An interview

This post would be sharing about a job interview with a Microsoft shop about a week back.

Well, as we are in the midst of a recession some of us are more lucky or unlucky than others. I found myself in the same predicament from few weeks ago as in no or very less work. So when I was approached by a good friend for a temporary opening in a proprietary company just couldn’t say no. As this is a personal experience hence it would not be proper to call the company any names so would call it as ‘X’ and the project manager as “Mr. Y” for throughout the post. The proposed job/assignment was for couple of months.

My reasoning for saying yes were numerous :-

a. At the very least it would give me a chance to know how they think and is it all black and white.
b. Even if I do get selected I could always back out at the last moment citing something or the other.
c. If do get selected could get some money and experience which could always be used in FOSS as well.

So answered ‘yes’ for the interview. Sent my resume the next day itself and was given a time in late afternoon the following day. I was given a day to understand what work the company does from the website.Now the problem with most of the corporate websites is that they are used more as a marketing tool rather than an informational tool. I found a single whitepaper on the whole website and the wording used was pretty complex.

From my understanding of whitepaper they are usually very simple. I have read whitepapers from almost all the big names in the consumer electronics place as well some in some of the industrial sectors I am interested in and almost all of them are usually simple so that the reader can associate/understand what position the company is trying to make/create.

So prim and proper and in full formals went the following afternoon. My good friend took time off from his busy schedule and made some small talk and generally made me comfortable . (Good for him as well the company as well. )

Then after sometime Mr. Y appeared. He had gone through my resume, gone through my blog and had simply failed to understand anything. For him it was difficult to gauge what I had written. Something like French or Greek (and without google translate to help him. )

Again can’t find fault with that. The whole Microsoft education is simply to do with the GUI way of working rather than the underlying technology. They just cannot touch it.

The next thing “Mr. Y” did was to try explaining me the technology. I have to admit I had never been exposed to this technology. While he confused me with all the big words, much much later (after coming back home and researching online) realized he was talking about Requirement tracker and Requirement traceability both of which have good background articles on wikipedia both of which do a much better job of explaining what its all about.

This again I wouldn’t hold against the project manager. They may have gone through the same routine or they expect people to know these ‘buzzwords’ .

The next thing I know I’m seeing a UI (a User Interface) and I am supposed to make a help document for some client and given about an hour.

The first thing while looking at the UI is it is one of the worst UI’s I had seen in a long time. By far the worse simply because it had a whole load of information with neither logical or given aesthetics being kept in mind.

Are all business products designed so badly I have no idea.

Anyways completed my assessment of what I could understand from it and made short sentences so that the project manager could see how much I have understood from what little time I had about the complex UI.

Now the project manager was not pleased with it as he was thinking I should have come up with a winner on the 1st go.

I do not really know how to read that. Perhaps I am/was simply incompetent for the job-at-hand or his expectations were being a bit too high. I have been on the other side of the table as well and my logic and reasoning have been different. I ask for feedback on the same.

Then, there was some salary negotiation talk. Well, if I am supposed to selling my soul it shouldn’t be cheap.

At the end of it I had few takeaways for myself from the interview :-

a. A feeling that I have simply become alien to this world and way of doing things.
b. It was also nice to be outside my comfort zone as well as it led me to question about things and the way they are done which I hadn’t known before.
c. At least learned there is something called requirements management and requirements traceability although still not clear about the cycle. Seems to be in some sense similar to how a bug-tracker is but sure that the cycle would be perhaps a bit more complex.

All in all, an enriching experience.


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