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Microsoft Businesses

Microsoft's Personnel Puzzle 961

theodp writes "CNET reports on Microsoft's reputation for arrogance in its personnel practices, citing the experience of Arthur Sorkin, who responded to an unsolicited invitation to interview with MS back in 2000. But instead of trying to sell him on the company or the job, interviewers challenged him with a technical 'pop quiz.' Sorkin, who holds a PhD in CS, withdrew his application. During the past year, Microsoft called Sorkin to say it had scheduled a phone interview with him for another job, although Sorkin hadn't applied for it and no one had asked if he was interested."
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Microsoft's Personnel Puzzle

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  • Spam (Score:4, Funny)

    by m85476585 ( 884822 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:56PM (#13007684)
    "unsolicited invitation to interview"

    Sounds like Spam!
    • Re:Spam (Score:3, Funny)

      by `Sean ( 15328 )
      I wonder how many unsolicited invitations to interview he'll get now that his resume has been Slashdotted. ;)
    • Re:Spam (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I had the SAME "interview", to be on their debug team for 'Windows Error Reporting' resolutions & analysis...

      First, on the phone, MS folks' asked me alot of questions on the phone about string processing & string lists (limitations, how to use them, etc.) which got me past step #1...

      Because, mainly iirc, that was round #1...

      Then, via email, they sent me an ACTUAL test to take, which had only 3 questions on it, the first 2 I got right I am fairly sure:

      1.) How to swap two variables (numeric) w/out
      • Re:Spam (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jyoull ( 512280 ) <[jim] [at] []> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:56PM (#13008326)
        This has got to be one of the oldest cliches in the book... matter of fact I've heard plenty of Microsoft interviewing stories and they always seem to turn on some goofy cliche of a technique that, once you know it, seems obvious, and if you don't, seems impenetrable.

        These are the computing equivalents of the sorts of tricks you keep on hand for bar bets... []

        You know, it's really hard to hire people. but testing them on recall of something out of the CS Grad's Standard Toolkit is perfectly fine, if you want to know if they're loaded and ready to roll, but it's kind of a dumb way to figure out if you'd want to hire them. Three questions of this nature and that's it? I'd be insulted.

        spoiler alert, but oh my god this is one of the oldies...

        A = A xor B
        B = A xor B
        A = A xor B

        and you've swapped the values.

        Wikipedia entry []

      • Re:Spam (Score:3, Informative)

        by SeventyBang ( 858415 )

        I'd be willing to gamble Anders didn't have to take the test. And if so, as nothing more than a formality.
        Then, via email, they sent me an ACTUAL test to take, which had only 3 questions on it, the first 2 I got right I am fairly sure:

        1.) How to swap two variables (numeric) w/out using the (what I call it) "Father, Son, & Holy Ghost" technique of 3 variable placeholders...

        (This was the easiest, & involved math, & easiest)

        Generally, engine/algorithm I used was/is:


        (Goal being
    • Re:Spam (Score:3, Funny)

      I've got Karma to burn, so what the hell!


      Hey hey, Microsoft's great,
      They forcefeed bullshit onto your plate.
      You'll be working for Gates, that iconic dude,
      Crooked marketer through and through!

      Oh oh, you better watch out,
      Someone installed IE, so don't you pout.
      You've got a job with this mega-firm,
      We're spyware enablers from stem to stern!

      Hey ho, heed our call,
      And then we'll have you by the balls.
      Write some shit, there's no remorse,
      So long as you attack Open Source!

      Yay yah, Microsoft's great!
      Come on i
  • Why is this news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:57PM (#13007688)
    There is an entire book called "How Would You Move Mount Fuji?" about Microsoft style interviews. It even gives a list of their favorite questions, and is a must read for anyone who intends to interview there.
    • by savagedome ( 742194 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:02PM (#13007766)
      "How Would You Move Mount Fuji?"

      mv /mnt/fuji /dev/null
    • Re:Why is this news? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Saige ( 53303 )
      Don't bother. The interview has changed substantially since that book was written, and you won't be prepared if you expect all those odd brainteasers and "abstract reasoning" questions or whatever they heck they were. You won't get asked how to move Mt. Fuji, why manhole covers are round, or any of those other things anymore. You might get some puzzles - both work related and non-work related - but nothing like before.

