As a Microsoft recruiter, I’m often asked this question when I’m traveling to campus. In my post today, I’ll share how I typically respond.
It’s hard to describe the “Microsoft culture” as a singular thing. With more than 90,000 employees located around the world, each business group and subsidiary will kind of have its own vibe. Within Redmond, there are even different cultures from one building to the next! But if I had to pick a couple of key traits that seem to be consistent across the company, I would point to two similarities:
We’re passionate about technology. Not just our own technology; Microsofties get excited about the tech they encounter at work, at home and out in the world. My current team frequently sends around interesting articles about the tech industry, and I know lots of people are glued to the live blogs whenever a new product is unveiled, whether it be from Microsoft or any other major player in our industry. (For most employees, we learned about the new Surface along with the rest of the world by following our favorite tech blogs!) We’re not all “techy” in the traditional sense—most of us in non-engineering roles aren’t expected to code or understand what’s going on under the hood—but boy do we love discussing (debating?) the latest tech news.
We’re self-critical. There’s a good reason that interviewers often ask candidates to talk about a time when they made a bad call. We know that the best way to excel is to identify when things aren’t going well and then turn it around. Why was Windows 7 a complete overhaul of its predecessor, Windows Vista? Why aren’t we selling Zune hardware anymore? Because we know as a company we have to be aware of weaknesses (maybe it was time to start from scratch, or maybe our efforts would be better spent on a different aspect of entertainment) and act on them, or we risk being seen as out of touch. This can lead to tough conversations and decisions. For the record, I love my Zune, but I know the company has to make tradeoffs to stay flexible and focus on products that are great and will sell well.
I hope this gives you a realistic and balanced picture of Microsoft: We are tech-obsessed, we find inspiration in what’s coming next, and we live for self-improvement toward success.