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tips for microsoft interviews?

Hi - sorry for the crosspost for those of you who read ~ someone there told me to post here

I've got an interview with MS for an internship this summer.  They're flying me to Seattle for it, etc etc.

Anyone have any tips? I was thinking of bringing a demo of my game so far, but it's visually quite unimpressive ( ). It's got a lot of neat code behind it, though. I would love a professional's opinion about whether or not showing that would help or hurt me (it also connects to a server, which lets you roll around with other people). The game really has no point, except to roll around a lot..

Other tips would be appreciated too. I'd really love to get this internship and I hear it's really competetive.


Riley Lark
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

some instruction on how it works would be nice. I see 'A' and 'S' will move it somehow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Read Joel's article on interviewing:

It's very similar to the approach used by many interviewers at Microsoft.

If there is a single piece of advice I would give, it's this: be  (genuninely) enthusiastic about the stuff that interests you. You can be extremely strong technically, but if you aren't passionate, or just don't seem to care, you're not going to fit in at a place like Microsoft.

Be yourself, be upbeat, and don't try to fake what you don't know, and you'll do fine.

Good luck.

Mike Treit
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I would take a few CDs with your game on it. Make sure that, when they plop the CD in the computer, they get a nice menu system to explore the CD (a simple HTML interface will do fine). Let the interface launch the game, and allow them to browse the source code.

Make sure there is documentation. Include an overview of what the game is for, functional and UI specs, a user manual, a high level description of the code, a list of known bugs and features to be implemented, the results of any unit tests, and if possible, automatically-generated code documentation (see the Doxygen project). I once got a job on the strength of a similar CD.

Most importantly, make sure the code is readable and well-written!

Having said this, don't put all your eggs in one basket -- this CD won't win you the job -- but it may help you stand out from the crowd if the interviewers have time to look at the CD.

Brush up on your interview technique (get someone to give you a mock interview -- it doesn't need to be technical, just a regular interview will be good). Try to understand what your job will be -- read whatever you can find. Make sure you turn up dressed correctly and on time. Make sure you are prepared for things they haven't told you about, like maths, programming or English tests (take some pens and a calculator etc.). If there's a technical book you rely on ("C++ for Numbskulls in 17.5 hours", for example), take it with you. Prepare questions to ask -- but not just "what's the pay?" or "do I get free Cola?".

Be confident -- if you can get the interview, you can get the job. At the end of the interview, say something like "It was great to meet you today. I've enjoyed talking to you and am still very interested in the job". This is one of the most important pieces of advice I've been given -- tell them you want the job!

Finally, be aware that there is psychological research indicating that hire/no-hire decisions get made subconsciously within about 15 seconds of the start of the interview, so make a good first impression.

C Rose
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

No, I didn't go to Google. Over a period, I've bookmarked virutally hundreds of web page links about various aspects of  Microsoft, how it is working there, interview questions, jokes, news about Microsoft, bloggers who write about the  company et al. Here are a very few of the links, a taaaiiiny fraction of my favourites, filtered for your purpose, so you  might find them useful. Some of them may not be point blank relevant, but if you're interested, you can read them to  be better a informed candidate.

Of course, I am not saying you read this book in order to prepare for the interview, but rather if you're Micro-sick  interested in Microsoft, like I am.

Here's a load of Microspeak you'll be getting used to in the parlour.

And if you're like me, you'll also enjoy reading some Microsoft Jokes.

I don't know how true this is, but a glimpse into the history of Windows is here
and a part 2 is here

These are posts on a blog from the Working at Microsoft category, not all of them are relevant, but you'll find some  tips:

And Uncle Philo's the Aunt Agony for the microsoft experience:

And this book, is written by the grand-daddy of one of our posters on this forum.

More jokes on Microsoft. Read after your interview, please!

If you want to read about Bill, then
will be useful.

How they commemorated 25 years of existence:

Microsoft Groups:

Voyuer at some executive mail doing rounds in the company:

Here's some basic inside information on the company:

A rant or two:

Some news stories:

Here's a profile of a Microsoftee along with a few words he has to say

You'll find a few articles of interest in these pages:

And I forgot, a hearty congratulations. Don't forget to recommend me when you're on board.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Sathyaish, you look really interested in working for Microsoft. May I ask, what is it about the company that attracts you to it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Let me draw an anology:

When I was young, my granny put me to bed telling me about how Robin Hood redeemed the poor from their misery. I slept every night with the seed of thought dreaming the boon of fulfilment, and my admiration for the hero grew by leaps and bounds. At the age of 8, I was reading comics on the character. In school, I told stories of Robin Hood I had heard from granny to my chums. When I was in grade 12, I went to see Robin Hood, the Prince of Thieves and I was bowled over by nostalgia. By the time I graduated, I wanted to do study Robin Hood and join theatre doing Robin Hood plays. At the age of 28, I set out to Hollywood with a script in my hand seeking a director for my next sequel to Robin Hood, the Prince of Thieves.

What's not amazingly fascinating about Microsoft? All that I want; great tools to work on,

I've been stuck to the VB camp, not because I am a dullard who's scared of adventure. I just didn't have the funds and the exposure. I couldn't afford a computer at home for years. Today, when I can, I won't buy it because I have other pressing obligations. So, in a way, I still can't afford it. I enjoyed Unix one time, was an expert with vi creating C++ programs, but then one day, I had to quit the lab and plunge into public for the battle of bread. Microsoft has it all, the technology, the brightest of people, flexible working hours, great sops for the nerdy types, booking movie theatres on weekdays to pamper you if you perform, they leave you alone to your work, they don't mind if you don't have a life, they are ***really*** really*** good at creating software and they **truly** know how to take care of the geek-head.

