About usWhy usInstructorsReviewsCostFAQContactBlogRegister for Webinar
0%
100%

Facebook Interview Guide

Posted on 
June 30, 2020
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Nailing interviews at FAANG companies, especially Facebook, is not easy. According to Gayle McDowell, author of “Cracking the Coding Interview” a candidate at Facebook is evaluated relative to other candidates, who are asked the same questions. And performance in each round counts. 

You know what that means — solving a problem is not enough; you have to solve it better than the others!

We’ll answer some of the nagging questions you might have about Facebook’s hiring process:

  1. Am I Qualified for Tech Roles at Facebook?
  2. How Do I Make My Resume Stand Out?
  3. What’s the Facebook Interview Process Like?
  4. What Questions Should I Expect in a Facebook Interview?
  5. What Qualities Does Facebook Look for in Candidates?
  6. How Do I Prepare for a Facebook Interview?

Am I Qualified for Tech Roles at Facebook?

Tech roles at Facebook require a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or an equivalent combination of education. Prior work experience will also be a factor, depending on the position you are gunning for. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Qualifications for a Software Engineer

  • Experience coding in C/C++, and Python for system software development
  • Experience in developing multi-threaded applications on Embedded Linux environments
  • Communication, troubleshooting, and analytical experience
  • Good-to-have:
  • Familiarity with Linux kernel, IPC, and device driver model
  • Familiarity with various hardware elements of the latest data center environments
  • Familiarity with embedded systems software stack

Qualifications for a Developer Support Engineer

  • 3+ years of experience in software development
  • Programming experience in one or more of the following languages: Java, PHP, Objective-C, Python, and Ruby
  • Communication skills in English
  • Demonstrated creative problem-solving approach and great investigation skills
  • Good-to-have: Experience developing for mobile

How Do I Make My Resume Stand Out?

So, you’ve got what it takes to apply for the role — but how do you convey this to the recruiter? With your resume, of course! Here are some tips to help you improve your chances of being shortlisted for a Facebook interview:

Keep It Short and Relevant

Recruiters are swamped with thousands of resumes — a shorter resume means they can read through it quicker. Some say your resume should be a one-pager, but that would be tricky if you have a few years of experience. Here’s what you can do:

  • Study the job description of the role you’re applying for
  • Make a note of the keywords they’ve used and the experience they require
  • Customize your resume to match those keywords and experience; remove irrelevant things
  • When writing about your work experience, use no more than five bullet points

Break It Down

Use headings and subheadings in your resume to improve readability. The recruiter should be able to get to their section of interest quickly.

  • Headings: Education, Employment, Software Projects, Skills
  • Subheadings: Names of your previous employers, names of projects, and schools or boot camps you’ve attended

Also, make sure you get the order right. If you’re a student or a recent graduate, list your education first, followed by work experience, if any. If you are an experienced professional, list your work experience above your educational qualifications.

Use Action Words

When describing your work experience, use action-oriented words. But steer clear of the over-used ones such as “led,” “managed,” and “handled.” The idea is to show the recruiter how you made a difference. Here are some strong alternatives:

  • Executed
  • Administered
  • Built
  • Developed
  • Engineered
  • Expanded
  • Improved
  • Centralized
  • Restructured
  • Strengthened

Highlight What’s Important 

When we say highlight, we don’t mean attention-grabbing colors or creative fonts. Keep the format simple. Remember — it’s all about readability.

Highlight here means putting your best work forward:

  • If you are good at a number of programming languages, put that list right on top of your resume
  • Is there one specific thing you are proficient at? Reference it multiple times in your resume to draw attention to it
  • List the results and impact of your work. Don’t just say what you did; mention how it helped the company:
  • Restructured the application that led to $x increase in annual revenue 
  • Built a feature that improved customer retention by x%
  • Improved a feature that increased usage by x%
  • Automated a manual process to save x hours

Review, Review, Review 

  • Review it yourself: Once you’re done writing, read the whole document again to ensure all the information is correct
  • Review it with a tool: Use your word processor’s spell check feature or a specialized language editor like Grammarly or Ginger
  • Have someone else review it: It could be a family member or a friend. If you want to go above and beyond, consider reaching out to an expert. 

What’s the Facebook Interview Process Like?

We’ve collated experiences of current and former Facebook employees and studied Facebook’s career website and articles to bring you an outline of the software engineer interview process at Facebook:

Round 1: Technical Screening

This round starts with the interviewer or panelists introducing themselves and explaining their role at Facebook. After that, the focus shifts to you. You can expect a 5- to 10-minute conversation around your work experience and career aspirations. 

