Getting students industry-ready at Mock Interview Day

 |   MSNE Staff

A student receives feedback on her resumé from Nana Essilfie-Conduah, software engineer at Microsoft

Interviewing for a technical job can be daunting: how do you write a function that sorts a stack? Can you write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100, but for multiples of three, print “Fizz” instead of the number, and for the multiples of five, print “Buzz?” Do you mesh well with the company culture?

All of these questions are top-of-mind for experienced interviewees, but may not be second nature to new graduates entering the field. So for the last four years, we’ve invited up to 80 students and prospective technologists from all over the region to Mock Interview Day at our New England R&D (NERD) Center, where they get to experience the recruitment process firsthand.

Hosted by our diversity & inclusion employee resource groups, Mock Interview Day is an opportunity for local students interested in software engineering, program management, and data science roles to get direct feedback on their interview skills and resumés.

We kicked off the day with opening remarks by inclusion program manager Tarikh Campbell, welcoming our students and explaining the significance of the day; next, our team members Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi and Arthur Berman showcased a mock interview for the students, demonstrating best (and worst) practices in an interview scenario. Then, site leader Terrell Cox and Corporate Vice President Michael Wallent offered advice and encouragement for attendees.

After these brief talks, we dove into the action of the day: students branched off into individual rooms, where Microsoft employee volunteers walked them through the interview process. Then they sat down with employees to review their resumés, receive feedback, and tailor them based on their interests and goals.

Throughout the day, the excitement was palpable as soon-to-be graduates got their first taste of industry exposure, connecting with each other and picking employees’ brains about what it’s like to work at Microsoft. We were excited to introduce these diverse, talented students to the world of technology and help them feel comfortable in an industry that can be challenging to approach.

A student takes part in a one-on-one mock interview with a Microsoft employee.
A student takes part in a one-on-one mock interview with a Microsoft employee. Photo by Dana J. Quigley.

“My goal is to get really critical feedback,” explained attendee Carissa Gadson, a senior at MIT studying electrical engineering and computer science. “Oftentimes, recruiters are too nice. I’d like more blunt feedback—anything to improve my skills and familiarize myself with Microsoft.”

Gadson, who prepared for Mock Interview Day with other interviews as well as reviewing her coursework, says Microsoft is the right fit for her because of its “open-minded” culture and commitment to focusing on customers. She plans to interview at Microsoft this fall for a position in software engineering—and she hopes other students get to have the same experience as she did with us.

“For any interview, make sure you have a good pitch and concrete examples so you don’t stumble,” Gadson advised for future interviewees. “Definitely study!”

For information on career readiness with Microsoft, visit our Microsoft careers page.