Technical interview at Amazon (SDE) and Microsoft (Program Manager

Coding Challenge Coding Live

Be honest with yourself and your interviewers.

Doesnt start coding immediately

Interviewing is time consuming, tiring, and a lot of work. But the reward for doing well is a full time job. Treat the whole process as a game and have a good time.

I accepted the offer from Microsoft. I start February 2004 working as a program manager in their Media Center division. Yay!

How do you handle renting to friends?

I also bought a copy ofHow Would You Move Mount Fuji?because I was convinced that the reason I failed at the Microsoft interview game in the spring of 2003 was because I choked on an easy brain teaser. While you do not want to regurgitate answers youve memorized you do want to be familiar with the different classes of problems and the corresponding frameworks for solving them. If you do get a question you know, tell the interviewer.

If you were an absentee landlord how would you take care of your house?

Research shows that the interviewer makes up their mind in the first thirty seconds that they meet you.

I used to have the impression that the Microsoft interview was all about tearing apart the interviewee but HR at both companies made it clear that they want the interview process to highlight the interviewees strengths not magnify their weaknesses.

Write a function that returns a node in a tree given two parameters: pointer to the root node and the inorder traversal number of the node we want to return. The only information stored in the tree is the number of children for each node.

And dont give up. It took me a long time to get an interview with Amazon and I have failed at the Microsoft interview process before so keep at it.

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How are requests handled in Resin (or a Java servlet container in general)

Why dont you use Windows Media Player?

I am from down under. Fingers crossed on me.

This is by no means a comprehensive list but it highlights some of the bigger questions. I got a lot of repeats of the usual questions like:

What also made this interview experience unique is that before I got to Seattle they asked if there was anyone I wanted to have dinner with. Wanting to take advantage of this I choseRobert Scobleas my dinner date. I met him at Anthonys in Kirkland and had a nice dinner with him and his wife. In hindsight, I was a little too tired to do dinner but whatever.

i had the phone interview and was disqualifed after 10 minutes.ofcourse, i am unqualified, especially after reading your blog.

also, the guy who interviewed me had the worst accent ever..i couldnt understand half the things he was saying.really bad thai/indonesian accent. -1 amazon interviewer bad accent.

I now cut all those improvements and ask you to do something you do not want to do, how do you react?

So, I read both books cover to cover and did all the proposed exercises. I also visited a lot ofinterviewing websites. One I spent a lot of time at where I worked through all 71 brain teasers.

So did you get an offer from Amazon??? I have my second phone interview at amazon in a few days.

How does dynamic recompilation work in Resin (or any other Java servlet container)

3) Know some complicated DS beyond the obvious ones.

12:00 1:00 Technical Program Manager

Aggressively pursue interview opportunities. They rarely come to you.

What is one bad thing your last manager would say about you?

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Final word of advice During my last HR interview I was asked why I would choose Amazon over Microsoft and I was quite honest. Later on Microsoft went out of their way to ensure that the reasons I listed would no longer be valid.So be honest and tell them what you want.

Twitter: @mattgoyerIf you get the job you might need a condo or apartment so check out mySeattle condo blog, Urbnlivn:)

What makes the Microsoft interview process unique is thatas the candidate you do not know your interview schedule beforehandand that at each step of the way the interviewers are communicating with each other. This means that if you have a few bad interviews in a rowyour day could end very early. Conversely, if your interviews go well then at the end of the day you will get an as appropriate interview which is typically with a general manager or executive. So at the end of each interview the interviewer will send you back to the buildings lobby for ten to twenty minutes while they go talk to the next interviewer. Each interview was in the office of the person interviewing me except for the lunch interview. All my interviews were in the same building except for my last. I knew it was the as appropriate because my interviewer told me my day was done and then double checked this but exclaimed that I had another interview. He wrote down the details and I went back to the lobby and got on a bus. At the new building the front desk people called up to tell them I was there and it was clear that they were talking to an executive assistant. But it went well and I really enjoyed the opportunity to be grilled by the general manager of Outlook.

What was your most difficult project?

Hi, i am a master student of National University of Singapore. Are you now a program manager in Microsoft,Redmond? I was asked to attend a phone interview of Microsoft and could you tell me the detailed things about phone interview.And by the way, why cant I change the interview schedule because i mistaken the time table. And they gave me the Pacific Standard Time 2:45pm-3:45pm which is about 4AM-5Am in Singapore.So it is crazy ,isnt it?

Again, I couldnt sleep Sunday before my big day at Microsoft. At 6:30 I woke up, showered, ironned, ate, and at 7:15 got in a town car headed to Redmond.

