Microsoft has become a pioneer in innovation and technology by creating tools and platforms that make our lives easier and more connected with the software we use every day to the devices we rely on. As a software engineer at Microsoft, you’ll get to be a part of a global network of engineers, exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge, and collaborating with bright minds in tech.

If you aspire to be a software engineer at Microsoft, you are in the right place.

This guide is designed to help you navigate the Microsoft Software Engineer interview questions and process. We’ll cover the hiring stages, delve into common interview questions, and offer practical tips to help you secure your dream job.

The interview process is usually up to five rounds. Here is what you can expect:

First, submit your application at the Microsoft Careers page or apply through a referral with an updated resume. The hiring team will review your resume to see if your skills and experience align with the requirements of the role.

Next, you’ll be invited for a phone screen call with a recruiter, which is usually 45 minutes. In this interview round, you’ll be asked about your educational background, experience, and relevant skills. There might be some basic coding questions as well.

In this round, you’ll be asked to solve 2-4 coding questions mainly related to data structures and algorithms in 90 minutes.

This interview consists of 1-4 sequential rounds, usually conducted on the same day at a Microsoft office. Expect coding exercises on a whiteboard or any other online platform. For junior roles, there can be more object-oriented design questions, while for senior roles, you should expect system design questions.

You will have a lunch break scheduled midway through your interviews, during which you can expect to be interviewed. The questions may either revolve around design or behavioral aspects.

This is the last round of the hiring process, which is conducted by a senior leader along with the hiring manager. These two make the final decision. Expect questions related to your career goals, teamwork, adaptability, and your understanding of Microsoft’s mission and values.

The interview focuses on many areas that check your technical and non-technical skills. Expect questions from these topics.

- Data structures and algorithms
- System design
- Problem-solving
- Databases
- API testing
- Software development methodologies
- Behavioral questions

Here are some commonly asked questions at the Microsoft Software Engineer interview:

Microsoft doesn’t only value technical skills but also looks for software engineers who can work well in a team. This question examines if you can lead a team, solve conflicts, and initiate tasks. It also examines how you handle unexpected situations and manage difficult situations while leading a team.

**How to Answer**

Briefly describe a project where you led a team and tell your responsibilities. Highlight how you encouraged teamwork and how you resolved conflict.

**Example**

“*I led a team at my previous job for a project to develop a software module. Teamwork was key, so I made sure everyone felt comfortable sharing ideas. When we hit a roadblock with conflicting opinions, I initiated a team discussion to find a solution that worked for everyone. To organize tasks, I used a simple planning approach, breaking down the project into manageable parts and assigning tasks based on each team member’s strengths. I stayed calm when we faced unexpected technical issues, reassessed our approach, and worked with the team to fix the problems quickly.”*

Being a software engineer in a fast-paced environment like Microsoft, you will often be working on multiple projects. The interviewer wants to check your approach to task prioritization, negotiating adjustments, and how to ensure all projects receive due attention without compromising quality.

**How to Answer**

While answering, mention the strategies that you use when faced with multiple projects at once. Describe how you prioritize tasks based on deadlines and the overall importance in the project.

**Example**

*“In managing multiple projects, I prioritize tasks by assessing deadlines and the importance of each task to the project’s success. I start by identifying critical deadlines and milestones, ensuring that tasks contributing to these goals are given top priority. Clear communication with team members and stakeholders is crucial. Regular check-ins help me understand their priorities and ensure that we are all on the same page. I am always willing to adapt and re-prioritize tasks based on changing project needs or unexpected challenges.”*

Microsoft, like other tech companies, is adopting the hybrid work model. Hence, understanding your ability to stay productive in a WFH environment is important. This question looks at your time management strategies and your strategies for staying focused while working from a home office.

**How to Answer**

Explain your time management strategies and your work-from-home productivity tips. Also, describe how you avoid distractions and stay focused.

**Example**

*“I stay productive while working from home by setting up a focused workspace, creating a daily schedule, and using task management tools. Regular breaks and clear communication with my team help me stay on track and maintain a healthy work-life balance.”*

This question tests your self-awareness and genuineness. Highlighting a weakness you’re actively working on showcases your growth mindset and commitment to continuous learning. Your strengths show your valuable skills and qualities that make you an asset to the team.

