Tag Archives: interview

Trip To Seattle (+ Program Manager Interview With Microsoft)!

I have been noticeably absent in this blog and others this month. So in typical Hung Truong Blog fashion, I felt like I should write about what’s going on in my life, including my everlasting job hunt. I know some have gained quite a lot of pleasure in reading about my various job hunt activities. Job hunting is kind of fun, especially when you’re in school and you don’t actually have a dire need for a job (well, I already have a job, but I know it’s gonna run out when I graduate).

Anyway, last weekend I interviewed at Microsoft for a Program Manager position. You might recall that I interviewed with Orbitz a few weeks prior. I got an offer from Orbitz and let the recruiters at MS know. Then the MS recruiters hurried up the process and let me interview with them. Pretty cool! I ended up declining the Orbitz offer (but it was awesome and I would have taken it if I hadn’t gotten a better offer, more on that later).

Um, I realize at this point that in the interest of actually getting a job, I should be neutral when I talk about companies. Luckily, all of the companies I’ve dealt with so far have been class acts. So I don’t really need to hold anything back. They’ve been awesome. The whole experience of job hunting has been a real eye-opener for me. From exploding offers and figuring out offer goodness, I’ve been learning a lot.

So anyway, I flew to Seattle and got there at around 11am. I got a rental car (a Toyota Highlander SUV) and drove to the Pike Place Market, which is apparently one of the really cool places to see. I got lunch there and wandered around various shops. Then I decided to go to the Seattle Library, which is really super awesome. And being a student at a library school, I knew I needed to check it out. The library had multiple floors of awesome. The decor in there is like Ikea, except cooler! And it’s in a library!

On my interview day, I tried leaving early but it took me a while to find Building 19 (the HR building) where I was supposed to meet with my recruiter. Microsoft campus is huge-ass. I was a little late. 19 is probably the spiffiest building I encountered, with its sorta dim lighting (for mood), Microsoft Surface to play with, and Rock Band! There were a lot of other students there waiting for their recruiter to get them. They all seemed kinda nervous. It was hard to get them to even acknowledge I was trying to joke around with them and get a posse to play. Then, I was about to start a song when my recruiter called my name. Ah, well.

From 10-4 it was interviews. They were each an hour long, except for a “lunch” interview which lasted 1.5 hours. And I had 30 minutes to sort of pass out after lunch before the final two interviews. Note to people looking for info on questions they ask in Microsoft interviews: don’t bother. I’ve noticed that a lot of people find my blog while they’re looking for interview questions to prepare for their own interviews. The thing that people don’t understand is that everyone asks different questions. And you don’t need to know the answers beforehand anyway. The whole point of the questions is that you answer them on the spot, and that the process of answering the question is what the interviewer wants to see. So if you knew the answer already, you might do worse in the interviewer’s eyes because they’d be like, “what the heck? This person doesn’t think!” Also, most of my questions were about me, so you’d have to do a lot of studying about Hung Truong if you wanted to ace my particular interview questions. </rant>

The interviews themselves were thoughtful and pretty cool. The people interviewing me were really smart and all seemed like cool dudes to work with. I mean, as a self-respecting geek I know that Microsoft has a certain reputation for software. The thing is that a company as big as Microsoft will inevitably have great products and not-so-great products. Also, I read this article in Fast Company about Gary Flake, my new(est) role model! MS is finally entering the web space like they mean it and it’ll be interesting to see how they approach it and how it will affect the other big players (Google and Yahoo… to some extent).

Finally, I had a chance to have dinner with a current MS employee. I chose my former classmate, Sameer. He and his wife took me to the Space Needle Restaurant, which was incredibly touristy and awesome. Oh, and expensive. Thanks for footing the bill, Microsoft! Seriously!

I know that most of my job hunt posts end in some kind of failure post (example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4, etc). I’ve gotten pretty used to rejection over the past few years. But! It seems I’ve gotten better at interviewing! For I got an offer! I can’t (and probably shouldn’t) disclose certain things, so let’s just leave it at that. I have about a week to make my decision. I will probably make another post when I do make a final decision. And then we’ll finally have a proper burial for my series of job hunt posts, once and for all (or at least hopefully for a while!).

Zattoo Non-Job/Internship Interview!

About a week ago, I had an interview with Zattoo, a local startup here in Ann Arbor. I had met their VP of Engineering, Dug Song at a career fair and ended up giving him my business card. I got an email from Zattoo about them being interested in an interview. I’m not looking for an internship anymore, but I figured I’d have a chat to get to know the company better in case I want to work there after I graduate.

I talked to two engineers. I can’t really remember their names now! Oops. But basically we talked about the technologies behind the service (it’s a real-time streaming tv service). It’s kind of interesting that they use P2P in order to distribute the live tv content. I thought this might end up with a pretty big delay in actually getting the content, but one of the guys said there was only a difference of ~20 seconds or so.

One of the things that their website job page lists is that they want people with an interest in social networks. While I thought this was interesting and figured they might have something specific in mind, apparently they’re just trying to get people with knowledge in the area to maybe generate some ideas and build new stuff. Seems pretty cool.