Differences between Microsoft and Amazon

Persuasive. If you cant sell yourself and your ideas how will you then sell the companies products?

What I read here doesnt excite me because I hate long interviews. I am a PhD of data quality but I have kind of forgotten little details of my grad lessons.

Dinner person was not in on the interview loop

Seeing as my girlfriend, Natalie, had a full time unaccepted offer from Amazon it was not hard for her to get me into the process there. Unfortunately it took a while to get the ball rolling but I did eventually get my first phone interview. Now keep in mind, that prior to Natalie receiving her offer and getting me into their system and I had worked hard to be interviewed by Amazon. I had submitted my resume online and had friends working there refer me, but it was because of Natalies inside connections and unaccepted offer that I got the interview. Of course, I am not in Waterloos co-op system which makes it very hard to get co-op or full time offers from companies who use the co-op system.

At Amazon interviewers do not talk about you until after your interview day, while at Microsoft they communicate either in person or via email after each of your interviews. One of my friends describes it like this:

Where do you want to be in five years?

Also, few posts of yours aren opening. i want to know abt ur phone interview. isn opening.. it says some error.

In addition to this preparation I wrote my own 20 page study guide which covered C, C++, Java, computer architecture and object oriented design. It was also helpful that I was taking both CS 454, Distributed Systems and CS 456, Networks.

10:30 11:00 Technical Recruiter

Talked about a problem with a Microsoft product and brainstormed ways of resolving it

Moral of the story:You need a personal in or some sort of human contact.Were convinced ne resume things are blackholes.

What was your worst group experience?

Both companies do a great job of making the process of interviewing painless.

In addition to aggressively pursuing job interviews I also aggressively prepared for the job interviews I hoped I was going to get. I prepared because I know other people prepare and I expected that employers likely expected candidates to be prepared. To prepare I boughtProgramming Interviews Exposed(PIE) because a new hire at Amazon told me most of her questions were straight from the book. PIE is also the number six book on the Amazon Purchase Circle. Now, why would someone who has a job at Amazon buy a book on interviews unless they were using it as a guide for conducting interviews? Note,the book contains errors. I found at least one, and some of their solutions are not as elegant as they could be. So, do not memorize the answers.

Talked about a lesson learned from a past experience, how do you apply that lesson today?

Write a function that given a list of items and weights return a random item in the list taking the weights into account.

Could u mail me the post on phone interview.

How have you demonstrated leadership at a previous company?

4) Most importantly write bug free code something I dint do as well as I would have liked.

In your article you state, dont have a cover letter. Why is this?

Both companies are looking for similar things.

Can u please mail me that text..or update the interview wiki blog itself .

3:00 4:00 Software Development Engineer

When I went to check out of the Hotel W I was all ready for them to charge hundreds of dollars (food there was not cheap) of room charges to my card but Microsoft has taken care of all that sir.

What are 4 improvements you would make to Windows Media Player 9?

Finished my Amazon interview today and have my Microosft interview the day after. Amazon interview was a good experience. Looking forward to the Microsoft interviews.

Discuss the UI problems of a previous project, how would you resolve them now?

We talked about the future of the technology and some of the problems they currently have

Can I put this candidate in front of a customer? A partner? an executive?

I started the full time job hunt before school started in September. The list of companies I was targetting was short; Microsoft & Amazon.

Amazon contacted me on Linkedin and I am going to have an interview with them, if I pass the code writing test.

At Microsoft I was interviewing for a Program Manager position. My initial screen wasa thirty minute on campus interview. It went really well. He even had a copy of the same resume that I had circled up. This lead him to ask questions about stuff that wasnt circled which was fun.

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Your writup was exactly what i experience in 2010 during amazon interview.

Introduction to how the day will work

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4:00 4:50 Senior Developer (Bar Raiser)

Im also interested in reading your job wiki, but it looks like theres an errorIm interested in what you have to say. Please let me know if you plan on fixing this or if you could mail me some of the info. Thanks!!

I am looking out people for Amazon for SDE postion, as you mention above Its really hard to crack requirement.

Make sure you can perform well with little to no sleep.

No two interview experiences are alike. Prepare for anything and everything.

Your blog is excellent ! I have my PM interview in a week It really helped me get a feel of what I could expect. One small query How diff is an Intern interview from that of a full time at Microsoft ?

The best. These companies interview a lot of really good people. You need to stand out as the best. If your work or school experience doesnt make you stand out then pursue something in your spare time that will.

