Kirk Evans Blog

.NET From a Markup Perspective

My First Microsoft Interview

No, this is not a nostalgic look back at one of my 4 interview experiences spanning 18 months (maybe I will blog on that one day).  Yesterday, I was able to participate in the interview process for the first time in the role of interviewer. 

In the field, the interview process is quite a bit different from what others have experienced.  Field reps, specifically Evangelists or Technology Specialists, need a different set of skills from dev or test positions in that they work with clients to promote Microsoft technology.  The way you do that is to know the capabilities of the technology and to convey that knowledge effectively and confidently. 

I think a couple of the interviewees were almost disappointed that they never got to answer why a manhole cover is round.  While it might be fun to watch someone sweat over figuring out how many gas pumps there are in the entire continental U.S., it doesn’t provide any real insight into what our teams need.  I apologize to any of the candidates that felt sleighted here.

We only got an hour with each candidate, and I found myself wanting to talk more and more, probing around what the candidate was really interested in and what they have done with technology to solve problems.  I stuck fairly closely to questions that I have been asked by my customers in the past couple of months.  They want to know how something solves their business problem and why Microsoft provides a better mousetrap.  Our customers aren’t typically interested in technology, they want to know how I can help them solve a pain they are feeling and how they can use our tools more effectively.  I wanted to see how the candidates would respond to similar questions, how they could think on their feet to solve not only a single scenario, but the implication of that solution in a much larger context.

I probed around on quite a few technologies to find out what they were familiar with and talked a little about their experience with Microsoft products.  About half way through, I started asking questions about integrating them together to solve a problem.  I had them do some whiteboard work to talk about .NET and web services, smart clients, and the impact of mobile applications on a proposed architecture.  I also looped in other products into our proposed solution to see if they fit the candidate felt they were appropriate for the scenario.

A really interesting effect of talking with people in this manner is that it helped solidify some of the concepts for me as well.  It helped me think about some of the discussions that we have had with our clients and how I can do my job more effectively.