How to ace your Assessment Day

Post by Life at Microsoft

Written by Ashley Jones, Ruth Salter, Rachel Will

Assessment day for technical roles, such as architects, service delivery managers and graduate roles, can be a nerve-wracking experience— it’s a full day of interviews back to back, rather than in several stages over a few weeks.

Three recruiters from Microsoft in the United Kingdom share their insights to help you gear up for success.

Recruiter Insights

Ashley Jones, a recruiter for the UK Services Business says,

“It has been a priority of ours to drive a digital-first world and we want to see people who have an interest in this space, even if it’s only at a high level. Candidates coming into Microsoft should ideally understand the current trends in the market, even from a very high level.  In terms of preparing for an assessment centre, understanding this shifting market is important. Much of what we are doing at Microsoft links back to the adoption of our cloud platform— Microsoft Azure and driving digital transformation. Reading up on this will give you a competitive advantage at an assessment centre.”

Microsoft is at the forefront of digital transformation and it is our mission to partner with our customers to truly transform the way they do business. We like to think digital transformation is about reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.

Microsoft Recruiter, Ruth Salter at the Microsoft UK office

Microsoft Recruiter, Ruth Salter

Ruth Salter, recruits for Cloud Solution Architects in the UK. She suggests reading up on customer’s success stories as a great use of your time ahead of an assessment centre.  “Even in our technical roles we look for individuals who will obsess about the success of our customers and we will want to see this behaviour from you at an assessment centre.  We look for individuals who are passionate about helping our customers achieve more, having clear succinct examples of where you have created business value and helped a partner or customer be more successful will be vital, as well as taking time to read up on our customer case studies, it will really help you stand out during your interviews.”

Rachel Will, a recruiter for UK Service Delivery Managers recommends looking at the idea of growth mindset and to be prepared to talk about your failures and what you have learned from them.

“Here at Microsoft we’re big on growth mindset. It’s an interesting and engaging concept coined by Carol Dweck Ph.D., one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation. Her book ‘Mindset, The New Psychology of Success’ teaches us how a growth mindset drives motivation and productivity across the world of business.

We simply ask for candidates to focus on being their own authentic self. This is a huge opportunity to bring your personal ‘a-game’, collaborate with others and showcase your experience in a positive light. We embrace diversity at Microsoft and welcome individuality, unique skillsets and fresh ideas with open arms.”

Growth mindset is a simple idea which when embraced by all, can make long-lasting and positive impact on any business. We’re always on the lookout for individuals who ask questions, take risks and look to build on each other’s ideas. Adopting a growth mindset creates a love of learning, a platform to challenge ourselves and the flexibility to embrace changes.

Some suggestions before Assessment Day

1. Research the location and how you will arrive

2. Do some research on LinkedIn about who you will meet

3. Read the job description, read it again— read it plenty of times more

4. Take soft and hard copies of your resume and presentations

5. Practice your presentation and check your timings

6. If you’re unsure about anything, speak to your recruiter prior to the day

7. Have questions to ask at every stage. We like curious people

8. Be prepared to talk about digital transformation, be self-aware and talk about your development areas and how you learn from failure

9. Be your own authentic self, not what you think we want you to be. We embrace diversity and individuality here at Microsoft

10. Make the most of the day. We might be assessing you, but you also need to make sure the role is right for you. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to understand the business, the people you could be working with and your potential role in more depth

Some suggested areas to avoid  

1. Being unprepared for technical assessment and not researching Microsoft or the team.

2. Having a lack of clear and succinct examples to describe your own experiences.

3. Not asking questions.

4. Not selling your own achievements enough.

Try to enjoy it!  Any interview is a two-way exercise. As much as we will be assessing your skills you should also be assessing us and whether the roles, team and Microsoft environment is right for your professional development.

Good luck!

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