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Recruiter Interview

Patrick Lyons Interviews Head of Microsoft University Recruiting

min read

Head of Microsoft University Recruiting Interviewed by Patrick Lyons, University of Texas at Austin Class of 2018

A few weeks ago, our friend and recent University of Texas at Austin graduate, Patrick Lyons, had the opportunity to sit down with Diego Rejtman, the Head of University Recruiting at Microsoft. Patrick runs a YouTube channel which is mostly focused on fitness. However, when he shared with his 61,000 subscribers that he had chosen to work at Microsoft upon graduation, he received thousands of questions from viewers around the world. To help answer some of the questions he saw most frequently from subscribers, Patrick enlisted the help of Diego. We thought it was a fantastic interview and we decided to share an abridged version below highlighting some of the standout moments. 

Note: These are not direct quotes unless in quotation marks. Flo Recruit is unaffiliated to Microsoft and the views expressed and displayed below do not reflect those of Microsoft.  


What are Microsoft recruiters looking for when reviewing applications?

Diego: Microsoft is big on growth mindset. We’re looking for people who like to learn. Whether working in a tech capacity or not, this is important for all employees to have this mindset. Teamwork is also crucial. 

While every company approaches hiring differently, we’ve found that the characteristics Diego mentioned are universally valued. Employers want people who are eager to learn and can do so quickly. They can teach someone who can learn on the job and on the fly how to be better at Excel or SQL, so having those skills is not often a prerequisite. Additionally, even for individual contributors,here there is seldom a role in which an employee will not have to collaborate with others. Being a good team player who listens, presents strong ideas, and can manage disagreements sets those destined for upper management apart from their first days on the job.

What is a good way from students from smaller or less recruited universities to apply to Microsoft?

Diego: Have an updated LinkedIn profile for digital recruitment efforts. Also, there are other opportunities to get plugged in my going to Microsoft events that take place in areas where we have offices not just university visits.

Patrick: Microsoft did not recruit for my current position at my campus. I had to apply separately. I made sure to attend every Microsoft event possible, including off campus in order to get face time. 

We at Flo highly recommend attending as many in person events as possible. In person interactions give candidates a chance to be more than another faceless cold email or application. At an in-person event,  the candidate can showcase what makes them unique and a good addition to the company’s culture and team. Companies value people who will bring different perspectives to the table and who can passionately support the company mission.

What is the most important thing that someone can do to have the potential of gaining a spot at Microsoft?

Diego: The good news is we hire 5,000 interns and 5,000 full time every year. Show us who you are. Your difference is what makes you special. Did you have a previous internship? Did you win a hackathon? Lose a hackathon? Tell us who you are. Show up! Show the recruiter your passions and who you are. 

Once again, Diego highlights the importance of getting face time with a prospective company. Companies want to hire people who align well with their values. Some firms go above and beyond to accommodate employee passions, even at work. Other firms prefer to provide a work life balance to pursue passions outside of work. Whatever the case, attending in-person events can help a candidate identify whether they align with a firm’s work culture, employees, and mission. 

How has the intern program evolved over time? Can you explain the “from job to dream job?”

Diego: Who wants to have a job when you can have a dream job. You can have a dream job by doing more of what you like. Microsoft is becoming a platform for us to pursue our passions. This is an initiative at Microsoft to figure out how to do more of what we love while furthering the company's mission.

Microsoft is a platform but you have to take the initiative. You can email anyone in the company and ask them for mentorship, you can propose new projects and make it happen, events, we have a library. Many people don’t go, but you can go! It’s important to build a tribe when you’re here. Truly, bring all of yourself to work.

We want to focus on the last part of what Diego said here. Building a tribe and bringing all of yourself to work starts much earlier than most people think. These are things that start before someone even joins a company as either an intern or full-time employee. Candidates should take every opportunity they have to meet employees both signing offers and while on the job. 

Invaluable insights are gleaned from actually speaking to people, insights that simply cannot be found on online forums or company websites. As much information as there is online, in person events are still the best way to build an idea of the intangible aspects that often influence employment decisions the most.

So, for current interns, take your boss to lunch! Learn about their role in more depth. For candidates, see if you can find a connection who works at the current company. 

Check out the full interview HERE.

Juan Alvarez

Juan serves as Flo Recruit's Sales & Marketing Intern. He attends the University of Texas at Austin where he studies Finance and Plan II Honors.

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