The ultimate guide to Microsoft (plus advice on how to get hired there)

Microsoft (originally Micro-Soft) was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen as a company to build software for the Altair 8800, one of the earliest personal computers. In 1985 Microsoft released the operating system that sent it from regular old software company to household name, Windows. Microsoft may have begun as a regular old software company, but has grown to become one of the leading technology companies around the world.

Get ready to learn everything you need to know about Microsoft, including exclusive advice on how to ace your interview from a workplace expert at the company.

Microsoft facts and figures

Size: 131,000 employees

Founded: Oct. 9, 1975

Founders: Bill Gates and Paul Allen

Industry: Software & Programming

Value: $946.5 billion, according to Forbes

Locations: Microsoft’s headquarters is in Redmond, Washington. Though the headquarters is in Washington, the company has offices throughout the country and all over the world.

  1. North America: Bay Area, Seattle area, Vancouver, and New York
  2. Latin America: Sāo Paulo, Brazil, San Jose, Costa Rico, Mexico City, Mexico, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Microsoft’s Latin America and Caribbean operations are headquartered in Fort Lauderdale)
  3. Europe: Reading, United Kingdom; Munich, Germany; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Paris, France
  4. India: Bangalore, India; Hyderabad, India; Gurgaon, India; Mumbai, India
  5. Asia Pacific: Bejing, China; Sydney, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Singapore, Singapore
  6. Middle East & Africa: Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Israel; Johannesburg, South Africa; Istanbul, Turkey

CEO: Satya Narayana Nadella

Salary of the CEO: According to the Microsoft Corporation 2018 SEC Def 14A filing, Nadella has an annual salary of $1.5 million. In 2018 he received $7.425 million as a cash incentive, 7.5 million as a stock award, and $7.5 million as a performance stock award for a total of almost $24 million in compensation.

How much do Microsoft employees make?

The average salary for a Microsoft employee is $119,147 per year. Ladders estimates are based on our calculations.

The average salary for a Program Manager is $96,129, while the average for a Software Engineer is $93,938.

Microsoft Jobs

The company is currently hiring for 2,634 positions in the United States. There are 207 open positions in the San Francisco Bay Area, 78 open positions in New York, and 2,349 open positions in the Seattle area.

The company is searching for a Software Engineer, a Senior Finance Manager, and a Senior Factory Management Engineer to join the team in Redmond, Washington. Open positions in New York include an Azure SAP Specialist and a Post Doc Researcher.

Microsoft Office Life

Microsoft is a technology company, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the company uses technology to create the ideal workplace environment for its employees.

“I work from home a couple times a week,”said Raanah Amjadi, a workplace expert at Microsoft. “It’s very flexible because we have all the technology to support it.”

“Some people work from home throughout the week…we have team members who are scattered around the world. As the dynamic of our teams have shifted, the acceptance of remote work has gone a lot higher. It’s just the nature of the game these days.”

One may think remote work would be isolating, but Amjadi urges that the other main aspect of Microsoft work culture is that it’s completely collaborative.

“There is no role in the company where you can do your work in isolation and then go back to your boss and say ‘here, I’m done,’” Amjadi said. “Everything is partnering with other people.”

Microsoft’s mission

Nadella became CEO of the company in 2014 and the first thing he did was realign the company behind its mission. But what is the company’s mission? According to Amjadi, the company’s mission is to “empower every person and every organization to achieve more.”

Nadella makes sure that each employee recognizes the importance of this mission, and it is able to trickle down to each employee and each project.

“Every moment that he speaks on a stage, whether it’s to customers or internally, 5 people or 500 people, that’s the first thing that comes out of his mouth,” Amjadi said. “It allows you to have a litmus test of…is this serving that goal? If not, then we’re not going to waste our energy and resources. If it is, then it’s worth any friction we come across because we know it’s serving the why we’re doing this that we have in the back of our head.”

Microsoft career paths

One of the things that attracted Amjadi to Microsoft is the ability to move within the company. While some companies are only useful as a stepping stone to your next job, this technology company is committed to retaining employees and moving them up the ladder or across teams.

“I had friends who worked there and they were like, ‘once you have your foot in the door, the company is really big on development from within,’” Amjadi said. “I had friends who had been there for four years and they had like three different jobs.”

Amjadi, who just started her new role as Senior Communications Manager of Quantum Computing, is on her eighth role during her six years at the company.

Advice for getting hired from a Microsoft workplace expert

In addition to being passionate about Microsoft’s main mission, Amjadi reveals that getting hired at Microsoft isn’t a super complex thing to figure out.

“If you boil it down to the most simple sentence…it’s ‘nice, smart people,’” Amjadi said. “Are you someone who has good judgement? You may not have all the answers…you don’t need to be an expert on technology or Office or Azure…any of our products. But can you make good judgement calls with the information that you do have? Can I leave you in a room full of executives by yourself and know that you’ll make the right call with the information in front of you? Or, if you can’t make a call, then make the call to not make a call? Judgement is a really big portion of it.”

Additionally, since the company is all about collaboration, candidates hoping to work there must express their openness to working with others.

The company is “looking for people who understand how to collaborate with others and influence others even when they’re not in a former manager role,” according to Amjadi. “You don’t need to be a manager in order to be a business leader.”

Lastly, don’t get fooled by the simplicity of the “Why Microsoft?” question, because it’s actually extremely important to nail your answer to this question.

“It’s extremely revealing when we know that people are there just because it’s a hit list of good companies to interview for versus they truly want to be there,” Amjadi said. “So it doesn’t mean you need to be 100% aligned with everything we say or do, or know exactly what you want to do in technology…but do you feel a kinship with our mission of empowering people?”

Coming back to the company’s mission, Amjadi emphasizes that passion for the mission and company cannot (and should not) be faked.

