Microsoft behavioral interview is an integral component of the Microsoft hiring process. This type of interview is used to predict your future behavior, as well as understand how and why you do the things you do.
While it may sound easy to talk about yourself, it takes some skill and preparation to successfully advance beyond this round. Clarity and preparation are of the highest priority to pass this interview. You need to know your resume well, have a few stories prepared, explain why you want to join Microsoft as well as try not to seem desperate while doing so.
Recent studies have shown that Microsoft behavioral interview questions are designed not just to assess compatibility with the team, but also to gauge how candidates might evolve in the ever-changing tech landscape.
And since almost everyone applying at Microsoft will have to pass a behavioral interview, it makes sense to prepare. We’ve picked a few of the most common Microsoft questions you might get asked during the behavioral interview.
Top Microsoft Behavioral Interview Questions
Based on insider insights, these questions have been carefully curated by Microsoft over the years to hone in on truly innovative and team-oriented individuals.
1. Tell me about yourself
This is most likely the first question you’ll get asked. This question might also be a part of your phone screen questions or the virtual interview process. You should answer this question in such a way that incorporates your skills, qualities, and experiences in a way that ties to the current role you’re applying for.
Try to talk very briefly about your career path, and highlight your relevant past experiences and skills. Emphasize your greatest strengths that match the job description, without talking about your entire life with irrelevant personal details.
You should try to give the answer in a positive light and enthusiastically so that the interviewer can get a sense of the growth mindset, and the value that you can provide to the team and the Microsoft organization in general.
No need to jump on why you’re perfect for Microsoft during this question, just try to hint at it. And remember that Microsoft highly values candidates who can articulate their experiences while aligning them with the company’s broader mission and core values.
Extra tip: Don’t memorize this answer word for word. It will seem rehearsed and disingenuous, especially if you use the words such as “goal-oriented”, “highly-motivated”, etc. These are just buzzwords no interviewer is interested in. Similarly, don’t just repeat the stuff that’s in your resume – you need to summarize what’s relevant and tie it to the job at hand.
2. Why Microsoft?
The trick to answering this question successfully is to think of both Microsoft as a company, and your own personal goals as well. In order to seem genuine, you need to look into how this move to Microsoft will benefit you personally and bring this out. Be realistic and think about how will you develop at Microsoft in 3 to 5 years.
Interestingly, a survey among successful Microsoft candidates revealed that those who took time to reflect on their genuine career moments had a higher success rate in the behavioral rounds. So having the future in mind, but also reflecting on your past is something that will help you out.
Show that this job matches your career goals in some way, but don’t say how Microsoft is a stepping stone. Interviewers are looking for those candidates who are going to continually grow and develop in their roles.
Extra tip: Do not seem desperate, by mentioning how you need this new job, money, or role. Remember, if they picked you for this interview, it means that you have something they want. Try to look at this as a two-way interview. They are interviewing you, but you should also interview them, so try to act cheerful and composed.
3. Tell me of a time when you had a conflict with someone at work.
This question is about how well you work in a group and how you handle disagreements. An interviewer is trying to figure out how you reacted and what have you learned from the conflict. To answer this fully, you need to include all the information the hiring manager is looking for, and keep it brief.
Think of an example in your previous experiences and use that story to tell. Be specific about what happened, and how it happened, but try to be succinct. As you explain how it happened, try to avoid anything that may make you seem difficult to work with. And in the end, you need to mention how you handled this and what you learned from the conflict. Practice the STAR method for this.
Extra tip: Do not say how you get along with everyone at work and how you never get into conflicts. This is not the correct answer, this is avoiding the answer. Everyone has conflicts, and they will inevitably occur at Microsoft as well. You need to show how you deal with them successfully.
