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How to Become a Microsoft Product Manager

Microsoft, one of the largest and most recognizable technology companies in the world, completely revolutionized personal and workplace computing. Now nearly 50 years old, Microsoft remains as relevant as ever, continuing to produce new software, hardware, consumer devices, and advertising and licensing services. The company is one of tech’s most sought-after employers, and most Product Managers would jump at the chance to work for such an influential and well-established brand.

Want to join the Microsoft product team? Then this guide is for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know to win the Microsoft Product Manager interview and land the job.

Company Overview

Microsoft is one of the world’s most well-known software and technology companies. Individuals and organizations use their products every day all over the globe. Some of their most famous include the Microsoft Office software suite, the Xbox gaming console, Microsoft PCs and tablets, the Microsoft operating system, and Microsoft Azure cloud computing services.

Lifelong friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. The two created a modified version of BASIC for use with the Altair personal computer. By the early 1980s, IBM had asked Microsoft to develop an operating system for their own PC, and the MS-DOS of Microsoft operating system was born. It quickly became a massive success, which was followed by the wide adoption of their Windows graphical user interface (GUI), which launched in 1985. By 1986, Microsoft had gone public (NASDAQ: MSFT).  

Three years later, Microsoft released the first version of its still-popular Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. When Netscape’s Navigator web browser became available in the mid-1990s, Microsoft quickly created its own free competitor, Internet Explorer, which rapidly gained market share. The company entered the gaming market in 2001 with the launch of the Xbox console, and in 2008, it entered the cloud space as well, releasing Microsoft Azure that October. Their Bing search engine, a competitor to Google search, launched the following year. 

Microsoft Today

In 2012, Microsoft entered the tablet market with the release of the Surface Pro. Their fastest-growing application, Microsoft Teams, hit the market five years later. In mid-2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft announced its plan to help millions of people expand their digital skill sets and assist in the world’s economic recovery.

Over its nearly 50-year history, Microsoft has acquired 248 companies, with the most recent being Two Hat Security in October of 2021. Other notable examples include GitHub (2018), LinkedIn (2016), Skype (2011), and Hotmail (1997), which the company rebranded as Outlook.com in 2013.

Today, Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, Washington and helmed by CEO Satya Nadella. The company employs nearly 190,000 people worldwide and earned revenues of over $61 billion in fiscal year 2021. Last year, the company donated more than $1 billion to various nonprofit and charitable organizations. Globally, over 1.3 billion devices run on Windows 10, and the company has been 100% carbon neutral since 2012

Product Culture at Microsoft

Microsoft’s product offerings include software, devices, hardware and accessories, gaming systems, and services. On the software side, well-known products include Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Office suite. Physical products like the Xbox gaming console and the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet are also popular. The company also offers a number of cloud computing services, licensing options, and advertising solutions. 

Overall Company Culture

Microsoft’s mission is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” To support that mission, they’ve established the following corporate values:

  • Respect: We recognize that the thoughts, feelings, and backgrounds of others are as important as our own.
  • Integrity: We are honest, ethical, and trustworthy.
  • Accountability: We accept full responsibility for our decisions, actions, and results.

Microsoft employees are expected to be driven, responsible, focused, and hardworking. In return, they receive a number of perks and benefits, including paid parental leave, stock options, volunteer time off, gym memberships, free meals and snacks, and charitable gift matching. The company is also highly committed to philanthropy, diversity, and inclusion and accessibility

Product Team Culture

At Microsoft, Product Managers are quite technical and work closely with the engineering team. They’re expected to possess some background in computer science and coding, and be ready to apply those skills to every project. 

How to Get a Product Manager Job at Microsoft

At Product Gym, we apply a simple four-step framework to landing the Product Manager job you’re looking for. With this structure and the support of the PG community, both aspiring and veteran PMs have increased the number of calls they receive for interviews. The process also leads to more of those interviews being converted into offers.

Here’s how the magic works:

1. Optimize

From the best techniques for writing a cover letter to building an attractive Product Manager resume, the first step is to boost your credibility and professional branding. To get the offer from Microsoft, you’ll need:

  • A resume designed to beat the ATS
  • A cover letter that shows your culture fit
  • An optimized LinkedIn profile that aligns with the above
  • A 30-second personal pitch that sells you as the best possible candidate

At Product Gym, we provide branding workshops, resume reviews, and the tools you need to take your professional branding to the next level.

