Microsoft, Salesforce Share Secrets to Landing Their Jobs

Hiring managers from, Microsoft, and mobile ad network company InMobi are hiring and hiring aggressively. But when it comes to working at these kind of name companies, well, the competition is fierce. So, how do you win them over?

During Google I/O last week, I talked to hiring managers and recruiters to find out.

Microsoft and Bing

The Redmond giant’s Silicon Valley Bing operation has approximately 15 job openings in development, testing and program management, says Alok Agarwal, a Microsoft senior test manager. His group is looking for candidates whose skills include developing machine learning models, building verification and monitoring tools and analyzing Big Data.

“Bing runs on thousands and thousands of servers, so we need someone who understands how things will work as it scales,” he says.

Agarwal’s common complaint about resumes is they don’t clearly explain the candidate’s career path, and they tend to neglect the accomplishments or achievements at each of their past employers.

“In an interview, we want to know what you really know. If you say you know something, we’ll ask you a lot of questions about it,” Agarwal says. “Often, you don’t get dinged on what you don’t know, but you will on what you say you know.”

In asking questions related to problem solving, Agarwal says he assesses how logical your approach is to breaking down the problem, approaching a solution and coming to a conclusion. It’s more important to take a logical process, because few people come up with the right solution.

Should you land an interview with Agarwal’s group, expect to talk to five people during the process. Ultimately, your selection will come down to both your skill set and your fit with the team’s culture. A good fit is someone with a positive attitude and who’s not selfish. Folks who say: “not my job, not my problem” need not apply., Quality Engineering is hiring people in product management, development, performance engineering and documentation, from entry level to senior director.

Before sending your resume off to Ritu Bhargava, senior manager of quality engineering, take a hard look at all the skills you’ve listed on your resume. It will save you and Bhargava time if you limit them to your top skills — the ones you have deep expertise in.

Honesty, technical skills and functional skills are the top three things Bhargava seeks in a candidate. Functional skills could range from domain knowledge to how a product is used. On technical skills, the No. 1 thing needed at is Java expertise.

Cultural fit is possibly more important at than it is at other outfits. Three times a year, when a new release comes out, every employee is allowed to apply to a new team, Bhargava says. As a result, it’s important to keep the team happy and cohesive. Otherwise, they’ll face constant churn.

“I have to interview 100 people just to find the two brightest and smartest people,” Bhargava says. “And after investing that time to find them and staff the team, I need to be a flexible and open manager.”

“Our teams are self-organizing, self-correcting and self-empowering,” Bhargava adds. “So we can’t afford to have team members who are inflexible and have attitude.”


InMobi, a mobile advertising network based in India, is looking to hire 45 folks in its North American operation. Twenty three of those of technical positions like UI-UX designer, innovations lead and product manager. The company has over 700 employees world-wide, with 115 in North America.

Beyond the job description, InMobi wants people for its San Francisco office who enjoy working in a startup environment and take ownership of new processes, according to April Ulang, head of talent acquisition.

“We’re looking for people who are strong individuals but can also collaborate,” she says. “We also want people who have good energy and are highly motivated. That means they are interested in going to meet-ups, events or … forums.”

In the initial screening — before the hiring manager does an interview — Ulang is simply checking to see if candidates meet the job’s requirements, and that they’re intelligent, articulate and confident.

In terms of work environment, InMobi is causal. About two thirds of its workforce are 20- to 30-year-olds.

“We’re an open group and like to joke around. We work hard at our jobs but we know when it’s time to take a break and get a keg,” says Ulang. Still, she says, folks applying to work there shouldn’t expect to find a gourmet cafeteria or free massages.

No Responses to “Microsoft, Salesforce Share Secrets to Landing Their Jobs”

  1. Marcus

    One thing I think that is missing from this advise. Don’t be over qualified, I was recently total I was too qualified for a job. I told the recruiter I need to work, but the hiring manager would not interview me because I was over qualified for one job and under qualified for another, can some please give some advise on how to handle that situation.

    • JimF (Greater Seattle Area)

      Marcus: You don’t say what area of the country you live (assuming U.S., but that might be a wrong assumption). I have a similar situation, but I try to approach it differently.

      Long story very short: I have been working as a web developer for 16+ years, most recently on the front-end (FE) to middle-tier. I have seen a lot of really cool FE development positions that are using a lot of the new frameworks, most of which I don’t have any experience with.

      My approach thus far (I am still looking, so I cannot say if this will work): I have done networking to find a set of recruiters with several different firms that I am comfortable with, where the recruiters open position lists don’t overlap a lot, and for the FE positions I am targeting contracts or contracts to hire with organizations where I match at least 60% of what they are looking for but will give me the ability to learn the new frameworks.

      I realize that not everyone is in the same position, so I understand if my whole approach won’t work but hopefully you will be able to use parts of it to help you in your search

  2. Content here is great, but seriously, please proofread your work before you publish it. All the mistakes can try to take away the credibility. My two cents.