      Instead, be prepared to talk about past experiences and how you've handled various job
      • Re:Why is this news? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:45PM (#13008213)
        I was at MS for a job interview and I was asked to design an in-car coffee maker. I concentrated on things like getting water & coffee to the device as well as figuring how how to make the coffee cup stay in place while brewing, device size, styling and pricing. Being an embedded guy, I was also concerned about powering the device, working with a minimal UI (probably room for just a view buttons), keeping the water from freezing in the lines, making sure it worked on inclines and getting rid of the heat generated by the brewing process.

        I was *supposed* to be thinking about how I could link the coffee machine to the a wireless network so I could sync it with my WiFi alarm clock and e-mail program, said the interviewer.
        • by mav[LAG] ( 31387 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @07:41PM (#13009367)
          If there's a more striking ancodote than this about the difference between a competent engineer's view of the world and Microsoft's, I've yet to read it.

          It's all here. Mr AC, obvously a thoughtful and experienced engineer, thinks about good design from the ground up, making sure the subsystems are modular and robust and that the entire device is practical. The Microsoft interviewer doesn't give a toss about whether it's stable or not - just whether it has connectivity enough to sync with Outlook.

          I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
          • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @01:23AM (#13011258)
            This is a tricky question, and I think both the candidate and you missed the key. The key is design. You have to elicit the requirements from the interviewer and design around them.
            Talking about WIFI at the end is just a way of saying, "you forgot to ask me what I want."
            This question tests whether you realize that design must be responsive to requirements. Most geeks don't.
        • by IDIIAMOTS ( 553790 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @07:43PM (#13009375)
          Were you interviewing for a developer or a program manager (PM) position? If you were getting interviewed for a PM, then your answer was inappropriate for that position. PMs are supposed to design features on an item and how to intergrate it with other things to "add value". If you were interviewing for a developer position then I think the answer you gave was spot on. In that case you had a shoddy interviewer who should not have been on the developer interview loop.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          "How would you design an in car coffee maker?"
      • Interestingly, only my last interview (of a half-dozen) covered any behavioural questions. Almost all the interviews before that were all technical, coding-on-a-whiteboard type questions. It's pretty grueling, actually.
    • by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:11PM (#13007855) Homepage
      How would you move Mount Fugi?

      I would use a static warp shell to lower its mass in this inertial frame of reference and then pick it up.
      • How would you move Mount Fuji?

        1. Open the refrigerator door
        2. Put Mt. Fuji in the refrigerator
        3. Close the refrigerator door
        4. Move the refrigerator

      • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @07:51PM (#13009442) Journal
        I would hire 20,000 temporary staff for a period of 5-15 years, without ever offering to hire them on permanently. Then, I would issue each of them a teaspoon and canoe. These would be deducted from their first paycheck of course, at full retail price. The teaspoon serves 2 functions, as a paddle for the canoe, and when they arrive at Mt Fuji, as their shovel. It is true that Mt. Fuji is made more of rock than anything resembling soil, but I expect my employees to not need a babysitter, I hired them to figure these things out. Once they have their teaspoon filled with 0.0000000000001% of Mt. Fuji, then they have to canoe back to where ever, and deliver the teaspoonful. There would then be paperwork to fill out.

        On second thought, Mt. Fuji is still somewhat active, might be best to have them sign a disclaimer, in case they are lavanated.
        • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:01AM (#13010937)
          1) Announce that you will move mount fuji any day now.
          2) Announce that the competition will never be able move mount fuji and that once you move mount fuji there is a real chance they will go out of business.
          3) Announce that since you will move mount fuji any day now it makes no sense to buy anything from a competitor. .....wait four years.

          4) Announce that you will not be moving all of mount fuji just "the important parts" .... Wait two years.