2. Apply

Product Gym members apply for 20+ Product Manager jobs weekly, and often average 9+ interviews in any given week. But how’s that going to help you get the job at Microsoft? Simple: by perfecting your application strategy and interview approach through practice and experience, you’ll build the confidence and expertise you need to wow the recruiter and interviewers at your dream company when the time comes.

Of course, our tried and tested application framework is paired with tools, tips, and interview support that all come together to form a job-hunting strategy that really works.

3. Convert

Once you’ve lined up your interviews, it’s time to zero in on converting those round ones into round twos, and so on, all the way to the Microsoft Product Manager job offer. It’s no secret that we focus on the Product Manager interview process here at Product Gym: we’re there to help our members learn how to ace every step and every question — including behavioral questions, technical questions, case studies, salary negotiation, and more.

4. Learn

When should you start building your product management skillset? Before you apply? When you’re on the job? Honestly, transitioning into product management can be a long journey. We encourage Product Managers (whether you’re a first-timer or an industry vet) to start learning at the beginning and continue on past the finish line.

You likely already have skills that translate well into a Product Manager role: keep sharpening them, and find the gaps where you can learn, grow, and practice new skills to become a better Product Manager every day.

We want to make sure our members show up skilled and prepared for their interviews and their first day on the job, which is why we offer 20+ technical and business courses taught by industry experts.

What Does a Typical Microsoft Product Manager Job Posting Look Like?

Microsoft Product Manager job descriptions typically begin with a brief introduction to the role, the product(s) involved, and a bit about the team environment. Next comes a list of responsibilities, which is a rundown of the job’s core duties. That’s followed by a “qualifications” section, which lists the traits, experience, and skills a Microsoft PM should have. Generally, Microsoft Product Managers should have:

  • 5+ years of product management experience (some, like this Product Manager – Platform and Extensibility role, require 10+ years)
  • A strong technical background
  • Excellent collaboration skills, particularly with engineering
  • Previous SaaS product management experience
  • A bachelors (or higher) degree in Computer Science, Engineering, or related discipline

While salary is generally not listed in the job description, Glassdoor puts Microsoft’s average Product Manager salary at $140K annually. Senior PMs can expect to earn about $179K per year.

How Do You Get an Interview at Microsoft?

Get started by browsing through Microsoft’s current job openings to find the role(s) that match your expertise, skills, goals, and experience. Once you’ve identified one (or more!) that appears promising, your next step is to create a strong application — and that starts with a standout resume. 

Write a Fantastic Product Manager Resume

According to Microsoft, your resume should highlight specific accomplishments you achieved at your previous positions. If you have a past project that was particularly successful, they recommend adding it as an attachment or link within your application. Resumes may be longer than one page, but the most relevant information should be quickly visible on Page One. Microsoft also suggests including a list of your interests, extracurricular activities (for college students), and volunteer work. 

Before writing your resume for Product Manager, check out our free webinar on resume writing, which takes you through the process of building a resume that can be used for multiple Product Manager positions. 

Position Yourself as a Top-Tier Hire

Your next step is to demonstrate your product management skills by writing a pitch that outlines the Product Manager position’s key responsibilities. You’ll need your personal elevator pitch polished and ready for the interview process, where you’ll use it to position your history and experience in the best possible way.

Apply!

Now it’s time to submit your application. You can do so by creating a Microsoft Careers site account, which will also allow you to track the status of your application and set up job alerts. But don’t stop there — if you know any employees at Microsoft, see if they’d be willing to give you a referral. According to Glassdoor, 14% of interviewees got their foot in the door through an employee referral. Also, our step-by-step recruiter networking methodology can help you secure that initial interview.

What Is the Microsoft Product Manager Interview Process and Timeline?

The Product Manager hiring process at Microsoft typically follows these steps:

  1. Introductory call with the hiring manager
  2. Technical and behavioral round with team members and stakeholders
  3. The offer

The process typically takes between five weeks and two months from end to end. According to Glassdoor, 66% of interviewees had a positive experience, and the average difficulty was rated 3.1 out of 5.

