Occasionally I am asked what it takes for someone to become 'ready' for an interview with Microsoft. When it comes to a technical position, I often give the same advise. So I thought that I would share that advise with the world. The following are my personal recommendations for preparing for the interview process:
NOTE: These recommendations can be applied across a wide range of technologies/products
1. Understand the position
- Search for the position on the Careers website and read the description.
- If you can, talk with others who work in or with that position and find out the day-to-day tasks and what they did to prepare for their interview.
- Try to understand what is expected of the position and prepare a few questions that you can ask during the interview process.
2. Assuming that this is a technical position, there is a list of things that you should know with the technology/product, no matter what the technology/product is. Thing that include:
- Know how to deploy and configure the technology.
- Know the dependencies required to deploy the technology. Be familiar with how to deploy those dependencies if asked.
- Be comfortable with performing a disaster recovery of the technology and associated data.
- Know how to troubleshoot and isolate a problems that may happen within the product.
- Know how to validate whether or not the dependencies are working properly. How would you go about confirming if they are working properly?
- Find and review the technology/product's team blogs. At a minimum, know the topics that are discussed and how to access the site.
- Identify the top tools that can help you administrate or troubleshoot the technology/product. Become comfortable talking about their purpose and when to use each.
- Know what steps to take if the performance of the technology/product is not up to par.
- Know the difference between Site resiliency, High availability, and Redundancy and how you would deploy each within your technology/product.
- Know several differences between product versions. Be prepared to answer the question of "why should I upgrade?".
3. Here are some not-so-technical considerations:
- Be familiar with some best practices when deploying the product. Either the specific best practices themselves or where you would go to locate those best practices.
- What lessons have you learned when operating the product and what would you differently? Does that align with the industry's best practices?
- Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Know where to locate information for when you are asked a question that you cannot answer.
- Know your resources. This includes websites, papers, books, blogs, tools, and people.
- Be confident in your skills and answers.
- Take and use feedback to improve yourself.
How will I know if I am ready for the interview? One common answer that I give is that if you can answer the questions that are posted on forums, then you are probably ready for the next step.
What path should I take to improve my IT skills? Everyone takes a different path. But what you should focus on is improving everyday, such as learning something new as well as improving upon how you do something now.
Where should I start? The product's TechNet Library and team blogs are good places to start. Most products will allow you to download and install a trial version of the software. Setup a virtual lab and 'play' with the software.
Must I have Microsoft Certifications to interview? No, but it can help you communicate your thoughts better by knowing the terminology and baseline product.
Microsoft Careers Website
Blog: How Not to Interview
Blog: How to Interview like a pro
Blog: Interview Advice Part 2
Blog: Myths about Working at Microsoft
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Blog: SQL Interview Q&A
Blog: SharePoint Interview Questions