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Microsoft's Personnel Puzzle

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the curious-decisions dept.

Microsoft 961

theodp writes "CNET reports on Microsoft's reputation for arrogance in its personnel practices, citing the experience of Arthur Sorkin, who responded to an unsolicited invitation to interview with MS back in 2000. But instead of trying to sell him on the company or the job, interviewers challenged him with a technical 'pop quiz.' Sorkin, who holds a PhD in CS, withdrew his application. During the past year, Microsoft called Sorkin to say it had scheduled a phone interview with him for another job, although Sorkin hadn't applied for it and no one had asked if he was interested."

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961 comments

That's why! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007680)

They found his comments on Slashdot.

Why is this news? (4, Interesting)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007688)

There is an entire book called "How Would You Move Mount Fuji?" about Microsoft style interviews. It even gives a list of their favorite questions, and is a must read for anyone who intends to interview there.

Re:Why is this news? (3, Informative)

Saige (53303) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007802)

Don't bother. The interview has changed substantially since that book was written, and you won't be prepared if you expect all those odd brainteasers and "abstract reasoning" questions or whatever they heck they were. You won't get asked how to move Mt. Fuji, why manhole covers are round, or any of those other things anymore. You might get some puzzles - both work related and non-work related - but nothing like before.

Instead, be prepared to talk about past experiences and how you've handled various job situations. Behavioral interviewing. That's where it is now.

Re:Why is this news? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007816)

Read the fucking write-up. They solicited him. But then they wanted him to prove he was someone they would want? So, properly insulted by Microsoft's arrogance, he withdrew. And now they have sent him another unsolicited attempt. Microsoft is spamming computer scientists and behaving arrogant when they get a bite. The news is about Microsoft's poor behavior, not how to handle an interview at Microsoft. Again, read the fucking write-up. Your comment contributes nothing.

Re:Why is this news? (4, Funny)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007855)

How would you move Mount Fugi?

I would use a static warp shell to lower its mass in this inertial frame of reference and then pick it up.

Re:Why is this news? (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007877)

Yahoo does the same thing. Although my interview was far more code-based, and far less conceptual. There was one question about finding a poisoned bottle of wine, though. It's industry standard.

Not that I'd ever side with MS... (3, Insightful)

hesiod (111176) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007691)

...but, isn't it arrogant of him to think himself above any kind of proficiency test? Does he think he's perfect and should be hired with no showing of his actual ability?

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (2, Insightful)

snorklewacker (836663) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007731)

..but, isn't it arrogant of him to think himself above any kind of proficiency test? Does he think he's perfect and should be hired with no showing of his actual ability?

He has a record that speaks for itself. He jumped through enough hoops to get the PhD, and he erroneously believed they recognized his established experience, given that they contacted him.

So yes, he is above stupid mind games.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (1)

abradsn (542213) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007790)

Hmm, although this type of pop quiz at microsoft is common practice (partly due to the incredible number of graduate degree holding people who lack basic skills), you do bring up a valid point with the way you say they contacted him.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007870)

I can see not reading the article. But not reading the article summary... damn your lazy.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (5, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007895)

He has a record that speaks for itself. He jumped through enough hoops to get the PhD, and he erroneously believed they recognized his established experience, given that they contacted him.

And how many times have /.'ers complained about somebody who had great credentials but didn't actually know anything. There are some PhD's earned their degree by being handheld by a professor and just following what he says. They may know what they researched well, but the insight needed to expand just isn't there.

Further, some of these technical interviews are there to identify if a person has the skills for a specific job. Somebody can have a PhD in chemical engineering and published articles on polymers, so would sound like a wonderful candidate. However, they may not fit into the specific job because they focused on polymer reaction simulation, and not on high temp polymer behavior, or understand the mechanical properties.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007954)

It takes about 5 minutes of conversation with someone for me to figure out weather they have their head up their ass.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (0)

Aggrazel (13616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007748)

No kidding. Doesn't matter what degree you hold or how many letters you can write after your name. An employer like MS doesn't want as much to read about what you *know* as much as they want to see how you *think*. I can't fault them for that.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (2, Interesting)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007916)

I don't know who to defend. M$ or the PHD grad? I have seen some of the smartest people from universities go work for M$ and absolutely just sit at the bottom of the pile.