**How to Answer**

When discussing strengths, mention impactful achievements and skills relevant to software engineering. For weaknesses, choose one or two you’re genuinely trying to improve, outlining steps you’re taking to address them.

**Example**

*“I consider one of my strengths to be proficient with coding languages such as Python, Java, and PHP. I excel in problem-solving and pay strong attention to detail, which allows me to produce high-quality code efficiently. In my previous role, I led a team in developing a complex module, showcasing both technical expertise and effective teamwork. As for weaknesses, I’ve identified a tendency to be overly self-critical, which can sometimes slow down decision-making. To address this, I’ve been actively working on trusting my judgment and seeking feedback from colleagues.”*

Every project can have unexpected challenges, but how you tackle these unforeseen situations is the important thing. The interviewer wants to understand your problem-solving approach, critical thinking, and resourcefulness.

**How to Answer**

Describe a recent project that you enjoyed working on and what challenges you faced. Also, speak about the strategies you applied to overcome those hurdles and describe the outcome.

**Example**

*“One project I enjoyed recently was developing a mobile app, focusing on user-friendly design and performance optimization. The challenges I faced were tight deadlines and changing requirements. Additionally, integrating new features while ensuring compatibility with various devices presented technical complexities. I tackled it with an agile approach, frequent communication, and thorough testing to ensure compatibility across devices.”*

This question tests your ability to choose appropriate algorithms for specific problems and your familiarity with fundamental data structures like lists and arrays, which are essential for organizing and manipulating data efficiently.

**How to Answer**

Discuss the efficient algorithm you plan to use for this problem. Clearly define the “kth largest” element. Consider additional constraints, like memory limitations or specific data types.

**Example**

*“I would approach this problem by employing a sorting algorithm with a focus on efficiency. One suitable option is heapsort, given its time complexity of O(n log n) in the worst case. The idea is to build a max heap from the unsorted list, repeatedly extract the maximum element (k times for the kth largest), and finally obtain the kth largest element.”*

Serializing and deserializing an N-ary tree involves dealing with complex structures. This question tests your understanding of data structures and algorithms and your ability to design efficient and scalable solutions.

**How to Answer**

Discuss how you would traverse the N-ary tree to serialize it efficiently and choose a serialization format. Describe how you would reconstruct the N-ary tree from the serialized data.

**Example**

*“To serialize an N-ary tree, I would choose a pre-order traversal method. Starting from the root of the tree, I would visit each node, serialize its value, and then recursively traverse its children. If a node has no children, I would include a placeholder like ‘null’ in the serialized data to account for that. I’d use a class to represent each node of the N-ary tree. The serialize function would convert the tree into a string, and the deserialize function would reconstruct the tree from the serialized data.”*

This question can be asked to assess your understanding of data structures and algorithms, specifically your ability to efficiently identify duplicates in an array. It also tests your proficiency in writing clean, optimized code.

**How to Answer**

Discuss a suitable algorithm to identify duplicates in an array and return the first duplicate found. Consider using data structures like a set or hash table for an efficient solution.

**Example**

*“I would use a set or hash table to efficiently identify duplicate elements in the array. Then I will iterate through the array once and check if each element is already in a set of seen elements. If it is, I would return that element as the first duplicate found. Otherwise, I add the element to the set. Ensuring a time complexity of O(n).”*

This problem involves analyzing an elevation map and designing an algorithm to calculate the amount of trapped water after rain. It can be asked to test your problem-solving skills, algorithmic thinking, and ability to optimize solutions.

**How to Answer**

Design an algorithm that efficiently calculates the trapped water based on the elevation map. Optimize the algorithm for time and space complexity.

**Example**

*“I would approach this problem by visualizing how water gets trapped between elevations. I’ll iterate through the elevation map, maintaining left and right pointers. As I move through the array, I’ll calculate the trapped water at each position based on the minimum elevation to the left and right. The amount of trapped water at any position is the minimum of the left and right elevations minus the elevation at that position. The function would use left and right arrays to store maximum elevations and iterates through the map to determine the trapped water at each position.”*

Microsoft often deals with complex data scenarios, and this question helps to evaluate applicant’s skills in building predictive models for personalized recommendations. It tests your ability to design and implement machine learning models.

