There are some skills that transfer across a variety of jobs at Microsoft. These include both hard and soft skills that Microsoft especially likes, which can make your hiring process a lot easier. What are the main ones?
One of the primary skills is being thoughtful and able to communicate, having good technical skills, and having an inclination toward technology. Eagerness to learn is a must-have skill at Microsoft, as well as working in a team and taking in feedback, meaning that soft skills matter a lot.
For an IT field, technical skills are just a small part of the job, and they’re also easily trainable. Being able to mesh with the rest of the company, being supportive of your team, and having good communication skills are a bit more difficult to learn. Yet still very important.
It is highly recommended to use platforms such as LinkedIn to understand the different roles and the requirements that come with them. Learning from others in this way will make it clear to you what you need to do to get that job at Microsoft you so desire.
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What Qualities Make You a Good Fit for Microsoft?
Microsoft states that the primary qualities you need to possess to get hired there are a strong desire to learn, passion for technology, intelligence, good technical skills, and a willingness to grow and be the best. Not very specific, is it?
Successful candidates often demonstrate real-world application of these traits. For instance, a candidate who has shown a ‘strong desire to learn’ might have taken advanced courses outside of their primary field or even delved into self-study to master a new tech skill.
While these skills are highly regarded by Microsoft for any job role, these are too generic, so we need specifics. We’ve seen what qualifications can get you a job at Microsoft, but what is it that Microsoft is searching for these days in terms of skills?
Technical Skills Required for Microsoft Jobs
According to a study that analyzed job postings from Microsft, the most sought-after skills at Microsoft included these areas:
- Microsoft Azure
- Microsoft PowerShell
- Visual Studio
- Microsoft Sharepoint
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)
- Microsoft Excel
- Docker Software
- Solution Architecture
- Microsoft Windows
Granted, these are not all the skills available, as not all job postings were analyzed, but these are the biggest majority. What this list shows is that most job openings at Microsoft are looking for candidates with skills in the Azure cloud.
Which Skills Make You Stand Out in an Interview at Microsoft?
The most important skills for a Microsoft interview will depend on the job role you’re applying for. For a software developer, this means technical knowledge as well as soft skills. You’ll have several interviews for coding (usually algorithms, data structures, and leetcode problems), as well as behavioral interviews (questions about yourself and your experience).
During a coding interview, Microsoft will often ask more about the problems that show how you think, rather than to solve some trivial question from a book, and this is especially true for an internship position.
Many candidates have found success by preparing a ‘story bank’ – a collection of personal experiences that demonstrate problem-solving, collaboration, and initiative. Remember, Microsoft values how you think, so having these anecdotes at the ready can make a significant difference.
Therefore, next to practicing technical skills, you should practice the ability to share your thoughts and communicate as you’re solving problems. The coding interview is as much about getting a good solution as it is about the interviewer getting to understand how you think.
As far as behavioral questions go Microsoft explains on this page exactly what they ask, and how to answer these questions. My advice is to be yourself, not to overdress, and practice answering these questions before the interview.
How Do You Learn These Skills for Microsoft Interview?
Every Microsoft interview usually has a few interviews to test your technical skills, and a set of behavioral interviews as well to test your soft skills and your personality. You can practice and learn for both of these, though some of the skills required are only learned through years of experience.
If you’re applying for a coding interview, then some of the easiest ways to learn these skills are to practice at Leetcode. Many of these questions include some sort of leetcode-style questions, so you need to be really good at solving these. Additionally, you need to know data structures and algorithms well, as well as to explain your thought process.
While you’re solving them you should keep talking about how you’re approaching the problem, and how you’re solving it.
Here’s a great Coursera course on mastering the software engineering interview, and here are several ones on Data Structures and Algorithms. They’re all free and among the highest rated on Coursera. Practicing these will prepare you for the interview for these types of questions so you can successfully pass the coding interview.
What Does Microsoft Consider Important Skills for Working in Azure Cloud?
If you’re working in an Azure cloud environment, then according to Microsoft, the most important skills include:
- Networking (cabling and switches, cloud networking, virtual networks)
- Windows Server (deployment, configuration, storage management)
- Security (threat modeling, security in Azure, secure Windows Server)
- Identity (AD DS, Group Policy Objects, Identity Governance)
- Monitoring and troubleshooting
- Containers and Kubernetes
- and many tools and Languages: PowerShell, KQL, IaC, GitHub, Visual Studio Code, Windows Terminal, Power Automate
You can learn all of these at the Microsoft Education center, and the link I provided above has dozens of courses listed for every area of expertise. They call it skills that every IT pro needs to have, but only if you’re in the Azure environment, otherwise SQL and bash will be listed here as well, and at the top.
