Microsoft: all you wanted to know about the pre-employment process, tests and interviews
Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft, Inc, Microsoft) is a transnational IT corporation with leading status in computer software development, licensing and sales. It was the first IT company to make software products that gained worldwide success. As of early 2020 about 86% of all personal and business computers worldwide use Microsoft software.
How to get a job at Microsoft
Just like the rest of other large technology companies, Microsoft is in a constant battle for talent. And the competition for the best candidates in the IT is fierce. Not only Microsoft looks for them but also Oracle, Netflix, Samsung, Apple and many other IT corporations.
Chuck Edward, head of recruitment at Microsoft, told in 2019 that every year Microsoft employs between 16,000 and 25,000 people in the United States alone, and about the same amount in the rest of the world.
“Sometimes the term “war for talents” may sound like a cliche, but in our IT world it’s really tough,” Edward says. “We are constantly talking about digital transformation. As all employee data is converted to digital form, the demand for people who can support and maintain this system will continue to grow rapidly.”
As of June 2020, about 135,000 people worldwide work in Microsoft. The company reports that Microsoft HR employees receive 1,3 million of applications annually and conduct a survey of about 1,500 candidates every working day.
Despite these gigantic numbers, Edward says that part of Microsoft’s successful recruitment strategy is to constantly increase the number of candidates. Microsoft is one of the companies that no longer select candidates without higher education. However, the company HR agents agree to screen applicants who may have the skills necessary to succeed, even without a diploma.
So, if you want to work at Microsoft, feel free to submit your resume. Although this does not mean that you can get a job easily and quickly. You still have to compete with millions of other applicants.
Microsoft pre-employment selection stages
The company has a long and complicated pre-employment selection process. Usually it takes 2-3 months to get employed in Microsoft but sometimes it may take as long as 6-7 months. So, the pre-employment selection stages in Microsoft are:
- Application form
- Online psychometric tests
- Interactive video interview (1-2)
- Skype or personal interview
- Technical Interview (for programmers only)
- Assessment center+final interview
First, candidates must apply for a Microsoft job on the official Microsoft careers website. After creating a profile and determining the vacancy, they must create a job alert, and then view the status of their applications.
Recruiters review each application and notify those applicants who get their attention. Information about other candidates will be saved, and they will be notified if they can apply for another position.
Candidates who have passed the resume selection stage will get an invitation to take online psychometric aptitude tests. In order to move further, you must pass the aptitude tests successfully.
Third, candidates are interviewed by a recruiter or hiring manager. The first interview usually happens by phone or Skype. At this stage, Microsoft HR agents seek to verify your qualifications and test you for “motivation to learn new things, high intelligence, a passion for technology and an entrepreneurial spirit”.
The final step is a series of personal interviews that can include three to six meetings in person or via Skype/Zoom. Depending on the position, candidates will need to code, share their creative portfolio, or give examples of their job projects in other ways. These pre-employment exercises can take the form of standard interviews, as well as the form of assessments for a group of applicants.
LinkedIn professional Profile
One of the features that Microsoft and other leading companies in the IT sector highlight is the widespread use of professional social media to search and select the best candidates. We wrote about this earlier in the article Your Social Networks through the Eyes of the Employer – 5 Tips from Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com
In 2016, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26 billion and today LinkedIn is the primary source for Microsoft HR agents to look for profiles of all specialists in order to find new potential employees.
“We use LinkedIn every day, 24 hours a day, to find good candidates and connect with them,” says Edward. “We study people’s profiles, so all the detail of their LinkedIn profiles is of great importance.”
Microsoft uses both the hands and brains of recruiters and machine intelligence (Artificial Intellect) to find worthy candidates. The system that tracks applications is ATS (Applicants tracking system) and it makes the primary screening of applications.
To be noticed on LinkedIn and at resume selection stage, you must make sure that your profile characteristics include skills requested by recruiters and the ATS. Check the job ad for keywords and skills and make sure that you have them in your profile. This is very important because if you do not have the skills required by the job ad, your resume will not appear in the Microsoft applications database and the company HR agents will never even see it.
Read more about the tips of making a good resume, cover letter and ATS check in our special article How to look for a job on the Internet the right way
Microsoft psychometric aptitude tests
Microsoft uses the following tests to assess the intellectual and technical abilities of candidates:
- Numerical reasoning tests
- Verbal reasoning tests
- Abstract reasoning tests
- Situational judgement tests and personality questionnaires
- Technical aptitude tests (tests for knowledge of programming languages)
The company uses major assessment companies, most often CEB SHL, as the provider for psychometric aptitude tests.
Microsoft numerical reasoning test
Microsoft numerical reasoning test from CEB SHL (SHL psychometric tests) usually has 15-20 questions with a total time limit of 15-20 minutes. All questions have data presented in complex tables, charts or diagrams with a lot of distracting information, and 4-5 answer options. In SHL numerical reasoning tests you may switch between questions, skip and return to different question within the total time limit. Each question is not time-limited but you have to answer as many questions as you can within the total 15-20 minutes. Please see below an example of a numerical reasoning test in Microsoft.
