Pursuing a career at Microsoft is a dream come true for most people, given the company’s strong track record of innovation, generous compensation packages, and flexible work-life balance. However, none of this comes easy, and their recruitment process is quite competitive. At the world's largest and most influential software company, potential candidates can find the technical application process challenging. However, once you are familiar with the tips and tricks to crack the long rounds of discussions, you will feel more confident mastering these interviews.
Our 22 year old expert Nishant Chahar, who cracked the interview process, off-campus, last year shares a few basic insights into the process to make it easier for budding applicants. Read on to know more about his experience.
1. What are the 3 tips according to you to crack Microsoft interviews? What does the company look for in a potential candidate?
Microsoft focuses more on the basics. The interviews conducted by senior engineers are mostly focused on Data structures and Algorithms. The three tips according to me are:
1. Be well versed with all the basics and how the basic functions like sort or hashing work internally. One should know the internal workings of all the algorithms and data structures they use.
2. Go through the interview experiences, they help you understand what the company is asking nowadays in the interviews. You will get an excellent idea on which topics you need to revise.
3. Give more and more timed contests, they give you a real-life idea of how you will perform in timed environments, as all the company tests are timed.
Apart from that, what Microsoft looks for in a potential candidate is a strong culture fit. For instance: whether they have worked on projects? Have they ever worked in a team? These things also make a big difference in the selection process.
2. How did you manage to crack the interview off-campus?
Back in March of 2021, my friends who had got a pre-placement offer from Microsoft received an email that Microsoft is hiring freshers, and candidates can apply for different positions on their careers portal. I did the same. This led to an Online coding test which had 3 questions. Candidates who were able to solve all of them got an interview call. After the shortlisting there were 3 face-to-face interview rounds that stressed on Data structures and Algorithms and also touched on the projects I had done during my college.
3. How did you prepare for the interview?
As I already had an on campus offer from Curefit, I was good with DSA and problem solving. Before the interview I just brushed up on my knowledge. Firstly, I used geeksforgeeks for revising all the subjects like Operating systems, Database management systems and Object oriented programming. I also revised all the Graph algorithms and other sorting and searching algorithms. Apart from that, I even read the recent interview experiences from geeksforgeeks.
As far as coding interviews are concerned, I used Leetcode and Gfg to read about algos and practice problem solving by taking part in contests and solving problems.
Source: Nishant Chahar
4. What are some of the do’s and don'ts according to you?
I can’t stress this enough that you should be thorough with the basics. You need not know fancy things like AI, ML or Data Science, but the basics are the most important part, which a lot of people tend to neglect. By basics here I mean, a candidate should know how to approach a dynamic programming problem from making the recursive call to finally optimising it to tabulation. A candidate should also know about internal functions such as sort and search work, how hashing is done, etc.
I strongly feel candidates need to honest and put in the preparation needed rather than pretend to know something which they don’t. As the interviewers are really experienced they know when the candidate is faking and what they actually know.
One also needs to be well-versed with all the terms on their resume and only write about things which they can explain if questioned! Apart from that, confidence is the key and the ones who own it will surely succeed!
5. Can the candidate negotiate salary in the HR round of the interview?
If a candidate is a college fresher then no, as the salary package is standard for all Indian colleges, be it IIT Delhi or a tier-3 college. However, if the candidate is a lateral hire, then yes, they can negotiate depending upon their current salary and other competing offers they have.
6. What is life like in Microsoft?
Nothing I can say will do justice to the Microsoft culture. Microsoft always supports collaboration over competition and my seniors and colleagues are extremely helpful in their overall approach.
Microsoft also takes care of Diversity and Inclusion with different events and things happening all around the year. There are offsites, team lunches and parties around the year as well.
The company focuses on a growth mindset. It starts with a belief that everyone can grow and develop; that potential is nurtured, not predetermined; and that anyone can change their mindset.
The best candidates in any interview are always the ones well prepared, so pay close attention to the areas of preparation outlined here and as our expert Nishant Chahar says, be confident and you will significantly increase your chances of succeeding. With the work life and prestige that Microsoft has to offer - it all comes down to you giving it your best!