Microsoft product manager interview questions

Microsoft product manager interview questions DEFAULT

Microsoft PM Interview Cheat Sheet

In our Flagship Microsoft PM Interview course, you will start off by learning Microsoft’s Big-Picture 10-Year Strategy, based on our conversations with product leads from across the company, and tear down the roadmaps for Azure, Office, Teams, Dynamics, the Power Platform, GitHub, VSCode, Xbox, and more.

Then, we will give you a refresher on the art of interviewing covering everything from white-boarding to body language. We’ll go over what types of product, analytical, technical, and behavioral questions you are most likely to get asked at Microsoft and then walk you through the concrete things that Microsoft interviewers are taught to look for in your response for each question type. We’ll also show you tons of mock interview examples of 10 out of 10 answers with expert interviewer commentary along the way.

Finally, we will share a monthly updated list of interview questions that our team members and past customers have actually gotten during their recent Microsoft PM interviews. With this course, you can take luck out of the equation for getting your dream Program Manager job at Microsoft!


Microsoft Program Manager Interview Process and Prep — 80 Sample Interview Questions Included

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone whose life has not been influenced by a Microsoft product directly or indirectly. That is the sheer magnitude of scale at which this tech giant operates. And right at the center of this action is a Microsoft Program Manager. 

Program Managers or PMs are also known as Technical Program Managers or TPMs. At Microsoft, PMs are expected to deep-dive into technical aspects when planning, designing, and outlining the roadmap of a product, in addition to performing all the duties required of a product manager. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Microsoft Program Manager hiring process:

  1. Microsoft Program Manager Roles and Responsibilities
  2. Microsoft Technical Manager Salary
  3. Microsoft Program Manager Interview Process and Timeline
  4. Topics to Prepare for Microsoft Program Manager Interview
  5. Microsoft Program Manager Interview Questions
  6. How to Prepare for Microsoft Program Manager Interview
  7. FAQs Related Microsoft Program Manager Interviews

Microsoft Program Manager Roles and Responsibilities

Before getting into the interview process, let’s look at what exactly a PM at Microsoft is expected to:

  1. Craft a future-proof product roadmap
  2. Carry out competitive analyses and map out strategies to take on the market
  3. Foresee which features to build on priority
  4. Effectively communicate with customers
  5. Collaborate with design and engineering teams
  6. Double down the growth curve post-launch and track related metrics

What Exactly Does Microsoft Look for in Program Managers?

In a Program Manager interview, Microsoft is looking for potential associates who bring more to the table than just product management skills. Staying true to their core value of finding excellence in simplicity, Microsoft looks for the following two qualities in their hires:

  1.  People who truly believe in Microsoft’s products and align with its mission.
  2.  People with high potential as compared to those who already come with significant accomplishments on paper.

Microsoft Technical Program Manager Salary 

According to Comparably, a Microsoft Program Manager’s average compensation is $145,360 per year. The annual salary can range from $113,000 to $195,000. Your offer, however, will depend on various factors, such as your experience and the value you bring to the organization. How you perform during the interview and how well you negotiate will decide your final package.

Tips to Negotiate Program Manager Salary at Microsoft

  • Do not share the current compensation you are receiving.
  • Do not share the compensation you are expecting.
  • Invest in building a good rapport with the hiring manager.
  • Do not insist on receiving offers in writing.
  • Ask for a relocation package if it applies to your case.
  • Compare your offer with publicly available data.

Salary negotiation is a must-have skill. Read The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineersto hone your negotiation skills and get an offer that matches your value.

Microsoft Program Manager Interview Process and Timeline

A typical Microsoft Program Manager Interview Process can take anywhere between 4-8 weeks to complete. This is because the volume of applicants is huge, and timelines vary with different divisions at Microsoft.

The Microsoft PM interview steps are:

  • 1. Getting the Interview
  • 2. Phone Screening 
  • 3. Onsite Interviews
  • 3.1. Face-to-Face Technical Interview
  • 3.2 Systems Design Round
  • 3.3 HR Interview
  • 4. Results

1. Getting the Interview

The first step in the Microsoft Program Manager interview process is to bag an interview with Microsoft. You will need:

  • A compelling cover letter
  • A resume fine-tuned to the expectations of the PM job description
  • As many reliable referrals as you can get

2. Phone Screening

If your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter will call you to test the waters and get to know you better. It may or may not include a video call. A Microsoft Technical Program Manager phone interview is a mix of behavioral questions to see if you are a good culture fit and a product design coding assessment on a remote online editor to gauge your technical skill levels as a software developer. This round lasts for around 45-50 minutes. 

Find out how to face phone screen interviews with ease.