          5) Announce that you have already moved part of mount fuji and show the press a bucket of dirt.

          6) Get a truckload of dirt from mount fuji, dump it in redmond and proudly announce that you have successfully moved mount fuji.
          7) Keep claiming that MS has moved mount fuji and that it's the most innovative and amazing thing ever done by anybody anywhere. Pay ZDNET lots of money to repeat that announcement five times a day for six months.

          8) Voila! MS has moved mount fuji, anybody who claims otherwise is a communist, hippie, terrorist.
      • Re:Why is this news? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Surt ( 22457 )
        I'd just pick it up and put it down wherever you want it. Don't believe I can do it? Let me prove it to you.
        (That's how I got my free vacation to Mt. Fuji.)
    • Wait a second and it would have moved several hundreds of miles courtesy of the earth's orbit. Do I win?
    • by bADlOGIN ( 133391 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @06:26PM (#13008653) Homepage
      Q: "How would you move mount Fuji"?

      A: "First, I'd question the business case for moving mount Fuji."

      Yeah, yeah, yeah. I recognize that this question should demonstrate your creative problem solving, but it seems to me that 9 times out of 10, a lot of technical "problems" out there are created by extremely stupid business requirements wich all too often come from extremely stupid business people. It's amazing sometimes how speaking to them in thier own insipid psudo-language (especially in front of thier peers) can slap them into reality. Granted, they won't stay in reality long, but the fresh air and change of scenery can do them some good with repeated visits:)
    • How I moved Mt. Fuji (Score:5, Interesting)

      by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @06:43PM (#13008862) Homepage Journal
      I broke my pipe down to pieces (the chanter, believe it or not, is the longest segment) and put the four-reeded monster in a tote.
      Ascended Fuji. I was #2 in the group to reach summit.
      Assembled the instrument. Splitting headache from the ascent.
      I played "Amazing Grace" and "Morag of Dunvegan" looking down into the crater.
      The mountain was moved.
      For 500 yen, a fellow lit off a blowtorch and stamped the foot of the chanter (a hard-plastic Dunbar-Eller) with some Kanji that say "Top of the Hill, 3220m" IIRC.
      Trying to play the instrument at that elevation qualifies as full-on stupid, but WTF, it's braggin' rights on /., so I got that goin' for me.
  • by hesiod ( 111176 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:57PM (#13007691)
    ...but, isn't it arrogant of him to think himself above any kind of proficiency test? Does he think he's perfect and should be hired with no showing of his actual ability?
    • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:01PM (#13007751) Homepage Journal
      If somebody is sending you an unsolicited invitation for a job, then yes, you are above a profiency test. They invited you. Their goal should be to get you to take the job they are offering you.

      There's a difference between you asking them for a job and them asking you if you want a job.
    • by shawn(at)fsu ( 447153 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:02PM (#13007756) Homepage
      I agree.

      Our company does this, other companies I've interviewed do this. You can't blame them, it's not like every one is completely honest with there resume. It didn't phase me a bit when I was quized at my last interview.
      • Being asked to take a proficiency test is fine with me, depending on how it's approached. I can think of two different situations from my own experience. In one case, I was asked to come in for an interview. As this was early on in my career, I put on my suit and tie and spent probably 40 minutes driving to the location. I walked in and was handed an application paper and a skills quiz by a bored-looking front desk clerk. Nobody introduced themselves to me, told me they were happy I'd made it, asked ho
    • I don't care how many random letters (like phd / mcse, mba, etc) this Arthur dude gloms on his name when he signs documents; it's still perfectly appropriate for interviewers to want to make their own evaluation of candidates.

      I've seen plenty of 60-year-old PhD's who hadn't produced anything for 30 years. Before hiring anyone, I think it's fair to ask them some interview questions.

