When looking back on the last two weeks, I'm still in disbelief that the process of getting a job at Microsoft passed so quickly. I believe the amount of time that expired from being contacted by the recruiter (Hello Steph :D) to getting an offer was less than two weeks. For me, this is all the more impressive with how big of a company Microsoft is.
I almost don't want to be making this post as I'm still going through the process of Microsoft performing a background check. I keep having this nagging feeling that I'll get an email from Microsoft saying "We're sorry, we meant to extend the offer to Jason Golson, not Jason Olson, sorry for the confusion" or something crazy like that. Granted, I'm hopeful that the chances of this happening are nil but it still seems almost too good to be true. In some ways, I can't believe this is happening to me. In other ways, I'm very excited as I think I'll make a great Technical Evangelist.
So, how was this whole experience with Microsoft? So far, it has been rather painless and quite fun actually (and I, for one, hope this trend continues). I suppose that this time around (I had interviewed with Microsoft before my current job), I knew what to expect so I was not taken by surprise by anything. Once I got over the "performance jitters" before the first interview (actually, _during_ the first interview I suppose), it was quite easy to be myself and to just enjoy all the conversations that I had the pleasure of having that day.
I would like to take this opportunity though to talk about what it was like being recruited by Microsoft (if you would like Microsoft Interview advice, just search on "Microsoft Interview" on the search engine of your choice (dare I admit that mine has been Google?!?) and you will find a plethora of information out there).
Two weeks ago or so (at the time of this writing at least), I was contacted by Steph Coleman at Microsoft asking if I was interested in interviewing for a Technical Evangelist position that was open at the company. Being a person who has started to prefer to take advantage of the opportunities I get, I was (of course) interested in interviewing for the position (I mean, come on! It's a Technical Evangelist position :D).
You see, I was not actively looking for another job. I was happy at Fios, Inc. I was what some recruiters would call a "passive candidate/lead" (check out these two posts from Gretchen back from 2004 on the "JobsBlog"). Interestingly enough, in one of those posts, Gretchen says "Recruiting the passive candidate is where we prove our worth and doing it well is what separates the great recruiters from the pack.". If that is the case, I happen to think Steph is a great recruiter. All in all, she is making this entire process quite painless for me and my wife.
When contacted by Steph, I loved the idea that there was a chance for me to get a Technical Evangelist position. Needless to say, there was no way I was going to pass up that opportunity. So then the interview loop started. It was what you would expect: phone screening with the Recruiter, technical screening with another person (this time, the Director), in-person interviews, status report afterward. Sometimes people don't make it through some of these steps. To those people, I say "stick in there, hopefully you'll get your dream position some day."
Like I mentioned before, I was pleasantly surprised how quick this whole process moved. I believe it was Wednesday that I had talked with Steph. The next day I discussed the position with Neil Hutson (the Director). On Friday (the day after that), Steph was able to put together a trip for me up to Redmond (with only two business days of warning). The following Wednesday I flew up, met with Steph, discussed what to expect, and the day started. In total (including Steph), I believe I interviewed/chatted/discussed with seven different people. My original schedule only had five scheduled, so I felt better that two extra were scheduled (my first time (for an SDET position), I only made it through four). Two days later (less than two weeks since the first email from Steph) I was extended an offer for the position.
As I've already used the word many times before, the single word that best describes my whole experience is "painless." We'll see if that is still the case after having to sell my house and relocate up to Redmond. Man, even if it isn't, once it is over, I'm so excited that I'll be working on campus (yup, relocation is NO problem for me).
After reflecting on my entire Microsoft experience this time around, I believe I could sum it up with one key piece of advice for any candidates out there: Be Yourself! You have to remember that you're interviewing with very smart people. If you don't know something, trust me, they'll find that out pretty quickly. Don't even kid yourself that you'll be able to B.S. your way through anything. Be willing to admit "I don't know" because sometimes they only want to see if you have the aptitude to _learn_. After all, anyone can memorize useless facts from a book. The key? Do you really _understand_ what you are learning. If you don't know something before your screening with the Recruiter/Hiring Manager, there is probably no way you are going to be able to do the "mid-term cram" act and pass yourself off as having deep knowledge of that subject. With all that said, Be Yourself! They want to know You! In the long run, you'll be harming yourself if you manage to get a job by not being yourself as the real you may not actually be interested in that job.
If I get the time to do so, you may hear more from me on my continuing adventures on getting hired by Microsoft. Until then, my friend, that's how the cookie crumbles!
On a side note, one of the questions I found interesting in my first screening (albeit applicable to the job in question), was that I was asked whether I had a blog or not. Sometimes I'm amazed at how far blogging has come. Now Microsoft is even asking the question in screenings for Evangelist positions? Cool. But that's neither here nor there.