3. Onsite Interviews

Once you pass the recruiter screening and preliminary technical interview, you get called for an onsite interview. These interviews are based on product design, technical knowledge, behavioral aspects, and strategy. Each of the rounds lasts about an hour.

3.1. Technical Face-to-Face Interview

You are given a real-life problem in this round that you need to solve with code on a whiteboard. The assignments are usually related to data structures and algorithms. Recruiters want to see how you approach a given problem, how you plan your code, and how you execute your plan.

3.2. Systems Design Round

This round is conducted for more experienced software engineers. They are asked to build a system design around a given problem. System design interviews test your ability to design large systems with various constraints and requirements.

3.3 HR Interview

This round focuses on evaluating whether you are culturally a good fit for Microsoft or not. It involves behavioral questions. Check out the following articles for sample interview questions:

4. Results

This is the final act! The HR department will contact you with an offer if you have been selected. This time taken varies, as data aggregation and making the final call take time and depend on several factors.

Topics to Prepare for Microsoft Program Manager Interview

The program manager is expected to be well-versed in data structures and algorithms as well as systems design. You can plan your prep around the following topics:

Microsoft Program Manager Interview Questions

Practicing is the key to cracking any interview, and the same goes for Program Manager interviews at Microsoft. In this section, we have listed some of the frequently asked questions at TPM interviews. We have categorized them for your convenience. 

Most-Asked Program Manager Interview Questions at Microsoft:

  1. How would you improve Microsoft Outlook?
  2. How can Microsoft integrate LinkedIn with its core products?
  3. Design a mobile app for Microsoft Teams. 
  4. How will you explain collaborative filtering to a five-year-old?
  5. Design an elevator system.
  6. Design a door for the visually impaired.
  7. Should company X create a product Y for children?

General/End-to-End TPM Interview Questions:

  1. Describe a time when you had to manage an end-to-end technical program.
  2. Describe how you would manage a hypothetical project XYZ.
  3. What makes a successful technical program manager, according to you?
  4. Elaborate on the difference between program management and technical program management.
  5. What is your methodology for approaching projects and programs?

TPM Interview Questions on Prioritization:

  1. Describe a typical day at work.
  2. How would you manage a hectic work inbox?
  3. Which tech tools do you find most useful?
  4. Describe an instance when you delegated a task successfully.
  5. What would you do in case you missed a deadline?
  6. What is your response to unexpected project changes?

Kick-off/Sunset TPM Interview Questions:

  1. How will you kick off a program?
  2. How will you sunset a program?
  3. How will you respond to a project with no timeline or kick-off?

TPM Interview Questions on Planning:

  1. How will you create a strategic roadmap for your program?
  2. How will you handle additional requirements that may come up unannounced in the middle of a project?
  3. How will you build a forecasting tool?

TPM Interview Questions on Risk:

  1. What is your take on handling risks in a project?
  2. Describe an instance when you had to manage a major risk in a program?

TPM Interview Questions on Agile Methodologies:

  1. How will you draft an Agile project?
  2. How will you compare agile and waterfall methodology?
  3. What will you do if you find a bug in your program just before it is time to release it?
  4. Tell us about some of the agile methodologies you are familiar with.
  5. What core components of Scrum are the most and least valuable according to you?
  6. In a planning meeting, which sizing methodology will you use?
  7. How will you prepare for a sprint planning meeting? How will you decide the sprint length?

TPM Interview Questions on Technical Systems Design:

  1. How would you design a search engine? 
  2. How would you design a shared drive?
  3. How would you design Twitter?
  4. How would you design a messaging system?
  5. How would you design a vaccine rollout system?
  6. Design a URL shortening service like
  7. Design your own traffic control system.
  8. Design a limit order book for trading systems.
  9. Design a platform like Instagram. 
  10. Design a universal file-sharing app like Dropbox.
  11. Design a secure ATM.
  12. Redesign Facebook’s feature Newsfeed.
  13. Design a platform like Airbnb.
  14. Design a parking lot.
  15. Design an autocomplete feature for a search engine.
  16. Design a vending machine in Java.
  17. Design an API rate limiter.
  18. Design a video streaming service like Netflix.
  19. Design a ticketing management system for the zoo.

TPM Interview Questions on Explaining Tech Concepts:

  1. How does Agile work?
  2. How do satellites work?
  3. How does the internet work?
  4. How does a TV’s remote control work?
  5. How does an AC’s condenser work?
  6. How does the clutch system of an automobile work?
  7. How do Instagram filters work?
  8. How does a web crawler work?