How to Win the Introductory Call With the Hiring Manager

At most companies, the first and second rounds of interviews are primarily focused on commonly asked questions like:

While the initial interview at Microsoft does include questions like these, it includes a number of more detailed and harder-hitting ones as well. In fact, many Glassdoor responses noted surprise at how technical and detailed the initial interview was.

15 Microsoft Product Manager Interview Questions

Be prepared to answer questions like these in the first and second round of the Microsoft Product Manager interview:

  1. Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a team member or a manager.
  2. Which apps do you use on your cell phone on a daily basis and why?
  3. Tell me about a time you’ve had to change the way you work.
  4. Tell me about a product you managed from idea to launch.
  5. Tell me about a time you have had to drive change.
  6. Choose a product you have at home and tell us what feature you like about it.
  7. How do you prioritize among competing features?
  8. What is the difference between C++ and Java?
  9. Tell me about a situation when things didn’t go as planned. What did you learn from it?
  10. What is that one product feature that would change the landscape of Devops/GitOps?
  11. Which is better — touchscreen or traditional dials and knobs for a car dash screen?
  12. Explain the architecture of your current or past product in detail.
  13. What’s a vertical of our business that you would divest from?
  14. Explain recursion to someone who is non-technical.
  15. Describe your experience with Agile frameworks.

How to Answer Microsoft Interview Questions

Luckily, Microsoft has also provided some interview preparation tips for candidates. They suggest doing some research on the company, its products, and its positioning in the tech and software market. You should be familiar with their core competencies (Collaboration, Drive for results, Customer focus, Influencing for impact, Judgment, and Adaptability) and be ready to share how you’ve demonstrated them in past roles. Be prepared to do the same with their corporate values

During the interview, Microsoft suggests being authentic, clearly demonstrating your thought process, and using the STAR(R) method to answer questions. Microsoft also encourages candidates to come prepared with questions of their own, both about the role and the company. 

How to Win the Technical and Behavioral Round With Team Members and Stakeholders 

Like the previous round, this group of interviews will address technical knowledge. You’ll also be asked a number of situational and product design questions. Here are 9 examples of third-round Microsoft interview questions to get you ready:

  1. Evaluate the upsides and downsides of building a super app — an app having all major B2C features including entertainment, e-commerce, food ordering, hotel booking, cab booking, chat, holiday planning, gaming, med ordering, service booking, etc.
  2. Design a product for job seekers to create resumes and find the best-matching jobs easily and quickly.
  3. How would you design a phone for kids aged less than 5 years?
  4. Create an API design for third-party integration for payments.
  5. Design a loyalty program for a search engine that’s competing with Google & Bing.
  6. Evolve a GTM strategy to acquire 1 million new users for Bing on Android.
  7. Design a radio alarm clock for the next generation.
  8. How would you design a more efficient drive-through?
  9. How would you design a playlist software for parties?

For these questions, the interviewer will be looking to assess your problem-solving and critical thinking skills, so be sure to clearly explain each step of your thought process and ask to provide visuals if needed.

After this round, the decision is in the hands of the Microsoft hiring team. Good luck!

How Did COVID-19 Change Hiring at Microsoft?

Like most companies, Microsoft switched to a fully virtual interviewing process during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this writing, all Microsoft interviews are still being conducted remotely and will be until further notice. To help candidates adjust to this new process, the company has created a resource hub specifically around virtual interviews, along with a video on how they work at Microsoft. Prior to the interview, they recommend installing Microsoft Teams, checking your internet speed, charging your device, finding a quiet space, and having a backup plan should you experience technical difficulties. 

Microsoft did continue to actively hire during the pandemic and is still recruiting new team members. Currently, Microsoft has nearly 21,000 open positions, including hundreds of product management roles. 

As of September 2021, Microsoft has not set an in-office return date. When their offices do reopen, hybrid work will be the norm. The company is currently evaluating updates to their physical spaces to improve hybrid collaboration and to better meet the needs of its location-flexible workforce. They’ve also established “stages” for openings/closures in response to changing local recommendations and mandates. 

Become a Microsoft Product Manager

Want to learn more about becoming a Microsoft Product Manager or getting hired at a well-known company? Our career coaches are now offering free sessions: schedule yours today. We’d be glad to answer any of your questions.

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