For tech job applicants, a role at Microsoft is the holy grail - and with job opportunities for experienced professionals, interns and graduates all receiving thousands of applications, knowing what to expect from the recruitment process will help you perform better and score the perfect role.
Getting A Job at Microsoft
The early career options at Microsoft range start with apprenticeships. These offer on-the-job training alongside a competitive salary and benefits, aimed at school leavers.
Internships are aimed at those studying a Bachelor's, Master's, MBA, or PhD and are available in the following areas:
- UX Design
- Supply chain
- IT Operations
- Data/Applied Science
For recent Graduates, full time opportunities begin with the Microsoft Aspire Experience for a customised onboarding process followed by a two-year development program.
Microsoft's Values & Culture
Microsoft values their growth mindset, listening and learning from the world around them. The culture of Microsoft involves the following ideals:
- Customer Obsessed
- Diverse and Inclusive
- A family of individuals - One Microsoft
- Making a difference
- Empathy and innovation
Working for Microsoft means being at the forefront of technology and software.
Types Of Roles
There is a wide range of roles available at Microsoft, from software to supply chain, HR to Sales and everything in between. You can find jobs in the following business areas:
- Business Development and Strategy
- Hardware Engineering
- Business Programs and Operations
- Data Centre
- Supply Chain and Operations
- IT Operations
Hiring Process At Microsoft
The hiring process at Microsoft has five distinct stages, and you must pass each to move forwards.
To start with, all prospective applicants must apply through the Microsoft careers portal, and if your application form is accepted, you will be invited to take some online aptitude tests. If you achieve a pass mark for these, then you will be invited to a video interview, which is followed by an assessment centre.
These are almost 'industry standard' in terms of the stages of a recruitment process for a tech role.
All the available roles, for both early careers and experienced professionals, are advertised on the Microsoft Careers site. Applicants need to create a profile and upload a resume or import details from LinkedIn before applying for the role.
Each job description will have lots of details about the role, the desired qualifications and experience, as well as the characteristics that they are looking for in an employee. This information will be useful throughout the application process.
The application form itself needs to be filled out with basic details, and there will be some motivational questions about why you have applied for the role. It is a good idea to highlight the skills and competencies mentioned in the job description where you can.
The online aptitude tests that Microsoft use are published by SHL, and you will be invited to take these via an email link if your application is accepted. There are up to three assessments available to be taken, but the ones that you might have to take will depend on the role that you have applied for.
Situational Judgement Test
In a situational judgement test, you will be provided with a number of work-related scenarios that will be related to real-life situations that you might encounter in the workplace.
Following these scenarios, you will have a choice of four possible actions to take. These are likely to all seem like good answers, so you need to choose the one that is more likely to be what you would do.
This assessment is testing your work behaviour and your decision-making skills, and it will usually take about 30 minutes although the test itself is untimed.
Logical Reasoning Test
In this logical reasoning test, you are being assessed on your inductive reasoning skills. You will be presented with a number of questions made up of five images that follow a pattern.
For each series, you will be presented with a number of possible images and will need to discover what the pattern is in order to identify the next image in the sequence.
You will have 24 questions to answer in just 25 minutes, so speed and accuracy is important.
For some roles, specifically those for software engineers and other tech jobs, will require a technical test. The exact content will vary, but you can expect it to be an assessment of your practical skills like coding.
If you achieve the required result from the psychometric tests, then you will be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process which includes video interviews.
The first type of video interview is not live; instead you will have to film your response to approximately 15 competency-based questions. These need to be answered in a well-constructed way, so you might want to use a mnemonic like STAR to help you structure your response.
You will be asked to give examples based on the key competencies that they are looking for, so be prepared with some detailed examples of when you have completed a team activity, for example.
You may also be asked to complete a live video interview via Skype where you will have around eight further competency questions to answer in an interactive manner.
If your responses to the video interview are what the recruitment team are looking for, you and a number of other applicants will be invited to an assessment centre held at one of the Microsoft offices.
During this, you will be given a tour of the office and have the opportunity to interact with current Microsoft employees including interns and graduates.
You will be asked to complete a group activity where you will be asked to solve a problem. Firstly, you will have to analyse the problem as a team and come up with a solution. Then you must present the results to the assessors and answer questions.