Something nice about this interview was that while it went like a typical job/internship interview (they asked me a question about some engineering problem I’ve faced and how I solved it), there was like, no pressure for me to really do well. I mean, besides the desire not to sound like an idiot to other people. I kind of liked having no pressure on me during the interview. I should probably pretend it’s like that for every interview I take, since I think I answered their questions pretty “well” regardless.

So yeah, Zattoo is a startup in Ann Arbor. One of the few interesting tech ones that I know of. Though there will be more. More on that later…

Apple Internship Phone Interview + Verdict!

I had my Apple phone interview on Friday. It went well, except for all of the questions I couldn’t answer! orz.

About five seconds into the interview, I realized that the description given to me and the actual content of the internship would be quite different. The position was described as “iPhone QA Engineer,” which listed duties like “functional testing of iPhone applications” and “design and implementation of test plans and test cases, risk analysis, & integration testing across the system.”

The description that my interviewer gave was that I’d be working on an internal iPhone web application for tracking test results and other stuff. Definitely not as interesting as I thought it would be. It’s probably still kind of cool, but not as cool as doing actual QA on the iPhone.

By the time the interview had finished, I knew it would be a bad fit and that I would get an email with the same sentiments. Sure enough, about two hours after the interview had ended I got an email from the recruiter saying there wasn’t a fit. He said he’d send it to a few other departments in Apple as well. Cool guy.

I’m not too upset about this particular rejection, other than the fact that I feel it was incorrectly described, which cost me a bit of time in my preparation. It was still a good experience, and I got to ask a few questions about the company culture at Apple.

In other non-news, I actually got a successful internship offer, so to speak. But it’s not quite official yet so I can’t write about it until it is.

Microsoft Internship Response + Apple Phone Interview Get!

I heard back from the Microsoft person. Apparently they think I have “great potential,” yet they don’t want to continue with the interview process. Which is just the kind of corporate doublespeak I’d expect from a place like Microsoft. I think it’s unfair to judge a company as large as Microsoft by pigeonholing it into a “good” or “bad” category. But let’s just say things are not looking good for the company. First they seem to be losing the Yahoo takeover, then they reject me. Don’t worry, there’s some sarcasm in there! A little.

In other news, I just got an email from Apple for an internship in their iPhone software group. Cool! I think that would be the best fit as any with me + Apple since I’m not too into the low level details of OS coding. But doing iPhone software would be really cool! The listing on the website didn’t mention any kind of internship in iPhone, so I’m glad I took a chance and talked to the Apple booth when I went to the engineering career fair last week.

I still haven’t heard back from Zazzle but it’s still early in the internship game. Actually, I haven’t heard back from many companies. I’m not really sweating it or anything though. I’ll find something to do during the Summer, even if it’s not with a company.

Facebook Internship Interview Result: Rejection! And Why I Like It…

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So I got a polite (aren’t they always?) email from a recruiter at Facebook about my interview. Rejection. I guess I’m not too surprised since Facebook is everyone’s favorite company right now. Apparently there are billions of people who want to get a job/internship there, and currently, there’s like ~300 employees. So I didn’t have a very good chance from the start.

Of course, my thought process immediately after reading the message went something like this:

Stage 1: Retaliatory. “I’m going to create the next Facebook-killer and they’ll all regret the day they rejected me!”

Stage 2: Somewhat more realistic, optimistic. “I’m going to create something they can’t help but acquire, which will be my ‘in!'”

Stage 3: Realistic: “Okay, I guess I’ll just improve and maybe try again next year.”

People might wonder why I’m so open to listing my rejections publicly. I think the reason is that I’m not ashamed by them; I actually tend to get motivated instead. For example, when I was rejected by Berkeley, Georgia Tech, UC Irvine and Iowa State, I decided that I’d work extra hard when I finally did begin grad school at Michigan. And I think I’ve been doing a job of getting involved academically.

When I was rejected by Google, I decided I’d become a better programmer (in addition to becoming more interested in real research with stuff like social networks, etc). Plus I made MapsKrieg shortly after the rejection (mostly because I needed to find an apartment, but if I had given up on Google, I might’ve used the Yahoo Maps API instead…).

Apparently I still need to work on this aspect a bit since the Facebook interview was basically a programming/algorithmic question. The “interview” was so short that I doubt anything meaningful about my abilities could have been evaluated. Sure, I didn’t prove P=NP, but I thought I did okay… I think it was a matter of the process being way too competitive (or at least, that’s how I’ll rationalize it to make myself feel better).

So what does this latest rejection mean for me? It means I’ll be working a lot harder in my networks class, for one. I’m working on a fairly interesting project, so hopefully that’ll buff my otherwise slim portfolio. Facebook is the only (should I say first?) company to reject me so far for Summer internships. So I still have a few other good companies to try.

In two years (more like one and a half, now), there might be a better company I’d like to work for. I still have a lot of time before I graduate, so hopefully I can become “acceptance worthy” material by then.