They have no real projects, assignments nor are they developing any real skills for their next resume. Whose fault is it that the PHD grad gets mad?? You be the judge.

Unsolicited invitation... (5, Insightful)

Otto (17870) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007751)

If somebody is sending you an unsolicited invitation for a job, then yes, you are above a profiency test. They invited you. Their goal should be to get you to take the job they are offering you.

There's a difference between you asking them for a job and them asking you if you want a job.

Re:Unsolicited invitation... (1)

savagedome (742194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007829)

I was thinking it's kinda like those application junk you get for credit cards. The companies are not giving you a credit card right away but it's an offer to apply because you are qualified enough to 'apply'. Then they decide on some internal criteria whether you actually get a credit card.

Same thing with this guy. With a CS PhD, he is qualified for the interview. Whether he will get a job depends on how his performance at the interview is. Just a thought...

Re:Unsolicited invitation... (2, Interesting)

Swamii (594522) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007883)

Was it unsolicited? The article seems contradictory:

Sorkin, who holds a PhD in CS, withdrew his application.

The phrase "his application" seems to imply that he applied for the job, the first job mentioned in the article. Unless you can somehow "apply" for a job you were invited into, maybe I'm missing something...

The second sentance maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007924)

Sorkin, who holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles, said he first received an unsolicited invitation to Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters in about 2000, on the recommendation of a senior Microsoft manager.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (3, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007756)

I agree.

Our company does this, other companies I've interviewed do this. You can't blame them, it's not like every one is completely honest with there resume. It didn't phase me a bit when I was quized at my last interview.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007762)

Indeed, it was very arrogant of him to think that he was above a proficiency test. The fact that he had a Ph.D in CS does not mean that he was qualified for the job regardless of what he thought.

But, this is Slashdot and the article is an opportunity to turn a simple clerical mistake, trying to setup an interview, into an all out Microsoft bashing frenzy. So, your post and mine will no doubt be moderated down for -1 Slash heresy.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (2, Interesting)

team99parody (880782) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007774)

I don't care how many random letters (like phd / mcse, mba, etc) this Arthur dude gloms on his name when he signs documents; it's still perfectly appropriate for interviewers to want to make their own evaluation of candidates.

I've seen plenty of 60-year-old PhD's who hadn't produced anything for 30 years. Before hiring anyone, I think it's fair to ask them some interview questions.

Methinks his response is sour grapes because he no longer has the mind he once had when he did his phd studies and flunked their interview.


On the other hand, I agree with his comments about MSFT arrogancy --- back in the day when MSFT stock was doubling every few months I could see how they could be pretty selective about attracting top tallent. At the time they earned the right to be arrogant Now all MSFT has to offer is a lot of hard work in a stressful environment working on technology that no-one wants to work on (as inconcevable to linux developers as this may sound, did you realize they have to pay people to work on Windows!!!)

I'd side with people who RTFA (4, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007859)

He didn't ask for the interview with them; they asked him to come to an interview. If somebody asks me to come for an interview, I'd damn well be pissed to have to explain to them why they asked me to come in.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (1)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007778)

They asked him to come in to interview. He wasn't looking to work there, they were trying to convince him to and instead of trying to demonstrate what the company had to offer him they gave him the standard quiz they'd give any entry level developer.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (3, Interesting)

Keck (7446) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007784)

No, it's more the arrogance of their approach; almost assuming that if offered a job there, ANYBODY would just JUMP at the chance -- it implies a one-way kind of relationship. Also, the 'quizzes' they offer are much less like a CS proficiency exam than you might think. Getting the 'right' answers is a strong function of having read/heard that one before, or are open ended questions designed to see the thinker's thought process, willingness to attack a large problem, see the big picture without neglecting the details, etc. So no, he doesn't think he should be hired without showing his ability, it's that the questions they ask don't actually show those abilities, and the whole thing wasn't even his idea :)

Depends on the test (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007833)

I'd feel better about it if I trusted the proficiency test.

