This post is for those who want to apply or have already applied (but not finished the interview) for a Microsoft Job. The recruitment process is quite similar for everyone and consists of a few steps.
- E-Mail Interview
- Phone Interview
- On Site Interview
I will tell you my story and how I went through the four phases.
My blog’s title (Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit) means “Nothing Comes Out of Nothing”. You can’t get a job at Microsoft by not doing anything – this is true for anything else. The first step you need to complete is the application process.
For this, many options are available. You can…
- … apply online on Microsoft’s Careers website as I did
- … send your CV to different e-mail addresses (there are some dedicated e-mails for different positions)
- … apply through some 3rd party organization (job shop, campus recruitment, job agency, etc)
On MS Careers you just have to post your CV and choose the job you want. That’s all! No recommendation letter, no cover letter, no nothing. Of course, not every CV passes the selection process. Here are some tips for improving your resume (worked for me):
- Don’t write it just before applying! Write a draft version, wait a few days and then review it. This way you will find a lot of mistakes and stupid things you wrote initially. If you review it immediately after writing, your mind will not be criticism oriented and will just ignore mistakes. Repeat the write-wait-review process as many times as necessary, until you find that the review revealed no mistakes.
- After you did the final review and the CV is bullet-proof, ask others to review it. They will definitely find inconsistencies and mistakes and this will make you feel stupid. This is good because will open your eyes will make you go into an ‘I want to improve’ mode. You’ll try to correct everything. After you come up with a modified version go again through steps 1 and 2. Repeat this as many times as necessary. [Special thanks to Lucian Sasu, Nadia Comanici, Andrei Ciobanu, Monica Balan and Lavinia Tanase for reviewing my CV!]
- Make it short and give only relevant facts. Initially, I come up with a 5 pages CV because I wrote every single technology with which I worked. There were a lot irrelevant things, I wrote Windows Workflow Foundation just because I played with it for a few days. I added extensive descriptions for every project, made a personal details section (name, birth date, address, etc) of 1/2 page. Others suggested to cut everything that was not necessary. You don’t need to give extensive descriptions, just add a few words. For example, I wrote “VS Image Visualizer – Visual Studio 2008 debug visualizer for images” and added a link to the project’s page – you submit formatted andcan embed links.
- Add something that makes it different. I don’t know if this makes a difference, but I added some lines to separate items just like in the picture below. Definitely Microsoft gets thousands of CVs per day. You need something special.
- Don’t lie! Tell exactly what you did and what is the proficiency level of your skills. For example, don’t write “Advanced” for UML if you don’t know the difference between composition and aggregation. Be realistic and don’t under/over estimate yourself.
- Use the spell chick. Make sure everything is written in correct English and there are no grammar/spelling mistakes. Noddy likes a WC with grammar mi takes. You mght fail just because of that.
Once you completed your CV, choose the job that suits best your needs, apply and wait… The waiting is a problem because all these big companies like Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Apple, etc. will contact you only if they find something interesting in your application. If you’re not suitable, then no rejection is sent.
I applied for an Intern Software Development Engineer position at Microsoft Redmond. I cannot apply for a full time position because I want to finish the master program on time, in the next summer – an internship is just what I need.
2. E-Mail Interview
January 20, 2010. Two months since I submitted the CV. I wasn’t hoping anymore that MS will contact me, when I got an e-mail titled: “Victor Hurdugaci ES DK” from Holly Peterson saying:
My name is Holly and I work with the Microsoft International Internship recruitment program.
We recently received your CV and would like to consider you for one of our technical internship positions in Denmark in 2010.
Please respond by the end of the day if possible
Wow! Now this was a good news. The possible bad side was that the internship was going to take 12 months. This might be a problem. However, it solved really well after talking to my professors. They understood the value of this internship and considered that will be possible to go for 12 months in Denmark and do my thesis there.
The e-mail also contained a set of 15 questions that I was supposed to answer when sending the response. The topic of the questions was not the same. Some asked HR questions like:
- In what city/country will you be residing in June 2010?
- Describe your ideal job
- Have you interviewed with Microsoft before?
Others were a little tricky and technical:
- How many lines of code would you estimate you personally have written in the last year?
- How would you test a function that is supposed to calculate the factorial up to 1000?
I tried to be as specific as possible, but still give exhaustive answers, trying to cover all possible uncertainties present in the question’s text. By the way, you can’t send an e-mail back to ask for more details or clarifications. I don’t think I am allowed to post my answers to questions. I will just leave them as homework for you.
Replied the same day (actually the next day at 00:20 in the morning) and I waited again. Now was better because they are going inform me about the decision, no matter if is positive or negative. It was just a matter of time.
You might have more than one e-mail interview. I met someone who had two with less questions.
Few days later, another e-mail arrived. They continue to consider me as a candidate. Someone from Microsoft Development Center Copenhagen (MDCC) will contact me to schedule a phone interview.
3. Phone Interview
This is where it gets interesting. Until now everything was asynchronous and for all questions I had time to think. During a phone interview you have to come up with (almost) instant solutions.
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