In fact, some of the most impactful Microsoft projects were born out of initial disagreements, demonstrating the company’s belief in productive conflict resolution. For example, during the development of Windows 7, there was internal debate over its design and features. This stemmed from the less-than-favorable reception of its predecessor, Windows Vista. The team had diverse opinions on how to proceed, from maintaining certain elements of Vista to taking a radically different approach. Through a series of discussions, disagreements, and resolutions, they eventually landed on a design and feature set that was widely appreciated by users and became one of the most successful Windows versions.
4. Tell me of a time when you had to convince someone to change their mind.
There are two ways you can answer this question. One includes successfully convincing someone after disagreeing with them, and the other is where you failed to convince them. Both are equally good, what matters is how you handled it during the mind-changing, and afterward. This could either be a suggestion that someone was unwilling to take, or how you disagreed with a decision.
Both of these can work, depending on how you tell the story and how you dealt with it. If you successfully convinced someone, then you should mention how you used rational arguments (data, visualizations, talking to them, etc) to change their mind.
If you failed to convince anyone, that’s not necessarily bad. For example, if you failed to convince the company of one solution, and the company went with another solution, you should say how you accepted this and moved on to support the chosen solution. You did not take it personally and were still fully committed to this other decision than what you proposed.
5. Tell me of a time when you disagreed with your manager
You might want to mention how your first step (in your story) was to try to understand the disagreement. No matter how convinced you are of your own solution, the other person might be right. Taking a step back is a good way to look at the bigger perspective and to re-think or test your own idea.
You may want to mention how you would try to present your solution to them objectively, and take their feedback on it. Then you would check their own solution, and try to work on a way to come to an agreement that may incorporate both solutions.
Extra tip: The point here to make is that it’s about finding the common ground, instead of taking it personally, especially if both solutions can be used. Otherwise, it’s about sticking to your own idea if you’re 100% sure the other one is flawed, and convincing the manager to use what’s best for the team, without undermining the manager in any way.
Other behavioral questions you might get during a Microsoft interview:
“How do you handle making a mistake in your work?”
“Tell me of a time when you took a risk at work.”
“How do you take on learning a new role?”
“Tell me about your greatest success.”
“Tell me about your biggest failure.”
“Tell me about your most difficult project.”
“Tell me about a goal you achieved.”
There are a lot more of those in this Microsoft article on their behavioral interview questions, and there are those that an interviewer could make up on the spot. The only way to truly prepare is to know your strengths and weaknesses, and the requirements for the role you’re applying for.
How to Prepare for Microsoft Behavioral Interview
There are many ways to prepare for this interview, depending on your job role. Here are a few important tips to pass Microsoft Behavioral interview:
- Research the job you’re applying for. Look into what’s a perfect employee in that role, and draw your strengths to tie them into your answers.
- Try to understand the core values and Microsoft culture. While this may seem like a cliche suggestion, actually cultivating a mindset of a future Microsoft employee, and projecting your future into this company can be helpful in the way you respond to an interviewer.
- Study the job description in more detail so that you can repeat some of the key points about the requirements. Then, mention one of your experiences that uses these points.
- Learn your resume well. You need to be prepared for a question about anything written in your resume, and your answer should not be a simple repetition of what’s written there.
- Do not sound rehearsed or read a script. They can tell, and it’s off-putting. Instead, practice answering in a free-flowing conversational tone, by memorizing some important keywords about the job requirements, your strengths, skills, etc.
- Read some recent news on Microsoft, to try and plug it into one of your answers about the future of Microsoft, or one of their products if possible. This shows your eagerness and interest in joining the company.
- Try not to sound too confident in order NOT to seem desperate. Everyone wants you to be a good fit for the job. No need to overact. Sometimes, if you act too confident they may ask even more difficult questions.
To summarize, Microsoft’s behavioral interview is something everyone will get, regardless of their role. It may not be in the same format everywhere, as Microsoft is a huge company with many different parts, but you will at some point be checked for a behavioral fit.
Tapping into the psyche behind Microsoft’s behavioral interview questions can be a game-changer. Remember, they’re not just testing knowledge but seeking individuals who can be future visionaries in their respective domains.