What to know about the hiring process at Facebook

Famous for landing Glassdoor’s coveted #1 Best Place to Work spot for 3 years running, working at Facebook remains a dream job for many in the tech industry. Despite concerns over ongoing privacy breaches, misinformation concerns, and ethics scandals, Facebook continues to attract talented coders and problem solvers from all over the world.

While Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters is one obvious draw, including a 12.6-acre rooftop park, onsite dry cleaners, restaurants, and an arcade, as well as buildings designed by Frank Gehry, Facebook also offers generous paid parental leave, an average salary of around 123k/year and expansive health and wellness benefits. They also have continued hiring throughout the COVID-19 crisis, adding an estimated 10,000 new employees overall, an increase of around 22% to the company’s total headcount.

Recruiters

Hiring at Facebook typically begins with recruiters, and landing that first recruiter call can take months. Reaching out directly with your resume is a good way to start, and remember to always be polite, and follow up with thank you messages when interacting digitally.

However, you don’t necessarily have to go through the recruitment process in order to be selected. Facebook offers a series of job postings through its own job board network. Roles are often structured via different divisions, and you can search for roles that focus on individual programs, like Instagram, WhatsApp, and more. Be aware though, that if you’re hired, Facebook runs regular Hackathons, company-wide events where everyone is expected to work on something they would not ordinarily focus on. So while you’re expected to be extremely proficient in your individual field at hiring time, the ability to branch out beyond it is also a prized asset.

Resume vs. cover letter

Liz Wamai, the Vice President of Recruiting at Facebook, stresses that the resume she receives is much more important than the cover letter. “Resume is a top priority,” she says and advises candidates to focus on making sure their resume matches the job description’s required skill set. Writing a cover letter (which should only be a few short paragraphs, at most) is purely secondary. Cover letters should provide a feel for your background as an applicant, give insight into your communication style, and illustrate your understanding of the company’s mission.

Ace the interview

Play to your strengths, Wamai advises. The very first question most Facebook recruiters ask is, “What do you do on your best day at work?” The answer to this question can give you a chance to speak about your most successful self, showcasing what kind of projects you dive into with alacrity.
Even during internal training programs for advancement from within the company, Facebook asks these same kinds of self-reflective questions, geared at helping people understand if they’re playing to their strengths on an average workday. The question “tell us about your very best day” returns during these sessions, as a barometer of job satisfaction and employee engagement.

Structured interviewing

Facebook uses “structured interviewing” throughout the hiring process. This means that you will likely go through multiple interview rounds in order to move forward. You should also expect rounds of feedback, as well as prep materials and practice exercises from your recruiter.

Not everyone you speak to throughout the interview process is someone you should expect to report to, if you’re hired. Facebook will often ask you to speak with potential teammates and peers, as well as managers and executives at the company, in order to get a feel for how you will fit into the overall structure.

Whiteboard model

For anyone applying for a Software Engineering position, you will be asked to answer approximately two coding questions, in addition to a segment about your personal career aspirations, and then five more minutes allotted to ask questions. The practical portion of your interview will involve you writing out strings of code that illustrate how you would solve certain problems on a whiteboard.

There are time constraints for this part of the interview, usually about 30 to 35 minutes. Each question should be able to be solved on the board in only a few minutes, with the rest of the time spent explaining why you chose the path you did to the interviewer, and analyzing its strengths and weaknesses.

You will likely want to go over data structures, algorithms, and complexity in advance, to make sure you’re entering the interview from a place of total preparation. Work with the coding language that you’re most comfortable with, and be prepared to explain your choices as simply as possible.

Shift to virtual interviews

Like most companies, Facebook has made the shift to a largely remote hiring process, especially for the first few interview rounds. Each virtual interview starts with a brief meet and greets with someone from the hiring and recruitment team so that you have the opportunity to work out any connectivity kinks or technical issues before the real back and forth begins. They also offer virtual tours of the company campus and surroundings, to give you a feel for the workplace culture. As a tech company, Facebook has made a point of launching an online candidate portal page, where you can find links to prep materials, scheduling information, and even a simple thank you note template to send along afterward.

Finally, if your interview takes place virtually, you will still need to solve certain whiteboard programming questions, but there is no requirement on which presentation tool you use, and something as simple as screenshare is permissible. There are also reimbursement funds available for a candidate who feels more comfortable drawing out their answer manually on a physical whiteboard, and decides to purchase one for their interview process.

Take the first steps

The hiring process at Facebook is lengthy and requires a lot of communication, preparation, and diligent follow-up. There are no shortcuts to learning the code required, and the most important step you can take is to make sure your resume matches up to the job listings they have available. Even for non-coding positions, you can still expect plenty of self-reflection, structured interviews, and an emphasis on playing to your strengths. It all starts with a call from a recruiter, so go ahead and build your Ladders profile today, and make sure your resume is ready to go.