Assessment Centre Advice - Data Analysts

Data AnalystBy this stage of your application, you’re most likely aware of which particular business area (or stream) you’ve applied for at Microsoft. And though our many Assessment Centres tend to follow a largely consistent format, there can sometimes be subtle differences from stream to stream. Therefore, in the interest of giving you guys the most applicable advice possible, we’ve compiled some advice pieces that are specifically relevant to certain streams.

This particular article provides you with insights from our current crop of Data Analysts (they’re also known as Business Analysts, so if that’s what you’re looking for too then don’t worry– you’re on the right trail). Of course, much of the more generalisedadviceoffered is still suitable to other roles and streams – so don’t let that put you off too much. Just bear in mind that some particular points may not be necessary elsewhere (for example, someone looking for a Data Analyst isn’t necessarily going to be blown away by your knowledge of C++ programming). I’m sure you get the point though :)

Whichever area of the business you’re applying for, though – we hope you find something useful!

Tom Sims is a Data Analyst and works in Reading within the Marketplace team for Xbox LIVE. Here are his top three tips for Assessment Centres:

Tom Sims 1“1: Show your passion for what you do, for Microsoft, for the products, etc. There’s really nothing that stands out more than someone who can really show their energy and passion for why they want the role at Microsoft or a specific part of Microsoft, such as Xbox. Be prepared with some examples of areas or products you are particularly interested in and show your enthusiasm.

2: Stay composed and keep on top of the pressure throughout the day. Assessment Centres are of course stressful by nature! It’s normal to be under the pressure – it’s how you beat it that really shows what you’re made of. This is especially true if some component, for example an interview, did not go especially well. It’s tempting to count yourself out there and then and just give up on it, but don’t! Things can go wrong, but it doesn’t mean the end of the line. Pick yourself up, keep calm and stay consistent– it does get noticed.

3: Demonstrate that you have an appetite to learn and grow as an individual. An internship at Microsoft is more than just work – it is a genuine opportunity to develop your skills and personality. You may not have used Excel very much at University, or you may not have had some experience that would be useful for the role, but not everyone will have a wealth of experience prior to starting at Microsoft – and that’s fine. As long as you show that you are prepared to work hard and learn, you’ll make a great impression.”

Mollie Muscutt 1

Mollie Muscutt is a Business Analyst within the Small and Mid-Market Solutions and Partners team. She’s also based in Reading, and has a number of useful pointers for Assessment Centres:

“Assessment Centres are stressful experiences but don’t worry, everyone else is feeling the same. The important thing is just to try and relax!

To put yourself at ease it’s worth preparing for the day. Do some background research on Microsoft as a company and your stream, find something that interests you and show the people at the Assessment Centre you are passionate about something.

On the day dress smartly, be yourself, and always tell the truth, if you don’t know the answer don’t worry, you’re here to learn.”

Sofie Cawley is based in our Cardinal Place offices, London. She comes from Loughborough University and is a Data Analyst in Microsoft Advertising Support, specifically Bing search, and offers the following advice:

“Microsoft was my first placement Assessment Centre this time last year. As it was so new to me I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I wish someone had told me to treat the day like a fantastic opportunity rather than one of the most nerve-wrecking days of my life! I was lucky –I struck up a rapport with fellow candidates when I arrived at the offices otherwise I would have probably still been shaking at the end of the day! Sofie Cawley 2Obviously it can be hard not to be nervous as I know very well, but I’ve learnt how important it is to use those nerves positively as adrenaline and enjoy the experience. That could have been my only chance of seeing Microsoft first-hand and what it’s like to work in such a well-renowned company so why not make the most of it.

You will hear a lot about how important it is to be yourself but I believe it’s just as crucial to understand yourself. This means understanding all your strengths, as with any interview you have to sell yourself to some extent. That doesn’t mean you have to show off, but if you know your best attributes you can be positive in every situation you’re put in by elaborating on how you can transfer them to the workplace. Everybody has weaknesses, but there is no need to uncover these. During your placement is the time to work on weaknesses, so don’t get hung up on them now, focus on the best parts of you!”

*Kendall Wills is from the University of Sussex and now works in Online Advertising. She is a Performance and Quality Analyst and works with Hotmail, Bing, MSN and Skype. Her advice for your Assessment Centres is as follows: *

Kendall Wills 2“The managers at the Assessment Centre will be from the team you are going to be hired for, not someone from recruitment. Therefore I cannot stress how important it is to be yourself and be personable. You will be working with them for a year, so it’s important for you to be able to have a good rapport with them, and let them think they could work with you for a year.

Another key piece of advice would be to make situations work for you. At the Assessment Centre you won’t be alone, and if there’s a group task to be completed it is important that you get visibility for the right reasons. It can be hard to get noticed in these, but if you feel you are being overlooked try and turn that around (without shouting of course!). I really struggled with the group task – I was the only girl and found it hard to voice my opinion and was often being talked over. To ensure this worked for me I found a way to divert attention to me and bring the group together, by going to the whiteboard and asking for everyone’s views and opinions. So if you feel like something’s not going the way you want, don’t give up –just try and find a solution.

I’m going to leave you with the best piece of advice I feel I was given for the Microsoft Assessment Centre. When I received the email to say I got through to this stage I struggled to be excited as I felt it was too great anopportunity and that I wouldn’t get the internship here. I spoke to my brother who worked in recruitment and here is exactly what he said: ‘Just go there and enjoy it, it’s not every day you get to go to Microsoft. Everybody there is a normal person like you and I, yes it is an amazing company, but don’t let that overwhelm you as they’ve all been where you are at some point.'”

We hope that you’ve found something helpful here. All of this advice is really useful and well worth taking on board. If you’ve got any further questions though, please feel free to comment below or get in touch with us here at the Be Your Future blog.

And best of luck with your Assessment Centres!

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