Microspeak: The As-Appropriate (AA) interviewer

Raymond Chen

One term you may hear when people talk about the process of interviewing at Microsoft is the As Appropriate, or AA, interviewer. Why is the final interview of the day called As Appropriate?

The name is a holdover from how Microsoft used to structure hiring interviews. The term is not officially used any more, but you may still hear it used informally by old-timers.

A typical interview day used to consist of four (sometimes five) interviews, structured as follows:

Interviewer 4
(as appropriate)
Recruiter Interviewer 1
Interviewer 3 ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ Interviewer 2

This set of interviews is called an interview loop because the candidate travels in a loop through the diagram, starting and ending with the recruiter.

Each of the interviews assesses not just the candidate’s technical competence but also other factors such as their initiative, ability to teach themselves new things, and how well they work as part of a team. The results of these interviews are all shared with the recruiter and the final interviewer.

The final interviewer was typically someone more senior in the hiring group. Historically, their job was to take the information provided by the initial interviewers and, based on their recommendations, decide whether the candidate was still worth pursuing. If so, then they proceeded with the final interview. if not, then they sent the candidate directly to the recruiter after completing their final “normal” interview. The final interviewer was called the “as appropriate” interviewer because the final interview took place only if they felt it was appropriate.

The term “as appropriate” was often abbreviated in speech to “as-app” (pronouncing the “app” like the first syllable of “application”), and in writing as “AA”.

The Microsoft hiring interview process has been reworked several times since those early days. For example, at one point, the interviews were restructured so that the interviewer roles are rotated through the day, to improve throughput:

  Candidate 1 Candidate 2 Candidate 3 Candidate 4
Welcome Recruiter 1 Recruiter 2 Recruiter 3 Recruiter 4
Slot 1 Interviewer 1 Interviewer 2 Interviewer 3 Interviewer 4
Slot 2 Interviewer 2 Interviewer 3 Interviewer 4 Interviewer 1
Slot 3 Interviewer 3 Interviewer 4 Interviewer 1 Interviewer 2
Slot 4
Interviewer 4 Interviewer 1 Interviewer 2 Interviewer 3
Wrap-up Recruiter 1 Recruiter 2 Recruiter 3 Recruiter 4

Every interviewer serves as the “As appropriate” interviewer for a candidate. There is no special interviewer who is responsible for being the “As appropriate” interviewer.

At some point in the evolution of the interview loop, the “As appropriate” stopped being optional. Everybody got an “As appropriate” interview. The role of the “As appropriate” interviewer didn’t change. It’s just that the “As appropriate” interview always takes place, regardless of the feedback from the other three interviewers.

The final interview of the day lost the name “As appropriate”, but people who have been conducting interviews for a long time sometimes accidentally slip into the old terminology.


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  • Michael Taylor 0

    That’s a dangerous thing to post, especially the “current process”. We used to do something similar in that we’d have 1-2 interviews before lunch and then take the interviewee to lunch so they could meet with the CIO. During one particular interview it was clear they weren’t the right candidate so after the 2nd interview my boss walked them out, without lunch. The problem was that the recruiter had already given them the plan for the day (including the lunch with 3rd interview) so needless to say the interviewee knew it was a no as they were being shown out.

    We have since changed our process to only give a general timeframe and 1 interview with possibly another interview if certain people “were available”. We also rarely do lunch anymore and we commit to it even if it is clear the interviewee isn’t going to work out.

    • Martin Ibert 2

      If a company decides to not pursue the process with a candidate any further, it is their obligation to tell the candidate _immediately_ that this is the case. So the company was failing miserably but the recruiter having communicated the schedule ahead of time saved the day, because the candidate knew that they were out even if the company didn’t have the whatevers to tell them.
      So instead of blaming the company for being such spineless cowards, why are you blaming the recruiter? This makes absolutely no sense to me. May no candidate ever again consider working for that company.

      • Michael Taylor 0

        Fundamentally disagree here. Never, in all my decades of both interviewing and being a candidate have I ever seen or heard of a case where the interviewers were responsible for telling the candidate that they weren’t a good fit. The recruiter, an employee of the company in this case (but not always), is responsible for this. They collect the feedback from the teams and let the interviewee know that they aren’t going to move forward and, in many cases, provide feedback as to why. It could be that the candidate didn’t have sufficient knowledge, they interviewed poorly, they didn’t fit with the personality of the team, etc. These are all critical things to share with a candidate so they can use that feedback for future interviews.

        • Richard Thompson 1

          I’m sorry, you misread that post and unfairly jumped on Ibert.
          We don’t think you’re a good fit Mr Taylor and you won’t be proceeding to the next round of comments 😉

          The Company (not a specific interviewer), has a moral obligation to inform potential candidates of the outcome as early as possible.
          In some jurisdictions, that’s also a legal requirement once someone has been offered an interview.

          Of course, this cuts both ways – once a candidate decides they don’t wish to work for the potential employer, they also have a moral duty to let the company know as soon as is practicable.

    • anonymous 0

      this comment has been deleted.

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