Then comes the tech bit — the test of your knowledge of data structures and algorithms.

You will be given one or more coding questions, which you should solve and explain in 10 to 30 minutes. Here, the interviewer will gauge your problem-solving skills. As you’re answering, they may tweak the questions or add more questions to test the depth of your knowledge.

In the case of remote interviews, you will code on an online collaborative editor. In-person interviews are trickier, as you would need to write the code on a whiteboard.

“Do you have any questions for us?” You can expect this question at the end of the round. Grab this opportunity to get more insights about the role, department, or company.

Round 2: On-site Interview

The on-site interview is about an hour-and-a-half long and has a couple of sub-rounds:

  • Coding interview (45 minutes): This coding interview will be tougher than the initial screening interview — the questions will be more challenging and the evaluation process more rigorous. You can expect one or more coding problems in this round.
  • Design interview (45 minutes): There are two types of design interviews:
  • System design interview: First, you will be asked details about systems you have designed in the past and your approach. Then, you will be asked to design a system from scratch.
    For example, “How would you architect the backend for a messaging system?”
  • Product design interview: Here too, the products you’ve designed will be discussed first. After that, you will be asked to solve a product design problem
    For example, “How would you design an email server?” or “How would you design a client-server API to build a rich document editor?”

Each round ends with a Q&A session.

Round 3: Behavioral Interview

Here, the interviewer will assess whether you are a good fit for Facebook. The discussion will revolve around your previous work experience, with a focus on the behavioral aspects. For example, how you dealt with various challenges. 

There will also be questions about what motivates you to work at Facebook. 

If you thought you’re done with coding questions, think again! Even the behavioral round features coding questions. However, it will be a quicker version of the initial coding interview. 

What Questions Should I Expect in a Facebook Interview?

Facebook, like other top tech companies, has a large set of interview questions, and the questions are updated regularly. So, you’ll never know what you’ll get! 

The most effective and efficient way to prepare for Facebook’s interviews is to understand the conceptual themes and patterns of the questions asked. That’s exactly what Interview Kickstart will help you do. Our interview preparation courses are taught by FAANG tech leads and hiring managers. 

We’ve helped thousands of applicants crack the toughest of interviews. Register for our webinar to learn more about our program.

Have a go at the problems and questions listed in this section to get a sense of what to expect in a Facebook interview.

Facebook Technical Interview Question Examples

  • Longest increasing subsequence: You have to find the longest increasing subsequence of a given array of integers
  • Unique paths in a grid: 
  • You are given a grid of size m×n
  • You must start at (1,1) and your goal is to reach (m,n)
  • At any instance, if you are on (x,y), you can either go to (x, y + 1) or (x + 1, y)
  • However, there can be obstacles in your path, which you cannot move to
    (1 = obstacle, 0 = empty space)
  • How many unique paths would there be?
  • Ways to decode: A message with letters from A to Z is encoded to numbers using the following mapping: A = 1, B = 2, …, Z = 26. For a given encoded message, you must determine the total number of ways to decode it.
  • Best time to buy and sell stocks: You are given an array in which the “i”th element is the price of a given stock on day i. Design an algorithm to find the maximum profit.
  • Regular expression match
  • You are given a “text” and a “wildcard pattern" 
  • You must implement an algorithm that shows whether or not the pattern matches the text (it should be a complete match, not partial)

Facebook Behavioral Interview Question Examples

Behavioral questions are used to gauge your attitude and values. They determine if you’re a good fit for the team and the company. There are no right or wrong answers here. Broadly, these can be about:

  • You and your work:
  • What do you do to stay motivated?
  • What would an ex-coworker say about you?
  • What is the one project you're proud of?
  • What is the biggest compliment you’ve received in your current role?
  • How well you work in a team:
  • Tell us about your best collaborative experience
  • How do you build relationships with coworkers?
  • How well you handle professional problems:
  • What would you do if an interviewer didn’t show up for the interview?
  • Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with your manager
  • How well you researched the role and Facebook:
  • What do you think will be your biggest challenge in this role?
  • Why do you want to work for Facebook?
  • What do you think are Facebook’s challenges in the coming years?

What Qualities Does Facebook Look for in a Candidate?

You can glean a lot about what a company wants from you by looking at their values. Lori Goler, Facebook’s VP of People, says Facebook’s values have not changed since 2008:

They’re Bold

When Mark Zuckerberg filed for the company's initial public offering in 2012, he wrote that he and his employees believe that “the riskiest thing is to take no risks.” 

He also wrote, "We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time."