You will find the correct answer and explanation of this numerical reasoning test at the end of the article. We recommend you trying to find the correct answer by yourself to test your numerical aptitude. You will have just 1 minute for this at the real test in Microsoft. See more examples of numerical reasoning tests in our article Numerical Reasoning Tests: what they are, examples, solutions and tips to pass them
Microsoft verbal reasoning test
Verbal reasoning test is the second mandatory aptitude test for candidates for all Microsoft jobs. The Microsoft verbal reasoning test usually consists of 40 questions that need to be answered within total time limit of 20 minutes. That is, each question time limit is just 30 seconds. These tests represent a series of paragraphs that you need to read carefully and assess if the question statement is true, false, or you cannot determine this from the text. Usually verbal reasoning tests of this type “true-false-cannot say” are not very complex. But if you have never seen them before you may find them a serious threat since they are not that easy. Please see below an example of a verbal reasoning test from CEB SHL for Microsoft.
The correct answer and explanation of this verbal reasoning test is at the end of the article. Before you look for the correct answer, try to find it yourself. Is 30 seconds enough for you to do this?
Read more about verbal reasoning tests and see numerous examples in our article Verbal reasoning tests: what are they and how to pass them
Microsoft diagrammatic reasoning tests
Microsoft diagrammatic reasoning tests (also often called abstract reasoning tests) assess your ability to find common patterns for different abstract forms and sequences. We find diagrammatic reasoning tests the most complex, yet most interesting part of the psychometric aptitude tests in Microsoft. There can be dozens of forms for this type of aptitude tests and it is hard to prepare for all them. Yet, you can practice the types available on Aptitude-Tests-Practice.com to learn the ways to quickly recognize standard principles of diagrammatic reasoning tests.
Please see below an example of a diagrammatic reasoning test for Microsoft from CEB SHL.
You will have just 60 seconds to find the correct answer for this test at the real testing. Check yourself before looking for the answer and explanation at the end of the article. Read more about diagrammatic/abstract reasoning tests in our article Abstract reasoning tests: all you want to know about them
Microsoft situational judgement tests and personality questionnaire
Besides aptitude tests Microsoft HR agents widely use tests and questionnaires to predict your possible behavior as an employees and check if your working style corresponds to company’s culture and policies.
Personality questionnaire is not really a test but a simple series of questions checking your personal preferences at job, communicating with other people and working on different projects. It usually consists of 100-120 questions with 4 statements and Yes/No or Most/Least answer options. You can see an example of a Microsoft SHL personality questionnaire below.
There is no real need to practice personality questionnaire beforehand. We recommend giving honest answers without thinking too much about all possible variations. Microsoft HR agents needs PQs just to avoid mistakes when placing you in the work team to make the best of your abilities and personal preferences.
But what you need to practice in advance are situational judgement tests. These are tests that employers use to predict your behavior in real working situations. In Microsoft they use SJTs to assess your communication skills, problem-solving skills, organization and planning skills and many others. Below you can see an example of a situational judgement test for mid-level managers in Microsoft.
Situational judgement tests usually come without time limit, so you can take your time reading all answer options. However, we recommend take 2-3 minutes for this.
Read more about situational judgement tests in our special articles
Microsoft assessment center
Candidates who score high on Microsoft psychometric aptitude tests get invitations to the Microsoft Assessment Center. Usually it includes two sections for 2-3 hours each:
- Group exercises. These can take various forms, but the main thing for you is to remember that you will be evaluated in terms of your work in the group and what contribution you can make to the work of your team. It is important to maintain the right balance when you express your own opinion and listen to the opinions of others.
- Individual presentation of Microsoft case study. You will have an hour to prepare a presentation to address a specific case study. Then you will need to answer questions, demonstrate your knowledge about the company and show how you deal with work in stressful conditions.
Assessment center is a popular pre-employment procedure in Microsoft for applicants willing to get a job in sales, marketing, HR, product development and management on all level in this company. Programmers, software developers and other IT people usually do not have assessment during their pre-employment process. But what they have is a series of technical interviews where they are to code, work on software logic tasks and answer numerous software programming questions.
Microsoft job interview
“Getting nervous is normal,” Edward says. “People are trying too hard to control their emotions.” This is one of the reasons why he gives some atypical advice: do not overdo your preparatory work.
“When people get overly prepared and want to look right, they can have problems,” he says. “Some people, he says, are starting to behave like robots with their pre-planned answers to questions, and can easily be baffled by non-standard questions.”
According to him, the best thing you can do to get a good job at Microsoft is to give honest arguments, that is, to be able to clearly explain the skills that you possess, give examples of what you learned and how you grew up in your roles, as well as show evidence of how you worked with your team member, managers and clients.
“Be curious and do a little preparatory work, especially about aptitude tests and assessment center, but when you come for a job interview, you should be prepared to have an honest dialogue and ask appropriate competent questions,” says Edward.
Ask thoughtful questions and be ready to show your previous work projects, this is important. Read more about successful job interview tips in our special articles:
Please note that if you are applying for a programmer or IT job at Microsoft, then the main part of the interview process for you will be a technical interview that includes testing of your programming skills and general knowledge on programming.
If you want to get a job in Microsoft we recommend you preparing for all stages of the pre-employment process: resume and cover letter, aptitude tests, assessment center and interviews. After a thorough practice and preparation you will get the job that you want.
Tests answers and explanation
Numerical reasoning test
Verbal reasoning test
Diagrammatic reasoning test
Situational judgement test