The Inside Scoop On Facebook’s Hiring Practices

Ever wondered if you have what it takes to work for Facebook (even if you're not applying for a job as the company's global head of diversity)? Some members from Facebook's recruiting team went on Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, answering questions about what it's like to work at Facebook and what kinds of applicants they look for.

Ever wondered if you have what it takes to work for Facebook (even if you’re not applying for a job as the company’s global head of diversity)? Some members from Facebook’s recruiting team went on Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, answering questions about what it’s like to work at Facebook and what kinds of applicants they look for.

Here are some of the more interesting questions, answered by Will Barnett, an engineer recruiter on Facebook’s University recruiting team, and others.

Q: What sort of information do you mine from a serious applicant’s personal Facebook profile?

A: (Mike Shaver, engineering director)

I have never seen information from a Facebook profile in background given to me or referenced in interview feedback, or heard of anyone getting information that way. It’s possible that public Facebook information could show up somewhere in the general search-the-Web results for passive candidates, but if I dug into someone’s Facebook profile for more background on them as a candidate, I would expect to be punished quite seriously.

Not all applicants have Facebook accounts, even though most do, and having a direct opinion about what we build is certainly very helpful. The online system does use Facebook Connect, because it works well for us.

Q: How much emphasis do you put on GPA (grade point average) as opposed to out-of-the-classroom type work? I have always been a big believer in education outside of the classroom through internships and the like. Do you weigh one more heavily than the other?

A: (Barnett)

We look at the whole candidate package. GPA is one signal but never the only signal. Some candidates do well in school and well in our interview process, and get hired. Some have been coding for years before school and work on tons of outside projects and don’t make school/grades a priority. People who can display their actual skills by building real things beyond class projects are very frequently the stronger candidates. Ultimately, we want to hire people who build amazing things and push technologies to new heights.

Q: Do you guys have any need for mathematicians? And what other skills would supplement? (Obviously programming, but specifically?)

A: (Shaver)

Yes. We work with some of the largest datasets in the world, and we use that data heavily to inform our product development process. Math good. Machine learning also good. Linguistics also good.

Programming also very helpful, for engineering, but lots of people at Facebook don’t write code. Automating things is often leverage, so interest in that can be helpful, but it’s not a requirement.

Q: Have you ever met/seen Mark Zuckerberg?

A: (Shaver)

You cannot not meet/see Zuck. We have weekly Q&A in which he and the rest of the management team (and others where they have specific insight) answer questions that the company votes on, or ask in real-time. He routinely chides us for not asking harder questions. Today some of the best projects from a recent hackathon are presenting to him, and some other managers to look at whether they should be productized.

Mark is busy, but he’s ridiculously accessible.

Q: Is Facebook still like a startup? Has the culture changed after the IPO?

A: (Barnett)

We still very much operate like a startup and are focused on keeping that DNA for as long as we can. We are lucky to have the combination of what is best about a startup (innovation, moving fast, creativity, etc.) while also having the advantages of a company 10 times our size. So post IPO, not much has changed, to be honest. We were already the most private public company in the world. As Zuck as said many times, we make money to build better services, we don’t build services to make money, and that is 110% how we operate.

Q: What exactly are you looking for in the ideal candidate?

A: (Barnett)

Your question is pretty broad so reposting part of this answer: We’re a culture of builders … of hackers. We don’t just expect our engineers to move fast and ship stuff, but everyone is focused on building product and services that create a more open and connected world.

Q: Not directly related to recruiting, but how often do you have kegs in the office? If >= 1 time a week, what is the beer of choice?

A: (Barnett)

At any given time, you can probably find a keg somewhere on campus. If that proves difficult, we have a company-sponsored happy hour every Friday afternoon. The beer offered varies, but a good sampling would be Stella, Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada, Gordon Biersch, and the list goes on.

Readers: What else do you want to know about Facebook’s hiring practices?

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