Tests are a very rough measure of your skill. They're used to broadly separate candidates into maybe-acceptable and useless. You wouldn't make your decision based on it. You have to interview the person, and you can tell better from that than from the test whether he's any good or not. The tests are good only to weed out the obviously unacceptable candidates before you schedule an interview.

I've taken some of these, and sometimes they're an insult; they ask about easily-looked-up trivia. And there's a difference between solving problems and answering riddles. I don't much care for tests that are nominally testing my "lateral thinking", because I hate the idea of losing a job because I didn't get the joke.

Without seeing what this test looked like I can't support or condemn the guy. But let's just say that for some tests, yeah, I'd consider myself above it. Especially if I was invited.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (5, Insightful)

C3ntaur (642283) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007847)

No, it's not arrogant at all, considering he did not solicit the interview. If a company said to me out of the blue, "We're really impressed with your skill set and would like to speak with you about a job opportunity", then ambushed me with a pop quiz when I got there, you can bet I'd be offended.

With an opener like that, my expectation would be that they already had a good handle on my skill set through a referral, my published work, or some other means. Here's a dating analogy: You see an attractive woman at a bar, and offer to buy her a drink, complementing her good looks. Then you ask if she has any photos of her relatives, because you want to be sure that if you eventually breed, your offspring won't be ugly. Wouldn't you expect a slap in the face?

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007888)

Here's a dating analogy:

Dude, this is slashdot. Do you really expect a dating analogy to work here?

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (1)

nebulus4 (799015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007921)

Imagine this... you're living in the US, UK or any other English speaking country, you're invited to an interview, you come there and the first thing they do is to ask you to take a language test. How would you react?
It is pretty much the same thing in here, if you ask me.

Re:Not that I'd ever side with MS... (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007946)

...but, isn't it arrogant of him to think himself above any kind of proficiency test? Does he think he's perfect and should be hired with no showing of his actual ability?

Well....no.

A "skills test" is certainly a logical choice when you're sifting through a mountain of wet-behind-the-ears bachelor's degree holders with no real experience. But this man is a PhD, presumably with years of experience and a portfolio of projects to demonstrate his skills. Asking him to take the "dummy sorter" test is kind of like asking Stephen Hawking to re-take Algebra 101 because "we make everybody else do it"--kind of silly. His PhD does not make him a better person, but if you're going to treat someone with reverence on the phone, then treat him like riff-raff when he arrives, what reaction did they expect?

Also, it might even be okay to ask him for a "skills test" if he had approached Microsoft out of the blue--but he didn't: MS approached him.

In his shoes, I probably would have had the same reaction: "Call me when you're serious."

Been There, Done That... (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007699)

I am an HTML Programmer. I get calls like that all the time. And chicks too...tons of chicks.

Seen it before (1)

geekwithsoul (860466) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007700)

Haven't we had like 20,000 stories in the past few years about either Microsoft's use of puzzles in job interviews or other companies using puzzles as well.

Why is the happening to one person news or even, dare I say it, "Stuff that matters?"

Re:Seen it before (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007849)

Why is the happening to one person news or even, dare I say it, "Stuff that matters?"

I think what happened is this: the Gretchen Ledgard post mentioned in the article set off a string of responses and counter-responses in the MSDNosphere. At some point during that, this Sorkin guy came out of the woodwork to announce that Microsoft had insulted him and that working there was beneath him, and that's news for the next few days.

To me, the only interesting thing in the whole mess was Ledgard's site [msdn.com] , which actually has a lot of interesting material for both job seekers and interviewers anywhere.

Here I am... (0, Troll)

oldosadmin (759103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007707)

HIRE ME!

I don't care if you ask about my momma, my momma's momma, or what. Tease my brain. Quiz me. Just give me a decent paying tech job.

We all bash on MS, but truth be told, most of us would take a job there if the price was right. Right now my price is low, haha.

Here I Ain't (0, Flamebait)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007801)

Don't bother me, Microsoft. You are monopolistic predators. The only way I'll work for you is if I get root privileges, so I can run "fdisk" and "format" on your ass.

Re:Here I Ain't (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007852)

How interesting. Please explain more to me about this fantastic technology that allows you to partition and format asses. Could the storage problem finally be solved once and for all!