**How to Answer**

Discuss how you would preprocess and clean the data. Identify relevant features such as past purchase history, age, gender, and taste preferences. Discuss how you would transform these features for model input. Choose an appropriate machine learning model and outline how you will split data into training.

**Example**

*“I’d start by preprocessing and cleaning the data. Feature engineering would involve transforming and encoding categorical variables, creating new features, and normalizing numerical features. I will consider filtering models like matrix factorization or content-based filtering models. I would split the data into training and testing sets, train the model, and evaluate its performance using metrics like precision, recall, or other relevant evaluation metrics. Regular model updates based on new purchases or changing preferences would be part of the ongoing process.”*

This query tests your problem-solving skills, understanding of data structures, and ability to optimize algorithms. Finding a single element in an array with a unique occurrence demonstrates your proficiency in handling arrays and bitwise operations.

**How to Answer**

Develop an efficient algorithm to find the single element without using additional space. Consider using bitwise XOR to efficiently find the unique element.

**Example**

*“I would apply bitwise XOR to efficiently find the single element in the array. XORing a number with itself results in 0. So, if we XOR all elements in the array, the duplicates will cancel each other out, leaving only the unique element. The XOR operation efficiently finds the single element with a time complexity of O(n) and without using additional space.”*

`random_key`

Writing a function that relies on probability and efficient data structures and shows your technical depth and problem-solving abilities. The interviewer would assess your understanding of probability, data structures, and algorithmic thinking.

**How to Answer**

Write a function that uses probability to select a key from a dictionary based on its weight. Consider the efficiency of the algorithm, especially when dealing with large datasets.

**Example**

*“I would start by defining the random_key function, which takes a dictionary weighted_dict as input. To determine the total weight of all items in the dictionary, I would sum up the values of the dictionary. I would generate a random target value within the total weight range using the random.uniform function. I would then iterate through each key-value pair in the dictionary to determine which key falls within the probability range. For each item, I would accumulate its weight to current_weight. If current_weight becomes greater than or equal to the target value, I would return the corresponding key.”*

When you start typing in a search bar, you’ve probably seen suggestions or predictions that appear as you type. Designing an autocomplete feature for a search engine involves considerations for efficiency, scalability, and user experience. This question tests your understanding of system design, data structures, and algorithms.

**How to Answer**

First, choose appropriate data structures to store and retrieve the search terms efficiently. Develop an algorithm to provide relevant autocomplete suggestions based on user input. Consider the system’s scalability to handle a large number of users and search queries.

**Example**

*“To create an autocomplete feature, I’d employ a trie data structure for efficient storage and retrieval of search terms. The system would dynamically suggest relevant completions based on user input by traversing the trie. For scalability, I’d consider caching and potential distributed systems. Emphasizing user experience, suggestions would update in real-time, considering factors like popularity. Implementing asynchronous processing for responsiveness, a simplified Python example of an Autocomplete class showcases the trie’s efficiency in providing suggestions.”*

Microsoft often deals with large-scale data scenarios, and this question evaluates an applicant’s ability to extract meaningful information from a dataset using SQL queries.

**How to Answer**

Start by writing an SQL query to calculate the average commute time per commuter and the overall average commute time in NYC. Consider the datetime functions in SQL to calculate the time difference. Ensure that the calculations are filtered by the city, in this case, NYC.

**Example**

*“First, I’d ensure that the table encompasses pertinent columns such as user_id, trip_start_time, trip_end_time, and city. Then I would write SQL queries to address the specific requirements. Firstly, I would calculate the average commute time per commuter in NYC, utilizing the DATEDIFF function to determine the time difference in minutes between the trip_start_time and trip_end_time. The SQL query would group the results by user_id, providing a comprehensive view of the average commute time for each individual in the city. Subsequently, to get the overall average commute time in NYC, I would employ a similar query, calculating the average time difference for all rides within the specified city.”*

This question tests whether you can design and implement recommendation systems. It also assesses your understanding of algorithms, data structures, and the ability to leverage user data for personalized content recommendations.

