Company - Microsoft
Division – Sales, Marketing and Services Group
Before entering into the interview experience, I would like to share a few words about Microsoft SMSG. One common trait which I observed during my interview and also during my internship is that, all their employees are really confident, warm and welcoming. So naturally they would expect the same from you. Being in a Sales and marketing job involves some amount of pressure, lot of negotiations and most importantly patience to listen. I would suggest to keep in mind these traits when you walk through your interview.
The actual interview experience
There were two rounds of interview for Microsoft SMSG, first one was a business interview and the second one was HR, both are elimination rounds. Below are some of the points that were covered during my interview and some humble tips from my side to crack these questions.
1. Tell me something about yourself: It started with the traditional question ‘Tell me about yourself’ – Enough has been said about this question in forums and mock interviews, my two cents would be to keep it crisp and interesting. Try and add some attention seeking facts or adjectives to what you say. E.g. instead of just stating the name of your native, you can say something interesting about it, like a temple town or a cultural hub, please do not forget to tell the interesting part which is a description of who you are (how you define yourself as a personality).
2. Work Experience: - If you have work experience then be thorough on what you write in the work experience section of your resume. I was drilled to the core on every point I wrote. You will be asked to explain the situation in detail and what was your role in it and how you contributed to it. Be honest and as simple as possible in your answers. Please avoid jargons that are specific to your work/ project, try and convert it into simpler/ understandable formats. It will make the job of the interviewer easier and of course the credit goes to you.
3. Attitude: - They would expect you to be outgoing, persuasive and good at communication/ handling multiple stakeholders, possess excellent problem solving skills (mostly related to managing people/ customers and adverse situations). If you love to travel emphasize on it, because it’s one of the most sought after attributes for a sales and marketing person. There will be a lot of situation based questions, starting from the way you manage your team, your vendors to your clients & partners (e.g. client would have escalated a critical issue that involves your vendor (third party who does the implementation for you), you need to interact with the client and resolve it, without affecting client’s business continuity and also without spoiling your relationship with the vendor).
4. Strength & Weakness: – You can expect this question for sure. Please think through your strengths and back it up with the reason as to why you consider them as your strengths and also if possible with some situations where they actually helped you to succeed (E.g. I told the interviewer that I am an amiable person immediately I was given a conflict situation and I was asked to leverage on my strength to resolve it). The same goes for weaknesses. You need to be very clear on what your weakness is. Answers like I am a hard worker/ workaholic are not acceptable. I was asked how my weakness affected me/ my group and how I recovered from it. So think of a situation where you/ your group had a negative impact because of your weakness and how you resolved it (it’s better to be honest here).
5. Your past company: - It’s really important that you know the facts about your previous company where you worked (from the CEO to your divisional head). Also make a note of the recent news articles about the company and the reasons that made you quit your job.
6. Client Interactions: - Since it’s a sales and marketing role, client interactions are really important. If you have some prior experience in working closely with clients please highlight them. Give examples of situations where you might have received client appreciations/ where you delighted your client with your work/ situations where you resolved a potential conflict.
7. Marketing: - Your interest in marketing will be gauged, why marketing/ why MBA will be standard questions. Answers should be to the point and precise. Please do no exaggerate and be honest with your answers. It’s better to give a logical answer as to how you developed a gradual interest towards MBA/ marketing, please do not give one line answers like ‘MBA is my passion/ dream’.
8. About Microsoft: - Why Microsoft, What do you like about Microsoft are questions you can expect for sure. You should have a thorough knowledge of the recent happenings related to Microsoft and their products, go through their leadership interviews, recent product launches if any, how they are doing in the market. Think through some of the suggestions that would resolve the problems faced by Microsoft currently with respect to a product or some service (not mandatory).
9. HR Round: - If you are shortlisted in the first round then you will have a HR round, most of the questions would be repeated (Why Microsoft, your favourite Microsoft product and why, Why marketing). There will be questions related to the culture of Microsoft and how Microsoft evolved over the years, what do you think Microsoft’s strengths and weaknesses are etc. You will be asked for your preferences in locations and divisions towards the end. Please remember to have a question for the HR at the end of the interview.
10. General stuffs to remember: - I did not have any technical questions but I faced some difficult questions like ‘Tell me three reasons explaining why I should not take you’ / ‘ Tell me two things that went bad in this interview’. Never lose your calm, the interview will be completely logical and innovative/unique answers are much appreciated (as it is a marketing/ sales interview). Once again resume is very important and you should be able to justify every point you have mentioned in your resume and you will be given situations based on the roles you have mentioned in your resume.
These are the ten points that I felt would help you to crack the Microsoft SMSG interview, nevertheless each of us are unique and we would have our own way of thinking. I would request you to consider these broad categories of questions when you streamline your thoughts towards a sales/ marketing interview. Good luck & All the Best!!