Re:Here I Ain't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007910)

You're full of shit and you know it.

Re:Here I am... (2, Informative)

Saige (53303) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007851)

You know, it's not just about the money. If that's all that matters, find somewhere else. I don't want to see such people in MS.

I love working here. The people are amazing, the area is beautiful, it's easy to get excited about what you're working on, and the culture can be incredible. (more so in some places than others though - I absolutely LOVE hanging out over with the Xbox guys, cause there's always an atmosphere of fun over there)

And yes, I used to bash MS a few years back. Not anymore though.

Re:Here I am... (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007878)

The key there is "if the price was right". I interviewed in Redmond a while back for a Database support job. The interview process was both a joke and a nightmare all rolled into one. All three interviewers were Indian with accents thick enough that I had to wonder if they were actually speaking english half the time. They did ask some weird "puzzle" questions that seemed to be just "in the script" and not actually mean anything. They also asked some behavior profiling questions that seemed a bit feeble but basically were there to determine if I was capable of dealing with how they planned to mis-treat me. After I saw how the people there were treated and how much they were [not] going to pay me, I wasn't so keen on working there. I wasn't dissapointed when they didn't call me back.

Dissed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007711)

Eat that Redmond!

Hiring PhDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007716)

Well, to be fair I would certainly want to test the practical knowledge of a PhD before hiring. I've run into many a CS degree holder who was absolutely worthless when it came to developing usable software. That said, he should have at least been warned of the test.

I don't get it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007719)

I mean... what part of "You will be assimilated, Resistance is futile" don't you understand?

Mined Mind Field (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007737)

"... interviewers challenged him with a technical 'pop quiz."

Look out for those anti-personnel mines, or, should that be anti-personnel minds :)

Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Szaman2 (716894) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007757)

Well... I guess the fact that they quizzed him does not supprise me. I mean, any company of that size and public exposure will want to ensure high standards by screening even the most promissing and highly reffered applicants. The fact that they contacted him, does not mean they should not run him through this screening.

What is sucky about this is the fact that they scheduled him for an interview after he withdrew the application. That seems kindoff fishy, and I would not want a prospective employer retain and reuse my info this way after I told them to suck it.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007805)

Sorkin should just phone the MS recruiter back and say "Look, you fucking little piece of cum stain, if you ever send me another application, I'm going to break into your house, rip out your teeth, jab pencils up your nose, stick a tire iron up your ass and sell your wife to African pygmies with the instructions 'I like tree banches up my ying-yang' stamped on her forehead. And then I'm gonna get mean."

Re:Hmm... (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007926)

Or he could go all Reaver on them and rape them to death, eat their flesh, and sew their skin into his clothing.

And if they're lucky, he'll do it in that order.

The arrogance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007763)

What?!?! They actually wanted to test his skills? The nerve! Oh the arrogance.

Did they not know he holds an almighty PhD and thus is proficient in all Programming languages known to man, not to mention all CS areas Microsoft could ever be interested in?

Bow before him for he holds a certification!
As Dilbert would say:

I summon the vast power of certification!!!

Biased article (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007765)

This seems to imply Microsoft is doing something bad by quizing potential employees. I have no problem with testing people, even if their credentials are amazing. While Sorkin received an unsolicited invitation, he accepted it! After the 'arrogant pop-quiz' he withdrew his application. Who cares. Instead of proving himself, he withdrew his application. Sorkin is being arrogant as well.

Re:Biased article (1)

deanc (2214) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007860)

For young graduates straight out of college, those "how many pennies would it take to fill this room?"-type questions are (a) amusing and (b) provide an opportunity for applicants with no other track record of experience to prove themselves.

When you're an experienced member of industry being recruited by another firm, the last thing you want is to put up with that kind of juvenile crap.

The ultimate answer to the ultimate question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007767)

Just respond the answer to all your problems is Linux.

bad minds = bad software (3, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007769)

This should be Bad News for Microsoft, because in the end, any software product is first and foremost a reflection of what's in the mind of the developer. If you're hiring 2nd tier minds, you get 2nd tier software.

Even if a product is so big that one person can't understand it, you can still understand what you're working on.

