Interviewing at Microsoft

Each year I interview upwards of 200 people for various positions at Microsoft. Joel on Software recently posted an article on how everyone thinks they’re hiring the top 1%. Leaving aside the the tech interview questions, Chris Anderson (Avalon architect) and I were today discussing a much more practical potential interview question: how much space do you require around your shop’s table saw?

Comments (17)

  1. mschaef says:

    I just got mine set up. It’s in a small basement, so there are limits to what I can do, but I have at least 8 feet to the front, back, and left side of the saw itself.

    If I need to handle larger pieces of sheet stock, I’m planning on cutting them down to a more managable size outside with a circular saw. That’s an edge case, at best. The only time I see it being a real problem is when I finally build a workbench I’m designing.

  2. That’s the practical answer. What’s the mathematical answer? Even Chris didn’t get it immediately. 🙂

  3. Doesn’t that depends directly on what the saw is being used for. See I would never get a ‘job’ at Microsoft, cause I would have to call that a stupid question. I’m also pretty outspoken, so I’d probably tell you during the interview it’s a stupid question.

    I don’t even own a table saw, would never use a table saw and have no plans on learning about table saws (unless of course someone figures out how to put a table saw on the internet).

    Thanks again for reminding my why I run my own company.

  4. Ah, but saying it’s a stupid question is a guarantee to getting hired. 🙂

  5. ok. so now my interest is peaked. Can you break it down for me. I might just learn something here..

  6. Let me give you an example from when I interviewed (something like 7 years ago). I got a question that asked me my favorite hobby, then, unexpectedly, to turn that into a business. My response was basically almost immediately, "What kind of idiot would do that? Here’s what you *should* do…"

    It’s hard to explain how we interview and everyone is slightly different, but I look for that spark of IQ and personality that says that this person will fit in with the often rapid-fire, high-IQ, high-humor conversations we have. I’m not looking for people who tell me what I want to hear. I’m looking for people who will challenge me and ask hard questions such as, "Why on earth would you ask *that*?"

  7. So maybe I would get a job at Microsoft then. I have this nasty habit of challenging everything that doesn’t make sense. Thanks John, I just threw another stone in the go with your guy bucket.

  8. Not quite sure what that means, but…

  9. Paul Scott says:

    "The amount of space required is dependant upon which phase in the development lifecycle my current shop project happens to be in."

    Do you really ask cool questions like that though? When MS came to my university and interviewed (before I graduated) I heard the questions were more along the lines of, "write a c++ program which can calculate the angle between the hour and minute hand of a clock at any given time." And the person was given a pencil and 7 minutes.

  10. Yes, I really ask cool (random) questions like that.

  11. I find Paul’s comment confusing as well. But the key marked T is (often) located right beside Y…

  12. yeah, gut not guy. I can’t type. Oh well.

  13. Whew. That makes more sense. I thought I was losing my mind there for a minute! 🙂

  14. "Depends. Is the computer I will be issued sawdust proof?" (I already know it is crumb proof!)

    Did you ever see the Monty Python sketch where John Cleese is interviewing Graham Chapman, and he is screaming at him, and saying things like "Good Morning" when it is the afternoon. I always wanted to interview someone like that.

  15. I heard a story about an interview with one of the big consulting firms. The candidate was led into his next interview where he shook hands with the manager and both sat down — and then the manager didn’t say a word for 30 minutes. Not a peep in response to any of the candidate’s questions. Nothing.

    Not sure what kind of response the guy was looking for, but I’d love to be behind a two-way mirror watching it.

  16. OK, that’s just weird.