While getting a job at any big tech company can be difficult, lucky for you, Microsoft is not the most difficult one to get a job at.
The truth is, the bar to get hired at big tech companies such as Microsoft is much lower than you think. While it is factually harder to get a job at Microsoft than most other companies, you can do a lot to influence your chances and lower the difficulty bar.
Even though the competition is high and the Microsoft acceptance rate is allegedly only 2%, it’s still easier than you think.
Sure, the hiring process is long, but if you’ve got the skills and you have some projects and experience behind you, now all you need is an interview. And you can get that interview through various means.
Getting Hired at Microsoft, and What You Can Do
While it may be obvious to some, it doesn’t hurt to repeat: the best way to increase your chances of getting a job at Microsoft is through connections, whether it’s a recruiter or a referral. You need to reach out and connect with people who can at least get you an interview with Microsoft.
According to a survey from Comparably, having a referral inside or connecting with a recruiter are the two most common ways of getting a job at Microsoft.
Once you have a referral, ask them to follow up with the hiring manager for the position you’re applying for. The hiring manager will keep this in mind and will keep an eye on you. This is not a guess but a statistic based on the answers of 6,000 current or former Microsoft employees who said that 26% of them got an interview through a referral, while 30% got it through a recruiter.
You can, and should, improve your resume and create variations of it to suit the role you’re applying for. Then just let the math do the work. Keep applying and you’ll keep increasing your chances. Even if your chance is 10% if you try it 10 times your overall chance of getting an interview increases to 65%.
Alternatively, you can simply connect through LinkedIn, and reach out. In the end, many people simply apply online at Microsoft website, through Google, Glassdoor, or Indeed and successfully get an interview. Theoretically, all it takes is to keep applying, but it’s not always easy, is it?
If you’re looking to intern at Microsoft, a good way to find connections is at intern fairs. While you may not be able to connect with someone from Microsoft directly, you may connect with someone who knows someone, and that’s all it takes.
Remember that what matters the most are your experiences. While your college can get you a plus, if you have your own personal projects or managed to develop an app, it will give you an advantage over other applicants.
What Does It Take To Get a Job at Microsoft?
Microsoft is hiring constantly, all year long, and as long as your resume is professional and relevant to the job position you’re applying for, you’ll have a chance of getting in. If nothing, you’ll at least get a chance to do a phone screen.
A phone screen is usually with a recruiter which lasts approximately 45 minutes and covers your resume, behavioral questions, and some technical questions as well.
… preparing to demonstrate how you meet the qualifications of the job by sharing specific examples from your past, or ideas about how you would accomplish a specific task.
While having experience is most certainly beneficial for getting a job at any company, for recent graduates it’s still possible to get a job at Microsoft without any sort of experience, internships, or personal projects.
However, your resume still needs to show “some” academic achievements, relevant skills, and any courses or awards you can mention. You do need to look like someone who shows promise, and your resume needs to look professional.
Qualifications required to get a job at Microsoft
Degrees that will increase your chances of getting hired at a Microsoft tech role include degrees in computer science, computer engineering, or related fields. An additional plus is a certification in programming and object-oriented language.
Bachelor’s degree in computer science is always helpful and a good starting point, and a Master’s degree even more. Any kind of background in math, business, or computer engineering will get you an added plus.
I wrote an article specifically on this topic of qualifications for a Microsoft job, and it might be helpful.
What Does Microsoft Look For in Employees?
The most common qualities that make you fit for Microsoft are teamwork, a strong desire to learn, passion for technology, drive for results, decision-making skills, leadership potential, coding skills, and intelligence.
Chuck Edwards, previously the Head of Global Talent Acquisition suggests the following:
“To get contacted you should first have a good LinkedIn profile. Then, to pass the initial behavioral-based screening you must show off your technical aptitude for a tech job, some leadership potential, and show that you’re curious and want to learn.”Chuck Edwards, former Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Microsoft
He says that the key cultural attribute at Microsoft is curiosity, openness to learning, and the ability to recover from mistakes. Managing to demonstrate these qualities will surely increase your chances.
If you’re a programmer, the most important thing to getting hired at Microsoft is to make sure you can write code. Many of the Microsoft interviewers like to see you being able to write concise code that can run when compiled. Practice this, and don’t worry about being 100% syntactically correct.
Review your solid object-oriented fundamentals, and try to study linked lists and tree traversal algorithms. These seem to be the most common types of coding skills needed for Microsoft interviews.
Can You Get a Job at Microsoft Without a Degree?
Microsft doesn’t require a degree for many entry-level jobs, which means that if you’ve got the skills and no college degree, you can still land a job at Microsoft.
Microsoft stated that this is because it allows them to recruit from a broader talent base, which builds a more diverse workforce.
But keep in mind that you still need to do something noticeable, or show something on the resume to be considered, such as being a part of an open-source project, or having your own projects and experiences. Here’s a bit more on
They aren’t the only tech company that allows this. Google, Apple, Tesla, and even IBM don’t require a college degree for many entry-level jobs.
