Lukas Beran
Lukas Beran

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How did I get to Microsoft

Lukas BeranLukas Beran

It has been almost half of a year since I have joined Microsoft Czech Republic. Before that I worked at Palacky University Olomouc as Computer Network Administrator. This article is about how to get to Microsoft (or similar huge IT company).

Education

University education is on technical positions “must have”. My position required at least bachelor’s degree from computer science and master’s degree was an advantage. But in my opinion education is more or less formal requirement which shows applicant’s motivation and diligence and hopefully the applicant is not really stupid πŸ™‚ However expertise gained from my studies was not directly used during the interviews. More important is what university gives you sideways – general overview, understanding of basic principles, don’t give up (which can be most difficult), learn how to find information sources and overcome obstacles and learn independence and responsibility. These are important aspects why companies require university degree.

So the first important assumption is a university degree.

Language

In big companies and mainly in IT is English very important. In my case was required at least basic communication skills in English. And already in a first interview I used English – more later in the article.

For the most of positions/roles it’s not necessary to have excellent English skills, but you need at least basic communication skills for a communication with your colleagues, partners and customers. So don’t underestimate knowledge of a foreign language and pay attention to English courses during your studies, because additional English courses are very expensive.

For example or team has currently 18 members + manager, but we are only 3 from Czech Republic and others (including the manager) are from different countries from CEE (Central and Easter Europe) region. English is for me daily routine for communication with my colleagues, for team Skype meetings, for 1:1 with my manager and sometime for a communication with a partner from abroad.

Of course the better English skills you have the better for you. And of course the more languages you can speak the better for you.

Activities

It’s good to be visible and be active. And of course ideally activities connected to the position or company you are applying for. So it’s good idea to start making visible things. And I think it’s not so important if the activities are for some other company, school or just for you., but it’s important to show that you like it and you have some experience.

Very good idea is to choose thesis in a related field, or ideally to lead your thesis by a supervisor from your chosen company.

For example I knew that after master’s degree I want to get a jot at Microsoft. So I had started focusing on this last two or three years. My bachelor’s thesis was related to Microsoft technology and my master’s thesis worked with Microsoft technology (Azure Machine Learning) and I had a consultant from Microsoft. And after that I agreed to publish an article about this topic on Czech MSDN blog. And these activities were discussed during my interview.

Job interview

I wanted to apply to MACH (Microsoft Academy for College Hires), but because from June to September there was no open technical position, I had changed my decision and applied for ordinary position at career page. I had an offer for this position during my studies, so I had an idea what is it about.

Curriculum vitae

CV should not be long generally. I think maximum is two pages, sometimes is one page enough.

You should include your degree in your CV, but on the other hand you should not include for example primary school or even high school if you have a university degree and the high school is not really related to this position you are applying for.

And of course you should mention your working experience (full time, part time as well as volunteer positions if they are related).

And you can also include knowledge and skills which are related to the position.

Generally you should always focus your CV on the position you are applying for. Don’t be lazy πŸ™‚ and edit your CV before you send it. So include only the experience which is related and can be helpful. Don’t include information which is off-topic – this information will bore the HR and you will lose your points. And if you have something special, something which is not so common and can be your advantage, include it. And always mention everything what is required for the position.

And avoid stupid email addresses. Never use email address of your current employer, always use your personal email address. And never use addresses like , etc. Prefer addresses like etc (addresses with your name), or ideally addresses on a domain with your name like or etc.

Sending CV

So I sent my CV to the career page (in English) – I didn’t send a motivation letter. HR lady (from Microsoft Poland) responded to my CV the very next day and arranged a phone call with me for the next day. This first interview was for about 1 hour and of course in English (Polish HR does not speak Czech πŸ™‚ ) – this is the reason why English is so important.

For the interviews it’s good idea to prepare at least one question. In this question you can show that you are prepared for the interview and that you are interested in this position.

First interview

The next day I was nervous because I really wanted this position and one hour English interview was a hard challenge πŸ™‚ About five minutes before the interview I received a message where the HR apologized that she is not able to start on time and she proposed new time for the interview next day.

Next day she introduced the position and asked me about things from my CV and other common things – what do I expect, what do I want to achieve, what are my strengths and weaknesses etc. At the end of the interview she asked me about my idea of salary. I expected this question of course, but I had no idea how much is common salary in Prague in large international IT company. But fortunately she calmed me that this is just a number in her table and they have fixed budget for the new hire – no matter what I say. So I told her pretty big number (I didn’t want to underestimate myself). Generally I think that it’s always better to say more than less, but don’t don’t overestimate it so much πŸ™‚

And of course she told me that she will let me know about the results.

Second interview

In a week, she sent me another email that I moved to the next round which will be with a manager (again 60 minutes in English). I originally thought that the manager is a HR manager. But after the call I found out that it was my future manager πŸ™‚ It was good that I didn’t know it, because if I knew it, I would be much more nervous πŸ™‚ This second interview was via Skype (so use good Skype name ass well πŸ™‚ ).

This interview was much more specific and technical – what is my experience with Microsoft products and technologies, what I do and did, what I want to do, if I work in a team or alone etc. And he tested me in a real situation – I am leaving to vacation and partner calls me that he needs really urgent help, what would I do? You should be prepared for these situations where you get a question which does not have a right answer.

At the end we discussed my master thesis “Machine Learning and Data Processing using Microsoft Azure” where we discussed what I did, what was the results and I sent him a link to my MSDN blog post about Azure Machine Learning.

At the very end I asked him how many rounds are typically in the interview process. He told me that typically there are three to five rounds – at least one with an HR, at least one with him and at least one with local colleagues face-to-face in Microsoft office. Then he thanked me for the interview and told me that HR will let me know about the results.

Third interview

In a week Hr sent me another email and invited me to the last interview which will take place in Microsoft office in Prague. On this face-to-face interview you always must have a suit or costume.

This interview had again 60 minutes and I spoke with two future colleagues (in Czech) about the job and work at Microsoft. For me this interview was the least formal. ANd we ended the interview by a tour of the new Microsoft office.

Admission to employment

In another week I received another email from HR that my interviews went well and I was hired. Remained only last approval, medical examination and signing the contract.

New technology enthusiast interested primarily in Microsoft technologies and services. Intermittent blogger and traveler.

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