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A MICROSOFT INTERVIEW

Submitted by Someone, Last Modified on 2019-11-08

The descriptions are purely for a casual reading and shouldn’t be construed as the exhaustive questions asked. It is merely an indication about how a Microsoft interview can go about. A normal interview can last upto 1.5 - 2 hours or more. Remember like any other interview, it is upon you to drive the interview. Plus the most important thing is how you have prepared for the interview. The guys interviewing you are smarter and more experienced than you are so no use trying to oversmart them. Prepare yourself and give your best shot. Keep a smile on your face and the interviewer might be from Microsoft but he is a human being so try to engage in a conversation. Last, if I can then anyone can. I have had the clichéd of CVs before entering MBA. So don’t be overawed.

The questions are generic and probably the same types of questions are asked elsewhere as well. By generic questions I mean questions that don’t have a correct/incorrect answer. They calibrate your personality and thinking and basically whether you are culturally fit for the company

Technical questions have not been included in this excerpt.

HOW ARE YOU ******?

<Normal honest answer. Tensed is a word that I consciously avoided because it gives an impression you either can't take pressure or you are nonchalant>

Pretty overwhelmed. It is not everyday that you get to appear for a Microsoft interview.

TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.

<I prepared an answer which is no longer than 2-3 mins. I gave ample key words so that the next question is from my domain>

Essentially there are two things you would like to know about me. One being my personal life and the other being my professional career. In my professional career I have worked in Cognizant for 2.5 years where I won the Global Innovation Award for bringing in an innovation that resulted in X million dollar revenue in savings for the company. I was also awarded the Whale Done award that is given to the employee of the quarter in our vertical. In IMT I have published a research on "Decoding Terrorism using Data Analytics" with Prof. ***** *****. I also authored a case study titled "Blood Connect: Enriching Lives" along with Professor ********* and Mr. ********* and it is now in the process of getting published under Emerald. I represented IMT Ghaziabad as finalists in Infosys Ingenious, the national B-school competition organised by Infosys, where we presented an entire case of the evolving Insurance sector of North America to the senior executive leadership of Infosys. I had the opportunity of interning as a business consultant in Genpact where I was fortunate to use cutting edge technology like Incremental Response Modelling, CHAID Analysis and the likes. I also authored a whitepaper on the machine learning techniques that can be used in modern marketing.
On the personal front I am a person who likes to be passionate about his associations whether that be Alcom, the Alumni Relationship Committee in our college, or Sourav Ganguly.

<at this point the interviewer gives a chuckle>

And it is Sourav Ganguly not because he is a Bengali but because what he stood for. Anti-nepotism, standing for what you believe. I mean look at the players he recruited. Yuvraj, Sehwag, Zaheer. None of them remotely a bengali. The aggression is something which I aspire to have. The way he used to lead. Making Steve Waugh wait or waving the shirt at Lords. He just transformed the attitude. And to top it all it was his humility off the field. I love to teach and have been doing so for the last 8 years. I am also extremely interested in cosmology and adventure sports having done River Rafting, Bungee Jumping, Paragliding, Parasailing. I have sky diving on my bucket list but I am sure I am not going to do that with a trainer. That drains all the excitement. If required I would engage in a 2-3 week training but I would rather do it alone.

YOU SEEM TO VERY TECHNICALLY INCLINED/INCLINED TOWARDS DATA ANALYSIS. WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS TECHNIQUES YOU KNOW?

<In a high profile interview you cannot afford to be thinking about an answer>

Sir, I have done a course on R from Coursera where the certificate is given by John Hopkins University. I worked on SAS in Genpact as part of my summer internship. I believe I have extensive knowledge in SPSS and I have also used Tableau.

WHAT WAS THE GLOBAL INNOVATION AWARD IN COGNIZANT ALL ABOUT?

<Explained the entire process>

<Being a Business student it is my business acumen that is far more important than whatever the brilliant code I wrote>

Sir the code I wrote isn't revolutionary. Anyone could've written that. In fact with almost no background in computer sciences I believe others would have done a far better job with respect to consistency and redundancy and other technical aspects. But I guess it is the business decision that drove me which is more important. To understand that requires the business acumen which I think also led me to believe that I would do well with an MBA and which I again believe would be something that I can use in this role as well.

HOW DO YOU LIKE IMT?