  3. James

    Nothing new here, but I might add that because of the “fierce” competition most hiring managers are not getting the right candidates in front of them because the recruiters (outside and inside) are using draconian-style filters to weed out resumes based on keywords. Those keywords can include names of universities and length of employment which for many firms is put as a priority when qualifying a candidate. The problem with that is there are many qualified candidates who have been doing short-term contract work (but gaining valuable skills and improving personal performance) due to the slow economy and they may only have a Bachelors/Masters from a university that is considered “low-tier” to a Fortune 1000 firm. The end result is “qualified” candidates who’ve tenured 5-10 straight years with one or two companies and who graduated from Stanford or Berkeley getting first consideration even though their skillsets and accomplishments were not honed in an entrepreneurial setting.

  4. There is no advise as to how to handle this situation. I myself have been denied employment because of this. It is because it is subjective, depends on the hiring company, and the person hiring. Many companies will even keep on raising the requirements bar based on the last person they interviewed that had the highest credentials. So that in the end, by the time they get to hire a person, their final list of job requirements would be totally different than the list they started out with.

    And don’t even mention about age discrimination. No one wants to be branded that they are hiring or not hiring because of your age. They will use the reasoning of you are over qualified or under qualified as a reason, because they cannot say oh … you are too young or too old for our position.

  5. Anoni

    James is right. This article is emblematic of what’s wrong with high tech hiring! NPR had a program on this recently and referred to this hiring scenario as “searching for the unicorn”. These online hiring programs (and many hiring managers) filter out many EXCELLENT candidates trying to find the PERFECT candidate, based merely on keywords and buzzwords, not on ability.

    The old adage about that is “perfect is the enemy of good”, and you might even say “perfect is the enemy of great”.

    I keep reading about how high tech companies are unable to find employees, which is amazing to me. At age 52, with a Bachelors in Engineering, 7 years experience as a Project Manager, 7 years experience as a Technical Support Center Supervisor, and 8 years experience as a General Manager and owner of my own small business, I now find myself UNEMPLOYED and UNEMPLOYABLE thanks to this paradigm.

    It has nothing to do with my attitude, willingness to work, achievements or quality of work. But it certainly is frustrating.

    It has EVERTHING to do with the “overqualified bias” of many younger hiring managers, who want to hire inexperienced 20-somethings. NONE DARE CALL IT AGE DISCRIMINATION, though that is EXACTLY what it is.

    You can even see evidence of it in the InMobi segment above, which SCREAMS AGE DISCRIMINATION when it states that “In terms of work environment, inMobi is causal. About two thirds of its workforce are 20- to 30-year-olds.” Does that mean that 40-something-year-olds and 50-something-year-olds and 60-something-year-olds are NOT ABLE TO BE CASUAL or are NOT WELCOME in this environment? It lsounds that way at first glance to me.

    Once again, talented older skilled workers are tossed on the waste heap. Perhaps some of these high tech companies will wake up and realize that they are passing on great older workers who can fit and and have a lot to share and do care about the companies they work for. They are stable, have good credit ratings, do get drunk every other night, show up on time, and do a good job. Wake up High Tech Hiring Managers! It’s your selection process that is flawed and biased (and possibly illegal, too.)

    • Haluska

      “In terms of work environment, InMobi is causal. About two thirds of its workforce are 20- to 30-year-olds.”

      Outrageous! This may fly where InMobi is headquartered, but this attitude is frowned upon in the good ol’ USA.

      If that simple paragraph doesn’t scream ageism I don’t know what does. ANONI, if I were you I would apply for a job at InMobi. Maybe you could be so lucky as to interview with this April Ulang, head of talent acquisition. When you don’t get the job, call up your local ACLU.

      @ANONI: You probably already know this all this, but maybe it will help someone else. Remember to remove any experience older than some specific date, say 10 years ago. It will make you appear to be younger. Remove the dates around your education as well. Check for anything on your resume that can make you look your age. Do not change the dates as that would be lying. Yes, you’ll lose some valuable experience, but so what? If it get’s you a job then it’s gets you a job!

      @Dawn Kawamoto: What are you thinking when you type this up?

      • Jimmy Lozano

        yeah right…
        Now can You explain me HOW CAN YOU CHANGE YOUR “AGE FACE”, when you’ll go to an interview “with a probably” this guy has a half of your age.
        Do you think he/she will say: “this guy has more skills than me and will help at the company”… nop… she/he will say: “this guy is to old to this new company, let’s try with someone with my age and similar with my experience”
        WORST: when his/her supervisor said:””my boss order the candidate must be “this age to this age” because he doesn’t want pay more someone who knows about the laws.””
        and I’m Unemployed, too 🙁

  6. Guys, If you have not figured it out yet, here is the deal why “americans” are unemployed.
    Most of the hiring managers these days are Indians(don’t mean to be discrimanatory) and they hire Indian people (mostly) Why? Because 90% of these managers are in bed with consulting firms (cognizant, Infosys, EDS, IBM..) and offering Kickbacks to these managers for hiring their people. (H1Bs, L1 etc..) why because these people are less likely to blow their cover.

    if you suspect something at your org, Report these corrupt people to your orgs ethics/audit department and put them in Jail.

    I am NOT implying all indian managers are bad, but many – many -many of them are corrput to the core. Many are intelligent and hard working great scientists as well. But many are bad apples giving bad name to the community.

    So wake up and have your company ethics team audit their tax returns. Many are getting kickbacks overseas in form of property on offshore (Hard to track)

    “If you want to change something, you have to be the first agent of change”