Microsoft Interview Questions (And How To Answer)

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 15, 2020
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Microsoft is a name everybody knows. Working at the technology mogul of Microsoft is a career dream for many people. It’s an esteemed company that attracts the brightest and best applicants in specialties from marketing to software engineering.

Being considered for a position at Microsoft is an accomplishment in itself, but you haven’t landed the position yet. The chances of making it past this part of the application process will depend on how well you can answer the interview questions.

Why Work at Microsoft

There are many reasons people find a career with Microsoft tempting beyond it being a well-known tech corporation. They present an impressive and attractive company culture that focuses on work-life balance through offers like a robust benefits package and high salary.

Examples Of Reasons Why People Want To Work At Microsoft Include:

While some companies may offer their employees some of the same perks, Microsoft provides a comprehensive series of benefits and salaries to support their team members.

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

In addition to the contractual benefits you’ll receive from being a Microsoft employee, it also makes your resume look very impressive to any future employer.

Top 10 Microsoft Interview Questions (With Examples)

Prepping for an interview with Microsoft is intimidating, but understanding the questions they’ll probably ask can ease your worries and make you more prepared. An interview is your chance to stand out. While the questions you’re fielded will differ depending on the role you’re applying for, there are some that they generally use to figure out if a candidate is the right fit for Microsoft.

Review the list below of the top 10 questions asked during a Microsoft interview with examples of how to answer them.

  1. Why Do You Want To Work For Microsoft?

    This question is utilized in interviews across many fields because it demonstrates the candidate’s passion for the role and their knowledge of the company. This is a question that almost all applicants are asked during their interview with Microsoft because they want to understand what draws you to them versus their competition.

    How To Answer: This question implores you to tell a story about why you’re the perfect fit for the position and company. Be specific about the values of Microsoft that you feel you demonstrate. Show your familiarity with the company, role, and what drew you to apply in the first place.

    Having clear reasons why you want to work for Microsoft paints you as a self-assured and passionate applicant.

    Example

    “I’ve always loved being part of a team, ever since I played youth sports. I’m attracted to how Microsoft fosters teamwork and collaboration
    to develop the best products on the market. I want to work with Microsoft to be a part of this team effort.”

  2. Tell Me About Your Accomplishments?

    An influential tech company like Microsoft is seeking top-notch candidates with the most impressive accomplishments and qualifications. It’s likely a hiring manager will ask you to detail what your professional accomplishments are and how you achieved them.

    How To Answer: Be humble but confident when answering this question. The goal is to come across as an accomplished candidate without sounding braggy. Use your answer to highlight your strengths.

    Example

    “My greatest accomplishment happened while working as an application developer with a company called Flix. After three years with them, I was offered the opportunity to lead a project developing a fitness app. We worked on the project for two years before it ended up being one of the top five most successful, in terms of revenue and growth, that Flix had ever seen. This was an incredible accomplishment for me, not only because of the app’s success but also because it was my first opportunity to lead a team.”

  3. Tell Me About A Time You Tried Something, But Failed

    An interview isn’t all about basking in the warm glow of your accomplishments. A hiring manager is on the lookout for how you’ll handle a discussion about your mistakes and failures.

    How To Answer: An interviewer is looking for honesty and description in answering this question. Even though it’s a conversation that involves your shortcomings, try to bring it back around to how this failure improved your overall performance or helped you grow in the long run. You can be honest and descriptive while still answering strategically.

    Example

    “After I graduated from college, my two close friends and I decided to try and build an app. The idea was for a fashion suggestion software, and it was a good one. We thought the opportunity would just grow by itself and were lazy about it. It failed within the year, but the experience gave me valuable insight into what it means to be successful and how to get there.”

  4. Do You Use Microsoft Products? If So, Which Ones?

    Since Microsoft is internationally recognized, it presents a unique interview situation in which you have probably used their products before. Interviewers use this question to figure out how familiar you are with their services. While it isn’t necessary to own Microsoft products exclusively to be hired, having one that you enjoy using in mind can be helpful during an interview.

    How To Answer: Whether you have been a decade-long user of Microsoft or hardly use their products, you can likely find at least one example of a service they offer that’s helpful to you. Remember that the interview is still about you. Choose an example that gives you the chance to detail your skills.

    Example

    “Yes, I use Microsoft products. One of my favorite Microsoft products is OneDrive. As a prior freelancer in software development, I needed business organization. It allows me to easily collaborate with contract employers, improve my productivity, and create the best work possible. I wouldn’t use any other software to handle freelance team projects.”

  5. What’s A Unique Quality You Have?

    An interview is used to gather more information about who you are beyond your resume’s experience and skills. They may ask you a variation of “what are your unique qualities?” to create a more well-rounded candidate profile for consideration.

    How To Answer: Do some introspection about what makes you a unique candidate. You want to focus on a quality that’s more of a soft skill than a hard skill because they’re looking for character representations. Use a quality that will be particularly helpful to the role you’re applying for.

    Example

    “Growing up with four siblings, I quickly learned that communication is key to coexisting peacefully and productively. I believe strong communication skills have made me a more effective team player and employee.”