Does Microsoft Care About Your GPA?
Microsoft hiring managers will use all kinds of metrics to predict whether you’re a good fit, and possibly a successful employee. These factors include attending a good school or college, having done an internship, and most important one is having done some good projects and actually having the skills.
The fact is that grades barely matter at Microsoft, and GPA is just one of the many factors. Microsoft almost never asks for a GPA from an applicant, nor do they care much.
I read about a story from a few years ago, while coming to a University campus, a Microsoft recruiter said:
“We would rather hire an applicant with a GPA of 3.0 with side projects, than someone with a 4.0 who did nothing but school.”Microsoft recruiter
Therefore, you can get a job at Microsoft with a lower GPA, but you’ll need to be able to show off your skills and be able to sell yourself as a good fit for that job, and Microsoft culture.
How Difficult Are Microsoft Interviews?
A survey from Comparably from 6,000 participants showed that Microsoft interviews are more challenging than average, for a tech company. While the interview process is rated pretty high among the big tech companies, still 47% of respondents rated the Microsoft interview as “difficult” or “very difficult”.
This makes Microsoft 2nd on this survey for being hard to get an interview with, with Google being the 1st one.
However, since then, if we again look at Comparably answers, we can see that the process might have become easier, with more people describing it as “easy”, and a few even as “very easy”:
Microsoft also shares a few tips to remember for your interview:
Be yourself, be authentic, and there’s no need to dress up. Try to be communicative in explaining your thought process and showing your learning potential. And finally, be specific, and practice the STAR(R) model for your Microsoft interview.
Microsoft also offers some tips on how to prepare for their virtual interview.
How Hard Is It to Get a Microsoft Interview?
To score an interview with Microsoft, your best bet is to connect with a recruiter or have a referral. These are the two most common ways, but lots of people also apply online and were able to get an interview this way.
A referral is important because a lot of resumes simply get thrown away as it’s impossible to review the huge number of resumes Microsoft receives every day.
Therefore, to stand out and pass the initial filter at Microsoft, your best chance is to know someone who already works at Microsoft, and get them to submit your resume as a referral.
You should also create a good LinkedIn profile page. This is a plus to getting an interview in any tech company. Having a good Linkedin profile will get some Microsoft recruiters to contact you, but you can also contact them first.
Microsoft is the #1 contributor to open source, therefore, you could try to contribute to a Microsoft open-source project. This will surely get you noticed. You can start here, and get yourself involved.
While having a referral increases your chances, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an interview by simply applying online. That’s exactly what 17% of respondents answered in a Comparably survey, although it’s the lowest percentage compared to other big players in tech.
What Should I Expect at a Microsoft Interview?
Interviews at Microsoft, whether digital or in-person, consist of many behavioral and technical questions, and coding exercises if it’s a tech role. Expect to be asked typical questions about why you’re a good person for the job, and talk about your background and your experiences.
At first, you’ll probably have a screening interview with a recruiter, then a phone interview. After that, come the digital interview, the on-site interviews, followed by the HR interview. It could take 1-2 months or longer for the entire process to be finished, but it could be shorter.
You might get questions such as:
- Why Microsoft?
- Tell me about yourself.
- How would you deal with certain scenarios with clients/managers
- Biggest accomplishment/failure
- What will you do if you don’t get hired?
- What was a bad technical decision you made?
Coding exercises will depend on your job role, and may include:
- String manipulation problems
- Questions about data structure, trees, hash maps
- Technical questions about cloud services and architecture design precisions (for Architects)
- Describe SOLID implementation
- Describe what is a recursion
- Search optimization, NLP, functional programming (for data scientists)
- Write pseudo code and explain your approach to the problem, etc.
According to the Microsoft website, the most successful candidates are those who fully understand the role they’re applying for, who know where they want to go in the future, who work well with others, and who know how to showcase their qualities for the job role.
Therefore, it may be a good idea to take some time to prepare and practice answering these questions, especially doing the coding exercises and solving problems.
Here’s a good video on how to crack Microsoft Coding Interview:
How long does it take to prepare for the Microsoft interview?
The preparation period will depend on the job role and your skills, but can often take a few weeks to a month, sometimes longer.
If it’s a programming role, make sure you can write code. Take your time reviewing the stuff you know, and try to solve at least several problems a day for at least a few weeks or a month before the interview. This practice will come in handy, as you’ll be doing these exercises during the interview.
The ability to explain your thought process is important as well, so try to think about how you can clearly explain what you do, and why you did it. This is a skill, just like knowing how to code, so practice explaining yourself as well. With that in mind, try not to over-study the day before. This will allow your mind to calm and settle, and you’ll be able to explain yourself more easily during the interview.
Is It Hard to Get a Job Offer From Microsoft?
Microsoft can be difficult to get a job offer from, but not as much as some other big tech companies. A survey from Comparably showed that it’s possible to get a job offer from Microsoft only after one or two interviews, though 5 and more interviews are the most common.
Even though the competition is tough, there are many things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job offer by following the advice in this and other articles on Microsoft. Good luck!