      Methinks his response is sour grapes because he no longer has the mind he once had when he did his phd studies and flunke

    • by Keck ( 7446 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:04PM (#13007784) Homepage
      No, it's more the arrogance of their approach; almost assuming that if offered a job there, ANYBODY would just JUMP at the chance -- it implies a one-way kind of relationship. Also, the 'quizzes' they offer are much less like a CS proficiency exam than you might think. Getting the 'right' answers is a strong function of having read/heard that one before, or are open ended questions designed to see the thinker's thought process, willingness to attack a large problem, see the big picture without neglecting the details, etc. So no, he doesn't think he should be hired without showing his ability, it's that the questions they ask don't actually show those abilities, and the whole thing wasn't even his idea :)
      • by claytongulick ( 725397 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @06:41PM (#13008843) Homepage
        I interviewed with MS once, and the interview was much more like a CS exam that I thought it would be. I completely blew the interview (I hadn't slept at all the night before because the hotel room was freezing, there was only one blanket and the bed was rock hard - so I was not at my best) It went like this:

        The interview was a full day affair, with very few breaks. They said in the AM that I may or may not be finished at lunch, basically - they said that if I was a total idiot then they wouldn't waste anyone's time after lunch.

        All of the interviews involved writing code on a whiteboard in various languages. The code was reviewed for syntactical correctness as well as logical.

        The first interviewer was really cool - she asked me to mock-up a battleship simulation in C# and laughed at me as I did a very bleary-eyed OOP model in C# of the Game object, the Player object etc... when really what she was after was the validation logic for putting the ships on the board - ensure they are in bounds and don't hit other ships etc... to me that seemed completely worthless - I mean that just an algorithm you would work out and tweak, the important stuff is your class structure.... but I digress.

        I walked out of that interview feeling pretty good until I got in the next one. It was horrible - the interviewer was very arrogant and rude and had a thick accent which made him difficult to understand. He would ask me a question, and sit and roll his eyes as I was answering and check his email - basically communicating clearly to me that he didn't like me, want me there or want to be talking to me. For a code sample, he asked me to write code in C# (on a whiteboard) that would traverse a tree of nodes and print out the values in order of all nodes at an arbitrary level. So I wrote a recursive function that would do what he wanted, and that would work just fine. He didn't like that way I had written it, and demanded that I rewrite it "more efficiently". I stood there for like 20 mins feeling like a total idiot because I couldn't figure out what he was talking about, until he got mad and said I should be using "queues" and that it would be more efficient. I had no idea what he was talking about and told him, and he came up and tried to explain that I could have used a FIFO queue - but looking at his example, I didn't understand how his approach would have been any more efficient than mine - when I asked him this, he just got angrier and said it was. Suffice to say, that interview didn't go so well. I realized as soon as I was done with him that I wasn't going to get the job, so I resolved to just have some fun and enjoy the rest of the day. As an interesting footnote, I kept thinking about the question, and a couple days later I did find a much more efficient way of doing it, but it had nothing to do with queues, and it would have been much faster than either of the methodologies we had discussed. I damn near emailed him the better solution, but figured "Whats the point?" Ah well, like I say I was not at my best.

        My next interview was with a guy who asked me a different technical question involving organizational hierarchies. I was lucky in that interview because I had written a budget system for a bank that used a similar structure, so I had found a very clever solution to the exact problem he asked me. When I explained my whiteboard code, he got a "damn this guy is good" look in his eye, so I felt pretty good coming out of that one.

        Next was a lunch interview, a guy who that said would be my "peer" took me to lunch and asked me a bunch of questions while I was eating. The questions he asked were ridiculous, I mean stuff straight out of the MCSD Analyzing Solutions test. Seriously, I'm pretty sure he pulled a couple test questions before our lunch interview. He would ask me something, and I would answer him with a couple ways that I had solved the problem in the real world, and then he would say "no, that's no the answer, the answer is Scalability, Maintainability, Performance and....
        • by sfjoe ( 470510 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:06PM (#13010610)
          He would ask me a question, and sit and roll his eyes as I was answering and check his email - basically communicating clearly to me that he didn't like me, want me there or want to be talking to me.