This remind me of the "Joel on Software" article about python. Better software developers stay up-to-date because they want to. Lesser software develoeprs stay up-to-date because they have to.

Why would working at Microsoft be interesting, unless you're political?

Best Interview Question Ever (5, Funny)

incast (121639) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007773)

I had an interview for a co-op marketing position with Microsoft. The interview went well, I was getting along with the interviewers and we were have a good conversation, and then they asked me the last question......

"How on earth could you ever work for Microsoft, the big evil company??"

Probably the best question I've ever been asked in an interview.

Re:Best Interview Question Ever (1)

timle (890873) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007846)

acutally that is very easy to answer if you have a family to feed and no other jobs on the table. but me with no kids - a long time girlfriend - but not married. I wouldn't take a job with microsoft unless I had been searching for a really long time and the bank account was looking empty.

Re:Best Interview Question Ever (4, Funny)

Radres (776901) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007938)

...because you work in marketing, therefore you are already evil?

True on many levels (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007776)

posting AC....

Microsoft also displays a (surprising in my view) amount of arrogance with it's "Partner" companies. I'm a research engineer at a very large chip company and have been invited many times to internal dog and pony shows where Microsoft presents future plans and projects (such as Avalon and Indigo for Longhorn).

This assumption that everyone wants to work for Microsoft that was mentioned in the article was also very evident to me in this venue. They believe that everyone wants to use Microsoft's approaches and products, just because it is Microsoft who is backing it.

Now that may have been true in the 1995-1999 era, but it certainly isn't today, seems many of the upper management is living in the past or is shielded from reality.

Umm, what do you expect in a job interview? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007777)

Ok, they gave him a technical pop quiz. And what is the problem with this?

I have yet to go on a job interview where I do not get a set of questions, some designed to gauge whether I knew what I purpoted to know, and other to gauge my problem solving skills. What does this guy expect? For them to simply look at how straight his tie is? For them to simply say how much money they were going to offer?

If there was absolute certainty about whether the candidate was qualified for the job, the interview would be skipped. Given that I've graduated from college in 98 just in time for the boom, I've seen many people take jobs for granted, but the idea of taking offence at a pop quiz takes the cake...

Microsoft and New Grads (1)

cynic10508 (785816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007779)

I interviewed with Microsoft right before graduating. It wasn't so much an interview as a series of logic puzzles and code sample writing. The interviewer didn't even give me his name so I had to ask when the whole thing was over. Not impressed.

They always do these pop quizzes (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007780)

in fact, I've passed it three times, and turned MSFT down two of the times as I didn't feel the job was a good fit.

It's quite puzzling, really - and about as useful as handwriting analysis or tea leaf reading.

Re:They always do these pop quizzes (1)

dakirw (831754) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007857)

in fact, I've passed it three times, and turned MSFT down two of the times as I didn't feel the job was a good fit.

So what happened the third time? Did you end up working for MSFT in the end?

Re:They always do these pop quizzes (1)

kahanamoku (470295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007904)

Not with MS, but I was interviewed for a Programmers position at a home loan company which involved quiz style techniques, and actually got the job... within 2 weeks of starting, I was sacked because they didn't like my personality... Just proves that a quiz certainly cant tell a company _everything_ they _need_ to know about someone

PhD in CS is WAY overrated (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007786)

What, you think because you have a PhD, your feces doesn't stink? Guess what -- it does.

When I worked for a particular company, we instituted a "programmer intelligence test". It didn't test nonsense like "Define Polymorphism", it had questions where they actually had to think like a programmer. I found that the more educated the person, the worse they did on the test! I had a number of PhD's get all affronted when faced when having to soil their precious fingers with actually proving they could think, rather than regurgitate the stuff they learned in college. My theory is that the really good programmers tended to want to get out into the world and learn practical knowledge, while the less proficient ones continued on to get "educated".

(Example question, since I know you're curious: You have triple redundant storage of certain critical data. Write a subroutine that takes three 32 bit integers and produces a result where each bit is "voted on" by the corresponding bit in the three inputs. This question is designed to see if someone can think in terms of bits. One fool actually wrote, "First convert input to binary")

Re:PhD in CS is WAY overrated (5, Insightful)

mrm677 (456727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007843)

Thats right. A PhD in CS does not make a great programmer. A PhD trains and qualifies you to carry out research. A PhD creates knowledge instead of regurgitating it.

