Adult Content Warning

This community may contain adult content that is not suitable for minors. By closing this dialog box or continuing to navigate this site, you certify that you are 18 years of age and consent to view adult content.

"The Microsoft Interview"

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Vanilla, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. Vanilla

    Vanilla
    Expand Collapse
    Disturbed

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    Great White North
    Well, I have a job interview at the end of this week, and I've started doing some reading up on it. It's got me thinking about my past and future interviews. Microsoft pioneered an interview methodology that the company I'm interviewing for will be using. It's known as "The Microsoft Interview".

    "The Microsoft interview is a job interview technique used by Microsoft to assess possible future Microsoft employees. It is significant because Microsoft's model was pioneering, and later picked up and developed by other companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Google." [Microsoft Interview via Wikipedia]

    Focus: Tell a story about your best/worst job interview

    Alt-focus: Give some tips and tricks for the best interview tactics
     
  2. Frank

    Frank
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    6
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    3,351
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Focus: Not me, but I got an interview for my roommate at my last company. I went over what they would ask and how he should respond. The main things I had stressed to him about this particular job (call center) is that being on time all the time is more important than pretty much anything else. I never thought he was stupid enough to let this exchange occur:

    My Boss: So what would you say your biggest weaknesses are?
    Roommate: Well, I'd have to say punctuality.
    My Boss: Uh... Ok, just to let you know that's a crucial part of the job.
    Roommate: That and I have a hard time motivating myself to work sometimes.
    My Boss: Yeah we'll give you a call back when we reach a decision.

    My boss told me about the time thing first and I told her since we're roommates I could make sure he was there on time, then she dropped the "I lack motivation" bomb on me, I stared blankly for a moment and told her she was probably making the right decision. I was mocked ruthlessly for a week for bringing him in for an interview. Probably all for the better though, no way would he have made it long enough for me to get my referral bonus.

    Alt-Focus: When asked what your weaknesses are, whatever you do, don't say punctuality and motivation.
     
  3. Juice

    Juice
    Expand Collapse
    Moderately Gender Fluid

    Reputation:
    1,389
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    13,429
    Location:
    Boston
    The only answer to that question, even if it's cheesy, is saying, "My biggest weakness is I'm too much of a perfectionist sometimes."

    My favorite interview urban legend is during a lunch interview, the employer decided not to hire someone because they salted their food before tasting it.
     
  4. bewildered

    bewildered
    Expand Collapse
    Deeply satisfied pooper

    Reputation:
    1,222
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    10,976
    I've been looking up interview questions to give myself an idea of what could be asked. That was the ONLY answer given for the "greatest weakness" question. I hate it. It is cheesy, insincere, and the idea of turning the question around like that to win brownie points just makes me cringe.
     
  5. Frank

    Frank
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    6
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    3,351
    Location:
    Connecticut
    That's so cliche though. The one I use is:

    "I'm obsessed with automation and efficiency, while this is usually a positive, in the past that has sometimes led me to spending more time automating something than it would have taken to just brute force it. I've been working on this and I am getting better at doing an off the cuff cost benefit analysis of automating, but I still fall in the trap sometimes."

    It works well for me because it's an admission of a real fault while highlighting my skills as a problem solver. And if you've worked with anyone that really likes automation they ALL have this fault to some degree, so the interviewer usually empathizes and gives me an anecdote or two of doing the same thing, we make fun of idiots who prefer to hard code things and build a rapport around it. And if they don't view that fault as an actual benefit I probably want to have nothing to do with them anyway.
     
  6. BL1Y

    BL1Y
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    1
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    2,012
    I have an interview via Skype tomorrow, so if anyone has any advice on phone interviews or Skype specifically, it'd be much appreciated.
     
  7. BeCoolBitch_BeCool

    BeCoolBitch_BeCool
    Expand Collapse
    Disturbed

    Reputation:
    1
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    301
    I spent a couple summers as a whitewater rafting guide. I try to include this on every application I fill out. Eventually the conversation always steers away from the usual interview because of the interviewer's fascination with my old job.

    I'm sure that will change now that I'm starting to apply for a real job.
     
  8. Guy Fawkes

    Guy Fawkes
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    1,207
    Location:
    Nor'east USA
    I love meetings like this. Pajama or basketball shorts and then a shirt and tie up top. Fantastic.
     
  9. Misanthropic

    Misanthropic
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    413
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    3,256
    This question, along with "So where do you see yourself in 10 years?" are dead giveaways that the interviewer isn't very good at interviewing. "Tell me your biggest weakness" is a trite, played-out, pseudo-psychological question that elicits no useful information. It is a question that, by it's very nature, encourages people to lie.