Oh! what's the word limit here? And I am not that fast at typing. I think hell for leather.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

"What's not amazingly fascinating about Microsoft? All that I want; great tools to work on,

I've been stuck to the VB camp, not because I am a dullard who's scared of adventure"

You can see the hiatus, I just brain farted there, racing against thoughts. I have a million more words to add to that, but no patience. And then blame it all on Joel too. He filled my ears and now I can't help it. I've led myself to a point of no returning reading a load of pages.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Wow, thanks a lot for all the info!  Went to sleep for 8 hours and everything I could want to know is here ;)

Riley Lark
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

You dont wanna be an STE.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

:You don wannabe an STE


Saint (French)
Secure Telephone Equipment
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Senior Technical Editor
Shift Test Engineer
Shipboard Test Equipment
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Societe (French: Society)
Software Test Engineer
Software Test Environment
Software Test and Evaluation
Solar Thermal Electric
Spanning Tree Explorer
Special Test Equipment
Stability & Equilibrium Data
Staff-years of Technical Effort
Standard Test Equipment
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Suite (US Postal Service)
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Surface Terminal Equipment
Synthetic Task Environment
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System Test and Evaluation

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Taking the game along can't hurt, but I doubt you'll get to show it to anyone. Microsoft employees have those stupid little interview questions they like to ask. They think it's smart, but it's really dumb.

Clutch Cargo
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Software Test Engineer

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Make them sign a EULA to read your resume.  Make them sign a NDA for your interview.  They'll hire you for sure cause you got the attitude.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

If you are interviewing for an SDE prepare to write code on
paper (i.e., coding questions - implement a function) and logic riddles.

If you are interviewing for a PM prepare to do customer/PM role playing, solve logic riddles.

MS says that when it comes to internships, they have a
certain level that you must satisfy. If you are above it, the
internship is yours, irrespective of proficiency with particular

Also, THINK ALOUD. It's very important. MS interviewers stress that it is more important for them to her you think,
than just get the right answer.

Good luck.

Pavel Levin
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I'm going for the SDE position, although I don't know with what group yet.  I'll let you guys know how it goes :)

Riley Lark
Wednesday, February 18, 2004


That's a noble aspiration indeed. The comparision with Robin Hood is most interesting ;-) Perhaps with the passion that you have, you may get what you want one day.


I've got to ask: Why not an STE?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

> Make them sign a EULA to read your resume.
>  Make them sign a NDA for your interview.
>  They'll hire you for sure cause you got
> the attitude.

I'm assuming that was a joke.  If not, lemme just take this opportunity to say that there's absolutely no way that an interviewer will sign an NDA or EULA for anything without getting the legal department involved. That would be an immediate "no hire" if someone tried to pull that on me.

To actually answer the question: when I interview interns I care about the same things I care about with full time interviews.

* smart
* gets stuff done
* can write code

which are of course the same things that Joel talks about in his article.  But with interns, there are two main differences.  First, I am much more interested in long term potential due to raw intellectual horsepower than specific knowledge.  Second, I am much more inclined to take risks when hiring interns because, after all, its only for four months.  If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out.

If you do get an internship, keep three things in mind:

1) Intern mentors LOVE "self starters".  My last intern was a dream come true.  We'd give him some vague ideas and he'd consult with the other interns, bounce ideas around, write a spec, write the code, test it, everything.  I'd just stick my head in the door a couple times a week to make sure he was still on track.  He ended up getting a job offer when he graduated.

2) The internship is a four month long job interview.  But don't forget that you are interviewing the company as much as we are interviewing you.  Lots of interns find out that they'd rather work at a small company, etc.

3) Have fun!  I was an intern three times and I had an absolute blast every time. 

Good luck! 

Eric Lippert
Thursday, February 19, 2004

> Microsoft employees have those stupid little
> interview questions they like to ask. They
>  think it's smart, but it's really dumb.

Why's that, Clutch?

Eric Lippert
Thursday, February 19, 2004

I would not recommend trying to show your project yourself. If the link was in your resume one will ask you about it so you have chance to tell how fun it was to write one. Don't even try to show source...

And if you write all 7 programs from Joel's article just say so when you get one of this.

Ask someone to read Joel's article and then interview you...

Friday, February 20, 2004

"I would not recommend trying to show your project yourself. If the link was in your resume one will ask you about it so you have chance to tell how fun it was to write one. Don't even try to show source..."

Do other people agree with this?  I was planning on bringing 2 different versions of my resume - one with a CD stapled to it, and one without, and saying, "I brought along a CD with some of the work I've been doing recently on it - can I give you a copy?"  I figured that was low-pressure if they really didn't want to spend the time on looking at it, but on the chance they DID want to look at it it would be there.

Interview in 5 days.. getting excited :)

Riley Lark
Sunday, February 22, 2004

Don't forget

Do a search for "microsoft" there. If you're applying for PM position, it would perhaps be not that useful, but many Mount Fuji puzzles are there.

Amit Kumar
Saturday, March 27, 2004

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