<Blunt and honest answer>

Sir, I had not taken admission to NMIMS in spite of being All India 121 and MDI (Business Management) because of financial issues. Today if I am again given a chance sans the monetary part I would’ve unequivocally chosen IMT again. Because of everything this place has given me. The campus life, the vibrancy, the people and most of all the achievements which I am extremely satisfied about.

ACHIEVEMENTS LIKE?

<I knew what I would say. I was sure I wouldn't be thinking about the answers>

Apart from the ones I mentioned: being the National Finalists of Infosys Ingenious, my 3 research publications, I was praised by the CEO of a multi-million dollar hair colour company for providing a road map for the introduction of hair colour in the Indian market. My name still exists in the website of the company giving me the credit for the paper I had worked on. In fact our work has also been referenced by other research papers which is a big thing for me. The other major achievement had to be my selection in the Alumni Relationship Committee. As an MBA and a corporate aspirant I had the exposure of speaking to the top people of India Inc, whether that be the CEO of Dunkin Donuts or Milagrow, MDs of Fortune 2000 companies. I also had the luxury of knowing the people working in different companies. For example Microsoft has 14 alumni from IMT Ghaziabad excluding the two seniors who were recruited last year.

DID YOU SPEAK TO ANY OF THEM?

***** is my senior so yes I did speak to him. He just told me to relax and be myself and well I tried to follow that.

WHAT WAS YOUR RESEARCH PROJECT ON TERRORISM ALL ABOUT?

Sir, it is sensitive topic that I will be broaching now. We have always heard that there is a certain section of the society who attribute terrorism to a particular religion. And the oft given answer would be ‘’Terrorism has no religion’’. Basically it depends on your take. You either believe it or you don’t belive it. There was no ‘’fact’’ so to say. So we decided to see what the statistics say,because that won’t lie. The RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents (RDWTI) is a compilation of data from 1968 through 2009. We took this to be our primary source of data. And after a very tedious but exciting 3-4 months we came to a few conclusions.

To mention a few they are
i) 10% of all terrorist incidents are done by a specific religious community
ii) The average number of humans killed in a terrorist incident is 2.5. In case of these 10% we found the average to be slightly higher than that.
So, we have statistical proof to counter whatever people say.

WHY MICROSOFT?

<Straight from the heart answer. I also took an opportunity to tell them why the role is also as much important and how I fit. I took the points from the JD itself and juxtaposed it with my core strengths>

*hahahaha....

Sir, Microsoft is THE DREAM company. Not like the ones which can change after an unsuccessful interview. In fact it is so obvious that I will rather say how I fit in the job profile,that is with your permission though. The JD broadly says:
• Build a sustainable relation with the client
• Offering monthly partner feedback
• Helping partners with RFP, PoC to end customer
• Influence Buying decision

Now, I have taught for the past 8 years so in a sense I can influence my students. When I tell you why you should need this I am explaining certain aspects of it and I think explaining something comes naturally to me. If I am convinced and if you have an open mind I can convince the same to you.
Being in Alcom, has given me a chance to interact with senior level corporate executives from CXOs to MDs to GMs. In that respect I do have an edge when it comes to interacting with the partners.
Being naturally inclined towards data analytics I think I can actually apply data analysis to the monthly feedback to understand the need of the customer.
And having already essayed the role of a Business Consultant in Genpact so I do have a fair idea of the world of Consulting.
And I am a team player. Probably everyone would say that but I have contacts with my junior to the Director of Cognizant even now. I can give you the name and number of my juniors, off-shore team lead, onsite team lead, offshore manager, onsite manager, senior manager, assistant director and director and you call any or all of them. Even if one person says anything that isn't very positive I would voluntarily leave my application in Microsoft. That is how acceptable I was in Cognizant.

WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?

<I stated a weakness which is a weakness. Not a strength disguised as a weakness. You are a normal human being with normal weaknesses. I do not think that should be disguised>

Sir, I am a workaholic and I put in long hours, I sleep very less and I can work at a stretch. But in a team everyone has their own responsibilities and in some cases I find that imposing my level of expectation is difficult. Because I might be a bachelor but there are married men and women in a team as well.

<*not satisfied with the answer. He asks me one more weakness>

Sir, I am a perfectionist. It is a good thing to say but from a business point of view sometimes it is redundant. A very everyday example is that every file in my computer is written in Camel Case. There isn't an exception. Now it might look nice but the RoI on the effort isn't reasonable. In fact my perfectionism borders on OCD which I think is a weakness.

