The Road to the Microsoft Interviews

September 1, 2006 at 4:44 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Personal | Comments Off on The Road to the Microsoft Interviews

I do not know when exactly I decided that I was interested in applying for Microsoft, but I remember my wife encouraging me to apply. I had heard that Microsoft was asking for CVs from people in Egypt and they were considering to come to conduct interviews through a couple of sources.

I sent my CV off to the indicated address and got an automated acknowledgement response. Then silence…

I am sometimes not very patient, so I started applying online at Microsoft to other openings. I searched all possible openings that I felt I was qualified for and that I found interesting and submitted my CV for these positions.

There was also some silence for a while, but then I finally got a response from a hiring manager that seemed interested. She was an SDET Lead for the Microsoft Speech Server group. I told her I was very interested and we scheduled a phone interview.

As this was my first ever phone interview it was a very nerve-wracking experience. Not to mention I was unsure of how exactly I would code over the phone. I also did a bit of preparing beforehand (studied algorithms, etc.) as I knew it would probably be a bit technical. When the time came, I sat in a quiet room in the house by myself and I made sure I had a pen and paper handy. When the phone call came, I was all set and it went well. I got the typical interview questions at the start, so it put me at ease and made it easier for me to go on, and then we got into some technical questions. I do not remember what they were as it was a long time ago but it was simple. One of the things that I had learnt from the excellent JobsBlog was to show my thought processes, and when designing an algorithm to show that I am taking into account everything (e.g. security, performance, bad data, globalization, etc.)

Also, while I was in an ‘looking for a new job’ mood, I decided to also apply to Amazon. I liked Washington as a state and decided if I get a new job, this is where I wanted to be. My first priority was going to Microsoft to be honest, but I was also interested in the things that go on at Amazon and I certainly would have been happy to also work for them.

They were very quick in their response (I got an Interview request almost the next day). I felt very unprepared and hurried, but I figured I could handle it. I scheduled a phone interview. It was also technical and very similar to the Microsoft one. I thought the technical questions were slightly tougher but I made it through. The guy seemed impressed and said I can expect a second interview (Amazon has a policy of two phone interviews and then one on-site). The 2nd phone interview I felt was a lot tougher. It was hard to read or get a positive response from the interviewer. There was also a question I struggled with, but I felt I got it at the end. He told me I should get a response from them in a couple of days with the results.

In all my phone interviews, apparently I had done well and they were all interested (both Microsoft, and Amazon) but since I was applying in approximately Oct-Nov 2005, there were no H-1B visas, so even if I was hired, they couldn’t bring me. They (both) informed me, that it was too early for an on-site interview due to this reason, and they could see about doing further interviews in 2006.

So my hopes were dashed for the time being, and still no news from the International Recruiting team that was supposed to be coming to Egypt…

I think this is a good place to stop, and I will continue in my next post the rest of the story.


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