Which Soft Skills Are Essential for Microsoft?
When you’re looking for a job, most recruiters will usually prefer a fun, friendly, and supportive guy, over an unfriendly nerd. And many times, soft skills are more important for career growth than technical skills. This is why you can get an entry-level job at Microsoft without a degree.
The higher you are in the chain of command the more important soft skills become. With that in mind, we can list several soft skills that are usually required for almost any job at Microsoft: Communication, Teamwork, Problem-solving, Analytical thinking, Positive attitude, and Adaptability.
One strategy to hone these skills is to participate in team-based activities or leadership programs. Toastmasters, for example, is an excellent avenue for enhancing communication. Meanwhile, participating in projects with diverse groups can strengthen teamwork and adaptability.
Microsoft said that soft skills are high in demand these days. As we enter the new AI era where more or less everything will be augmented by AI, our creativity, teamwork, and empathy, will be more important than ever.
In reality, though, you have to practice active listening, ask questions, treat others with respect, and be diplomatic in dealings with others. If you don’t ask for clarifications you may run into big errors in your work. If you don’t ask customers what they wanted, you may have to do your work from the beginning.
Learning these means putting yourself out there, having fun social interactions, and working on your soft skills. This will propel you in your career, at any time and place.
Which Two Skills Will Be Important in the Future for Microsoft?
Some of the primary skills Microsoft suggests will be required in the future are the skill of analytical thinking and adaptability.
Analytical thinking skill makes it easy for you to take a large amount of data gathered by the AI and make sense of it. Analytical thinking skill means that you need to examine the information, analyze data, think critically, solve complex problems and make good decisions.
One of the easiest ways to improve your analytical skills is to simply read more. Your brain needs to be working constantly and remain alert, so reading is a good way to achieve this. Another (fun) way is to play mentally challenging games. Be aware, be observant, and pay attention. Meditation can help with that tremendously, and I’m not even exaggerating that.
The second soft skill Microsoft considers to be crucial is adaptability in the new age of AI. Since there will be constant and more often changes to job roles and technology, being able to adapt to your workplace and keep learning will be of high value. Even now this is highly rated. To keep up, you need to develop a growth mindset, which means resilience and the ability to change.
To demonstrate analytical thinking, candidates might consider discussing projects where they’ve dissected complex datasets or designed a workflow that improved efficiency. On the other hand, showcasing adaptability could involve sharing experiences where you’ve successfully navigated a team through a sudden change in project scope or strategy.
There’s a lot that could be said about improving oneself in the new age. Suffice it to say, if you just keep going and practice resiliency, it doesn’t matter if you never master any of these skills. Just put yourself out there, talk to people, make mistakes, read a lot and you’ll be fine.
Skills to Obtain for Microsoft Finance Job
The most important skills for a finance job at Microsoft include accounting, analytics, auditing, controller, and financial management skills.
Next to your typical finance skills, you may need some non-financial skills (soft skills) for a Microsoft job. These include relationship and communication skills, project management, marketing, and problem-solving skills, as well as proficiency in technology, such as your skills in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power BI, and PowerPoint.
These last two are needed to communicate your data and information, to present it to others so that others can understand it as well as you do. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Convincing your CTO to use some technology because you think it’s important can be an almost impossible task. Mastering these tools will make your life easier.
Speaking of Excel, the more shortcuts and functions you know, the better. More specifically, try to master the VBA, Pivot charts and pivot tables, VLOOKUPs & HLOOKUPS, nested if statements, graphs, and the ability to communicate this data when needed.
For those looking to impress in the finance department, consider showcasing proficiency in the latest financial software and tools. Keeping up with the evolving financial tech landscape and even earning certifications can set you apart. Moreover, soft skills like ‘dealing with ambiguity‘ can be highlighted by discussing instances where you’ve navigated financial projects with unclear outcomes or managed unexpected market shifts.
Looking at the Microsoft Finance Job openings, we can see that most finance jobs include these skills:
- financial modeling
- your typical accounting skills
- analytical skills
- financial analysis
- good communication skills
- Ability to deal with ambiguity
- Data science skills
You can take courses on Coursera to learn most of this stuff, such as financial modeling or working in Excel. All of these courses are FREE, all you need is to enroll. You can also pick and choose the highest-rated ones, with thousands of people rating and recommending them.
Landing a job at Microsoft is about a blend of the right technical proficiency, a mindset for growth, and the ability to connect and collaborate. By focusing not only on the hard skills but also on personal experiences that showcase adaptability, analytical thinking, and a keen sense of teamwork, you position yourself as an ideal candidate for the tech giant. Remember, Microsoft isn’t just hiring a set of skills; they’re hiring a person who will add value and grow with the company