Microsoft Hiring Process: From Start to Offer Letter

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While Microsoft’s recruitment process has clear steps everyone needs to go through, you can increase your success rate by knowing these steps in more detail, and by preparing for each one.

Getting a job at Microsoft may seem difficult, but you can influence every single step here, so be sure to dive deep into the particulars.

What Is the Hiring Process for Microsoft?

Microsoft hiring process timeline for a technical role includes these steps:

  • Applying online
  • Online Assessment Test or Phone Screen
  • Behavioral interview round (virtual)
  • 2-3 rounds of technical interview (virtual)
  • Final AA interview
  • Getting an offer (negotiating)
  • Post-interview background check

Applying at Microsoft online is a necessary step, but you can choose how you want to approach this. You can leave your resume as it is, or you can optimize your resume to maximize your chances of getting called for an interview.

Tailoring your resume to highlight project experiences that align with Microsoft’s mission and values can catch the recruiter’s attention more effectively.

The assessment test can be either online on the Codility platform, or a phone call screening interview. If it’s through Codility, then you’ll get about 2 to 3 coding problems, and 30 minutes to solve each one. The problems won’t be very difficult, and you can check out my article on the Microsoft phone interview structure.

Given the time constraint on Codility, practicing pacing strategies and building a mental checklist for solving problems can make a big difference.

The main part is the Microsoft virtual interview, which includes behavioral and technical questions. Depending on your job role, there are many ways you can practice for this interview. For a technical interview, it usually means practicing as many leetcode problems as possible, especially those that keep appearing the most. While practicing leetcode problems, focus on explaining your thought process clearly. This showcases not just your coding ability, but your communication and problem-solving approach, something Microsoft interviewers deeply appreciate.

The behavioral round is pretty straightforward, in which you’ll be asked various personal questions about why you want to join Microsoft, as well as questions about your potential, and your past experiences. Here are some of the top Microsoft behavioral questions, with tips on how to prepare for this type of interview.

The final is the AA Interview, where you’ll meet with the Microsoft executive to answer a few more questions, or you might get an offer. During the interview you’ll get asked some additional questions, either behavioral or technical, just to fill the gaps of what was skipped since your first interview.

How Long Is the Microsoft Hiring Process?

The hiring process at Microsoft is usually four to six weeks long, and this includes the entire process, from applying online to receiving a job offer. If you have an online assessment test, that’s a few days up to several weeks before your interviews. Then come a few weeks of interviews, and about a week more until you’re hired.

The length mostly depends on when your application gets processed, which can take up to 90 days. The shortest amount of time until you’re hired is about two weeks, and the longest can be up to 4 months. By all means, do not wait these 4 months without applying elsewhere, unless you specifically want only Microsoft.

Microsoft Application and Before the Interviews

All applications go through the Microsoft database, so your first step is to decide how you want to apply, and what to pay attention to. A lot of people go through a recruiter, but if possible, try to get someone to refer you. Here’s what to expect when applying.

Whichever method you choose to apply, try to improve your resume by optimizing it for the job role you’re applying for. 

This means making your resume relevant for the job role. Skills need to reflect your capability for the particular role and your experiences need to mention your achievements relevant to the role you’re applying for. Whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments for the biggest impact.

Microsoft Interview Process

The typical interview process at Microsoft for a technical position includes the following steps:

  • Assessment test (online Codility test, or phone call)
  • Behavioral virtual interview
  • 2-4 rounds of onsite virtual interview
  • Final “As Appropriate” (AA) Interview

How many rounds of Microsoft interviews are there?

For a typical position, you’ll have one round of behavioral questions, and about 2 to 3 rounds of technical questions relating to your job position. So we’re looking at about 3 to 4 rounds of interviews, and if you have to pass the phone screening before the actual interview, that’s 4 to 5 rounds in total.

For a software engineering position, you’re looking at one round of behavioral questions, and two to three rounds of coding problems to solve.

How long is the Microsoft interview process?

The interview process at Microsoft typically lasts for two to four weeks, rarely lasting up to two months. Usually, you’ll have about 3 to 4 onsite virtual interviews, each lasting about an hour with 45 minutes for the answer and about 15 minutes of break.

After each of the 45-minute interviews, you’ll get a “hire” or “no hire” grade from each interviewer. If you’ve done well, you may be extended an offer, otherwise, you might get a fifth interview and additional 45 minutes. Usually, the time to wait between these interviews is a few days, but it can span over weeks, depending on the speed, ability, and time constraints of the HR team. 

Immediately after each interview, jot down key points discussed; this not only helps in future rounds to avoid redundancy but is also great for reflecting and learning from each interaction.

You’ll be interviewing virtually through the Teams app, so make sure to prepare and set it up beforehand. There are lots of things you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable and help yourself crack this interview.

How difficult is the Microsoft interview process?

Microsoft interview process is known to be more difficult than average, not just for a big company in general, but also for a big tech company. Based on a study, about half of the applicants that go through the Microsoft interview process consider it harder than average compared to other FAANG companies.

With that comparison in mind, Microsoft is only behind Google in the interview difficulty, but it doesn’t mean it has to be difficult for everyone. You can do a lot to influence your chances, from making contacts to preparing for the interview questions to practicing to be comfortable for the virtual interview itself.

Most common Microsoft interview questions

Depending on your role, there are usually two main types of questions: behavioral and technical.

The most common Microsoft behavioral questions are: 

  1. Tell me about yourself (not really a question)
  2. Why do you want to join Microsoft?
  3. Tell me of a time when you had to handle a conflict/disagreement
  4. Tell me of a time when you had to convince someone to change their mind
  5. How do you handle making a mistake at work?