TPM Coding Interview Questions:

  1. Find the missing number in a given integer array of 1 to 100.
  2. Find the largest and smallest number in an unsorted integer array.
  3. Find the duplicate number in a given integer array.
  4. How will you remove duplicate nodes in an unsorted linked list?
  5. Find the middle element of a singly linked list in one pass. (Solution)
  6. How will you print duplicate characters from a string?
  7. How will you print the first non-repeated character from a string?
  8. How will you check if two strings are anagrams of each other?
  9. How is a string reversed using recursion?
  10. How will you perform preorder traversal in a binary tree?
  11. How can you implement a binary search tree?
  12. How will you traverse a binary tree in preorder without recursion?

TPM Interview Questions on Leadership:

  1. How are your responsibilities different from those of your project manager?
  2. Which tools do you rely on to successfully perform your duties?
  3. What are your top metric choices for measuring success?
  4. What can you tell us about program charters?
  5. How will you define and control program goals?
  6. What is your strategy for keeping up with the latest tech trends?
  7. Tell us about your most recent program.
  8. Describe a role where you had to deal with budgeting and resource allocation.
  9. Have you ever fallen behind schedule in a project? 

How to Prepare for Microsoft Program Manager Interview

Microsoft Program Managers are responsible for designing and executing end-to-end programs. You must have a knack for planning, prioritizing features, and delivering on time. Program Management will include project kick-off, planning ahead of time, effective execution, monitoring closely, and finally, closing the project properly. 

Technical Interview Preparation for the Microsoft TPM Role

In a Microsoft Technical Program Manager interview, you will be expected to demonstrate your technical knowledge. You should be able to explain every aspect of your coding assignment solution. This is also a test of how well you communicate technical details as you will be working closely with designers, engineers, and cross-functional teams.

When practicing, make it a point to think out loud and explain your thought process. 

Leadership Interview Preparation for the Microsoft TPM Role

You may be asked standard Microsoft Technical Program Manager interview questions such as describing past experiences of leading a project, collaborating with cross-functional teams, handling difficult associates, and more such behavioral questions. 

When answering such open-ended questions, use the STAR or CAR method to structure your responses. We have covered these methods in detail in the Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions article. 

Systems Design Interview Preparation for the Microsoft TPM Role

Systems design interview questions are meant to test your understanding of large distributed systems that are scalable, reliable, and cost-optimal. Questions about systems design can be tricky as they are often ambiguous, and you will have to deal with the unstructured nature of the discussion. While practicing for systems design questions, follow these steps to ensure you’re covering all ground:

  • Step 1: Define the key assumptions about the system
  • Step 2: Define the key features of the system
  • Step 3: Define the scale of the system
  • Step 4: Define the data model of the system
  • Step 5: Design the high-level system
  • Step 6: Look for bottlenecks in the system
  • Step 7: Go in-depth on the subsystem
  • Step 8: Acknowledge the trade-offs

Check out System Design Interview Preparation Tips for more.

FAQs on Microsoft Program Manager Interviews

Question 1: What does a program manager do at Microsoft?

A Microsoft program manager acts as a product manager and facilitates in-depth product development. At Microsoft, PMs are expected to deep-dive into technical aspects when planning, designing, and outlining the roadmap of a product, in addition to performing all the duties required of a product manager.

Question 2: How do I prepare for the Microsoft manager interview?

You can follow an interview prep plan that tackles every TPM recruitment round in detail. Practice as many Microsoft program manager interview questions as you can. You can also go for an interview prep bootcamp like Interview Kickstart that offers a one-of-its-kind, tailor-made prep interview course for Product Managers. Sign up for the FREE webinar on How to Nail Your Next Tech Interview to learn more.

Question 3: How many interview rounds are there in Microsoft for TPMs, and long does it take?

The Microsoft Program Manager hiring process consists of job application, phone screening, coding assignment, and a set of onsite interviews. A typical process can take up to 2 months or more, depending on which Microsoft segment you have applied in.

Ready to Nail the Next Microsoft TPM Interview?

Cracking interviews at FAANG and Tier-1 Tech companies like Microsoft require dedicated and strategic prep. Interview Kickstart provides the most comprehensive curriculum and teaching methodologies that have helped over 9,000 engineers crack the toughest tech interviews.

With IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from and practice mock interviews with actual hiring managers and tech leads from FAANG+ companies. What’s more? Our programs are tailored to specific domains, including product management, which will help you hone your domain skills further and stand out from the competition.

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From Windows to Office to Azure to Xbox, program managers at Microsoft drive technologies that impact our everyday lives. The program management team bridges the technical and business worlds, as they guide ideas from conception to launch.

Traditionally this PM title refers to product management. But depending on the team, the work of program managers at Microsoft could run the gamut from pure product management to customer engagements. Program managers can be found managing projects, analyzing data, engaging with and selling to customers, syncing with internal stakeholders, or speaking at conferences.