THE JOB MIGHT ENTAIL YOU HAVE A NIGHT-SHIFT. WOULD YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?

<No one will say they have a problem. It is about how genuine you are>

Sir, in Cognizant I had a 2-11 shift. And in campus I hardly go to sleep before 4:30-5. So I can say, if at all, it would really NOT mess with my existing body clock.

<both of us start laughing>

WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO COGNIZANT?

Of course Sir. Cognizant is a brilliant company and I remember myself saying in the exit interview that I would love to come back to the company. But then again Sir, it is a relative decision. I mean comparing Cognizant and Microsoft is unfair to both the companies. One is a 8 Billion dollar company and the other is a 78 billion dollar company. One is a Fortune 308 company, the other is Fortune 34 company. So while it is, as I mentioned, a brilliant company I can't say I want to go back at the expense of Microsoft.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RECENT MICROSOFT BUSINESS DECISIONS?

<I had read a lot about the recent decisions and I was really happy at the question. I did not disguise my happiness>

Sir, I would love to speak about that. What Mr. Nadella has done is nothing short of a genius plan. He has always harped on the importance of SMAC but the recent decisions about the cloud ecosystem is disruptive to say the least. While all the companies were competing on the space offered (quoted the space and rent offered by Google, DropBox, Box and OneDrive), OneDrive has changed everything with the decision that is going to be implemented. Infinite space. Suddenly the game has changed from storage capacity to storage experience. That is disruptive innovation I guess. Then the bold steps of making Office free of cost to Mac products is another such step. And with the sales of hardware at XX billions dollars I think the decision to acquire Nokia is also paying off. It is very exciting times for Microsoft and as such any tech-head would love to be a part of it.

WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST TO MICROSOFT, IF YOU HAD TO?

<Expect this question so you have to be ready with an intelligent answer. When we speak about preparing for an interview these are the things one should learn irrespective of the company>

Sir, I guess that Windows 8 wasn't an universally well accepted product is a fact. I have read in many tech blogs how people miss the START button. Now with the advent of text mining you can actually pin point the various pain points of the various Microsoft products and use them as the reference for the next version of the product. The fact that I think from the data analytics point of view being a consultant is what, I think, is my point of differentiation.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

In the short run Sir, I would like to be a contributor to Microsoft ascent into the top 100 of Global 500. Its rank today is 103. That would be my short term goal. My long term goal would be something which is very close to me. I have always had the urge to do something for the education of the country. So probably I would associate myself with an organisation like T4I and exploit my strengths as a consultant to alleviate the education system.
In fact the company is so close to me is also because of its founder, Mr. Bill Gates. His philanthropic activities are a true inspiration.

<I didn’t make this up. It was spontaneous and probably my honesty reflected in the way I answered>

WE OFFER BOTH MANAGERIAL AND TECHNICAL ROLES. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN SAY 5 YEARS?

<I am actually stumped by this question>

I do have an immense passion for technology and Management is something which I have a degree on. But honestly I do not know which direction I would choose. Probably I will cross the bridge when I get there.

TELL ME SOMETHING ELSE ABOUT YOU

Sir, nothing is coming in my mind right now so I will say this. With all the hullabaloo surrounding Nolan's Interstellar I can say that there isn't another person in this campus who can explain time-warp or relativity or cosmology in general better than me. Though it requires a pre-requisite of you not knowing about all these before.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS

<This is the time where you can show how serious you are about the company. A question should be one where even the interviewer should have to think hard. Not the “what will be my role?” “work culture of the company”>

I have two questions actually.
1. Microsoft Kinect is a product which apart from its usual functionalities can be used for the treatment of muscular defects. I am quoting this from a whitepaper published in Microsoft's website. In spite of Microsoft's near absent presence in the healthcare sector and this being a huge opportunity why hasn't this been tapped?
2. I have gone through the technicalities of Google's Project Loon, Facebook's Drone Technology and Microsoft's White-Fi. A very honest comparison would reveal that Project Loon is vulnerable to weather calamities, Drone requires government regulations which aren't easily obtainable and requires a very heavy investment. White-Fi that uses the unused broadband of TV waves is not only robust but the most feasible to offer a blanket of internet connectivity to the country something akin to the Prime Minister's "Digital India" vision. Then why is it that we hear about Project Loon and Drone but not about White-Fi?

<He answers my question. And as I prepare to leave he shakes my hand and tells me it was a very great experience interviewing me. I knew at that moment I had made the cut.>

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