This article describes what interview questions to expect at the Microsoft finance interview including sample questions. These questions are applicable for all levels from financial analyst to senior finance director.
What to Expect: Microsoft Finance Interview
Finance Questions. It doesn't matter if you're a senior candidate or entry-level. Microsoft needs to know that you have sufficient finance knowledge. They will grill you on finance terms and concepts. They will ask you to review a P&L or walkthrough how you'd generate a cash flow statement. You may feel that it's not necessary, given that you'd have access to Google or your old finance textbooks on the job. However, saying that you'll "Google it" during an important CFO meeting is not the way to go. Be prepared to answer the following questions and complete the following tasks:
- P&L Analysis
- DCF Analysis
- What do you think about the current state of the economy?
- Where do you expense depreciation?
- How does a change in depreciation affect all 3 major financial statements?
- Questions regarding Microsoft’s most recent 10K or 10-Q.
Estimation Questions. Microsoft is looking for finance candidates with demonstrated problem solving skills and analytical dexterity. Estimation questions are an easy way for interviewers to evaluate these abilities. Be prepared for questions such as:
- Approximate the circumference of the earth.
- Revenue forecast for a Microsoft product for the next two years.
- How would you estimate MS Office sales for the next year?
Strategy Questions. Microsoft’s finance team is looking for strategic thinkers. While previous business experience isn’t necessary to succeed in a Microsoft finance interview, business judgment, intuition, and industry background knowledge will be tested. Sample interview questions include:
- Microsoft is losing money on the Bing search engine. Why would we keep it?
- If your aunt gave you money to start a NY or LA-based taxi company, what things would you consider?
- What keeps Microsoft's CFO up at night?
- What’s your favorite Microsoft product and how would you increase sales for that product?
- Why is Android selling more than Apple?
- Should we be worried if ______ product gets really popular? Why might this be an issue?
- If you had to remove one product from the Microsoft Office Suite, which product would it be?
Hypothetical Questions. Microsoft values finance candidates with strong quantitative analysis skills who are data-driven and comfortable with numbers. Expect questions like the following:
- How would you calculate future Xbox sales?
- How much do you pay for a billboard in a high traffic area for advertisement space, keeping in mind the company’s own advertising needs as well as competitors.
- Microsoft is about to roll out a new Star Wars game on Xbox to promote usage of the Xbox Kinect. How would you price the product and evaluate the product? Here four financial statements are given to the interviewee to answer this question.
Behavioral Interview Questions. Microsoft places significant value on communication skills. Regardless of the department or type of work, Microsoft interviewers will test candidates’ communication skills through behavioral interview questions like the following:
- Tell me a time when you analyzed a large data set.
- Tell me an example of something you’ve done in the past at work that really made a difference.
- Tell me about one of your biggest professional failures and what did you learn from the experience?
- Tell me about a time where you were assigned a leadership role for a specific project?
- Tell me about a time when you dealt with somebody who was assertive?
- Tell me about a time when you added value to the business decision of a business partner.
Traditional Interview Questions. Microsoft evaluates a candidate’s fit and passion for the role. Microsoft is a leading technology company, and enthusiasm about tech is important. Expect traditional questions like:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why Microsoft?
- Why finance?
- Why are you interested in working for a technology company?
- What is the one thing that you would change about Microsoft?
- How do you plan your work day?
- What are three of your weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- Your dad asks, "I heard Microsoft is in the cloud business." How would you explain it to him?
How to Prepare: Microsoft Finance Interview
- Finance Questions. Read up on industry trends and brush up on your finance skills. Practice reading and analyzing relevant financial statements such as income statements and balance sheets.
- Estimation Questions. Complete practice estimation questions and read up on the best strategies. If you need practice, I'd recommend the book Interview Math.
- Strategy Questions. Use a framework to structure your strategy answers. Reading up on strategy and business frameworks such as SWOT or Porter’s Five Forces is a great place to start.
- Hypothetical Questions. Start your answer, in the first 30 to 45 seconds, with your generalized approach to the given situation, using the Rule of Three. Continue by giving a specific example where you applied your approach and generated successful results with the remaining 90 to 120 seconds.
- Behavioral Interview Questions. Behavioral interview questions allow the interviewer to get to know you in terms of your past experience and your communication skills. The STAR method is a great way to communicate past accomplishments in a way that's succinct, complete, and satisfying.
- Traditional Interview Questions. Passion is an extremely important part of any Microsoft interview. Microsoft is looking for candidates who have a strong understanding of the company, the industry, and the job description. Know your resume in and out. Also be prepared to link your skills and experience to the requirements in the job description. Read Microsoft's career blog before your interview.
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