Microsoft is one of the world’s largest companies, with dozens of high-tech products and services. As such, Microsoft offers numerous opportunities for data engineers.
Microsoft data engineers play an integral role in developing data pipelines and analytics solutions that drive its business, marketing and product development. At the company, data engineers work on a variety of projects, from developing data warehouses for its products, like Xbox, Windows and Azure, to building analytics solutions to empower the sales team.
Landing a data engineering job at Microsoft can seem overwhelming. With nearly 30 different teams, each requiring engineers with specialized skill sets, it can be a challenge to effectively prepare for a Microsoft data engineer interview.
To help, we created the Microsoft Data Engineer Guide. This resource will help you understand how data engineers are utilized within the company, how to prepare for the technical interview process, and what Microsoft data engineering interview questions to study for.
Microsoft has more than 25 “professions” or teams across the organization. Data engineers work on every team, although the job title and required skills can vary by position and team. At Microsoft, data engineers work on:
Microsoft’s Engineering team is responsible for building, testing and optimizing its products, which includes everything from Windows and Azure, to Xbox and Minecraft. Data engineers on the Engineering team are responsible for designing, developing and maintaining data warehouses, data pipelines and analytics solutions that facilitate data-driven decision making and product development.
The Services team provides technical support to Microsoft customers, and essentially, it’s a consulting vertical within Microsoft. Data engineers, or “solutions engineers,” in Services provide customer support and assist customers in data pipeline and database design, build and maintenance.
Microsoft’s Customer Success team assists customers in better utilizing Microsoft products. Data engineers help design and implement ETL and end-to-end data solutions for customers and help facilitate customer’s digital transformations.
The Sales team is responsible for growing Microsoft’s customer base and retaining its existing customers. Data engineers on Sales build analytics solutions that support the sales team, as well as design modeling and prediction engines for the sales team.
This team works on physical security, as well as monitoring servers and ICS systems. Data engineers on the Data Center team build analytical models to understand the Data Center needs and solutions to improve performance and security.
The most common roles include: Data engineer, data architect and solutions engineer.
Although responsibilities vary by role and team, Microsoft’s data engineers share several key responsibilities, including:
Data engineering interviews at Microsoft are challenging and multi-stepped. There are four phases to the interview process:
Each stage is progressively more technically challenging, and the entire process is designed to identify strong technical candidates. Here’s a closer look at each stage:
Stage 1: Recruiter Screen
Microsoft phone screens for data engineer jobs typically include behavioral questions, questions about your past experience, as well as 2-3 basic-to-intermediate technical questions.
This stage is designed to determine if you’re the right fit, if your CV holds up to questioning, and to see if you have a strong command of the tech fundamentals.
Tip: Be prepared to talk about your past work experience. Use a format like the STAR format to convey past challenges you faced and the skills and problem-solving approach you used to solve them.
Stage 2: Technical Screen
Typically, the technical screen lasts 30-60 minutes and focuses on your data engineering skills. You’ll be asked basic-to-intermediate data engineering concepts and may be required to do live coding via a shared screen.
For data engineers, some basic questions would be:
This stage is usually conducted by someone on the Microsoft data science or engineering team. You’ll be assessed on your problem-solving ability, as well as your command of data engineering concepts.
Stage 3: Onsite Interview
The Microsoft onsite is rigorous and includes 3 to 5-hour-long interviews. The focus of these interviews depends on the role, but typically, you’ll be asked to whiteboard solutions to scenario-based data engineering questions.
Some of the key concepts covered in these interviews include:
Tip: Practice data engineering case studies for onsite interviews at Microsoft. Case questions help you work on communication, creative problem-solving and your technical skills.
Stage 4: HR Interview
The HR interview at Microsoft determines if you’d make the right culture fit. Essentially, this is a behavioral interview to assess your ability to work on teams, meet deadlines, and how to handle adversity.
You’ll be asked data engineer behavioral questions like:
Tip: Using a framework like STAR to answer these questions will help you best frame your experiences.
Here’s a look at what to expect in Microsoft data engineering interviews:
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