          I had an interview like that once. The guy asked me of my degree was from a "real school or one of those diploma-by-mail outfits".
          Many years later I got to sit on a committee that was going to evaluate a purchase of a product his company had built. This was a major purchase and I made damn sure he knew who I was and I made him sweat blood.
          Damn - that felt good!!!!!
        • by oobob ( 715122 ) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:21AM (#13011021)
          Of course he was upset. The overhead for recursive functions is many times more than that for implimenting queues. From this page [] covering what you should have remembered from basic computer science, we find that "Every time a method is called, all of the local variables, registers, and method parameters must be pushed on the call stack. This can make recursion very time consuming since recursion usually adds a lot of method calls."

          However, had you recalled Breadth-First-Search, you'd realize that with a queue you could traverse the the tree one level at a time, starting with the root and adding all children found on each level. This explicitly stores in queue the information you implicitly programmed in the recursion. It requires more thinking, but it saves the costly recursive calls, which can pile up very quickly if you're searching an unbalanced tree. You were lazy and neglected algorithmic analysis for the easy recursive solution and got rightly burned for it. This may have happened because you were tired, and that's certainly understandable, but this is early CS/basic algorithms material, and if I was your interviewer I'd also be concerned (but less of a dick about it).
    • by jfengel ( 409917 )
      I'd feel better about it if I trusted the proficiency test.

      Tests are a very rough measure of your skill. They're used to broadly separate candidates into maybe-acceptable and useless. You wouldn't make your decision based on it. You have to interview the person, and you can tell better from that than from the test whether he's any good or not. The tests are good only to weed out the obviously unacceptable candidates before you schedule an interview.

      I've taken some of these, and sometimes they're an ins
    • by C3ntaur ( 642283 ) <> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:10PM (#13007847) Journal
      No, it's not arrogant at all, considering he did not solicit the interview. If a company said to me out of the blue, "We're really impressed with your skill set and would like to speak with you about a job opportunity", then ambushed me with a pop quiz when I got there, you can bet I'd be offended.

      With an opener like that, my expectation would be that they already had a good handle on my skill set through a referral, my published work, or some other means. Here's a dating analogy: You see an attractive woman at a bar, and offer to buy her a drink, complementing her good looks. Then you ask if she has any photos of her relatives, because you want to be sure that if you eventually breed, your offspring won't be ugly. Wouldn't you expect a slap in the face?
      • I usually get slapped in the face at the drink offering step. :\

        A better analogy is credit card offers. They obviously want your money but they still need to check your credit history before they decide if you're worthy or not.
  • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by oo7tushar ( 311912 ) <> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:57PM (#13007693) Homepage
    When was the last time the Borg asked if they could assimilate you?
    • oo7tushar wrote:
      When was the last time the Borg asked if they could assimilate you?
      Obvioulsy... it was the last time we were both in Soviet Russia.
  • by mesmartyoudumb ( 471890 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:59PM (#13007713) Homepage
    Must be one hell of a player!
  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:03PM (#13007769)
    This should be Bad News for Microsoft, because in the end, any software product is first and foremost a reflection of what's in the mind of the developer. If you're hiring 2nd tier minds, you get 2nd tier software.

    Even if a product is so big that one person can't understand it, you can still understand what you're working on.

    This remind me of the "Joel on Software" article about python. Better software developers stay up-to-date because they want to. Lesser software develoeprs stay up-to-date because they have to.

    Why would working at Microsoft be interesting, unless you're political?
  • by incast ( 121639 ) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:03PM (#13007773)
    I had an interview for a co-op marketing position with Microsoft. The interview went well, I was getting along with the interviewers and we were have a good conversation, and then they asked me the last question......

    "How on earth could you ever work for Microsoft, the big evil company??"

    Probably the best question I've ever been asked in an interview.
  • by lazlo ( 15906 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:06PM (#13007797) Homepage
    I had a friend who had a perfect quote for this sort of thing. "The left hand doesn't know which foot the right is shooting." It's an IPC failure. A "recruitment process" is designed to find good people. These are then handed off to a "hiring process", which begins with an "interview process". Unfortunately, the "interview process" recieves input from both recruitment *and* people walking in off the street. It's geared for weeding out the in-off-the-street group until all that's left is good people. That process doesn't know to act differently when fed a diet of people who are already known to be qualified, but aren't as desparate for a job as the street crowd.