I got up around 6am even though my interview was at 10:30. I had breakfast and spent the morning chilling on the sofa listening to my iPod trying to relax. I eventually got in a cab and made the trip up to the Pac Med building. I was early so I spent ten minutes outside enjoying the sun and listening to music.

cant open ur interview wiki..says 404 Not Found

Know what they want. Then show you have that.

PS. MIcrosoft blew me off after my onsite interview in Seattle.. 🙁 Is it OK to have hopes to re-interview with Microsoft or they dont consider previous rejects at all?

What advances are we going to see ten years from now? What are the impacts?

You missed is another useful resource for interview prep

What are the differences between C and C++

Urged me to ask *any* questions about Microsoft (salary,)

Dinner w/Microsoft employee of my choice (Robert Scoble)

At Amazon you get a fixed interview schedule. At Microsoft you dont which means they can cut you at any time.

No two interview experiences are alike. Prepare for anything and everything.

Later on, we tracked down a sushi dinner, and then another Waterloo intern, Francis, and we went to the U-District but it just wasnt happening. Oh well.

I had an interview with Amazon in India. It was a phone interview followed by a written test and 4 rounds of face-to-face interviews. It started well, but went complex towards the end. In one of the rounds, i was asked How do you think Google works?. It pulled the floor beneath me. My head started to spin. I thought How the hell can i explain that if i havent given a microsecond thought about how Google works. I gather myself and blabbered something and thats the end of my journey at Amazon.

Contact HR if you havent heard from them (seeJC Oct 6).

What is one good thing your last manager would say about you?

As appropriate Executive for Outlook

Explain Object Oriented programming to your grandmother

At Microsoft youll interview with two specific groups. At Amazon its less clear.

Disclaimer:The opinions expressed here are my own and not those of any past, present, or future employers. Also, your interview experience mileage may vary.

I got back to my hotel around 9:00pm, met Ming, had a drink, and then packed while watching a bad movie.

Demod the technology of one of the teams I was interviewing with

Contact HR if you havent heard from them (seeJC Oct 6).

Nice post. That was decent explanation and bound to inspire others to work hard.

And dont give up. It took me a long time to get an interview with Amazon and I have failed at the Microsoft interview process before so keep at it.

So the Microsoft interview is similar to the adaptive testing used in GMAT/GRE tests. Meaning, first impressions are crucial.

Microsoft is known to ask brain teasers

But you can only prepare so long before you have to show that you have what it takes.

Ill echo other posters in saying your wiki leaks dont work the page cant be pulled. I was hoping youd respond to some of the responses from the people who commented on your post for even further insight, but I suppose your original advice will have to do. Congratulations on your success with MS. I really enjoyed the insight into the on-site interviews. I havent seen much info on this elsewhere; glassdoor only goes so in-depth.

At Amazon, interviewer feedback is getting inputted into an application and will be discussed by the interviewers individually and is not read by the others until a later date (at least thats what they told me) BUT Microsoft, each person scheduled for your loop (they have a schedule while you dont..) is emailed feedback as the day progresses (thus the 10-15 minute breaks between interviews) and are liable to discuss previous interview[er]s and with you. From what I understand, this is especially used if they think they find a weakness subsequent interviews will drill down to confirm/deny its existence. It also makes you think that there really is no first impression other than you very first interview of the day

Many of them, while not straight from PIE, were similar andI was thankful I had prepared for linked lists and trees. I was however, thrown by a question on evaluating infix and postfix expressions. Of course after the interview I remembered that I had seen postfix in first year and then remembered how to solve them. What triggered this memory was a second year was in one of the labs loudily talking to her friends about trying to find an algorithm to solve postfix questions. I told her I had only had thirty minutes to answer the question and so she had better remember the answer once she Googled for it because it might come back to haunt her in a full time job interview like it did with me.

Research shows that the interviewer makes up their mind in the first thirty seconds that they meet you.

At Amazon you dont get a break between interviews. At Microsoft I got 10-20 minute breaks between some.

I have got telephonic interviews at amazon lined up .

Sunday I spent the day trying to do a programming assignment for Networks. Unfortunately I chose the wrong language, didnt have the text, and I had no idea what was going on.. It did not go well. But I ended up taking a late, getting it mostly done, and got 70% so it turned out okay.

Asked a brainteaser about tribes and people being marked and having to jump to their deaths. Its a logic puzzle. I might have only been asked this because I answered that I had not been asked any brain teasers for the above question.