They Focus on Impact

"People who thrive here at Facebook are always creating new things and figuring out ways to improve," said Global Head of Recruiting, Miranda Kalinowski. "They have this deep curiosity." 

Facebook employees are self-driven and committed to furthering the company’s mission, which is to make the world more open and connected.

They Move Fast

“Move fast and break things” was one of Zuckerberg's founding mantras. As the company matured, it retained this value, moving as quickly as possible to stay innovative and fuel growth. 

“We're less afraid of making mistakes than we are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We are a culture of builders — the power is in your hands.”

They’re Open

From its open floor plans to its culture of constant feedback, Facebook values workers who embrace transparency and collaboration. "Openness and transparency, building community, collaborating; it’s all part of the way we work together," Goler said.

They Build Social Value

Facebook is a “strengths-based organization.” This term was coined by Marcus Buckingham, Management Consultant and author. It refers to a company that builds upon individuals' talents rather than trying to strengthen their weaknesses.

This allows employees to produce meaningful work. At Facebook, this approach reinforces Zuckerberg's mission to provide people across the world the opportunity to express themselves online. 

Golar says, "Most people who work at Facebook would tell you that what is most important to them is being in a role that has real impact, and being part of something that is bigger in the world."

How Do I Prepare for a Facebook Interview?

“The goal of a coding interview is to get a grasp of your coding abilities. At Facebook, we referred to this as a “signal.” Our goal as the interviewer is always to extract as much signal as possible. This means if we detect that you’ve heard the problem before, it’s our job to switch questions. We want to know how you handle adversity.
If you happen to recite a solution that you memorized from ‘Cracking the Coding interview,’ we’ve learned nothing about your problem-solving skills.”
— Ish Baid, former Software Engineer and Hiring Manager at Facebook

Based on what you've read so far, you know that memorizing things is not the answer. 

The "trick" is to strengthen your pattern-recognition problem-solving skills. This is THE focus area of the Technical Interview Prep Masterclass at Interview Kickstart. You’ll have the unique opportunity to learn from FAANG tech leads and have mock interviews with ex-FAANG hiring managers.

Sign-up for a free webinar hosted by our co-founder to learn details of the program and how it can help you ace tech interviews.

We do, however, have a few tips to start you off …

Tips for Coding Interview Preparation 

Dedicate Time to Prepare

It's important for any engineer, even senior ones, to brush up their interview skills, especially their coding skills. An interview tests your knowledge in areas different from your day-to-day job. 

Practice Data Structures, Algorithms, and Complexity

Brush up on data structures like lists, arrays, hash tables, hash maps, stacks, queues, graphs, trees, heaps, sorts, searches, and traversals (BFS, DFS). Also, review recursion and iterative approaches. 

You should be able to discuss the Big O complexities of your approaches with the interviewer.

Practice Solving Several Coding Questions on Different Platforms

  • Practice answering a coding question with the most efficient bug-free solution without using a compiler
  • Practice writing code in a simple text editor (like CoderPad) without syntax highlighting or auto-completion
  • Practice coding by hand to prepare yourself for writing code on a whiteboard

Practice Time Management

You'll have limited time to answer coding questions — solve them well and solve them fast. Time yourself while solving practice problems to track improvement. If possible, have a mock interview with a friend to simulate the interview experience.

Think Out Loud

Facebook pays a lot of attention to the way you solve problems, which can be as important as having the right answer. 

“Talk out loud. It’s hard to help steer you in the right direction if I can’t tell what you’re thinking. 
If you’re going in the wrong direction, I can interject. If you’re in the right direction, I’ll most likely let you keep going. Small note: This is where interviewer style can be a factor. 
Some interviewers are more proactive than others when it comes to interjecting.”
— Ish Baid

Tips for Behavioral Interview Preparation

  • Read your resume: This may sound bizarre — you wrote it, you obviously know what’s in there! But re-reading your resume just before the interview will remind you of the key points you’ve and help you see things from the interviewer’s perspective.
  • Have a clear motivation: It cannot simply be — “a bigger paycheck” or “working with a brand name.” Think about what your career aspirations are and how Facebook fits into that journey. Once you know this, answering questions around motivation will be a breeze.
  • Keep examples handy: No matter what you're trying to showcase — your motivation, how well you collaborate, or how your resolve conflicts — always back it with a real-life work example. 
  • Research: Familiarize yourself with Facebook’s 5 core values — move fast, be bold, focus on impact, be open, and build social value. Don’t just stop there. You can go a few steps further and learn about its products and offerings in the space you are applying for.

