Job Assessment Centres are a tricky experience. Most, if not all applicants tend to develop nerves beforehand – sometimes, even the best candidates can fall at the last fence down to nerves alone.
This year our interns devised a plan to help relax candidates, allowing them to be themselves and show their true worth!
Our aim as a blog team is to provide a real and honest insight into life at Microsoft as an Intern, MACH, Ambassador and now Apprentice. We’ve traditionally done this by creating great written and video content from ‘role insights‘ to ‘application advice‘ as well as guest posts from a variety of Microsoft employees. For anyone considering a position at Microsoft, it’s the one-stop resource for help, advice and information. This year, having experienced the toll of job applications and assessment centres first hand, our interns decided to take how we engage with our audience one step further. We developed a brand new concept that allowed us to engage face to face and share our wealth of experience with prospective candidates. The main point we wanted to express was how different the application process at Microsoft is and how ‘Being Yourself’ can really set you in good stead for a potential career in one of the best companies in the world.
What is Skype Roulette? Personal experience has taught us that applying for internships/graduate schemes can be a daunting experience, so we created a fun and informative concept that allowed candidates to get to know Microsoft during the application process. Skype Roulette provided candidates the opportunity to engage live with current interns via a 5 minute Skype call, so they could ask all their burning questions and get true insight into what it’s like to work at Microsoft on a year out from university. As this was a completely intern led project, it was separate from the actual application process, which gave participants the chance to ask questions in a safe and informal environment without fear of their application being scrutinized. It also gave current interns the chance to give something back, sharing helpful tips leading up to the final stage of the application process, the Assessment Centre.
“Be Your Future certainly helps me a lot when applying, in terms of what to expect at the assessment centre, doing Skype Roulette helps to answer any questions candidates have after reading those” - Kendall Wills, Microsoft Intern
Who Was it For? Anyone interested in finding out more information about Intern careers at Microsoft UK. Our aim was to attract students who were mid-way through their application, but we also wanted to reach those undecided, who perhaps didn’t truly know where they might fit on their placement year out. We knew if we could share our experiences from this year, it would certainly help with moving them from consideration to application stage.
“Skype Roulette was a fantastic idea from Microsoft, It would be great if other companies followed your example.” – Skype Roulette Attendee
How Did it Work? We got together as an Intern project team in December, and started planning all aspects of the campaign. From design, to promotion to engineering. After countless meetings and even a few late nights we developed and rolled the concept out in February, just in time for the Intern Assessment centres. Hosted on the Be Your Future homepage, we promoted sign ups via our blog and social channels. Candidates first submitted their details on the registration page, our platform then processed these details and paired them up with a random Microsoft Intern in their preferred stream of interest (business, technical, sales or marketing). After submitting, Candidates received an email confirmation of their call along with a selected timeslot for their 5 minute Skype call with a current intern. The whole process was designed to provide applicants with a better understanding of who we are as a company, what to expect as an intern and what life is really like working at Microsoft. Albeit this was hard to find out in just a few minutes, but that helped keep questions concise which in turn helped us to reach a larger volume of candidates. We received just over 60 candidate submissions and had more than 30 intern volunteers willing to give time out of their busy intern schedule to provide honest feedback and insight to their prospective successors. This whole process was planned, managed and executed by our blog team in Reading and London over two days (3rd and 7th of February) on both campuses, TVP and CP.
“I had my Skype call with Hélène who was extremely helpful and made me feel completely at ease. The information and advice I received was invaluable and I wanted to ensure she gets recognised for this.” – Tash, Skype Roulette attendee
The Team Behind the Scenes:
“Skype Roulette will definitely go down as one of my proudest achievements this year. My role was Project Lead, so essentially I helped out a little bit in all areas, from pulling the team together from start to end, to connecting with various stakeholders across the business to help push the campaign further. The opportunity and freedom given to us by the staffing team to lead on such a project was fantastic. Being able to positively impact a candidates chances of getting their dream job was something I and all Skype Roulette volunteers felt hugely passionate about. A prime example being the discussion Hélène and Tash had during their call (the verbatim above is testament to the connection she made in just 5 minutes). Another huge highlight I’ll take away from this experience was getting to work with a great team of passionate and talented interns across the business, from the early planning stages to the final call everyone played their part. We received incredible feedback from applicants and interns.” – Steven Mullaghan, Project Lead.
“Skype Roulette was my first major project that I was involved in from start to finish – it’s great to work with like-minded interns on a creative and social-orientated campaign. I was involved in discussions leading up to the day of Skype Roulette, which included logistic details, creating Skype accounts, making sure we have enough interns taking part and so on. The largest part that I was part of was the promotional video, which I put together with video clips from both London and Reading. My aim was to create a visual representation of the campaign, showing the fun and laid-back attitude of us interns towards helping prospective interns and others that have a passionate interest in Microsoft.”
– Mona Neuhass, Media Lead.
“As the communications lead my main responsibility was to promote the campaign. I wrote up press releases to be sent to university careers advisors, graduate recruitment websites and HR industry specialists. I used our own Facebook page to promote the campaign, and utilised our partners and other Microsoft accounts to cross promote on social media. Emails were drafted to be sent to current applicants who have proceeded to the assessment centre stage so that they had priority to pick a time that suited them. During the campaign I posted pictures of the team taking part in the roulette, encouraging people to engage with us and ask their questions over Facebook and Twitter. The campaign was mentioned across numerous Microsoft channels and also picked up interest externally through universities and media sites such as Campaign magazine, who approached us for an interview. We have been asked by the university staffing team to consider hosting the campaign again next year!”
- Gemma Downing, Promotional Lead.
“Skype Roulette was a very unique social media campaign ran solely by the intern community. I understood how potential applicants felt throughout the whole process, and this campaign was definitely one to bridge the gap! My main responsibility was to handle technical aspects of our campaign, to ensure that the team’s ideas were technically feasible and could be implemented. Hosted on Windows Azure, I created a bespoke platform in PHP and MySQL to manage user registrations and moderator allocations. I was also in charge of the branding and site design which was presented to external users, and made sure that it was consistent with our own Be Your Future branding. I enjoyed working on this campaign as it gave me ample opportunity to think outside the box to come up with a solution to a new problem, and that I was able to help show how it really is like working as an intern in Microsoft UK. - Chien Yee Lim, Technical Lead
“With Skype Roulette, we aimed to develop a two way relationship between the content producers of our intern stream and our applicant audience. We really wanted to push the concept of what our blog could be a little further, and provided applicants with a unique experience. I led on creative, working on the name, briefing the design team to create our logo and banner, and helping to work through ideas on how the concept would work for applicants from a non-technical perspective. It’s been interesting to work on a campaign that we brought to life from the ground up, collaborating with a variety of stakeholders from design to legal to ensure the project was completed in the best way possible – but that’s only indicative of the company Microsoft is. It’s all about collaboration across the business – and the intern community has a sizeable role to play in that.”
– Olly Heron, Creative Lead
What originally started as an idea became a working and successful concept with thanks to all involved. This was treated as a pilot, which will now become a larger part of Microsoft’s on boarding process next year, so keep your eyes peeled!
Would you have taken part in Skype Roulette this year? Let us know in the comments section below?