You can read more about these in the article Top Microsoft Behavioral Interview Questions, with even more examples and tips on how to prepare.

As far as Microsoft technical questions, many keep coming more often than others, which you can prepare for. One thing is certain – most technical questions are from LeetCode. Based on the input from thousands of applicants, the most common Microsoft technical interview questions from LeetCode include:

  1. Number of Islands: Given an m x n 2D binary grid grid which represents a map of '1's (land) and '0's (water), return the number of islands.
  2. LRU Cache: Design a data structure that follows the constraints of a Least Recently Used (LRU) cache.
  3. Longest Substring Without Repeating Characters: Given a string s, find the length of the longest substring without repeating characters.
  4. Group Anagrams: Given an array of strings strs, group the anagrams together. You can return the answer in any order.
  5. Letter Combinations of a Phone Number. Given a string containing digits from 2-9 inclusive, return all possible letter combinations that the number could represent. Return the answer in any order. (You’ll get a mapping of digits to letters just like on the telephone buttons.)

Granted, these are not all the questions you’ll get, but practicing from LeetCode and being able to solve these problems quickly will put you ahead of others. Here are some more of the most common Microsoft LeetCode problems.

For positions like software engineering, familiarize yourself with the development methodologies Microsoft adopts, such as Agile or Scrum, as real-world scenarios related to these could come up.

How long to hear back after Microsoft interviews?

You should hear back within a week after each phase of the interview process for a full-time role, while interns may get contacted sooner. The time to hear back will depend on several factors, primarily the ability of the HR team, the urgency to fill the role, their interest in you, and the number of applicants.

Your hiring manager should always inform you when to expect to hear from them, and if that time has elapsed, you should contact them to see if there’s anything new.

What is the acceptance rate for the Microsoft final round?

Assuming you did well on the final interview, based on the statistics from Zippia and a few other sources, the acceptance rate after the Microsoft final round is about 50% for internships and about 25% for full-time jobs. Keep in mind, this is still just a rough estimate.

These percentages are still dependent on a lot of factors, some of which we have no control off, such as budget cuts, recruiter change, people getting sick, etc.

However, other things you do have control over and you can affect them to improve your chances, such as preparing for the behavioral or technical interview questions, and learning what not to do during your interview.

Job Offer and Pre-employment Screening

After the interview process, the interviewer will usually tell you when to expect to hear from them.  During this period, they might need time to get an OK to extend you an offer, or the background check may have started, or anything else that may shorten or prolong this part of the Microsoft hiring process.

When they give you a timeline, mark it in your calendar with a reminder. This helps you maintain professionalism by avoiding unnecessary follow-ups and also ensures you don’t let the opportunity slip through any gaps.

What you should keep in mind during this period is to keep in touch with the hiring manager. They will let you know if there’s anything else needed, and you’ll be looking at a few weeks more before the entire hiring process is completed. Even more so if you decide to negotiate the offer.

While waiting, continue brushing up on relevant skills or Microsoft product knowledge. It will not only keep you engaged but also give you an edge in your new role from day one.

How long to get an offer after the final Microsoft Interview?

Once you’ve made it to the end of the final interview, you may be informed that they’ll be making an offer or that you’ll hear from them. If the Microsoft HR team decides to make you an offer, then you should get one within 1-2 weeks at most for a full-time position, or under a week for an internship.

Prepare a list of pertinent questions about the role, team, or project specifics to discuss during the offer call. It reflects your keen interest and commitment to the position.

If you haven’t heard from them in two weeks, then it’s a good idea to follow up with a hiring manager to see how long until they’ll know anything. Just because you haven’t gotten an offer, doesn’t mean they changed their mind, because lots of things can prolong this period.

Craft a concise and polite follow-up email. Keep it short: state your appreciation for the opportunity, mention the specific role you interviewed for, and inquire about the timeline or any further steps.

How does Microsoft extend an offer? (call or email)

Microsoft hiring managers will typically call and make you an offer with very little preparation and setting up beforehand, and then they’ll email you an offer afterward.

Ensure you’ve set up a quiet environment to take the call, preferably where you can jot down crucial points discussed. Having a notebook on hand can be instrumental in noting down details, benefits, or any concerns you might wish to address later.

This isn’t the rule and will depend on HR. Since there are many different parts of Microsoft and many different HR teams within it, there is no rule about how HR extends an offer. They might call with an offer and then send you an email, or they might do it the other way around, but a lot of people have reported that the call is the first you’ll get.

What does Microsoft’s background check include?

After a conditional offer for employment has been made, Microsoft will start a background check on you, and any other potential applicant, whether it’s for an internship or a full-time position.

Microsoft pre-employment screening check consists of:

  • SSN check (for the US) or confirmation of identity (for outside of the US)
  • criminal history check (past 7 years)
  • education verification (highest academic achievement)
  • employment history verification (past 5 years)
  • Global sanctions and enforcement check

There’s an additional Microsoft cloud background check for candidates hired to provide Microsoft online services in the United States. This verification includes some of the steps mentioned above, such as the SSN trace, criminal history, and Global sanctions and enforcement check, as well as additional background checks if working with access to the environments that run the US Government Services.

Whatever the case, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations on the job, and make sure to keep reading for more insights on the biggest tech companies out there. Good luck!

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Alex is the founder of GoTechCareer, a platform dedicated to empowering job seekers with valuable insights and advice for navigating the tech industry. With years of experience transitioning between tech roles, Alex shares in-depth knowledge and personal learnings aimed at helping others secure their ideal position in the tech sector.