Gretchen and Zoe and Heather have been blogging about the process Microsoft uses for recruiting and hiring. Once you've made it past the recruiter gauntlet, but before you go through the formal interview loop, my team puts the candidate through a technical screening.
The recruiter will usually dig into your background in an effort to weed out people whose technical skills aren't strong enough to make it worthwhile for us to spend our time talking with you (if you can't code, then sorry, but you don't have a place on our team), but just because you pass muster with the recruiter doesn't mean you have what it takes to survive here. We use the technical screening to give your technical skills a thorough beating.
And beat on you I do. My typical screening goes something like this:
Not the easiest hour you'll ever have, eh? Those last few questions may seem somewhat out of place. Others will drill into your testing skills in much more details, certainly. However, I'm not only evaluating your technical skills -- I'm also evaluating how you will fit in with my team. Understanding what you think testing is all about helps me do that.
I said earlier that the design/coding question is the second most important part of the screening. The most important part isn't a particular question but rather your overall attitude. I'm looking for passion: passion for testing, passion for design and coding, passion for the customer -- passion. Why do you want to be a tester? What side coding projects do you have going? Curt over at The Occupational Adventure (sm) has helped me realize how important passion is and how much more productive someone who is passionate about a topic will be than someone who is just doing their job.
If you're a stellar tester or designer or coder but don't have passion for the work my team is doing, you don't have a chance of joining my team. If, on the other hand, you demonstrate abundant passion in areas where we are working, but your testing or designing or coding skills aren't quite up to par, you have a good chance. We'll help you grow your skills if you have the passion to make doing so worthwhile.
And if you a stellar tester and designer and coder, *plus* you have immense passion for the areas we're in, well -- email me right away! <g/>
*** Comments, questions, feedback? Or just want a fun job on a great team? </g> Send two coding samples and an explanation of why you chose them, and of course your resume, to me at michhu at microsoft dot com. I need testers, and my team needs a data binding developer, program managers, and a product manager. Great coding skills required for all positions.