Tips for D-Day

Some General Tips

  • Choose a good interview spot: For an online interview, choose a quiet place. Ensure you have a good internet connection and strong phone reception. Use headphones to keep both hands free to code. 
  • Speak clearly: Especially over video or a call, ensure your voice is clear. If you can't hear the interviewer, let them know. You don't want to waste the whole interview trying to understand each other.
  • Be yourself: Be open, humble, and honest about your successes and failures.
  • Be conversational: Ask clarifying questions
“Before you can start to tackle the problem, you need to understand the problem. Asking a few clarifying questions can go a long way in setting you up for success.
1. Should this be done in place? (no additional memory)
2. Can we make any assumptions about the input?
3. Do we care more about performance or saving memory?
This will allow you to focus on what’s important and ignore the rest. Knowing what to ignore is equally as important as knowing what to focus on.”
— Ish Baid

For the Coding Rounds

  • Use the programming language you’re best at: It's important to write your solution correctly and use the language you’re most familiar with.
  • Plan your solution with pseudocode: Spend some time figuring out the ideal solution to the question asked. Don't jump too quickly to brute-forcing the first solution that comes to mind. Start by writing a working solution, then iterate and improve it as you go. 
“Usually, during these interviews, you’ll be working off a whiteboard. This means you can’t easily insert statements wherever you want. You have to know what you’re going to do before writing code.
Take a deep breath and plan out your code. It could be pseudocode, or it could be a simple drawing, but make sure you know what data structures you’ll be using and what variables you’ll need to keep track of.”
— Ish Baid
  • Know when to start coding: Some interviews end without any coding because the interviewee couldn't develop the ideal solution. It's better to have non-optimal but working code than just an idea. Once you have a working solution, you can then try to improve its efficiency.
  • Don’t make assumptions: All integers are positive, arrays are not empty, all input is safe. It’s a human tendency — you assume that the conditions of the problem are aligned to your convenience. This is a big red flag! As Ish Baid says, “just ask …”
“Are the integers passed into this problem all positive?
It’s that simple. If yes, then great. You don’t have to check for that. If not, then a simple if-statement is all you need to make your code safe. Often, asking these questions can provide you great hints as to which direction to move in.”
  • Use hints: Usually, interviewers provide hints to help you if you get stuck.
  • Find and fix bugs: Don't wait for the interviewer to find them for you.
  • Write more test cases: Most candidates make the mortal mistake of running their algorithm ONLY through the test case given by the interviewer. Just because it works well for that test case, does not mean it will run well for others too.
We give you the simplest possible test case. Likely a test case with no edge cases nor with the capability to properly test your code …
… The easiest way to stand out in a coding interview is to write more tests. Write harder tests. Write comprehensive tests. More often than not, this will help you catch the bugs without needing me to interject. And that looks very good for you.”
— Ish Baid
  • Share your reasoning: Engineering is all about tradeoffs, so be prepared to discuss them. Explain your solution and why you thought it was the best way to go.
  • When you don’t know what to do: Don’t panic, and go step-by-step. Try to relate the problem with something similar and familiar.
“Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to come up with the most efficient solution right off the bat. Start with the simplest solution. 
From there, think about what’s the bottleneck? What aspect of the algorithm is the most inefficient? What can you do to minimize those inefficiencies?” 
— Ish Baid

For the System Design Round

  • Outline your approach: Outline your approach then think about how it can be broken down into subparts.
  • Identify your focus area: There usually isn't enough time to discuss every detail of the design. Find interesting areas to focus the discussion on.
  • Explain goals and details: Move effortlessly from the goals to the high-level approach to the precise details and back again. A good solution covers both high-level ideas as well as low-level specifics. Talk about what components you’ll use and how they fit together. Also, describe implementation details.
  • Explore tradeoffs: In any engineering problem, you will need to make intelligent decisions about tradeoffs. A good solution compares different approaches. It explores the tradeoffs present in any complex engineering problem and makes intelligent decisions about those tradeoffs.
  • Drive the discussion: Interviewers try to ascertain if you have the required experience to build large systems. Highlight your ability to anticipate and work around typical problems.

Nail It With Interview Kickstart

We have covered all there is to know about what it takes to be successful at a Facebook interview. But you may still wonder, how do I practically apply this? That's where we come in!

Interview Kickstart offers interview preparation courses taught by FAANG tech leads and hiring managers. We’ve helped thousands of applicants learn how to crack the toughest interviews at Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and other top tech companies.

Register for a free webinar to know more.

Team Interview Kickstart
All Blog Posts

Recent Articles