  6. What Does “XP” Stand For In Windows XP?

    While you may not receive this exact question, the recruiter will likely ask you questions about Microsoft and their products to test your background knowledge in these areas. Having some baseline information about Microsoft’s history, products, and knowledge needed for the particular role will help during an interview.

    How To Answer: For this question, the answer would be that it stands for the “XP” in the word eXPerience. This analogy was chosen because it was an operating system meant to usher in a new user experience. However, do some research into other questions that an interviewer may ask you about Microsoft’s business and product history.

    Example

    “The “XP” in Windows XP is taken from the word “experience.” It was an operating system introduced in 2001 to bring about a revolutionized user experience.”

  7. How Do You Keep Your Skills Relevant And Current?

    A lot of the competitive positions at Microsoft involve technology. This field changes a lot, and people working in it need to adjust to this. The interviewer will ask about your efforts to maintain the relevance of your skills.

    How To Answer: Recruiters are looking for answers that demonstrate a candidate who takes initiative towards keeping themselves informed. An innovative company like Microsoft needs self-starters like these. You should illustrate your system for learning current techniques in your industry and why you believe it works.

    Example

    “As a software developer, I think it’s imperative to stay up-to-date with the latest news and resources available in the industry. To keep my skills current, I enroll myself in an online course relevant to enhancing my skills and position every six months. I like to use these courses to keep myself sharp and competitive.”

  8. Give Me An Example Of A Time You Dealt With Conflict At Work.

    Even at an impressive company like Microsoft, there’s some conflict that goes on behind the scenes. One of the reasons why Microsoft is a successful corporation is that they turn conflicts into improvements. A Microsoft interviewer asks this question to see how you’ll handle discussing a difficult topic like conflict and understand your conflict management skills more.

    How To Answer: The key to answering this interview question is honesty. The interviewer wants to hear about a real conflict you’ve experienced and how you dealt with it. With that being said, you have a choice of which conflict to discuss further. Choose one that paints you in a favorable light and eventually ends in a positive resolution.

    Example

    “In my last position, I was working with a supervisor who tended to micro-manage the team. While I thrive in a collaborative environment, I produce my best work when given the freedom to do so. It was beginning to become an ongoing issue, so I decided to discuss it with my supervisor.

    It was intimidating to speak to a manager about the behavior I wasn’t happy with, but I went in prepared with what I wanted to say. To my surprise, the meeting went great, and my relationship with my boss greatly benefited from being open to communication.”

  9. Describe A Long-Term Project You Managed.

    If you’re interviewing for a leadership role with Microsoft, you should be expecting some questions about your experience managing a team. This question is fairly straightforward and aims for more information about your management style, past work experience, and self-awareness.

    How To Answer: Many candidates will go off on a tangent when describing long projects that they managed. The experience may have had an incredible impact on your career, but you need to find a way to explain this in the most succinct way possible. Narrow down the project strengths and your leadership details to the most critical information.

    Example

    “During my last position, I was initially hired as an associate and worked my way up to managing marketing projects for the company. One of the projects I’m proudest of was for an upcoming ethically conscious clothing brand. I was appointed to lead a team of fifteen to develop a marketing strategy.

    Over three years, we worked with the clothing to establish a wildly successful brand that saw profits in the millions. I think what made the project so successful was the open communication on our marketing team. I bring that mindset of collaboration with my team to every project I work on.”

  10. What Is The Best Idea You’ve Had In The Past Year?

    Microsoft is an innovative company, and it seeks this quality in its employees. By asking potential hires what the best idea they’ve had in the past year has been, it shows them whether a candidate demonstrates this creativity that’s crucial to their values.

    How To Answer: This question leaves a lot of applicants stumped if they haven’t prepared for it. They focus too much on presenting a great idea on the spot than having an impressive interview answer. Make sure the idea that you describe is relevant to your professional life, and preferably, was something that was implemented in a former position.

    Example

    “My best idea this year was offering the marketing team I managed in my former position extended schedule flexibility benefits to improve motivation and productivity. Specifically, I allowed them to work from home for two days every week. My theory was that employees with a comfortably flexible schedule would produce better work. I consider it my best idea of the year because it was the most successful one.

    The profit analytics of the company my team was managing improved by 1.2%, and they were happier at work overall. After seeing the positive impact that extending benefits had, the company ended up providing this to all their employees.”

15 Other Microsoft Interview Questions

  1. What motivates you as an employee?

  2. Why do you want to join Microsoft instead of Google?

  3. What is an Internet Information Server (IIS)?

  4. Tell me about a challenge you’ve had with a client and how you handled it.

  5. What is the Component Object Model (COM)?

  6. Can you show me an example of a website that’s designed well?

  7. What is your favorite piece of technology? Why is it your favorite?

  8. What is a stack in computing?

  9. Is there anything else I should know about you?

  10. Tell me about a time you recovered from a difficult situation and how you did it.

  11. How would you describe cloud computing?

  12. How do you build and maintain a positive rapport with your co-workers?

  13. What Is Advanced Power Management (APM)?

  14. Give me some examples of poorly designed software and how you would improve it.

  15. How many times in 24 hours do the hands on a clock overlap?

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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