How to get a job at Microsoft, Part 2

ComputerWorld Canada was in Redmond, Washington recently at the headquarters of the software giant, where many Canadians work. We went right to the source to find out how best to bust onto the Redmond campus, the changing hiring landscape, and what it’s like once you get there.

The interview

Interviews are almost entirely conducted face-to-face, which, if you’re applying at the main campus, means flying down to Seattle and making the trek out to Redmond, a suburb of the Emerald City. Microsoft usually books a day or two of interviewing, and makes all the flight and hotel accommodations.

Candidates should be prepared for a barrage of interviews with different people, with an average of six interviews per person. They typically range between five and eight, but could be in upwards of a dozen interviews.

The visa conundrum

In recent years, the United States has been cracking down on foreign workers and immigration laws, making it far less easy to import IT professionals down to Redmond than it once was. Even though Microsoft gets the third-highest number of H1-B visas, according to a Globe and Mail story, it still only numbers in the hundreds, said Ashton. Liu, for instance, does not have an H1-B visa, but a nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional visa, or TN visa. It has to be renewed every year, while the H1-B is renewed only once every three years.

Microsoft strives to get the “right talent for the right location,” but this is not always possible, Ashton said. “We need to go where the talent is,” he said. This strategy has resulted in the building of Microsoft development centres around the world, including a brand-new one in Vancouver.

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