“If you’re here looking for the snazzy fame…that’s not what we do,” Amjadi said. “Our whole thing is about giving others a platform to build their careers and their lives off of.”

What to know about the Microsoft application process

Here’s the company’s advice for your resume:

  • The company wants to hear all about your accomplishments, strengths, and specific skills, but more importantly it wants to hear about how all of those can be applied to the role you’re looking to acquire. The team would also love to see any projects that accurately represent your skills, so be sure to include them as attachments or links.
  • While many experts say to keep your resume under one page, Microsoft says it’s okay to use more than one. But the company specifies that the most important figures should be on the first page.
  • The top skills the company looks for definitely depends on which role a candidate is applying for, so be sure to pay close attention to the job description. According to the company website, it looks “for a strong desire to learn, high intelligence, a passion for technology, willingness to work hard, rock-solid skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire to excel.”
  • The company encourages you to include volunteer work and extracurriculars on your resume.
  • After you submit your resume, the rest is out of your hands. If recruiters think you’re a good fit for the position, they’ll contact you with the next steps. If you don’t hear anything from the company, you can assume you weren’t the right fit for the job. The good news is that your information will be entered into a database and you may be considered for future positions.

Applying for a job at Microsoft:

  • The company recommends searching for jobs through the Careers at Microsoft page. You can use this website to set up a profile, apply for open roles, set up job alerts, and view the status of your application.
  • If you see multiple desirable roles, feel free to apply to them all.
  • If you want to participate in the employee referral program, reach out to your contact at the company so they can submit your information.

What to know about the interview process

  • First things first: What does someone wear to an interview at Microsoft? The company website states that you should wear whatever makes you most comfortable. There’s no need to dress to impress.
  • The company encourages you to express “your  level of understanding, your interest, and your passions” through thoughtful questions during your interview.
  • When candidates are called in for an interview, they will typically meet with three to six people for an hour each.
  • The company is really interested in learning how candidates think, so be sure to articulate how you arrived at your answers.
    Be prepared to demonstrate how you meet the requirements of the job description by sharing specific examples from your past, or ideas about how you would accomplish a specific task. For some of our openings you may be asked to write code, share a creative portfolio, or provide examples of your work in other ways.
  • Your interview could last for us to three days and two nights, which is the maximum time the company allots for a candidate. If you’re in from out of time, the company will allow you to see the campus. If you’d like more time than they’ve given you, feel free to ask your interview scheduler.

How to prepare for an interview:

  • The company recommends preparing by thinking about how your prior experience has prepared you for the role you’re looking to land.
  • Make sure you familiarize yourself with the specific product and team, as well as the company on a whole.
  • A useful exercise is to prepare stories that demonstrate your strengths, especially ones that relate to the job description.
  • Remember that interviewers love thoughtful questions, so be sure to prepare some about the team you’re pursuing and company in general.
  • For some of openings you may be asked to write code, share a creative portfolio, or provide examples of your work in other ways, so make sure to know what will be asked of you and prepare accordingly.
  • Get to know the company and keep up to date with happenings by reading company news on Microsoft Life.
  • If you’re looking for information on how to prepare yourself for a technical interview at the company, read this.

What you can expect after your interview:

  • According to the company website, you can expect to hear back from the recruiter within a week after your interview.
  • If you’d like to send thank you notes, ask your recruiter for names and contact information.

Here’s Microsoft’s Tips for getting hired

According to the company website, there are nine steps to a great interview process at Microsoft.

  1. Apply. Apply for the role you’re interested in and then create a profile in order to better show recruiters your experience.
  2. Due Diligence. Recruiter suggest not just learning about the role or team you’re interested in, but gaining a “high-level understanding of Microsoft as a business and learn how their desired position contributes to working as one to empower billions.”
  3. Know where you want to go. Impressive candidates have a vision that extends beyond the role they are applying for. Recruiters recommend you read about different career paths within the company by visiting Microsoft Life.
  4. Work well with others. Collaboration is key. Interviewers will definitely be asking about past professional relationships with supervisors and colleagues.
  5. Showcase the right qualities. Those right qualities happen to be “a strong desire to learn, intelligence, a passion for technology, a willingness to work hard, rock-solid skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire to be the best.”
  6. Demonstrate your thinking. The company is interested in how you go about solving problems, so interviewers will definitely ask about past times when you solved an issue and expect you to articulate your thought process.
  7. Be yourself. Interviewers values authenticity and your unique perspective.
  8. See the landscape. By “the landscape”, the company means that it wants candidates who have a strong understanding of what’s happening in the tech industry, including where Microsoft is leading and where it has room for improvement.
  9. Stay connected. The company recommends you follow it on Twitter at Microsoft Jobs , on Facebook at Microsoft Careers , Instagram at Microsoft Life , and LinkedIn on the Microsoft Corporate page.


Microsoft investors and funding rounds

Microsoft has only had one funding round, which was announced on Sept. 1, 1981. The Venture round raised $1 million, with Technology Venture Investors as the only investor.

Microsoft acquisitions

Microsoft has acquired 225 organizations since its founding in 1975. The most recent acquisition was Movere on Sept. 4.

Microsoft’s products and services

Microsoft breaks up its products and services into six main categories:

  1. Software: Windows apps, OneDrive, Outlook, Skype, OneNote
  2. PCs & Devices: PCs & tablets, Accessories
  3. Entertainment: Xbox games, PC games, Windows digital games, Movies & TV, Books
  4. Business: Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Industry, Data platform, MicrosoftAdvertising, Licensing
  5. Developer & IT: .NET, Visual Studio, Windows Server, Windows Dev Center, Docs
  6. Other: Microsoft Store, Microsoft Rewards, Free downloads & security, Education, Store locations, Gift cards