Graduate Interview - Sales

Alec Jones
Alec Jones

Role: Partner Sales Executive

Department: Dynamics CRM Online

Hey Alec, thanks for taking the time today! Firstly, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yes so, I’m originally from Telford, which is nestled somewhere between Wales and Birmingham. I went to De Montfort University in Leicester and did a sandwich year in a management role at Enterprise.

I studied international marketing in business. To me marketing complemented my role in sales. Personally, though some may disagree, I see sales as part of the overall marketing process. It is a later stage so I think that I can use my marketing degree and experience to fully understand why and how the messaging behind the sales content comes from.

Fantastic stuff, so did you apply purely to Microsoft? Or other companies too

I applied to a variety of other places, mainly tech companies and FMCG. In the end it came down to a decision between Microsoft or IBM. Ultimately, I turned down the Assessment centre for IBM because Microsoft has more of a consumer fronting brand which is easier to engage with and interacts more with the younger consumers. Right now is a great time to be part of Microsoft too and the direction they are going in.

I see, and how did you find the application process?

Microsoft’s application was straight forward and clear. I found the video interview unusual as it was quite hard to be natural, but it was a great way to test us! It’s clear throughout the application process that it’s really important with Microsoft to prepare for the interviews, not just to arm yourself with knowledge about the products/services but about the company and where the company is going. Microsoft really value this as they seek to hire individuals who share the same vision and approach to their work.

From a grad’s perspective, the BeYourFuture blog was a huge resource for us and is a real differentiator in terms of content available to us as applicants.

As an external applicant, we have our own assessment days separate to the previous interns. I never felt when I was coming through that the fact I hadn’t worked here already was any form of disadvantage. It’s not about your past internships it’s about your role moving forward and Microsoft value this.

In general, I found that doing a year internship anywhere is paramount and carries you a long way.

Thanks for that, so how did you find the on-boarding?

Firstly, we had a week of on-boarding. It was great fun to get to know all the other new Graduates. In general, after this the on-boarding is role specific, it can be very structured or less so depending on how your role shapes. For us, we have quite a small team so it’s feasible to learn on the job whereas for bigger teams it could vary. It’s drilled in throughout the process that you should be sure that you are the kind of person who is flexible and able to adjust. For example, 3 days into my induction I found out my manager had changed role, and my role slightly changed. It’s important to be able to show this adaptability and is really well-recognized within Microsoft.

As a whole, Microsoft is a really open community. Everyone says a similar thing, but that’s because it’s really true. You’re always given the time of day which is great. There is a really large level of trust, you aren’t micromanaged, it’s an open working culture and if you have to make adjustments in your day people appreciate that and allow that. I think, a lot of companies would like to think they are open in a similar capacity, but for Microsoft it’s specific in the level of trust you’re given.

Yes, even as an intern I really appreciate that too and it’s really palpable! So, what are your goals moving forward?

I plan to be in my role for at least two years, it’s great because I’m in a newly established team so we are growing together and able to tailor our roles to what suits the team and myself best. Also, it’s really easy to network within microsoft and build out contacts for potential other opportunities within the business too. In the mean-time I just want to nail my current role!

Top Application Tips:

  • Really do your research. Prepare with more than just the knowledge of products. Prior to your assessment you may be presented with a bit of insight into the day ahead, it’s important to use this well. If you really want to work at Microsoft, you have to show it on the day. Know the initiatives going on within the company, what’s the direction that Microsoft is moving in and what’s the impact Microsoft is having in the wider market. Microsoft want to see you’re engaged with your potential role and have a genuine interest in it.
  • Work out why you want to work for Microsoft! It’s great to be able to deliver a message to customers of not only how they will benefit from our services/products, but why you love the company and why others would want to be involved with Microsoft. If you can nail down what it is about Microsoft you actually love that will set you apart from other applicants.

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