Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

So You Want to Hire Like Microsoft?

So You Want to Hire Like… is a Spark Hire series focusing on the interview tactics of companies who have unique and successful approaches to the interview process.

Microsoft has been approaching the interview process from a unique perspective for a while now. The Microsoft Interview became famous for favoring technical and critical thinking questions over more traditional interview questions about employee goals and personality. These puzzles reportedly entered the interview process vis-a-vis Bill Gates’ obsession with puzzles. One outsider described the process as endeavoring to identify candidates who are, “smart and get things done,” separating them from candidates who are “smart, but don’t get things done,” and candidates who “get things done, but aren’t smart.”

So, you want to hire like Microsoft? Your business probably runs off of innovative, efficient, and dedicated employees. You want employees who are practical, creative, and intelligent. That’s a tall order for any candidate, but Microsoft interview questions are designed to help you identify exactly those kind of candidates in an interview. Hiring tips bonus: several of these interview questions would be great additions to a one-way video interview process. Check out some examples of Microsoft interview questions:

  • Why is a manhole cover round?
  • Design an ATM for children
  • How would you test a pen?
  • How would you explain what a database is to a 5-year-old child?

The first is particularly famous, with an entire Wikipedia section dedicated to it. These interview questions ask candidates to provide practical solutions to problems, which is an essential skill for programmers at Microsoft, and other inventive companies.

So, how does this translate to hiring tips for your business? Although you might not need hiring tips for nabbing inventors and engineers, think about adapting these questions to the needs of your company. What do you need your employees to do? If you need them to think quickly on their feet, try setting up a scenario that might occur at your workplace. Ask them how they would respond to that scenario. If you need innovation specific to your industry, ask your candidates to name their favorite product in your industry. Then, ask them to improve it.

So you want to hire like Microsoft? Utilize interview questions that ask your candidates to think on their feet, and contribute practical solutions to your company.

What other hiring tips would you use from Microsoft? What hiring tips do you have for finding innovative candidates? Share with us below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Robert Scoble

Kristin Anderson

Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.