Several years ago, a senior PR professional I was working with called me to report the exciting news that he’d landed a new position.  When I asked him where he’d landed, he said “Believe it or not, Matt, I’m sucking it up and going to work for the mill!”

After letting me linger in confusion for a second or two, he then added “After years of having mixed feelings about the company, I finally came to realize that Seattle is a mill town — and Microsoft’s the mill — so while I’d never really thought seriously about working there before, they turned out to be the first employer who made me a decent offer, so I’m grabbing my lunch pail and starting on Monday!”

My client’s comment is just one small illustration of the unique and special role that Microsoft plays here in the Puget Sound community.  In spite of whatever feelings you might have about them, good or bad, you can’t argue the fact that they have a HUGE impact on the local economy, both in terms of the number of people they employ, as well as the multitude of vendors, non-profits, and other organizations they support.  One article I found here claims that over 150 non-profit organizations have been founded, to date, by current or former Microsoft employees.  And another article from Puget Sound Business Journal suggests that over 120 “Baby Bills” (Microsoft spin-off companies) have also been launched over the years.  But wait.  That article was from way back in the year 2000.  What might this number possibly be now, 10 years later?  500?  1,000?  2,500?

At any rate, you get my drift.  There’s an undeniable “Microsoft mystique” in this town, and at some point, you just might be the next person scheduled to have an interview with them — since they account for a TON of the high-wage job hiring here in the region.

So should this situation come to pass, and you find yourself coming up on an interviewing opportunity with Microsoft, you should know that there are TONS of resources on the web that can specifically guide you through the process, what to expect, and how to prepare effectively.  For starters, I just came across a two-part Microsoft Interviewing Study Guide that has been made available (here are the links to Part One and Part Two) from Microsoft’s own internal career/jobs blog called, not surprisingly, the Microsoft Jobs Blog.  You’ll also find dozens of third-party blog articles (examples can be found here, here, here, and here) just by Googling (sorry, Binging) the topic “interviewing at Microsoft” and poking around a bit.

But wait, that’s not all.  There’s also an entire book called How Would You Move Mount Fuji? dedicated to discussing Microsoft’s infamous “puzzle interview” strategy and how to conquer it, as well as a whole Wikipedia page devoted not just to Microsoft as a company, but solely to the Microsoft interviewing process, itself.  Now how many companies can claim that particular distinction?

At the end of the day, though, if you want to access what I’d argue is the MOST comprehensive resource for approaching a Microsoft interview, you should check out the discussion thread you’ll find here on containing the comments, insights, and experiences of no fewer than 401 different people who have interviewed at the company — and written in to share their insights.  The volume of information you’ll find here can be pretty daunting, however, so for best results, I’d suggest you use your web browser’s “find” feature (usually CTRL-F brings it up) to search for specific keywords related to your target job function (e.g. marketing, Xbox, software testing), since this will help narrow down your results to the most relevant ones.

Hope this article helps you get hired at the mill, if that’s your goal!