervals in an array. (Solution)
  3. Given a string A. Return the string A after reversing the string word by word. (Solution)
  4. Given an integer A, convert it to a roman numeral and return a string corresponding to its roman numeral version. (Solution)
  5. Implement an iterator over a binary search tree. Your iterator will be initialized with the root node of a BST. (Solution)
  6. Find the middle element of a singly linked list in one pass. (Solution)
  7. Given two binary strings, return their sum (also a binary string).
  8. Given a binary tree, find its maximum depth.
  9. Find out all triplets with zero-sum.
  10. A string S consists of lowercase characters. Determine the minimum characters that need to be appended at the end to make the string into a palindrome.
  11. Convert a binary tree into a doubly-linked list.
  12. Reverse a linked list from position m to n. Do it in-place and in one-pass.
  13. Given an integer n, return the nth digit of the infinite integer sequence [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, ...].
  14. Find the minimum depth of a tree.
  15. Add two numbers represented as LinkedList.
  16. Given an integer array and a positive integer k, how will you count all distinct pairs with a difference equal to k?
  17. How will you perform preorder traversal in a binary tree?
  18. How can you implement a binary search tree?

Related read:
Cracking the Coding Interview: 9 Extremely Important Things You Should Know
How Long Does It Take to Prepare for Coding Interviews?

Microsoft interview questions for Software Engineer on Systems Design:

  1. Redesign Microsoft’s Office Assistant.
  2. How would you design a search engine like Google? 
  3. How would you design a shared drive?
  4. How would you design Twitter?
  5. How would you design a messaging system?
  6. How would you design a vaccine rollout system?
  7. Design a URL shortening service like bit.ly.
  8. Design your own traffic control system.
  9. Design a limit order book for trading systems.
  10. Design a platform like Instagram. 
  11. Design a universal file-sharing app like Dropbox.
  12. Design a secure ATM.
  13. Design a platform like Airbnb.
  14. Design a parking lot.
  15. Design an autocomplete feature for a search engine.
  16. Design a vending machine in Java.
  17. Design an API rate limiter.
  18. Design a video streaming service like Netflix.
  19. Design a ticketing management system for the science museum.

Related read:
Amazon System Design Interview Questions
Google Systems Design Interview Questions 

Software Engineering Manager Interview Questions on Leadership:

  1. Which tools do you rely on to successfully perform your duties?
  2. What are your top metric choices for measuring success?
  3. What is your strategy for keeping up with the latest tech trends?
  4. Tell us about your most recent research project.
  5. Describe a role where you had to deal with budgeting and resource allocation.
  6. Have you ever fallen behind schedule in a project? 
  7. Describe a time you had to ask for help at work.
  8. Tell me about a time you got to coach/mentor someone.
  9. What is your go-to strategy for handling a difference of opinion?
  10. Describe a manager trait that should be a thing of the past.

Leadership questions are often based on similar themes, irrespective of the company.
Check out the following articles to learn more:
Google Leadership Principles Interview Questions
Amazon Leadership Principles Interview Questions

How to Prepare for Microsoft Software Engineer Interview

In a Microsoft Software Engineer interview, you will be expected to show your coding skills. Your prep should be aligned with this expectation. 

1. Focus on the “How”

While practicing problems, don’t get busy coming up with solutions. Learn the pattern behind every solution, so you can even solve unseen questions during the interview. 

Also, practice explaining every aspect of your solution. Interviews also test how well you communicate technical details, as you will be working closely with designers, engineers, and cross-functional teams.

Cover Key Topics

When preparing for Microsoft Software Engineer interviews, pay special attention to these concepts: 

  • Continuous Integration
  • Test Automation/Frameworks
  • API testing - REST/SOAP
  • Testing microservices
  • Boundary Value Analysis
  • AI/Machine Intelligence

Don’t Forget the Behavioral Aspects

For a Microsoft Software Engineering Manager Role, you may be asked 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 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.

Mock Interviews

Practicing mock interviews with your peers or experienced professionals in the tech field is another great way to make yourself interview-ready.

At Interview Kickstart, you get the unique opportunity to learn from and practice mock interviews with actual hiring managers and tech leads from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies. Join our FREE webinar to learn more.

5 Tips for Nailing Your Software Engineer Interview at Microsoft

  1. Ask clarifying questions during the interview so that your solutions are as close to the expectations as possible. 
  2. Start timing yourself when you practice problems. Much attention is given to how you manage your time and how efficiently you come up with the solution.
  3. When practicing, make it a point to think aloud and explain your thought process to the interviewer.
  4. Practice some tough interview-style coding questions on a whiteboard without using a compiler.
  5. Sign up with Interview Kickstart to practice interviews with experienced coaches, hiring managers, and tech leads from FAANG companies.

Get One Step Closer to the Microsoft Dream With Interview Kickstart

In the article, we’ve covered key details to help you nail your tech interview. Are you confused about how to apply this? Do not get overwhelmed — let us help you prep the Interview Kickstart way!

Interview Kickstart offers interview preparation courses taught by FAANG tech leads and seasoned hiring managers. We have trained over 6,000 software engineers to crack the toughest interviews at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Microsoft.

Register for our FREE webinar to know more!

FAQs on Microsoft Software Engineer Interviews

Question 1: What does a Software Engineer do at Microsoft?

Microsoft Software Engineers are involved in building, coding, hacking, designing, and testing. Engineers at Microsoft strive to put their passion and energy into delivering world-class products.

Question 2: How do I prepare for the Microsoft Software Engineer interview?

Develop an interview prep plan and practice as many Microsoft Software Engineer interview questions as you can. You can also go for an interview prep bootcamp like Interview Kickstart that offers one-of-its-kind, tailor-made prep interview courses for Software Engineers. 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 the Microsoft Software Engineer interview?

The Microsoft Software Engineer interview consists of two main rounds:

  1. Technical Phone Screen – Recruiter Screen + Coding Assessment
  2. Onsite Interview – Consisting of four interviews

Want to learn more? Sign up for our FREE webinar on How to Nail Your Next Tech Interview.

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