Preparing for the Microsoft Interview

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
 Blog: Post-Graduate Active Directory Studies
 Blog: SQL Interview Q&A
 Blog: SharePoint Interview Questions

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