    If you truly want to make good use of interview time, focus on direct questions that address specific job requirements. You can find out alot about an interview candidate by making them open-ended questions, and see where the candidate takes it. I also like to finish an interview by asking the candidate if they have any questions for me. If they ask about how much vacation time they get, or how long they have to wait to be promoted, as opposed to asking thoughtful questions about the company or the position, I've a whole lot more about them than I would by asking them to name their weakness.
     
  10. Misanthropic

    Misanthropic
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    413
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    3,256
    You can add this to the list of shitty interview questions.

    There are whole category of "If you could be an x, what x would you be" questions. I've had others tell me they've been asked "If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?". I've toyed with the idea of asking "If you were a soup, what kind of soup would you be?"

    Here are a few that should all be obvious, but at the same time we all know they are not:

    • Research the company at which you are interviewing, as well as the position for which you are interviewing

      Dress professionally for your interview

      Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early

      Give a firm handshake

      Look the interviewer in the eye when speaking to them

      Don't provide one-word responses; elaborate, but don't ramble

      Know, thoroughly, what you put on your resume
     
  11. Angel_1756

    Angel_1756
    Expand Collapse
    The Big Four-Oh

    Reputation:
    380
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,909
    Location:
    The T-dot O-dot one-of-a-kind
    Can't imagine why either...
    [​IMG]

    My interview for my current company included the questions "Does it ever bother you in a movie when the eye patch on the pirate switches eyes halfway through?" and "Would you quit this job if an opportunity came up in the field that you pursued in university?"

    "Yes it does", "No I wouldn't". Hells bells, I'm not stupid.
     
  12. Nom Chompsky

    Nom Chompsky
    Expand Collapse
    Honorary TiBette

    Reputation:
    68
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2010
    Messages:
    4,706
    Location:
    we out
     
    #12 Nom Chompsky, Oct 17, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  13. zzr

    zzr
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    123
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    748
    I knew a guy in college in the late '80's who was a little eccentric, and he didn't try to hide it. This was an engineering school where most students were pretty straight-laced, so he stood out. During an on-campus interview with a potential employer the interviewer asked what his goals were. He said "I want to have one of those station wagons with the wood paneling on the side." The woman replied curtly back to him "I have one of those station wagons." He said, with enthusiasm, "They're nice, aren't they?"

    He didn't get a second interview.
     
  14. lust4life

    lust4life
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,562
    Location:
    Deepinthehearta, TX
    Q: "What's your biggest weakness?"
    A: "Drake's CoffeeCakes."
     
  15. Nick

    Nick
    Expand Collapse
    Experienced Idiot

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    236
    Location:
    Chicago
    We had what was called "Super Saturday" at my firm for undergraduate recruiting/interviews. It was on the weekend, and you started at 8am and finished around 4pm. Highly technical interviews, had little to do with fit or personality. It was super.

    Lot's of questions about income statement analysis, valuation theory, financial modeling, and other boring stuff. There were a few "strategic thinking" questions, which are always kind of fun. Three that I remember were:

    How many windows are there in the downtown Chicago loop?

    You are in a room with three light switches. In the room next to you, there are three lamps, each with a corresponding light switch. You cannot see into the room with the lamps. You may flip the light switches on and off as many times as you want, and you may enter the room with the lamps exactly 1 time. How do you figure out which switch goes with which lamp?

    Why are manhole covers round?
     
  16. toddamus

    toddamus
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    396
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    5,312
    Location:
    Somewhere west of New York
    I had a job interview with a credit union in San Diego a while back for a job as a teller. The interview was at 8:30 meaning by the time I got there I was stressed out from having to fight rush hour traffic, add the fact that it was raining too and the trip down as real pain and stressed me out. I got there on time, and when I'm sitting in the lobby I feel overdressed for some reason. I was in a sport coat, tie, slacks, normal interview attire but something felt off. Anyway from the moment the interview started it felt like a bad date, the conversation had no flow, my answers weren't the best and I could tell the interviewer was looking for a woman and I was overqualified. I think the most memorable part was that she kept telling me to relax during the interview, which was weird because typically my interviews are a strong point, and it was also a sign that she didn't have the best impression of me.
    By the time interview was over I was sure there was no way I'd get the job. Facts were she was looking for a pretty girl to be a teller and I was over qualified. Its a tough blow when you're unemployed to know that the reason you can't get entry level jobs is because you're too highly educated.
     
  17. Judas

    Judas
    Expand Collapse
    Disturbed

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    Messages:
    311
    There is a fictional account of Richard Feynman being asked this question, since he was known to be quite eccentric:

    "Interviewer: Now comes the part of the interview where we ask a question to test your creative thinking ability. Don't think too hard about it, just apply everyday common sense, and describe your reasoning process. Here's the question: Why are manhole covers round?