**How to Answer**

Select an appropriate recommendation algorithm, considering collaborative filtering, content-based filtering, or hybrid approaches. Design a system for efficient storage and retrieval of user data, ensuring quick access to browsing history and user preferences.

**Example**

*“To design a recommendation system for Microsoft Edge, I’d adopt a hybrid approach. The system would efficiently store user data, including browsing history and interests. Collaborative filtering identifies patterns among users with similar behaviors, while content-based filtering analyzes the actual content of web pages for a nuanced understanding. Integration of machine learning ensures continuous adaptation to evolving user preferences. A user feedback loop refines recommendations based on explicit feedback, and real-time delivery ensures up-to-date and contextually relevant suggestions.”*

Proficiency in algorithmic thinking, mathematical concepts, and coding skills is important for tackling complex problems and developing efficient solutions. This question tests your understanding of probability distributions and their ability to write a function that simulates a random process.

**How to Answer**

Write a function in a programming language of your choice (e.g., Python) that generates a sample from a Bernoulli trial. Use a random number generator and specify the probability of success.

**Example**

*“To create a function for a Bernoulli trial sample, I’d write a Python function called bernoulli_trial. It takes the probability of success as a parameter, ensuring it’s within the valid range of 0 to 1. Using random.random(), the function generates a random float. If this value is less than the given probability, the function returns ‘success’; otherwise, it returns ‘failure’.”*

Microsoft, like many other tech companies, places great emphasis on ensuring the reliability, functionality, and quality of software products. The question evaluates your knowledge of testing practices and your ability to apply these concepts in a real-world scenario.

**How to Answer**

Clearly define unit testing, integration testing, and API testing. Highlight the specific focus and scope of each testing level.

**Example**

*“Unit testing, integration testing, and API testing are integral components of a comprehensive testing strategy aimed at ensuring the reliability and functionality of software. Unit testing involves testing individual units or components in isolation to validate their correctness. Integration testing, on the other hand, focuses on verifying the interactions and interfaces between integrated components to ensure they work together seamlessly. API testing specifically targets the functionality of application programming interfaces (APIs), ensuring they meet requirements and communicate effectively.”*

This question might be asked in a Microsoft Software Engineer interview to assess an applicant’s proficiency in SQL and database querying. It tests the candidate’s ability to formulate complex SQL queries and retrieve relevant information from a database.

**How to Answer**

Write an SQL query to calculate the percentage of users who posted a job more than 180 days ago. Utilize date functions and filtering conditions. Ensure the query considers the specified date (January 1st, 2022) as the reference point for calculating the age of job postings.

**Example**

*“To find the percentage of users who posted a job more than 180 days ago on a job board as of January 1st, 2022, I would write an SQL query. Assuming a job_postings table with user_id and post_date columns, I’d use the DATEDIFF function to calculate the age of each posting in days. Filtering for postings older than 180 days, I’d then determine the percentage by dividing the count of distinct users meeting this criterion by the total count of distinct users.”*

APIs are like the bridges that link different parts of many software. They play a key role in how major apps are designed. This question tests your understanding of testing methodologies, especially in the context of error handling and logging within APIs.

**How to Answer**

Clearly explain the concepts of error handling and logging in the context of API development. Discuss various scenarios that could trigger errors in an API. Talk about a combination of automated and manual testing. Mention how you would monitor error logs and reporting mechanisms.

**Example**

*“To test an API’s error handling and logging, I’d create automated tests for routine scenarios using tools like Postman. Manual testing would cover edge cases and intentional error simulations. Real-time alerts for critical errors and periodic log reviews would ensure immediate attention and continuous improvement.”*

Efficiently computing the median in a dynamic stream is a complex problem that requires a solid understanding of algorithms and data structures. Hence, this question can be asked to test your ability to design algorithms and handle streaming data.

**How to Answer**

Apply an algorithm that efficiently updates the median as new elements arrive in the ordered stream. Consider the properties of a sorted stream. Ensure clarity, correctness, and efficiency in your code.

