I have been eager to write this blog post for a while now.
I want to share my experience of the process that I went through (last year) when I applied to Microsoft for a SQL PFE (Premier Field Engineer) role. Why would I want to do this? Well when I was going though the process I was online all day trying to get some insight into what I was going to go through, so I hope for those that are thinking of applying they will find this useful.
I will say that I received some advice from Gail Shaw about contacting Microsoft before writing this in case I was violating some piece of legislation; I thank her for this as I was sent some documentation by Microsoft to read before writing. So I am going to play it safe and not indulged on what was asked but what I went through (from my perspective).
Send your CV! If you have dreams of working for Microsoft then why not try and send your CV? I was sent an email with a Job description and thought why not?
If they like the look of your CV then you move to the next stage.
Technical telephone interview, exactly what it says on the tin. At this stage they engage with you to see if you know the basics i.e. if you have a solid foundation. You know you are not going to get far if you don’t really know something as simple as Minimum Server Memory or isolation levels.
Without going into too much detail (question types etc) it was quite evident that their requirements on the Job description would be the source of questions here around the following:
- SQL Server (core product)
- SQL HA/DR solutions.
- Experiences with SQL Server Integration Services, Reporting Services, Analysis Services.
This started of fairly easy but if they feel you know more they will probe you. My advice here is if you don’t know the answer then be honest! This stage lasted around 1 hour. By the way if you lied on your CV you might get embarrassed here so be honest, this isn’t your local company interviewing you.
A Competency telephone interview was next. I found this quite tough. A lot of complex scenario based questions where Microsoft tries to find out how you would react to certain scenarios / situations. My advice here is to learn about Microsoft competencies and their expectations.
I was surprised to be invited to the last stage(s) the assessment day located at their HQ – Reading. If you reach this stage you will be in for a long but fun day.
Stage 4 – technical interview with 2 senior engineers. Yes I was nervous, they knew it and I knew but they were really nice people. They DO NOT try to trick you here, all they want to know if how deep you can go.
Its starts of basic, you answer it then they build a question on your answer and that keeps going until you either don’t know or they move on to the next question – and yes there were times we were talking about SQL internals ( Think allocation bitmaps etc).
Many times I did not know the answer and I was not shy in saying “sorry I don’t know”.
Stage 5 – Technical presentation – after stage 3 you will be sent material to digest and prepare a presentation on your findings. This required A LOT of effort in terms of information preparation and practicing in front of a mirror for the presenting side of things. Be confident! I wore my favourite tie so I felt good too.
Stage 6- competency interview with 2 senior managers – Here they want to get to know you and what makes you “tick”. It’s up to them to decide if you will fit in at Microsoft. The questions here were complex ones designed to understand what your personality is like.
Even though I didn’t get the job I really enjoyed going through this process, I learnt a lot about myself, ultimately giving me the platform to improve myself. If you have any questions leave me a comment – I will try and answer without violating any T/Cs I was sent.
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Sounds like you got very close to being hired, did you get any feedback on what areas you could improve on or why you weren’t selected?
Honestly? No I wasn’t, I think its probably down to a personal thing. My feedback was really good. Going to sqlskills training basically got me through most of it.
Do you know how many stages there were? Judging by this guy’s interview process I would think you were pretty close and did very well to get that far.
Hey – I reached the end. Stage 6 was the last stage.
I went thru the similar phases, but with MS Canada, it was bit different; I had 2 technical rounds, they asked questions in random order. First round was difficult. I was well prepared for the second round. Then another round with a manager, 4th round was with 2 managers. On the fifth call, I got the feedback where I am lacking in technical and managerial questions.
you did well ! I used it as a platform to get even better.
Could you share with us the time you have waited between each stage?
Hi mokk, roughly 2-3 weeks between the stages
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Thanks for reading !!
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I have also apply twice the first time I was told I was to soft and didn’t appear solid enough when the job call for a more direct approach.
The second one I also got to the manager interviews but this time it was a bit weird, I was told I didn’t do to hot on 1 of the technical interviews… which I do admit I did poorly but those where scenarios I never faced and my ideas where not on the spot, I do feel this time the process was a bit weird and it did bring me a bit of depression.
I understand if you felt like that. Don’t get me wrong it hurt me too, however I sat down and used it to improve and get better. Time and experience helps us all.
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Perhaps they didn’t like people who use the term “ALOT”, when they really mean “A Lot” 🙂
I will have to brush up my writing skills 😀
Thanks for sharing on this. seems like you were pretty close, and I read it from somewhere, even 1 out of 10 managers vote down on you, you will not get an offer. Not sure it was the case with yours, but good work, keep posting.
Hey thanks, took me a while to get over it, since then I decided to just Channel my energy into my blogs and articles etc.
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