Interviewing with insight at Microsoft

There are few things we do more important than interviewing and yet it’s done very unevenly across the company. Some are amazing interviewers and others, well, I guess they write good code or something else J.

Fortunately, interviewing can be learned and, whatever you do and wherever you do it, interviewing with insight pays off. Some time back, a substantial team was merged with the development group I lead and, as part of the merger, a bunch of senior folks many of whom do As Appropriate (AA) interviews and all of which were frequently contributors on our interview loops. The best way to get in sync on interviewing techniques and leveling is to talk about it so I brought us together several times to talk about interviewing, to learn from each other, and set some standards on how we’re going to run our loops. In preparation for that meeting, I wrote up some notes of what I view as best practices for AAs but these apply to all interviewers and I typically send these out whenever I join a team.

Some of these are specific to Microsoft but many apply much more broadly. There is some internal Microsoft jargon used in the doc. For example, at Microsoft the AA is short for “As Appropriate” and is the final decision making on whether an offer will be made. However, most of what is here is company invariant.

The doc: JamesRH_AA_Interview_NotesX.doc (37 KB).

I also pulled some of the key points into a ppt: AA Interview NotesX.ppt (156.5 KB).

–jrh

James Hamilton, Windows Live Platform Services
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JamesRH@microsoft.com

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