Following this, you will be given a laptop containing information that you will need to use to complete an individual case study. You will have an hour and a half to read, understand and analyse the data and then create a PowerPoint presentation.
Throughout both these exercises you will be constantly assessed on certain soft skills and competencies like creativity, team work, leadership and communication.
As part of the Assessment Centre, you will also have two face-to-face interviews. The first will take place early in the day, and will ask competency-based questions in a similar way to the video interview.
In the second interview, you will be asked questions about how you think you have performed on the day.
What's It Like To Work At Microsoft?
Working at Microsoft has many benefits, including flexible working schedules, generous vacations and a competitive salary.
Employees can take advantage of more flexible family-related benefits like subsidised childcare and family support programs, help towards education and tuition for personal and professional development, and a range of wellness initiatives like world-class health insurance.
The diverse and inclusive workforce that make up Microsoft around the world help to create Employee Resource Groups, which are great for socialising and networking across borders, with shared experiences at the heart.
Employees who work at Microsoft report that it is a fun, engaging and sometimes challenging place to work, with great opportunities for learning and advancement as well as support for life outside the business. Everyone has the opportunity to share ideas, and collaborate across the world with other people in the business.
Top Tips To Getting Hired At Microsoft
Know Which Role You Want
Making a decision about the type of role that you want is the best way to start - and will help you focus on the skills and competencies that you will need to demonstrate through the application process.
Having a career path planned will also help you answer the motivational questions well.
Do Your Research
Research the role - know what the company is looking for in their employees, what skills and competencies are required.
Research should also include details about Microsoft as a company as well as the wider tech market. It is a good idea to have knowledge of the position of Microsoft in relation to competitors.
This research will not only help you understand the company, but also give you some ideas about questions that you could ask of interviewers.
Practice Aptitude Tests
Aptitude tests (as opposed to skills tests) are assessing your inherent abilities; they are not difficult in terms of content but the time pressure and structure of the test is what makes it hard.
Practicing aptitude tests will make you feel more confident about the assessment and help you identify any areas that you might need more help on. You can also practice knowledge questions for specific Microsoft tools, such as practice Excel tests and practice Word tests.
Prepare For The Interview
During the video interview, you will need to prepare as if you are attending a face to face interview - you might not be able to see the interviewer but they can see you. Practice making eye contact with the lens and keep body language open and approachable.
In the face to face interviews, you will likely have several opportunities to ask questions, and this is a great opportunity to ask insightful questions based on your research to demonstrate your knowledge.
Be open and honest throughout the whole process, and let the interview team see your personality shine through. Make sure to give detailed examples based on information given in your CV.
Remember The Core Values
Microsoft values the ideal of One Microsoft - that all the employees are a team of individuals. The recruiters are looking for diverse team members, so throughout the recruitment process it is important that you highlight how you are a team player.
Keep in mind the other values at Microsoft and use this to highlight relevant skills and competencies.
How Long Does The Microsoft Recruitment Process Take?
The actual length of the recruitment process for a role at Microsoft depends on the role you are going for, but you will be kept informed of the process throughout via your Microsoft Careers profile. On average, you can expect it to take about 4-8 weeks.
Is It Hard To Get a Job At Microsoft?
There is a lot of competition for roles at Microsoft, so although the recruitment process might not seem as rigorous as for other tech companies, you will be up against potentially thousands of other applicants.
This means that in order to stand out from the crowd you will need to excel in all stages.
How Long Is The Microsoft Interview?
The video interviews at Microsoft are generally about 30 minutes each, and the face-to-face interviews tend to be a little longer at approximately an hour.
What Is A Passing Score On A Microsoft Aptitude Test?
Like other SHL published tests, both the situational judgement and the logical reasoning tests are positively scored for accuracy - which means that you can make an educated guess on any answers that you don't know.
The raw score (number of correct answers) will be measured against a norm group to create a percentile score. This score is used to determine whether you have performed well enough to move on to the next stage in the Microsoft recruitment process.
The passing score for the Microsoft aptitude test will depend on the role that you have applied for, so the best bet is to ensure that you have practiced and aim to get the highest mark you can.