Re:PhD in CS is WAY overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007899)

Still paying on your loans, eh?

Re:PhD in CS is WAY overrated (1)

mrm677 (456727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007937)

Huh? I've been in graduate school for 4 years and haven't paid a dime. There is lost opportunity cost, but that is it. My tuition and living expenses are paid with extra. In fact my wife and I bought a house on graduate student salaries.

Re:PhD in CS is WAY overrated (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007902)

Yeah but PHDs don't code all day, so you are comparing apples and oranges. Why the hell would anyone get a PHD to be a code monkey? Chances are, MS wants PHDs to invent better algorithms.

Re:PhD in CS is WAY overrated (2, Funny)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007913)

Write a subroutine that takes three 32 bit integers and produces a result where each bit is "voted on" by the corresponding bit in the three inputs

Answer = xor, right?

Aha! (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007787)

The real reason for MS's interest resides in a careful review of Dr. Sorkin's resume:

>CERTIFICATIONS
>Registered Patent Agent 28270.

The subject of software patents has again raised its ugly head.

What happens with many big organizations... (4, Insightful)

lazlo (15906) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007797)

I had a friend who had a perfect quote for this sort of thing. "The left hand doesn't know which foot the right is shooting." It's an IPC failure. A "recruitment process" is designed to find good people. These are then handed off to a "hiring process", which begins with an "interview process". Unfortunately, the "interview process" recieves input from both recruitment *and* people walking in off the street. It's geared for weeding out the in-off-the-street group until all that's left is good people. That process doesn't know to act differently when fed a diet of people who are already known to be qualified, but aren't as desparate for a job as the street crowd.

It looks funny from the outside, because even though we know better, it's easy to think of any large organization (i.e., Microsoft) as a single entity, when it's actually a group of individuals flying in loose formation, each doing what they percieve to be their job. Sometimes two people's jobs in such an organization will run to cross-purposes.

Interview Q&A (1)

Bon bons (734068) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007800)

I remember touring the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond (I was young, okay?) and one of the people who was speaking to our group mentioned how the interviewer she had was considerably more interested in hearing that the she had a mother with Diabetes rather than technological prowess. Another person who was speaking to us said that he received a similar interview process, and it all came down to a question about moving a certain amount of water using a single 5-gallon bucket. The question was so obscure I can hardly even remember the details.

You can smell the arrogance in the air! (1)

VirtualUK (121855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007804)

I'm sorry, but why should M$ or any company have to sell the job to a prospective candidate? The job market is still fairly tight in comparison with the last 5 years, companies are being more picky than ever before.

At the company I work for, we've interviews serveral PhD candidates and to brutally honest they've been amongst some of the worst candidates. We've even had candidates that claimed to be lecturers at some fairly well known institutions yet when asked basic questions on their own subjects they completely failed to answer the questions correctly.

We get a number of engineers that come into interviews with an air of smugness about themselves but seriously don't know Jack even if you were to introduce them to Jack, Jack's family and Jack's friends who all brought along their photo albums of Jack and then gave a speech on how Jack had touched their lives.

Bottom line, nobody is above scrutiny and things on paper in reality count for little, experience counts for everything. Like I said earlier, I've seen many PhD candidates (and I'm not knocking people with PhD's, we have quite a few of them here at the company already) who would have difficulty just handling basic day to day tasks...their qualifications were in effect a useless indicator.

MS vs. Google (5, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007807)

The son of a colleague interviewed with both Google and MS and got job offers from both companies. He took the MS job because he felt the Google folks were more arrogant than the MS folks. The Google folks were quite shocked that he turned them down.

It's only one anecdotal data point, but it does suggest a simple fact of life. Success breeds arrogance whether a company is "evil empire" or seeks to "do no evil."

What this says about Microsoft (3, Interesting)

quadra23 (786171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007826)

The issue has come to the fore in part because of comments made this month by internal Microsoft recruiter Gretchen Ledgard, who blasted some of her company's managers as "entitled, spoiled whiners" who assume that everyone wants to work for Microsoft.

