The Microsoft interview


Used and developed by other companies including Google.


  •  Innovation


The Microsoft Interview was a pioneer in that it was about technical knowledge, problem solving and creativity as opposed to the goal and weaknesses interviews most companies used.

This model is now used widely in the IT Industry.


  • Questions


Some examples of questions.


  • What types of projects (academic or otherwise) have inspired you in the past?


  • What are some self-directed missions that may have influenced your career direction?


  • Did you have a moment of epiphany when you KNEW what you wanted to be when you grew up?


  • How does Microsoft fit into your vision?


  • What are some things that excite and motivate you?


  • What are some examples of poorly/well-designed software? What makes the software this way and how would you change it?


Microsoft expects that the candidate know its various businesses and product groups, and come prepared to speak in-depth about their résumé in addition to asking questions.


  • Post Interview


The candidate can generally expect to receive the results of the first interview from the recruiter within about two weeks of the interview date.


  • Second Interview


The candidate is expected to provide reasons for features added to products designed and include explanations as to why a customer might want or need a particular feature.


Many questions asked are purposely ambiguous and/or abstract. It is expected that the candidate ask thought-provoking questions of the interviewer in order to better answer the question.

  • Interview questions


Candidates answering questions should consider the use of technology in the present and future, and User scenarios. Some questions involve projects that the candidate has worked on in the past.

The interview is intended to seek out creative thinkers and those who can adapt their solutions to rapidly changing and dynamic scenarios.


Second-round interview questions


  • Design a music system for a car. What are the features? Draw a picture.
  • Design a coffee maker that will be used by astronauts.
  • Design an alarm clock.
  • Design an alarm clock for a blind person.
  • Design a search function
  • What are examples of poorly designed software?
  • I am your grandmother. Describe what MATLAB is to me.
  • How would you explain what a database is to a 5-year-old?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a decision and later found out that it was incorrect. What did you do to resolve the issue?
  • Suppose you are one week away from the product shipping date and discover a bug in your software. What do you do?
  • How would you test a keyboard?
  • How would you test a pen?
  • What method would you use to look up a word in a dictionary?
  • Imagine you have a closet full of shirts. It’s very hard to find a shirt. So what can you do to organize your shirts for easy retrieval?





Tell me about a time when you have developed a strategy to grow business with one of your most important customers.

Tell me about a time when you had very little guidance from your manager.

Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile for a customer.

What did you do when a something you'd planned had to change at the last minute?

Tell me about a time when you were under pressure to meet a deadline - what happened?

What is the hardest piece of feedback you had to give to a member of staff?

What did you do when you were faced with a major obstacle at work?

Tell me about a time when you took advantage of an opportunity that no-one else had spotted.

Have you ever put your own plans on the back-burner, in order to help a colleague?

Describe a situation where you had to work with a challenging colleague.

Give an example of when you pushed too much, and on reflection it was the wrong thing to do.

Tell me about a time where a new approach was needed at work, and you took it.

Describe a serious customer complaint - What did you do? and what was the outcome?

Have you had to 'hand-hold' a demanding customer? Why did you do it? and what was the outcome?

Tell me about a time when your colleagues disagreed with you. How did you resolve it?

How do I know the person you have presented yourself as being in interview is the person I will see while you are doing this job?


Interview resources

Microsoft provides a list of suggested reading to prepare for the interview. A sampling is given below:

  • All I Ever Needed to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft, Julie Bick
  • Business at the Speed of Thought, Bill Gates






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A job interview is a process in which a potential employee is evaluated by an employer for prospective employment in their company.




A job interview evaluates the candidate. Interviews are preceded by the evaluation of supplied résumés, selecting a small number of candidates (shortlisting). 

Multiple rounds of job interviews may be used where there are many candidates or the job is particularly challenging or desirable; earlier rounds may involve fewer staff from the employers and will typically be much shorter and less in-depth. A common initial interview form is the phone interview and has the advantage of keeping costs low for both sides.

Once all candidates have had job interviews, the employer typically selects the most desirable candidate and begins the negociation of a job offer.




It is important to be well prepared for an interview.

  1. The inability of the applicant to fully explain the contents of his or her résumé is a common reason employers gave for not hiring an applicant
  2. It is important to be able to discuss in detail every item listed on one's resume, and to give examples when appropriate. It is also wise to research the company before the interview.
  3. Avoid being nervous, practice answering difficult questions. 



