Here's What You Can Expect If You Want to Get Hired at Facebook
'We want more than 70 percent of your time doing work that you really enjoy,' the company's VP of HR says.
Working at Facebook means access to resourceful colleagues, cutting-edge technology and the opportunity to make a global impact. With more than 25,000 employees and 2.1 billion users worldwide, the company attracts top-notch talent and provides them with luxurious perks, from meals and other on-campus services to generous parental leave.
It’s this perfect storm of features, and more, that’s landed Facebook the title of Best Place to Work among large companies on Glassdoor’s annual list. This marks the third year Facebook has earned this distinction in the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s resolution for 2018 is to “fix Facebook,” so people may assume that working at the company right now -- amid findings of Russian election interference and fake news, backlash from publishers and efforts to make Facebook use “time well spent” -- would be extremely challenging, but the company is spinning it into an opportunity to attract people who are looking to solve big problems.
To shed more light on what Facebook does to maintain its reputation, Facebook VP of HR Janelle Gale and recruiting director Liz Wamai spoke onstage at the Glassdoor Best Places to Work Tour on Tuesday.
“While the perks are awesome, they are not the most important thing,” Gale said. “We want [employees] working on the biggest issues, the biggest problems, and we want them doing it in their areas of strength, where they feel like time is flying by.”
Here are some insights Gale and Wamai shared into Facebook’s recruiting and retention strategies.
Facebook engages in 'structured interviewing.'
Facebook organizes the interview process so that candidates meet with a variety of existing employees. It also trains those employees to ask questions and vet candidates with their biases in mind so that they can overcome those biases and make fair hiring decisions.
“We leverage people during the interview process that are in similar roles to the role that you’re interviewing for. And that maintains consistency in the process,” Gale said. “Usually, when you’re coming through, you’re going to be interviewing with either somebody who’s in a similar role, a cross-functional partner or peer, somebody who’s potentially a future direct report, as well as your hiring manager.”
Facebook plays the short, medium and long game on diversity and inclusion.
Facebook partners with Hispanic-serving institutions and other organizations to increase representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the interview process. This is a way to boost diversity in hiring in the short term, Wamai said.
In the “medium” term, the company partners with nonprofit organizations that are educating women and underrepresented minorities in computer programming and computer science, as well as careers in finance and analytics.
Through various programs, Facebook reaches out to students to help them gain exposure to technical training opportunities that would prepare them for a career at Facebook down the road.
“Facebook recruits in over 300 schools. There’s a perception that it’s Ivy League focused. It’s not,” Wamai said. She added that it’s not just about sending people to those schools to recruit, but who you send, to maximize diversity.
“Are the people you’re sending out for the career fairs for the events,” she said, “do they represent the workforce that you want to attract?”
Facebook says there’s a time and place for AI in recruiting.
“Recruiting is one of those [areas] where, you can’t completely use technology, because there’s a human connection in the interview and selection process,” Wamai said.
Facebook uses machine learning to narrow down large candidate pools. The tech also helps match candidates to other opportunities similar to what they’ve applied to, to ensure they’ve found the best fit.
The company has an interview bot that reminds people to enter interviewer feedback immediately after the interview, for instance, keeping the process moving.
Internal recruiting at Facebook is like Amazon recommendations.
In addition to looking for outside talent, Gale said, Facebook is constantly recruiting internally to give employees mobility within the company.
She compared the placement strategy to Amazon’s recommendations engine: “People who’ve read this book might want to read books like this,” she said. “We’re trying to do that for people in certain jobs … a lookalike job that might be a good path for you.”
Facebook wants people to play to their strengths.
Facebook believes that if employees’ work aligns with their strengths, they’ll be more likely to enjoy their work.
“People who are in jobs where they’re playing to their strengths, they’re much more engaged, they’re much more productive,” Gale said. “They stay at Facebook longer.”
The company has internal training programs to make sure people are being self-reflective about “when time flies for them.” It asks questions such as, “Tell us about your very best day: What were you doing?”
During exit interviews, Wamai and Gale said they often find out that people are leaving because they weren’t playing to their strengths. But, Gale said, “If we’re waiting until then we’ve failed.”
The company conducts surveys partially designed to predict warning signs that someone might be thinking of leaving.
“We measure the percentage of time people spend doing work that they enjoy,” Gale said. “Our threshold is above 70 percent. We want more than 70 percent of your time doing work that you really enjoy.”
Technical teams at Facebook can spend a month trying a different job on for size to make sure it works for them and their potential new hiring manager before committing.
Mark Zuckerberg holds Q&A sessions.
Zuckerberg famously holds Q&A sessions with employees, and he answers questions honestly -- even those that expose his vulnerabilities -- as well as discusses how employees use Facebook’s own platforms.
“You ask it, he answers it,” Gale said. “The more relevant information you have, the better you can do your job.”
People get personal, talking about the biggest mistakes they’ve made at work and asking the same of Zuckerberg. Questions often center around self-reflection -- it’s a learning opportunity.
Facebook wants supporters, not managers.
Gale has been with Facebook for six years and said that managerial roles used to be considered “side jobs” adjacent to employees’ primary “individual contributor work.”
“We quickly realized, we are not going to scale this organization without real investment in our managers and real strength in our management roles across the company,” Gale said.
Now, she added, Facebook’s managers “don’t lead from the front,” giving orders all day, but have more of a support role. It’s less of a “command-control” style, and more about listening, Wamai explained.
And if people find management isn’t their strong suit, Facebook doesn’t hold it against them.
“If they decide management isn’t for them, then they move off,” Gale said. “And it’s not a scarlet letter. It’s OK.”
Ultimately, Facebook wants people to be who they are.
Gale said she hopes prospective hires let go of any facades and just be who they authentically are.
“You can actually show up better at work and you can contribute faster,” Gale said. “There’s no personal you and professional you. There’s just you.”