Microsoft PMs are always customer focused, and very enterprise and business-driven. The scope of the challenges program managers work on can be quite large. The PM job at Microsoft is generally not very technical. Some PMs spend their time conducting user tests with clients and working closely with designers. There may be some quantitative work involved such as setting up A/B testing experiments and using statistics to figure out which decision makes the most sense. But in general, PMs do not write code.

In this article, we examine some of the most frequently asked questions and dispel any preconceived notions that candidates might have about interviewing for a program management role at Microsoft.

Interview Process

Typically, there are 3 rounds of interviews for Microsoft PM roles: recruiter, phone, and on-site.

If you are applying for a new grad role as a college student, your process would typically look like this: speak with a recruiter at a career fair, have a first-round interview on campus or over the phone, and finally the on-site interview at the office you're applying for.


A recruiter will first call you to understand your motivations behind the role. If you are a college new grad, you will be hired into a general organization (such as Cloud and AI or Office). As an experienced hire, you will be interviewing for a specific position.

Questions you can expect to field with the recruiter include

  • Why do you want to be a program manager?
  • Why do you want to work at Microsoft as a PM?
  • For experienced hires: why do you want to work in this space?

Be prepared to talk about your past experiences from your resume. This call will be used to ensure you're good at communicating. The recruiter will also be looking for signs that you're a decent person to work with (and not a jerk).


Next, you will have a phone interview with a current program manager at Microsoft. You will get roughly 50 minutes to complete either a product design or technical question, followed by a 5-10 minute Q&A opportunity.


Following the phone interview is the final on-site. A typical on-site interview consists of 5 rounds of a mix of product design and technical questions. Your recruiter will be in touch with you to walk you through the onsite process, which buildings you will go to, and how you will be reimbursed for your expenses. Many candidates also use this time to explore Seattle, with some parts of their trip reimbursed by Microsoft.

Each onsite interview will take roughly one hour: 45-50 minutes of interview time with 5-10 minutes at the end to answer any questions you may have. You will have the opportunity to use a whiteboard in every interview.

You will have a one and a half hour lunchtime opportunity to have a casual conversation with one of your Microsoft interviewers where you will get food from the Microsoft cafeteria. You will also have an opportunity to take a 30 minute break near the end of your onsite.

Sample Interview Questions

Product Design

Product design questions test your ability to design a new product or improve an existing one. Be user-focused. The key is to ensure you're organized with your thoughts and have a clear goal in mind that will solve the user's problem(s).

One of the best frameworks is to go "broad then deep". First, "go broad" by listing all the ideas and solutions that come to mind. Then, pick one to "go deep" on and explain why that is the solution you chose.

Another approach we see candidates have success with is The Triangle Method. This framework will help you articulate your thoughts and help nail your points into the interviewer's mind. To accomplish this, first list three points. Then, dive into each point. Finally, summarize your three points at the end. This will help you articulate your points and subpoints.

Be sure to demonstrate competency in defining metrics as well as understanding what to do when metrics change. Be methodical and show that you make data-driven decisions.


Your last interviewer is mainly focused on these behavioral questions to determine if you’re a good fit for the team and the earlier interviewers have determined that you may have the qualifications to be considered.

While Microsoft does not have a specific requirement like "Googleyness" at Google, it wants to see that you will work well with everyone: program managers, engineers, designers, sales, and legal. Focus on communicating well: enunciate, speak slowly, and speak with meaning.

Prepare a good talk track through your resume. Go through your resume and previous experiences that you’ve had and know how to have a “60 seconds to wow” pitch as well as a longer in-depth explanation of each experience that you’d want to highlight to the interview. These experiences can be previous work experience, side projects, classes, or even hobbies. Think about not only what you’ve achieved in each experience, but also what you learned, what challenges you faced, and what approaches and strategies you used to tackle those challenges and succeed. Make sure to prepare real anecdotes, so you can use specific examples. Your interviewer already has your resume and application, so those anecdotes helps ground your story and makes the interview more memorable. Think about anecdotes that shows off how you were customer-obsessed, dealt with ambiguity, and had a growth mindset in approaching the task at hand.

Why Microsoft? Why this role and team? Think carefully about why you are applying for this role, and why Microsoft specifically. It helps to know as much about the role and team that you’re applying for. It is always very impressive when a candidate has used the feature before, but make sure to only bring that up if you can speak to it because most likely, the interviewer will probe more about how you used their feature and what feedback you have.

Compared to PM interviews at other tech companies, candidates who have interviewed with Microsoft report that their interviews were very casual. But don't let your guard down! In these casual conversations to get to know you, your interviewer may dig deeper into your experiences and ask you to elaborate on your experiences.

Examples of behavioral questions:

  • Why PM?
  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • How do you influence team members without having direct control?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Given some scenario with conflict, how would you handle it?
  • How do you prioritize features?
  • How are you data driven?
  • What tools have you used as a PM?
  • How do you manage projects?
  • What is your style of management?