    It looks funny from the outside, because even though we know better, it's easy to think of any large organization (i.e., Microsoft) as a single entity, when it's actually a group of individuals flying in loose formation, each doing what they percieve to be their job. Sometimes two people's jobs in such an organization will run to cross-purposes.
    • by HermanAB ( 661181 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:41PM (#13008175)
      Every organization worth its salt has a separate application process for 'experienced professionals'. The only company I know that actually has that on its web site, is Lockheed-Martin. In other organizations, experienced professionals are expected to figure out how to bypass HR and get hired directly by a higher level manager. I think 'bypassing HR' is actually part of the test for a professional...
    • Well to be honest I think a "pop quiz" is a perfectly correct thing to do in an interview, I don't care who the interviewee is. I think Microsoft is kind of lucky the guy walked because he apparently has a prima donna attitude that he is way to "good" to be subjected to a basic test to see if he knows his stuff. He would probably be way to "good" to work in a team where people aren't worshipping his PhD'ness.

      I've met more than few PhD's over the years who are so disconnected from reality, due in part to
  • MS vs. Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:07PM (#13007807)
    The son of a colleague interviewed with both Google and MS and got job offers from both companies. He took the MS job because he felt the Google folks were more arrogant than the MS folks. The Google folks were quite shocked that he turned them down.

    It's only one anecdotal data point, but it does suggest a simple fact of life. Success breeds arrogance whether a company is "evil empire" or seeks to "do no evil."
    • Re:MS vs. Google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iwadasn ( 742362 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @06:30PM (#13008699)

      One of my friends worked for Google, and he told me their stories. We both worked for Microsoft. Google is FAR more arrogant. Among other things, they decided to open a branch in India because they've "exhausted the talent supply in the United States." This is all the more remarkable because they only have a few thousand employees, only a few hundred in NYC. Apparently they've got all 300 or so good programmers in NYC. That certainly came as a shock to me, especially considering that most other places in NYC pay MUCH more than Google does. Perhaps they've exhausted the supply of talented people willing to work for half the industry standard wage?

      In any case, arrogance breeds downfall, soon enough. Most of the Microserfs I met were not terribly arrogant, not moreso than your average techie at least. Though Google loving seems to be the order of the day, I'm not such a fan. A company valued at 100x earnings that thinks it vomits sunshine, well, granny's pension fund is going to lose some money.
      • Re:MS vs. Google (Score:3, Interesting)

        by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
        Be aware that there are differences between the people who work for a company being arrogant, and the company being arrogant. One is based around individual style, and the other is encoded in procedures and rules of conduct.

        (That said, I must admit that one frequently seems to quickly lead to the either direction.)

        People who work for MS aren't necessarily arrogant, but this doesn't mean that the organization itself isn't arrogant.

        OTOH, MOST organizations that I've looked to work for have been
    • Re:MS vs. Google (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Krach42 ( 227798 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @08:00PM (#13009518) Homepage Journal
      Had a friend interview with Google. The group loved him, but he was under the GPA requirement. They fought long and hard saying, "This is the perfect guy for the job, we just need to waive the GPA requirement."

      Eventually, the executive board decided not to waive the GPA requirement for him, and they ended up not hiring the guy who the group themselves thought was as good as you could get for the job.

      Any company that doesn't listen to their group, which is fighting to hire a guy, are absolute morons.
  • by quadra23 ( 786171 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:08PM (#13007826) Journal
    The issue has come to the fore in part because of comments made this month by internal Microsoft recruiter Gretchen Ledgard, who blasted some of her company's managers as "entitled, spoiled whiners" who assume that everyone wants to work for Microsoft.