    Feynman: They're not. Some manhole covers are square. It's true that there are SOME round ones, but I've seen square ones, and rectangular ones.

    Interviewer: But just considering the round ones, why are they round?

    Feynman: If we are just considering the round ones, then they are round by definition. That statement is a tautology.

    Interviewer: I mean, why are there round ones at all? Is there some particular value to having round ones?

    Feynman: Yes. Round covers are used when the hole they are covering up is also round. It's simplest to cover a round hole with a round cover.

    Interviewer: Can you think of a property of round covers that gives them an advantage over square ones?

    Feynman: We have to look at what is under the cover to answer that question. The hole below the cover is round because a cylinder is the strongest shape against the compression of the earth around it. Also, the term "manhole" implies a passage big enough for a man, and a human being climbing down a ladder is roughly circular in cross-section. So a cylindrical pipe is the natural shape for manholes. The covers are simply the shape needed to cover up a cylinder.

    Interviewer: Do you believe there is a safety issue? I mean, couldn't square covers fall into the hole and hurt someone?

    Feynman: Not likely. Square covers are sometimes used on prefabricated vaults where the access passage is also square. The cover is larger than the passage, and sits on a ledge that supports it along the entire perimeter. The covers are usually made of solid metal and are very heavy. Let's assume a two-foot square opening and a ledge width of 1-1/2 inches. In order to get it to fall in, you would have to lift one side of the cover, then rotate it 30 degrees so that the cover would clear the ledge, and then tilt the cover up nearly 45 degrees from horizontal before the center of gravity would shift enough for it to fall in. Yes, it's possible, but very unlikely. The people authorized to open manhole covers could easily be trained to do it safely. Applying common engineering sense, the shape of a manhole cover is entirely determined by the shape of the opening it is intended to cover.

    Interviewer (troubled): Excuse me a moment; I have to discuss something with my management team. (Leaves room.)

    (Interviewer returns after 10 minutes)

    Interviewer: We are going to recommend you for immediate hiring into the marketing department."

    I am on the cusp of beginning my interview stage in my life (just about to graduate, degree in BME), but I haven't ever been interviewed for a job up until now.
     
  18. Frank

    Frank
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    6
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    3,351
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Do you have a feminine name or something? If she really only wanted a less educated woman, assuming she saw your resume beforehand, why do you think you got the interview in the first place?

    You probably just flubbed the interview or they found someone better suited, but there's no reason for a manager to interview someone they know they don't want to hire, waste of their time.
     
  19. Aetius

    Aetius
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    775
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    8,470
    I was applying for a job at a science/academic type summer camp. Lot of standard questions and then:

    "What would you do if you discovered some of the kids were running an illegal cockfighting ring?"

    There were three interviewers in the room, and the other two looked at the one that asked the question like he was a moron.

    "I guess I'd tell them to make sure they got the cash in hand before the fight started."
     
  20. MoreCowbell

    MoreCowbell
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    14
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    4,185
    So I interview a fair bit at the company I currently work at (and have done so elsewhere). We're in consulting w/ an economic/quantitative focus, and use the case interview, which is fairly standard for the industry and in some ways similar to the Microsoft interview. The main difference between them is that the case interview as it's used here has a greater applicability to actual things done on the job, while the Microsoft interview as more generic 'brain teasers.'

    The big advantage, as the article says, is that it separates the smart from the looks-smart-on-paper. You can see, for example, when someone is an economics major and seems to be lacking ECON-001 knowledge, or when they seem to be repeatedly screwing up basic algebra. It also lets you observe working style first-hand, which is pretty important.

    I really hate 'fit interviews,' for two reasons. One is that I think they're poor judges of relevant qualities. The fit interview tests one's ability to interview well, not to work well. While this is true of any style of interview, the fit interview is the most sensitive to polish/practice. The second reason I don't like them is because I'm bad at them. I'm exceptionally poor at fluffy bullshit, and that's the biggest thing being tested in a fit interview. Are there jobs that the fit interview is good for? Sure. Sales and client-facing positions come to mind. But considering that I've never actually seen any of our clients in person and don't really see that changing... not sure it's very useful here.


    When I was interviewing for jobs last fall, my friends and I were talking to a lot of companies simultaneously, some of which we didn't particularly want to work for. So we started brainstorming strange answers we could give for jobs we didn't care about:

    "What's your greatest weakness?"
    "Well, my handshake is really strong. Like a Superman handshake. Sometimes people can't handle that, so that's awkward, but if you can't handle the handshake get out of the kitchen, am I right?"
    "Well I'm not very good at showing up on time. It's not like I couldn't, it's just not that big of a priority. But that won't be a problem, right?"
    "Well I'm a close talker. Like, really close. Sometimes people don't dig that."
    "Weak knees."