Unfortunately typical of a company that is and/or thinks like a monopoly. There isn't very good business practice in just being arrogant (in the midst of well-known bugs in your own software especially!) and I don't think I know anyone who would want to work for a company that behaved in such a way -- not a professional image I'd want to be associated with!

Among the charges leveled at Gates, Ballmer and crew: Job candidates have been turned off by Microsoft arrogance...But he is one of many observers within and outside of Redmond who's raising questions about the way the company recruits and retains its work force

Reading the article reminded me of what I've heard about Google employees. I can't see Google leaving much room to be arrogant when they allow their employees to spend part of their work time on their own personal projects. I certainly don't hear this about Google and I think they are very good reasons why.

Of course, Microsoft, which is seeking to defend its turf in operating systems while expanding into newer areas such as desktop search, isn't alone in facing a tougher climate when it comes to competing for employees.

When you've got Desktop Search really being pioneered by Google in addition to their excellent search engine I'm sure if I was choosing a company to develop for I'd be choosing the one that was doing well from the get-go regardless of who was around longer. I'd rather go on with company that does real innovation and I'm sure that's why all these other individuals aren't signing on board.

Microsoft managers mindset? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007838)

While reading the article something just came to my mind.

"The issue has come to the fore in part because of comments made this month by internal Microsoft recruiter Gretchen Ledgard, who blasted some of her company's managers as "entitled, spoiled whiners" who assume that everyone wants to work for Microsoft."

This made me realize something that apparently is obvious, but many of us haven't thought about. Microsoft people DO THINK they're the best. I don't know about it, but I've seen in some big corps playing videotapes to new recruits to show them how good they are (aka brainwashing). So, after a few of these, they end up believing it.

Now, I want to ask anyone who has worked for microsoft: Is this the case? Does Microsoft sell itself to new workers by playing self-promotional videos?

Will it ever stop (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007856)

Will /. Microsoft obsession ever stop? who cares about their hiring practices, and what does this have to do with oss?

His interest was obvious (1)

McDrewbie (530348) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007881)

Maybe they take the fact that he showed for an interview showed that he was interested in the company and the job. And I don't know of a company that even when they actively recruit candidates for job opening, doesn't interview them before they make a decision to hire them, and the interview is so the company can further assess the the quality of the candidate.

We're so cool, let's bash Microsoft some more! (1)

ChipX86 (102440) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007884)

Okay now this is just stupid. I know I'm going to be marked as a troll for this, but come on! Microsoft asked a guy interview questions. Oh the horror. It's almost as if it were... a job interview! Like it was.

This is what companies do, people. You don't just hand people a job. It doesn't matter who they are. They're job interviews. They didn't call him up and say, "We want to give you this job," they called him up and said, "We want you to interview for this job." There's a difference.

This is truly pathetic when we bash the "evil empire" for quizzing a job applicant. Everybody does it. Let's get some real news on here.

I find this so surprising (1)

Enrique1218 (603187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007886)

that a company with such great reputation for innovative ideas, fair competive practices, and flawlessly written software is having such a difficult time recruiting talent.

Note: I am being sarcastic. Put down that chair

It is necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007891)

Being the largest software company in the world, they have every right to do what it takes to weed out the thousands of people who submit resumes and interview there each year. If logic puzzles and code writing disgust you, try being grilled for an hour by a guy who doesn't give two shits about you just to see if you have it in you to stick with your gameplan. In addition, Sorkin sounds like he just has a bad attitude. You have to prove yourself in this world. Nothing is free.

This isn't standard practice?? (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007898)

Uhm, I was given a quiz, asked to design en edge detector circuit, and asked to draw s small VLSI layout by my current employer during my interview.

I've gotten calls a few times over the years from other companies I had applied to when I finished college.

I've even gotten calls from headhunters at work, during work hours, at a phone number I haven't given to anyone for such things, and I don't have customers to spread business cards to as I work on standard products, not ASICs or ASSP things.

How is calling back someone a couple years later a bad thing, as long as you aren't interrupting his current work day? Sure, it was unsolocited, but I'd hope the hiring people would make sure that some guy really is as good as they were told he is before committing to a big salary.

