S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
I have often been asked by professionals and students – “What do you look for when you interview a candidate for a job at Microsoft?” There is abundant information on the internet regarding Microsoft interview questions. Regardless of the questions, the foremost attribute I look for is -- passion – passion to solve hard problems, passion to use software as a way to build solutions, passion to make a difference, passion to make an impact and passion to succeed. I feel that if one is passionate about something, one will find a way to make things happen.
In addition to passion, I also look for Integrity, Potential and Problem-Solving abilities.
1) Integrity – I believe in empowering people to do their best. This means giving them a lot of autonomy and freedom to be creative. I ask myself – “Given autonomy, will this person to do the right thing for the company, customers and people they work with?” This is true both at entry and senior level positions.
2) Potential – It is always great to find experienced candidates – candidates with deep expertise in their field. The dynamic nature of the software industry however, makes it imperative that a person has expertise in the ability to gain expertise, the “smarts” to be able to learn new technologies. I am a big believer in hiring on potential. Hiring on potential helps me optimize for the long-term.
3) Problem-solving – I look for open and broad approaches to problem-solving. I don’t make ‘Hire’ or ‘No-Hire’ decisions based on the candidate’s ability to solve a couple of interview specific problems. I tend to probe for general problem-solving skills, the ability to think out-of-the box and the ability to ask for help when appropriate.