How to Get That Next Interview

First, think about your past. Not only are you going to have to list your educational background, previous employment experiences, and extracurriculars on your application, but you are probably going to be asked about those in the interview. Memorize this information so that you can answer questions during the job interview.

When filling out an application, give detailed information about your job duties, remember to write in complete sentences - not one word answers.

If the interviewer gives you information about the job you are applying for show them that you actually want to do the job. 

If you are already aware of the duties that you would be performing if you were to be hired, then make a mental note of instances where you have done or mastered those tasks in the past. If you can show the interviewer that you not only know what you need to do for the job, but that you have already done it successfully in the past.




A typical job interview has a single candidate meeting with between one and three persons representing the employer; the potential supervisor of the employee is usually involved in the interview process. A larger interview panel will often have a human resources mananger . The meeting can be as short as 15 minutes; job interviews usually last less than two hours. The job interview will be the interviewers asking the candidate questions about their history, personality, work style and other relevant factors to the job. The candidate will usually be given a chance to ask any questions at the end of the interview. Questions are strongly encouraged, not only do they allow the interviewee to acquire more information but they also demonstrate the candidate's strong interest in the position and company. A candidate should follow up the interview with a thank you letter expressing their appreciation for the opportunity of meeting with the company representative.

Additionally, some professions have specific types of job interviews; for performing artists, this is an audition where the emphasis is placed on the performance ability of the candidate.

In many companies Assessment Days are increasingly being used, particularly for graduate positions, which may include analysis tasks, group activities, presentation exercises and Psychometric testing.


Types of Interview



This type of interview is based on the notion that a job candidate's previous behaviors are the best indicators of future performance. In behavioral interviews, the interviewer asks candidate to recall specific instances where they were faced with a set of circumstances, and how they reacted. Typical  questions:



  • "Tell me about a project you worked on where the requirements changed midstream. What did you do?"
  • "Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a project. What did you do?"
  • "Describe the worst project you worked on."
  • "Describe a time you had to work with someone you didn't like."
  • "Tell me about a time when you had to stick by a decision you had made, even though it made you very unpopular."
  • "Give us an example of something particularly innovative that you have done that made a difference in the workplace."
  • "What happened the last time you were late with a project?"


The questions asked will therefore be based on the job description, the performance indicators, the skills/personal qualities required and the interviewer's knowledge of operating in the role.

A bad hiring decision can be expensive for an organization – cost of the hire, training costs, severance pay, loss of productivity, impact on morale, cost of re-hiring, etc. (Gallup international place the cost of a bad hire as being 3.2 times the individual's salary). 




The employer uses a succession of interviewers (one at a time or en masse) whose mission is to intimidate the candidate and keep him/her off-balance. The purpose of this interview: to find out how the candidate handles stress. Stress interviews might involve testing applicant's behavior in a busy environment. Questions about handling work overload, dealing with multiple projects and handling conflict are typical.

Another type of stress interview may involve only a single interviewer who behaves in an uninterested or hostile style. For example, the interviewer may not give eye contact, may roll their eyes or sigh at the candidate's answers, interrupt, turn his back, take phone calls during the interview, and ask questions in a demeaning or challenging style. The goal is to assess how the interviewee handles pressure or to purposely evoke emotional responses. The key to success for the candidate is to de-personalize the process. The interviewer is acting a role. Once the candidate realizes that there is nothing personal behind the interviewer's approach, it is easier to handle the questions with aplomb.


Example stress interview questions:


  • Difficult situation: "If you caught a colleague cheating on his expenses, what would you do?"
  • "How do you feel this interview is going?"
  • " Well, if that's the best answer you can give ... (shakes head) Okay, what about this one ...?"
  • Strange question: "What would you change about the design of the hockey stick?"
  • Doubting you: "I don't feel like we're getting to the heart of the matter here. Start again - tell me what really makes you tick."


Candidates may also be asked to deliver a presentation as part of the selection process. The 'Platform Test' method involves having the candidate make a presentation to both the selection panel and their competitors for the job. This is obviously highly stressful and is therefore useful as a predictor of how the candidate will perform under similar circumstances on the job. Academic, Training, Airline, Legal and Teaching selection processes frequently involve presentations of this sort..



Technical Interview


 This kind of interview focuses on problem solving skills and creativity. The questions will aim at your problem solving skills, and likely will show your ability and creativity. Sometimes these interviews will be on a computer module with multiple choice questions.


See also

External links