I never blogged about it, but I have hinted about it, but I interviewed with Microsoft in the Spring of 2003 for a program manager position. The reason I never blogged about it was because I never got past the phone screen. It was a very depressing experience. Regardless, I had several ins at Microsoft and I got them all to either put my resume into their resume system or to personally refer my resume to the Waterloo recruiter. I also submitted my resume in the bins at the co-op building in response to the full time posting on the just graduated version of Access. But what I really think secured my first interview at Microsoft was that I attended their info session here on campus and waited till everyone had harassed the recruiter and I then moved in.To make my resume stand out I had circled all the relevant bits.(Though she did make fun of me for circling them, but since it was the resume that all my interviewers later had in front of them, I consider the exercise to have been a successful one). I thought it might get the conversation rolling and it did. The conversation lasted about five minutes and felt quite gruelling. She even asked me to give her a 30 second pitch as to why Microsoft should hire me.

Thanks for this post. This really helped fill me in.

after getting an email from amazon and sending the available dates for interview, in how many days we will get a reply from them.its been a while I didnt get any update from themwhat to do next? shall I call the number in the e-mail.

Have interview on coming Saturday. Pretty scared after reading blogs about Amazon interview. Really need to work hard and get back to the books.

Bad part about amazon is they dont give us feedback about what went wrong during interview. At least that helps us to improve next time.

all my technical interview questions was a very easy ( Unix administration ) but even thought i did not get an offer.

Now on the flight down I made the mistake of sleeping. Once I got to Seattle I could not sleep. So I spent the night tossing, turning, and continually calling the front desk to get my wake up call changed. Moral of the story: dont sleep on the flight down.

This is by no means an extensive list of the questions I was asked.. It is just the ones I could remember.

right now i am working on platform, is it necessary to pursue an MBA to get into PM position either at microsoft and amazon?

What objects are required in a restaurant reservation system

Make sure you can perform well with little to no sleep.

Talk about Windows Media Guide, how do we make it more relevant?

My interview process at Amazon was six and a half hours. I was met by HR and she took me to the meeting room where Id spend my day.At Amazon the interviewers come to you. She also gave me a schedule of my interviewers. Here were my questions:

I just had a phone interview with Amazon today! I was quite nervous at first, she just asked me questions about arrays and linked lists. I didnt do a very good job, but as we moved to actual programming problems, I was able to solve them and had calmed down quite a bit. Im a PhD physicist, so I get very nervous applying to positions where I fear there will be lots and lots of CS type questions. So far, so good. Hopefully I move onto the next roundonsite interview??

Both companies want you to succeed.

At Amazon I was interviewing for a Software Design Engineer position. While what I really wanted to do was be a Program Manager, Amazon does not recruit technical candidates into that position straight out of college.

They took Four Phone Interview before they ask me to fly to Seattle for Personal interview.

6 years later The process is the SAME.

At Amazon you stay put in one meeting room all day. At Microsoft you interview in each interviewers offices.

Saturday Ming and I went to see the play21 Dog Years: Doing Time at .A very fitting play. After the play we went to U-Dubs university plaza to gawk at all the high end big box malls. The highlight was visiting the Apple Store.

How did I get two full time job offers from two great companies? The answer is: a lot of hard work and preparation.

Why is it easy to collaborate on a document in person but hard on the web?

You have 6 months to do a 9 month project. What do you do?

How much would you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?

Ill disclaim that I do not know what they are looking for. This is just what I think they are looking for.

Calculate an infix expression. This question later evolved into calculate a postfix expression

1:00 2:00 Team Lead

I interviewed in Sydney this week for an SDE role in Seattle. They may have changed their policy already with interviews because I was told to expect 4 consecutive interviews and only got 2, after which me and another candidate got the Thanks, well update you next week. FAIL They actually give you a lot of tips on what areas the interview will focus on, so I think a lot of it comes down to preparation.

Can work on a whiteboard in front of an audience.

Be honest with yourself and your interviewers.

Asks: Who, what, why, where, when, how

I arrived early to the Microsoft interviewing building, filled out my forms, and sat and watched all the other nervous candidates trickle in for their 8:30 appointments. A number of other students were called up before me, but then it was my chance. The day started with HR.

I appreciate the blog post! It was very helpfulIm in the midst of applying and interviewing for PM internships for the summer.

Talked a lot about my goals and future. Lots of drilling deep down into them.

wouldnt it be easier to just cut off your dick and present it to them japanese style !

Interviewing is time consuming, tiring, and a lot of work. But the reward for doing well is a full time job. Treat the whole process as a game and have a good time.

