Preparing for the Microsoft Onsite Interview

October 18, 2006 at 4:35 am | Posted in Microsoft | 12 Comments

First of all, I want to mention again that Microsoft is coming to Egypt in December to recruit for the PM/SDE/SDET positions. I have already referred some people that I know personally, and I wish them good luck.

So, since a recruiting round is coming in December, and some people are interested in knowing the best way to prepare for a Microsoft interview, I will basically mention things that helped me.

The first thing though, has nothing to do with preparing or studying. It is about you as a person. You need to be passionate about technology. You need to forget a bit about being interested in getting a job at Microsoft, and instead be interested in working with cool people and cool technology.

Some of the things that I began to do when I found I would be interviewing with Microsoft is read some books. There are some great books out there, and in general I felt they were great assets to my career, regardless of whether they helped me join Microsoft or not. So you should read these anyway. They will help you get an idea and mentality of what good development practices are. So here they are:

This is just the books that I read which I felt helped me (not just for the interview, but for the rest of my career). There are some other recommendations that you can find at the JobsBlog. To make things easy for you see the following links:

Another book that I would also recommend is How Would You Move Mount Fuji. They asked puzzle questions, and this gives you a lot of the questions they would ask you (although if you have heard of one of them before, they will probably give you a new one or a variation of one – but this will help you get a grasp of how to figure things out).

Another excellent source I would recommend, is of course the JobsBlog. This provided me with a wealth of information such as the book recommendations. I enjoyed reading it and also found it useful too as it linked to people’s experiences of the interview. This helped a lot to know what to expect in the interview.

The final recommendation I would give you is to study hard for the interview. It was definitely the hardest interview experience I ever had. Study all different types of algorithms (Sorting and Searching are two of the big ones.) Study trees and graphs as they maybe useful too. Finally, when programming be aware of everything such as security implications, globalization/localization concerns, performance, error handling, etc. Also, a good idea when writing an algorithm is to develop your test cases first.

This is all I have to say on the matter for now, so good luck, and have fun if you are interviewing with Microsoft. Leave a comment if you have an interview coming up soon, or if you have just recently completed one.



  1. I just need to correct something, you don’t need to hide your passion to get a job at Microsoft, instead, this will be better

  2. Actually, I never said you need to hide your passion. What I said was: “You need to be passionate about technology”.

    The point I was trying to make though, some people want to get a job at Microsoft because its Microsoft, or because of the perks/salary/reputation. This should not be the goal. Your goal should be wanting to work with great people, and great technology. So yes, you should show your passion about technology.

    Hope this clears things up

  3. Yesm I got what you mean, but what I meant is to show your passion about technology in MS, because if it’s technology only, you can join Google, or Oracle or IBM, just show them your passion to join MS too, the technology passion is the reason, but the goal is to join MS.

    I hope you got what i mean 🙂

  4. Yeah. You have a good point there. 🙂

    Obviously, show an interested in Microsoft and the technologies you will be working with 🙂 Otherwise, like Meshref said, you can join any other technical company 🙂

  5. Thanks a lot Ali,

    I have just read your post. I have gathered some of the books you mentioned already.I truly appreciate your advice

    Thanks again and HAPPY EID to you and your family.

    Best Regards,

  6. Hi Ali,

    Hope you had a nice Eid.

    Thanks a lot for your post. It’s quite informative. I already got some of these books and I’ll start preparing isA.

    Good luck with all that you do and all that you will do.

    All the Best,

  7. How many algorythms you had to write? One per interview?

  8. I believe it was around one or two…depending on the type of question, usually two. Sometimes though it would just be one, and the interviewer would expand on this question. For example he would ask the question, I would give the answer, and then he would add a constraint like “Okay, now do this on O(nlog n)” or “do it without using any additional memory structures”…etc.

  9. Thanks a lot guys for the comments up there. They are really helpfull. I have an interview coming up soon with Microsoft in Dubai. people on the net have been recommending a book titled: programming interviews exposed. it seems like a great a book and straigh forward to the point in terms of preparing for a porgramming interview. The bad news is that i couldn’t find it 😦 it has to be pre-ordered to get it which will take more than 3 weeks. I wish i could find another way to find it 😦

    anyways, the point is that i recommend Programming Interviews Exposed for everyone as i have seen great feedbacks from people 🙂

    Salam 😉

  10. Hi Mohamed…Good luck and keep us aprised of your interview results 🙂

    Yes, I did learn about the Programming Interviews Exposed book after I wrote this post. I haven’t read it, but apparently it has a lot of Microsoft-like programming questions…

    I would only read it and use it as a way to practice and warm up for your interviewing questions. I know some people who think or expect the questions to come out directly from this book (and while some interviewers may do that – they usually vary the question enough or do follow-up questions that make it apparent whether you know what you are doing or not).

    Anyway – Good luck!

  11. zetia

  12. Thanks a lot for your valuable post 🙂
    I will have my phone interview next week isA 🙂

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