Two types of technical questions are most often asked in program management interviews at Microsoft: coding and system design. The level of technical difficulty in the questions widely vary according to who the interviewer is, what the team is, and what type of customer the team caters to. Besides the algorithm and data structure questions that many other companies ask, sometimes interviewers at Microsoft will ask infrastructure questions/how specific tech works.

If you have something on your resume, especially in the skills section, you might get asked about it, so only put things on your resume that you can actually speak to. For example, if you put machine learning, you might get asked about how your train your models and to speak to the specific algorithms that you like using. If you put down specific coding languages, you may be asked about which you prefer and why you like that one. For example, if you like Node, what do you think the pros and cons of a single threaded language is?

With regards to coding questions, expect easy to medium Leetcode level questions. Consider tradeoffs for the popular data structures and algorithms (including time and space complexity)

With regards to system design questions, solutions should be scalable, reliable, and efficient. You will be expected to discuss various aspects of your solution: security, load balancers, telemetry, what happens to data that needs to be purged, and any risks in your design. Be prepared to slowly build up to your solution. For example, your interviewer may start small and ask you to just design the system for one user. What will happen when 100 users want to locally use the service? How about when 1 million users use it globally?

Especially if you’re interviewing for a team in Cloud and AI, it would be good to know the basics to infrastructure concepts, such as operating systems, databases, and how virtual machines work.

Hiring Decision

It's important to note that interviewers talk to each other between interviews. Usually they brief the next interviewer on what you did well and what they should focus more on. After you finish one interview, the next interview usually pans out in a few different ways:

  1. You get asked a very similar question. This may mean that your first interview didn’t get a chance to get elaboration on something that they asked earlier. The next interviewer is asking you this to get more details, so give your more detailed answer and call out that you’ve mentioned this previously.

  2. You get asked a very different question. This may mean that your first interview focused on specific themes, but didn’t get a chance to get you to talk about another specific theme. Other times, it may mean that based on your earlier answer that this may have been identified as a weakness. For example, it may be that one interview identified that you weren’t as strong technically, so the next interviewer asks a very technical question, so be prepared for this.

If you’re going to repeat yourself from a previous interview to emphasize or elaborate on a point, make sure to call that out.

Tips and Strategies

Microsoft is a very large company. Depending on the team you're interviewing for, program managers can be on the technical side, more UX-driven, or business-focused. Some program managers work very closely with designers, whereas those on cloud computing or similarly technical teams may work closer with engineers.

In your program management interviews, be sure to convey your desire with putting the customer first. Everything you build should be addressing a customer need.

Microsoft also cares about inclusion. This means that accessibility is reviewed for every feature release. In your product design interview, search for ways to make the product more accessible. Not everyone thinks about this, so this may be a breath of fresh air for some interviewers. On top of that, brainstorming ways to improve accessibility for the product might reveal a different approach or solution that you did not previously consider.

Microsoft Product Manager Mock Interview: Design Fridge for Kids

Microsoft Product Manager

Interview DifficultyhardRounds3-5

The role of a Microsoft Product Manager

A product manager's primary responsibility is to manage the creation and evolution of products. This covers a wide range of tasks, from coming up with the product strategy, to executing it alongside a full team of engineers, designers, copywriters, data scientists, and more - to iterating it and ensuring it stays relevant to customers. However, this might vary from company to company. Some tech giants distribute the roles further across a range of people while others may prefer to assign them all to the same individual. In Microsoft, Product Managers have a great deal of influence over the direction of the products they manage. This role is emerging faster with each passing day and holds huge importance, especially in top tech companies. What complicates the role of a product manager is the amount of decision making and due to that reason, the interview can be rather challenging, covering a wide range of topics.

In addition, product managers at Microsoft are often referred to as ‘Program Managers’.

This interview guide takes you through the stages that you will go through while interviewing as a Product Manager at Microsoft, along with useful tips and questions to help you prepare the best you can.

Interview Guide

The process generally takes about four to eight weeks before you receive an offer if successful, but sometimes it can take even longer. The interview consists of the following steps:

  1.  Call with a recruiter
  2.   A phone interview
  3.   An on-site interview

The way your interview unfolds also depends on you. For example, if you are a college student applying for a new grad role, chances are that you might speak to the recruiter at a career fair or through a referral, having several interviews including on campus, on the phone, and on-site.

Round 1


  • Telephonic interview with an HR Recruiter (around 25-30 mins)
  • You reach this stage if the recruiter has shortlisted you after the screening of your resume and cover letter.

What the interviewer will assess

  • If you are suitable for the job in the first place.
  • To get an idea of your background and if you have a chance of getting the job.
  • To understand your past experiences in the domain.
  • To be aware of your behavior and if that would fit in the work culture.