I've never applied to or heard from Microsoft, but I've had similar experiences with other companies. I'm happy to know that there's still some demand out there for what I do...

Why would anyone want to work for MS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007903)

For the money? Not anymore: MS's stock has been flat for at least five years now. For the software? Well, I can't think of anything more uncool than working on Windows-related stuff.

In fact, I would be embarrassed to work for MS, with their pitiful track as creators of new ideas, their astounding incompetence in the security area, their bullyness and their criminal inclinations. I have had the opportunity, in at least two occasions, to tell recruiters for MS that I won't work for this organization.

EFUCKeR (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007905)

we all knoow,

Maybe they're desperate? (2, Funny)

RainbowSix (105550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007914)

A friend of mine went to the Microsoft job fair booth with a hand-scribbled resume on notebook paper. In the "objectives" section he wrote "to get free stuff." As a joke, he gave it to them and took the available booth swag.

He got an email asking for an interview.

I had an interview with MS Research last month (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007923)

I had an interview with MS Research in Cambridge.

The boss there was considerate, intelligent and thoughtful. The interview process was proper and appropriate.

I would argue in general, citing my experience in contrast to that given in the story, that it is unwise to generalise from a small number of cases.

(FYI, I didn't make the grade, and wasn't hired.)

--
Toby

So what? (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007929)

I can think of plenty of people who look great on paper but are either clueless, have the wrong skills, have no people skills, no business acumen and/or just plain lied/exaggerated on their CV.

No-one is above a "pop quiz", everyone is potentially a bad choice and if Microsoft's tactics mean they reduce the chance of hiring a dud, well, good for them.

However if they are turning away genuinely good people then thats their fault - but this guy sounds a little arrogant and, from what I've read, I don't fancy being in his team.

Sorry but... (1)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007932)

Arthur Sorkin may be a big name in operating systems design, but I think his whole article is somewhat arrogant. Microsoft recruits a lot of people a quick quiz is not insulting but it allows both parties to establish if this is a productive interview to go ahead with. They probably assume that with a PhD in CS specializing in OS design the good Dr has heard their name once or twice. I am not fond of MS but I would not get haughty and walk out of an interview based on the way the recruiter treated me, that seems presumptious at best and probably arrogant as well.

Doh! (4, Insightful)

Ridgelift (228977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007933)

Its executives have acknowledged the recruiting headaches in recent months. For instance, Microsoft's Windows chief, Jim Allchin, conceded that Google had lured away some of the software giant's talent and said Microsoft's magnetic pull among college students may have weakened, according to a Seattle Times story late last year.
Gee, ya think?! After years of beating up on students by branding many as pirates and communists for cutting their teeth on affordable Open Source software, Microsoft is shocked that somehow their abuses of the past have somehow come to bite them in their big, bloated behind.

You watch. They're going to start handing out tonnes of free development software to get people re-interested in developing for Windows. With web apps all the rage, who needs 95% of the market with desktop apps when you can develop with PHP, Rails or other open source tools and get 100% of the market with web apps?

Blah blah PhD (1)

BlightThePower (663950) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007934)

Here we go again. I'm not even reading the comments but my spider sense is tingling, typical predicted comment I've known tens/hundreds/thousands of people with PhDs applying for jobs. They were pretty retarded and couldn't even spell ROM much less display any skills...random ranting about Ivory Towers and 'real world' knowledge. No insecurity there at all, natch. Just because you were once a student doesn't actually mean you know anything about academia anymore than going to school makes you a teacher. Its all irrelevant anyway.

Personally I agree with this guy in the sense he has every right to refuse something he feels is undignified and insulting to him, I don't actually care if he's a roadsweeper or the Lucasian Professor at Cambridge. Anyway, I'll let you Slashbots get back to saying everyone should bend over and take it (whatever it is, be it a pay cut, an elephant's turgid member, crap working hours or an insulting interview) up the arse if its coming from a corporation of some description. Yes he has to take the consequences, but thats his choice to make, not yours. Frankly I think its about time some of you nay sayers also considered having a bit of self respect in the face of the corporations.
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