Onmy interview wikiyou can read all aboutmy first Amazon phone interviewwhich I felt went really well. Mysecond onedid not go so well. I felt I really choked on some of the questions. Of course everyone tells you that the process of how you answer a question is more important than the answer but you cant help but feel dumb for not getting questions that as a Computer Science grad you should get. But after a sufficiently long delay I got the good news that they would be flying me down.

Verbalizes thought processes while working through problems.

Im a final year Bsc computer science student,I need a job related to an IT Field in companies such as microsoft,google,amazon,wipro ,etc., what should i do for that?

Talk about putting a 1.5 mile runway on a 1 mile by 1 mile plot of land

If youre going for these, practice writing code on paper. A lot. Go to and work on the problems, by hand. It completely feels different, and your programmers muscle memory doesnt kick in, as you dont have a keyboard! =) The questions I got were not very hard but the combination of lack of preparation and sleep killed me. I wonder whats the embargo period before you can apply again. (Or would they even interview you more than once?)

Aggressively pursue interview opportunities. They rarely come to you.

Would you please share more about your Microsoft PM phone interview? Thank!

For the two months leading up to my interviews every spare moment during the day and on the weekends was spent preparing. I read a lot and I did a lot of problems. In fact during one power outage we got out the Mount Fuji book and we all worked through a couple problems by candle light.

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What would lead me to choose Amazon over Microsoft? Microsoft over Amazon?

After finding out Amazon was ready to fly me down I got in contact with Microsoft and got the good news that they too wanted me to fly down to Seattle. I arranged to fly down Thursday, October 30th with Microsoft and Amazon sharing the expense of getting me down there and taking care of my hotel. They put me up at the swanky, and very noir,Hotel W.

Given a distributed system with many clients and many servers where the servers each export a different set of services and each have a different amount of computing power discuss the data structures used in a router to perform load balancing.

I was thoroughly exhausted and wiped out after my Amazon experience so my friend Ming who was interning with Amazon drove me back to my hotel and I crashed. Two hours later I met him for dinner. It was Halloween and we were way under dressed but after dinner we ran into a bunch of other Waterloo kids who gave us Mardi Gras beads. Not much of a costume, but better than nothing. We then drank and partied the night away.

Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology

Something that makes Amazons interviews unique is that they have you interview with a bar raiser whose job it is toensure that you are better than the average Amazon employeeso that the talent bar is continually being raised. It was clear from my schedule who my bar raiser was though I felt I had a bad experience with my bar raiser. I just didnt feel like we had much of a rapport.

I think thatMicrosofts Program Manager interviews are difficult to prepare forso I think what you should do to prepare is know what to expect, that way there are at least fewer surprises.

In my case however, I pretty much tried to cram CS101 topics into 6 days. Ive been working in IT for a while but didnt study computer science in university, so a lot of these topics were completely new to me (when was the last time you had to do O(n) analysis for business websites, or implement a binary tree). Maybe if I had a few months of solid preparation and actually got some sleep the night before Id have done better. Go through Programming Interviews Exposed book and do the exercises more than once.

Head PM Windows Media Player

This post and the comments put by every one are very much useful.

Know what they want. Then show you have that.

We are a car company and want to make our key fobs our competitive advantage / the reason why people buy our cars. Talk about a framework for evaluating ideas and then generate some.

Can you share your email id, if you dont mind.

You do not have enough time to do them all, now what?

@Sunil and @Everyone who gave interview in India especially Bangalore can you guide me a little for my preparation? I am being interv

2011- I have an MBA in business and some lean logistics experience. I applied at Amazon through a recruiting company and had an interview for a Program Management position 2 days later. My interview was 11/2 hours long and was with 2 people. I was told it would only be 11/2 hours long ahead of time. The first part of my interview was basically how do you get a secret product from point A to point B without anyone to help you and you have a deadline? What are the milestones involved in this process? The second half was more basic interview questions? I had to write on their whiteboard. Should I be worried my interview was short even though I knew 2 days before it was only 11/2 hours long?

2:00 3:000 Team Lead

Talk about tablet PCs and Amazon. What does Amazon need to be aware of?

This is a very nice and helpful post. Thanks for sharing.

How would we design Windows Media Player to run on a TV

I have an interview with Amazon two weeks from now. I am in 2nd year of engineering and I applied for summer internship (software development). I wanted to know if they really care about the GPA or they just judge you based on your interview. I am asking because I dont have a good GPA but I do possess good programming skills and I can probably show that in an interview.

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