  • Keep a track of your past work. Keep a discussion about any previous project handy. You might want to use a template to organize the points you want to mention.
  • Keep your answers short and to the point. Don’t beat around the bush as that only displays a lack of confidence.
  • Have a clear and confident reason for applying to Microsoft and how you can succeed there.

Interview Questions

Here are some of the questions that are common to every product manager interview and others specific to Microsoft:

  • Tell me about yourself and why do you think you should be hired for this job?
  • Why did you choose Microsoft specifically?
  • What methods do you use to determine what your customers want?

Be well prepared to talk about your past job profile and work culture. This is for the recruiter to check your communication skills and whether you are decent enough to work with.

Round 2


The next step is a telephonic interview with a current program/product manager at Microsoft. There are good chances that they might be your future PM peers, seniors, and others of the department. Some points to be highlighted here are:

  • The interview will last about 50 to 60 mins.
  • You will be asked several behavioral questions.
  • You can expect a question about design, strategy, analysis, and other technical questions.
  • Will be concluded with an opportunity for you to ask any questions to your interviewer.

What the interviewer will assess

  • Your past experiences and their relevance to the job.
  • Your knowledge in the field, and your ability to demonstrate the core competencies of a PM.
  • Your ability to think and analyze ideas.
  • Your work ethic.


  • There is a good chance that the interviewer asks about a recent product that you might have used and then dig deeper about your likes and dislikes about the product. They may also ask for suggestions to improve it. In such a case, it would be helpful to already be ready with a few products to talk about beforehand, so that you are not hesitant on the spot.
  • Microsoft likes innovative ideas and focuses a lot on inclusion. Suggest products that are well feasible, more accessible and works for all types of people. Try to be innovative and talk about ways of designing or improving products further.

Interview Questions

  • What’s your most-used Microsoft product and is there anything you would like to suggest for improving it?
  • How would you explain this job profile to someone who doesn’t know a lot about it?
  • Can you design a user interface for any music app you can think of?
  • How would you differentiate between C and Java?
  • How do you think you can help in optimizing a production process?
  • What measurements will you use to assess Microsoft Outlook's success?
  • Build a system for a single person. What happens if 100 people try to use the service locally? What if it's used by a million people all over the world?

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Round 3


After getting past the telephonic interview, if you are considered by the PM Team, you will be called for an on-site interview. You will get to spend an entire day in Microsoft’s offices with several interviews throughout the day. Some points to be kept in mind are:

  • There will be about 4-5 rounds of interviews and each interview will last for about 45-60 mins with already working PMs and other hiring managers.
  • The recruiter will remain in touch with you all along and take you through the process thoroughly.
  • Interviewers will make recommendation notes, on whether or not to hire you. Each of them will be able to see the notes from previous interviews given by you.
  • You will have an opportunity to lunch with one of your interviewers for about one and a half hours where you can come up with casual yet insightful conversations.
  • If a majority of the interviewers recommend you, you will be called in for the last interview where you have an opportunity to ask intelligent questions and show off your passion for Microsoft.

What the interviewer will assess

  • If you are meant for the job profile and your experience.
  • Your knowledge about the firm.
  • If you are a good fit and have enough knowledge and skills.
  • Your interviewer is trying to test various themes and your grasp on each of them.
  1.   Analytical ability
  2.   Technical aspect
  3. Creative thinking


  • This is the point where all your technical knowledge and research about Microsoft comes to play. Prepare well beforehand by going through annual reports and mission analysis.
  • It would be helpful to talk about your opinion on some new and emerging technologies, for instance artificial intelligence and machine learning, AR/VR, blockchain, and the like

Interview Questions

  • Tell us about your style of management.
  • Do you have a way of making people agree with your point of view?
  • Can you design a 3-button remote for any electrical device such as a television?
  • Describe how you would design a method that removes every other node from a linked list.
  • Explain to us the working of the internet.
  • You are provided with a team of 20 engineers and 4 data scientists. If you are given a time of 6 months to come up with a new product, what would that be? How far do you think you will be able to work on it in 6 months?
  • Examine the benefits and drawbacks of creating a mega app, which includes entertainment, e-commerce, food ordering, hotel booking, cab booking, chat, holiday planning, gaming, med ordering, service booking, and other B2C functions.
  • How will you build a car-sharing app for disabled people similar to Uber?
  • Develop a product that allows job seekers to easily and efficiently create resumes and find the best matching jobs.
  • What steps will you take to increase the revenue of MS PowerPoint?
  • How will you design a cellphone for a 2 year old?
  • How can you evaluate Messenger Room’s success?

At this stage, the difficult part is now over. Pose some questions and express your concerns about the system's functioning. Try practicing with some experienced PM interviewers so that you get a taste of what a real interview feels like, beforehand.

