MVPs

I was having a conversation with Oracle professionals the other day and they started to discuss the Oracle ACE program and they asked me (being the one that works with Microsoft technology) what Microsoft’s equivalent was, to which I answered MVP.

It was fascinating to hear them speak about the program more specifically the fact that in the Oracle world there are 3 different levels to an ACE.

Anyways they started to mention that they would like to achieve this as a goal, I kind of disagreed and said that if the by-product of you sharing knowledge walking and talking is the entry level award then great, if not then great, keep doing what you enjoy right? Let’s be honest here who really knows that it takes? (Even though their nomination form gives away some clues).

A lot of people who have helped me from proof reading articles, presentations and general mentoring are MVPs and they have my utter most respect, especially Erin from SQLskills who has read my PowerPoint slides many times and provided me with feedback reminiscent of my University days and Brent Ozar who actually reads blogs and helps grow their reading base.

Keep doing what you are doing, we little people appreciate it. I sure do.

My application to Microsoft

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).

Stage 1

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.

Stage 2

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.
  • PowerShell
  • Azure

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.

Stage 3

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 4-5-6

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.