**Example**

*“To compute the new median in an ordered stream with a not-yet-inserted element, I’d use a Python class named StreamMedianCalculator. The insert_new_element method adds the element to the ordered stream, sorts it, and calculates the median based on the stream’s length. In the method, after inserting the new element into the stream, I would sort the stream to keep it ordered. Then, I’d determine the length of the stream. For an even-length stream, I would find the two middle elements and calculate their average as the new median. For an odd-length stream, the median would simply be the middle element.”*

This question is asked to assess the candidate’s problem-solving skills and understanding of algorithm design, particularly in the context of searching algorithms. It tests the candidate’s ability to handle rotated arrays, which is a common problem in technical interviews due to their requirement for both binary search and array manipulation skills.

**How to Answer**

To answer this question effectively, start by explaining the strategy of finding the pivot point where the array is rotated, as this helps split the problem into two sorted subarrays. Then, detail the use of binary search within these subarrays to efficiently locate the target value. Highlight the importance of binary search for achieving the required O(log n) time complexity.

**Example**

*“I would start by identifying the pivot point where the array was rotated. This helps in dividing the array into two sorted subarrays. I could then perform a binary search on these subarrays to efficiently find the target value. Using binary search is crucial as it ensures the solution runs in O(log n) time.”*

This question tests fundamental programming concepts such as loops, conditionals, and possibly recursion, which are essential for software development.

**How to Answer**

Explain that the function uses two pointers, starting at the beginning and end of the string, to compare characters moving towards the center. If any characters don’t match, it returns False, otherwise it returns True. This method ensures an efficient O(n) time complexity, making it both simple and effective.

**Example**

*“To determine if a string is a palindrome, I would use two pointers, one starting at the beginning and the other at the end of the string. I would compare the characters at these pointers, moving them towards the center. If any characters don’t match, I would return that the string is not a palindrome. If all characters match, I would conclude that the string is a palindrome. This approach is efficient, as it only requires a single pass through the string.”*

Here are some useful tips to help you boost your confidence and ace the interview:

Brush up on CS basics such as operating systems, networks, and database management systems. Set up virtual machines and experiment with different OS features. Try installing and configuring software, managing users and permissions, and exploring system logs.

*Practice is the key. You can do this using our Learning Paths.*

Deepen your understanding of data structures and algorithm concepts such as arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, sorting, searching, and graph traversal.

*Try practicing different* Software Engineer Interview Questions *from top tech companies and sharpen your problem-solving and DSA skills.*

Connect with Microsoft employees on LinkedIn or other platforms and online communities to gain insights about their experiences, company culture, and potential projects.

*Additionally, you can check our Interview Experience feature at Interview Query to learn about other people’s interview experiences at top tech companies.*

Demonstrate effective problem-solving skills, and describe solutions clearly. Don’t just jump directly to the answer. Mention the specific steps and algorithms you considered for a problem and why you chose them. Present your chosen solution in a clear, logical way.

Using *our Takehomes, you can solve longer problems in a step-by-step way and boost your problem-solving skills and confidence.*

Believe in yourself, your skills, and your preparation. Approach the interview with a positive attitude and enthusiasm.

*At Interview Query, you can practice using our mock interviews to refine your skills and be well-prepared for the interview.*

$138,232

Average Base Salary

$133,176

Average Total Compensation

The average base pay for a Software Engineer at Microsoft is $170,389.

The estimated average total compensation is $231,143. The average recency-weighted total compensation is $224,133.

For more insights into the salary range of Software Engineers at various companies, check out our comprehensive Software Engineer Salary Guide.

There are tons of companies looking for talented software engineers like you, such as Tesla, Oracle, Careem, and many others. You can choose the one that aligns with your career goals and interests. Explore multiple opportunities, and don’t limit yourself to just one company.

Check out our jobs board for regular updates on current opportunities or can also refer to their official career page.

Equipped with the questions and tips given in this guide, we can say you’re now ready to tackle the Microsoft Software Engineer interview with confidence! Additionally, consider trying our Software Engineer Interview Questions to get more practice and be more comfortable when answering coding interview questions.

We wish you all the best in your interview!