Hiring and Decision Process

It is important to note that the interviewers talk in between while taking the interview letting the other person know what you missed and what were your strong points. It also lets the next interviewer know what part to focus on.

If in the next interview you get asked a similar question, it is most probably because it wasn’t well elaborated the last time. This is an attempt to get you to discuss a bit more in detail and understand your point of view in a better way. For example, one interviewer might find you lacking on the creativity or innovation front, so the next one might ask you something related to the same. Make sure you watch out for this.

If you are recommended by a majority of the interviewers, you will be extended with an offer letter within a week.


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Questions microsoft product manager interview

Microsoft product management interviews

Kenton Kivestu, ex-Google, ex-BCG, Founder at RocketBlocks
Updated: April 28, 2021

Interview structure | Sample questions | Video mock interview | Culture

Microsoft's renaissance is in full swing.

With Satya Nadella, the third CEO of Microsoft who was hand-picked by Bill Gates, at the helm the company has flourished. Morale is up, the company vision and product line is increasingly focused and market is taking notice - its stock nearly doubled since Satya took the reigns.

As a result, it's no surprise that product management roles at Microsoft are a hot commodity.

Satya Nadella introduces Windows 10 on stage

In this deep dive, we'll cover what to expect in the Microsoft product management interviews and how to prepare:

  1. The structure of Microsoft PM interviews
  2. Types of questions asked in Microsoft PM interviews
  3. Video mock interview with a Microsoft PM (Technical explainer question)
  4. Understanding Microsoft's core business and product culture

Structure of Microsoft interview process (Top)

As one of the largest major tech companies, with over 130,000 employees, Microsoft's product management interview process has more variance than that of its peer companies, like Google and Facebook.

That said, most Microsoft product management interviews follow a common structure: a quick phone screen, one first round interview and an on-site interview day with three to five interviews, depending on the team, the role and seniority.

Recruiter screen

Depending on how you apply, the recruiter screen could happen over a quick 30-minute phone call or an impromptu discussion at a career event (e.g., an on-campus career fair).

At this stage, the recruiter is assessing whether or not you've got the right background, have an interest in the Microsoft vision and could be a culture fit with the company.

"Sometimes the recruiter screen and 1st round are combined so be ready to answer a product or basic technology question during the screening also." - Milap Patel, Incoming PM Intern, Microsoft

First round interview

In first round interviews, Microsoft will typically try to get a broad assessment of your product sense and design skills, your level of technical fluency and knowledge about relevant Microsoft products.

Depending on your level and background, the nature of the technical questions could vary significantly (more on this below). For example, if you're applying out of undergrad and have technical background (e.g., CS degree), you could face prototypical software engineering questions about data structures, algorithms, etc.

Onsite interviews

Onsite interviews at Microsoft typically involve three to five, forty-five minute interviews.

Based on your experience level and background, Microsoft will match you up with one of the core organizational units and then your interviewers will likely come from different teams within that organization.

Before we jump into the specific types of questions covered, let's review the core organizational units at Microsoft.

Microsoft core organizational units

Currently, Microsoft is organized into a handful of core organizations:

  • Cloud and AI: The Azure suite of cloud computing offerings that compete with AWS and Google Cloud
  • Core services engineering: Includes a mix of groups from Microsoft Teams to Skype to supply chain optimization
  • Office 365: The core Office group including product lines like Excel, Word and Powerpoint
  • Experiences and devices: Includes devices like Microsoft Surface and Holo Lens and experiences like Windows
  • AI and Research: Microsoft's R&D group, which places a big emphasis on AI

For example, if you were matched up to the core services engineering unit, you might have a interviews with people who across a variety of different teams like MS Teams, Skype and supply chain.

The unit you're interviewing with is important because it will influence the context around the questions you're asked (even though Microsoft will consistently test the same skills). For example, in the core services group, the product, analytics and technical questions you're asked might revolve around MS Teams (or other core services products).

Sample Microsoft PM interview questions (Top)

As discussed above, the context around the questions you're asked will vary depending on the organizational unit, but the types of skills tested will not. Primarily, Microsoft will focus on testing your product design skills, your analytical thinking skills, your technical fluency and cultural fit.

Sample product design questions

Here, Microsoft wants to understand how you think about products. Overall, they want to know if you can conceptualize a high level idea, articulate a clear strategy and think through the tactical steps needed to launch and/or build it.

In most cases, the questions will revolve around product challenges from the particular organization you're interviewing with.

  • How would you improve Microsoft powerpoint?
  • In what ways could Microsoft integrate LinkedIn into its core products?
  • Imagine you're designing the mobile app for Microsoft Teams, how would you go about this?

Sample analytical questions

In this category, Microsoft wants to understand what type of analytical process you'll bring to bear on the problems you'll face on the job.