    Unfortunately typical of a company that is and/or thinks like a monopoly. There isn't very good business practice in just being arrogant (in the midst of well-known bugs in your own software especially!) and I don't think I know anyone who would want to work for a company that behaved in such a way -- not a professional image I'd want to be associated with!

    Among the charges leveled at Gates, Ballmer and crew: Job candidates have been turned off by Microsoft arrogance...But he is one of many observers within and outside of Redmond who's raising questions about the way the company recruits and retains its work force

    Reading the article reminded me of what I've heard about Google employees. I can't see Google leaving much room to be arrogant when they allow their employees to spend part of their work time on their own personal projects. I certainly don't hear this about Google and I think they are very good reasons why.

    Of course, Microsoft, which is seeking to defend its turf in operating systems while expanding into newer areas such as desktop search, isn't alone in facing a tougher climate when it comes to competing for employees.

    When you've got Desktop Search really being pioneered by Google in addition to their excellent search engine I'm sure if I was choosing a company to develop for I'd be choosing the one that was doing well from the get-go regardless of who was around longer. I'd rather go on with company that does real innovation and I'm sure that's why all these other individuals aren't signing on board.
  • by RainbowSix ( 105550 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:15PM (#13007914) Homepage
    A friend of mine went to the Microsoft job fair booth with a hand-scribbled resume on notebook paper. In the "objectives" section he wrote "to get free stuff." As a joke, he gave it to them and took the available booth swag.

    He got an email asking for an interview.
  • Doh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:17PM (#13007933)
    Its executives have acknowledged the recruiting headaches in recent months. For instance, Microsoft's Windows chief, Jim Allchin, conceded that Google had lured away some of the software giant's talent and said Microsoft's magnetic pull among college students may have weakened, according to a Seattle Times story late last year.
    Gee, ya think?! After years of beating up on students by branding many as pirates and communists for cutting their teeth on affordable Open Source software, Microsoft is shocked that somehow their abuses of the past have somehow come to bite them in their big, bloated behind.

    You watch. They're going to start handing out tonnes of free development software to get people re-interested in developing for Windows. With web apps all the rage, who needs 95% of the market with desktop apps when you can develop with PHP, Rails or other open source tools and get 100% of the market with web apps?
  • This is actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daVinci1980 ( 73174 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:23PM (#13008010) Homepage
    The reason I generally pass on PhDs when looking to hire. At several companies I've worked at, the SOP is to send candidates a programming test (filled with questions that are very relevant to what we do, not BS C++ idioms and quirks).

    More times than not, a PhD who has applied at the company will get the test and complain loudly that they don't have time to fill the test out. Which is simply code for arrogance on their part or a lack of understanding of what is important in "the real world."

    As far as quizzing onsite, the fact of the matter is that if you are good at what you do and are in it because you like it, pop quizzes are fun, not a reason to think of your employers as arrogant. When I was grilled for 7 hours at my current place of employment, the thought that was going through my head wasn't "wow, these assholes are arrogant." It was "wow, these guys are all totally brilliant. I definitely want to be surrounded by coworkers that are as smart as them." When the offer letter came, I accepted in a heartbeat.
  • by kooky45 ( 785515 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:33PM (#13008104)
    I was interviewed by Microsoft for a position as a pre-sales consultant for their security products. In the interview I was asked what I would do if I attended a sales meeting with a prospective customer and at that meeting a Microsoft salesman promised the customer that the software we were offering could do something I knew it couldn't. I told my interviewer that I would mildly correct the salesman and offer an accurate perspective on the software so as not to mislead the customer.

    After the interview I heard back from Microsoft and was told that they wouldn't give me the job as my answer showed I wasn't prepared to back up their sales techniques. I was amazed. Basically they wanted me, as a pre-sales consultant, to lie to prospective customers about the capabilities of MS software. I've been in situations before where I've had to dig my company out of sour deals where salesmen have lied to customers about products they're buying, and it ain't nice. Too hear that MS do this shouldn't have been a suprise, but to hear it officially certainly changed my mind about working for them.