Often, the prompts will center around Microsoft products and force you to demonstrate how you'd rationally walk through a problem, step-by-step. More importantly than arriving at a specific number, Microsoft product managers will want to see that you have a logical approach and make reasonable assumptions.

  • How would you size the market for Microsoft Teams?
  • LinkedIn recently started offering native video. How much storage capacity will they need to store videos?
  • The number of daily average users (DAU) for Office 365 is down 5.0% WoW. How would you investigate what's going on?

Sample technical questions

The nature of the technical questions can vary dramatically depending on the specific product manager role you're interviewing for.

For example, if you're interviewing with the AI and Research group, expect to get some questions probing your knowledge on machine learning and AI techniques, models and approaches. However, for many roles on more established products, Microsoft will focus on whether you have enough technical know-how to communicate with engineers and ship software products effectively.

  • Describe what happens an Office 365 user shares a Word doc with another user from a technical standpoint?
  • Design an algorithm to highlight relevant documents to a user on their Microsoft Word dashboard.

"Rocketblocks PM course was of great help to me. It helped me hone my PM interview skills by helping me practice a lot of questions and providing great lessons using mini-tutorials." - Dhairyya Aggarwal, Incoming PM, Microsoft, CMU

Sample behavioral questions

Finally, Microsoft will probe on how you work and what results you've been able to achieve in the past. The type of questions asked here will be similar to those asked at peer companies like Google, Amazon, etc.

  • Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned from it.
  • How would you go about earning the trust of your development team? And sales team?
  • What's the hardest you've worked in your life and what results did you achieve?

"Every interviewer asked me at least 2 behaviorals before jumping into product design or technical - make sure you know your resume well and have stories lined up. And definitely don’t lie because they’ll figure it out. Also, drive their mission/vision in all your answers (especially the behavioral to showcase you are a culture fit)." - Milap Patel, Incoming PM Intern, Microsoft

Understanding Microsoft's core business and product culture (Top)

When interviewing, it's also important to understand Microsoft's history and how that's led them to their current market position, product suite and strategic focus.

Microsoft's runaway success was the Windows operating system. Rather than focus on building hardware plus software, like Apple, Microsoft focused on building a killer operating system, licensing it out to hundreds of PCs makers to get scale and then attracting developers to build applications on top of Windows due to that scale. This worked exceedingly well and, occasionally, Microsoft picked off the most attractive app categories, and built and sold their own software to capture additional opportunity (this is how the Office Suite came about).

Eventually, two major computing shifts ended Microsoft's dominance: the rise of the internet and the smartphone. The former meant that increasingly the browser was operating system of note, as more and more applications and services could be handled via web apps. The smartphone moved a significant amount of computing to mobile devices and Apple and Google seized the lion's share of those markets. These two shifts led to Microsoft's lost decade where competitors like Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook gained power at its expense.

For additional detail here, check out Ben Thompson's excellent post on The End of Windows and Microsoft's Monopoly Hangover.

Key business metrics

In the last five years, Satya Nadella has ended Microsoft's focus on windows and rebuilt the company around services. And the numbers, shown through the end of 2020 below, indicate he's been quite successful.

The three core layers that they focus (and report on) are: productivity and business processes (e.g., Office 365, Skype, Teams), intelligent cloud (e.g., Azure et al) and more personal computing (e.g., Windows and devices like Xbox, Hololens, Surface, etc.).

Microsoft annual revenues for 2016, 2017 and 2018 broken down by business unitMicrosoft revenue growth rate year-over-year by business unit

A few key observations from Microsoft's recent revenues:

  • Intelligent cloud is a monster business! Its growth rate is accelerating, even though it already brings in over $40B annually in revenues. That's wild!
  • One can see the lingering effect of Windows, as the personal computing is still nearly the biggest revenue category. However, it's growth is outpaced by the newer categories.
  • The overall growth of the Microsoft business is very impressive, although there does seem to be a noticeable slowdown in growth rate for the productivity category over the last few years.

Microsoft's product culture

Microsoft is an elder statesman of the tech scene. And that's a good thing!

It's been through its startup phase, its high-growth phase, its everyone's anti-Microsoft phase and is now in it's renaissance phase. Importantly, this evolution has an impact on what type of candidates end up being successful at Microsoft.

As opposed to peer companies, who often use grandiose language about only hiring the best of the best, Microsoft humbly focuses on two core cultural signposts: 1) people who truly care about the Microsoft mission and product and 2) people with very high potential (versus a significant record of accomplishment already).

Real interview questions. Sample answers from PM leaders at Google, Amazon and Facebook. Plus study sheets on key concepts.


Cracking the Product Manager interview AMA with Prashant Kumar Sonu, Sr. Product Manager (Microsoft)


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