    • Sorry, this is one area where M$ doesn't have a monopoly. I've worked in pre-sales for a number of VARs over the past 4 years -- pretty much ever since my career prospects as a pure techy got shipped to Asia. A pre-sales consultant is expected to keep his mouth shut in front of the customer when he knows the salesperson is lying, then correct the salesperson later. It's up to the salesperson whether or not he wants to then recant his claims with the customer, but you must *never* indicate to the customer that what's being presented is anything but the gospel truth, straight from the gods.
  • by Jumbo Jimbo ( 828571 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:46PM (#13008223)
    I know two people who, in separate years, applied for jobs with IBM. They both passed the interview, got written offers, but decided to take jobs with other companies.

    A few weeks after telling IBM that they did not want the job, they got letters telling them that their offers had been withdrawn as they had failed to achieve 2:1's (type of British honours degree).

    However, both of them had managed to get this grade of degree, just decided IBM wasn't for them. If it had happened once I would have figured it was a mistake, but twice seems to me that their personnel system can't cope with the fact that people may actually turn down a job with them, and a form letter is sent out by their bureaucracy.

  • Microsoft Interview (Score:5, Informative)

    by bziman ( 223162 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:50PM (#13008271) Homepage Journal
    Last summer, I had the opportunity to interview at Microsoft after they found my resume online and called me. I must say truthfully that of all of the companies that have called me, Microsoft was the very first one who read my resume and understand what I actually DO and wanted me to interview for a job that actually makes sense for my skill set.

    Their phone interview process was a good mix of explaining what it is they were doing and how I could help, and making sure that I was the right mix of skills and cleverness to fit in with the group.

    I passed that round, and was invited to Redmond to interview in person. I found the whole on-site interview process to be a lot of fun -- I'd heard that the interview process was gruelling, painful, challenging, etc... but I thought it was fun. And shortly thereafter, they offered me the position.

    Fully half the time I've spent talking to Microsoft has been on the topic of what they have to offer me, and it was considerable.

    In the end, I decided not to relocate to Redmond, mainly because I wanted to finish up my BS (three semesters to go at the time, now one more), which I'd been working on part time for eight years, while working as a software engineer.

    So I guess in the end, if you don't enjoy that kind of interview, maybe you're not really qualified, despite your education. There are plenty of places where all the cleverness in the world is worthless, but the skills required to earn that PhD are essential (I can't imagine working in an evironment like that... but hey, each unto their own).

    Personally, I found the whole experience to be very positive, and if after I finish my BS, the PhD doesn't work out, I might be taking that permanent trip to Redmond after all.


    • There are plenty of places where all the cleverness in the world is worthless, but the skills required to earn that PhD are essential

      Isn't that an oxymoron? To get a Ph.D. from any reputable university, you have to develop a novel concept that advances the state of the art and rigorously verify its correctness through experiment and peer-reviewed publication. If you aren't clever, you can't get the novelty aspect and don't get past the preliminary oral exam because you don't have any publications.

  • by craXORjack ( 726120 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:56PM (#13008325)
    Microsoft boasts that about 90 percent of those offered jobs these days accept them--a higher rate than in past years.

    It's easy when Microsoft offers them exorbitant wages of 40 Rupees an hour!

  • by illumin8 ( 148082 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @07:18PM (#13009201) Journal
    Memo to Bill Gates: Even you sir, cannot have your cake and eat it too.

    If you insist on importing massive numbers of H1B visa applicants and paying them slave-labor wages to write code, you'll eventually reap the fruits of this policy. If you insist on outsourcing software development to third world countries just to save a few bucks on developer's salaries, you'll eventually get what's coming to you.

    The IT industry as a whole has been guilty of this. All of the big players: Microsoft, Cisco, Sun, and IBM have taken part in the outsourcing craze and now they act surprised when college students don't want to study IT for fear of being outsourced.

    You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Want cheap labor? Fine, you can have it, but after you've laid off all the highly paid US developers and decimated the IT industry, don't expect to be able to find talented individuals to manage your cutrate 3rd world development teams.

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