A technical program manager is one of the most coveted positions at Facebook that many software engineers dream about. TPMs are responsible for driving end-to-end Facebook performance and internal process improvements across multiple teams and functions. In contrast to traditional program managers, technical program managers spend a significant amount of time evaluating the platform’s infrastructure. They are tasked with developing new products as per the user’s needs.
Facebook is known for conducting one of the most rigorous tech interviews among FAANG companies. There are three rounds of interviews where your technical skills are tested, along with your leadership and communication abilities. In other words, cracking the interview is no child’s play.
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To help you get a headstart for your technical program manager Facebook interview prep, we have covered everything you need to know about the role and interview process:
- What Does a Technical Program Manager at Facebook Do?
- Facebook Technical Program Manager and Product Manager: What’s the Difference?
- What Does Facebook Look for in a Technical Program Manager?
- Minimum Qualification Needed for the Facebook Technical Program Manager Role
- Facebook Technical Program Manager Interview Structure
- How to Prepare for a Technical Program Manager Interview at Facebook
- Sample Facebook Technical Program Manager Interview Questions
- Facebook Technical Program Manager Interview Tips
- FAQs on Facebook Technical Program Manager Career
What Does a Technical Program Manager at Facebook Do?
Technical Program Managers at Facebook collaborate with engineering managers, product managers, and user design engineers to improvise the platform’s features per users’ requests. Typically, every new project will have a Product Manager handling the Product Requirements Document (PRD) and a technical lead responsible for the Design Document (DD).
When a Technical Program Manager gets staffed on such a project, their job is to assess the project’s business value and accordingly provide inputs to the PRD and the DD. It is also the job of the Technical Program Manager to identify other teams, such as backend, frontend, mobile, etc., who need to be involved in the project.
A Technical Program Manager at Facebook is also responsible for managing all the processes needed to enable the final product launch.
Recommended Reading: Facebook Technical Program Manager Roles and Responsibilities
Facebook Technical Program Manager and Product Manager: What’s the Difference?
Apart from working as Technical Program Managers, many software developers dream of working as Product Managers at Facebook. While these two functionalities collaborate very closely on every project, the responsibilities and skill sets are entirely different.
The primary responsibility of a product manager is to:
- Drive the product vision of Facebook
- Recognize the pain points of the target audience and create solutions to resolve those pain points
- Translate the product requirements into reality
In terms of skillset, product managers need to be highly creative and analytical as they collaborate with several other key teams such as business, tech, and design.
In contrast, Technical Program Managers are responsible for executing the vision of product managers and formulating a project execution strategy. Facebook has two verticals for Technical Program Managers:
- Infrastructure TPMs: Tasked with delivering large-scale infrastructure programs. Focus on network engineering, data centers, and capacity, etc.
- Product TPMs: Focused on user-facing products such as Newsfeed, Messenger, etc. Do not require an extensive technical background, but you still need to be familiar with concepts such as machine learning for certain products.
Technical Program Managers from these verticals collaborate with various stakeholders to chalk out a project implementation plan and identify the milestones. Most Technical Program Managers use various project management tools such as Agile or Kanban to ensure that every project keeps moving forward as per the scheduled timelines.
Such managers must possess strong team-building and leadership skills to drive the team towards the right direction and launch projects on time. They should also have a tech-savvy mind as they need to team up with engineering managers and tech leads daily.
What Does Facebook Look for in a Technical Program Manager?
Facebook evaluated a Technical Program Manager on three key aspects:
- Technical: This includes focusing on system design and infrastructure planning. It also contains a cross-functional collaboration with the research and engineering teams to flesh out the scope and identify constraints and potential risks
- Management: Here, the focus is on tactical project management, creating schedules, milestones and ensuring the deliverables are produced
- Leadership: Lastly, the impact of cross-functional collaboration with various support functions such as Business, Legal, and Procurement and providing a holistic view of the project to the leadership team is also an essential aspect of a technical program manager’s job description.
Minimum Qualification Needed for the Facebook Technical Program Manager Role
Here’s a snapshot of the desired skills you’ll usually find on TPM job listings by Facebook:
- Bachelor’s degree or higher in Electrical Engineering, Physics, Materials Engineering or related field (or equivalent experience)
- 3 to 5 years of experience as a software developer
- Knowledge of program and issue tracking
- Experience building relationships and collaborating with cross-functional teams
- Relevant experience in the field of the specific product, delivering consumer-facing tech products, and IT Operations or other risk assessment position
This is only an indicative list, and the exact set of qualifications may be different in the actual job posting. For example, a job listing for TPM at Facebook for an AR/VR project listed the following as part of the required qualifications:
- 6+ years of program management experience in the semiconductor field
- Experience with practicing phased product and technology development processes
- Experience with cross-functional programs across hardware and early product definition phases
Facebook Technical Program Manager Interview Structure
Once your resume and cover letter get reviewed and shortlisted, the interview process kicks off with a phone screening with HR, followed by a technical phone screen and an onsite. Here’s what you can expect during each round:
1. HR Phone Screen
During this round, the hiring managers are keen to understand your motivation behind applying for the role. They also want to check if you have the relevant qualifications required for the role. So be prepared to talk about your journey as a Technical Program Manager and what prompted you to apply for the position. The hiring manager will also be keeping an eye on your communication skills and overall personality.
2. Technical Phone Screen
Depending on your performance during the phone screening with HR, you will be asked to participate in one or two phone screening interviews with a current TPM at Facebook. You’ll be asked about technical projects, program sense, architecture and system design, team collaboration, etc. The objective of this round is to ensure that you are worth inviting on-site.
The on-site interviews last for about five hours, during which you will meet with Technical Program Managers, Software Engineers, and Product Managers. You can expect several one-on-one sessions that last for about 45 minutes.
During these sessions, the interviewers will focus on three core areas: Program Management, Leadership Ability, and Technical Depth. They’ll also try to get a better understanding of your interests and motivations for working at Facebook. You can also expect behavioral questions during this round.
After the Interview
Once the on-site round is over, your interviewers will recommend whether you should be hired. If you make the cut, they will recommend you at the next candidate review meeting.
If the team attending the candidate review meeting cannot reach a consensus on whether you should be hired, you may be invited for a follow-up interview. Finally, a hire/no hire recommendation is made, and the hiring committee, consisting of senior leaders of Facebook, takes the final call. This is usually a mere formality but an essential step to iron out issues about compensation, seniority, etc.
How to Prepare for a Technical Program Manager Interview at Facebook
For Facebook’s technical program manager interview prep, there are five key areas you’ll need to focus on:
- Technical Project Retrospective: Facebook is interested in candidates who can show a strong understanding of basic software concepts and the technical details. Typically, the questions will help the hiring managers evaluate your technical dependencies, trade-offs, resource planning, and risk mitigation.
- Architecture and System Design: The recruiters are interested in evaluating your approach for resolving an ambiguous problem outside your expertise. They want to see whether you can identify the bottlenecks and ask relevant clarifying questions to propose a product/system to resolve the issue. You should draw diagrams that clearly describe the relationship between various components in your product/system and suggest necessary testing solutions to evaluate the impact of your product/system.
- Program Sense: Questions on this topic help recruiters assess your program management and execution skills. Facebook is keen to know how you identify milestones of a project and propose an execution strategy.
- Partnership: Your cross-functional collaboration skills will be put to the test, along with your communication style. You can expect situational questions about identifying and troubleshooting project bottlenecks, discussions with engineers around design, and bridging the gap between engineering and other teams.
- Leadership/Team Collaboration: How you work with others is the key focus of this segment. Recruiters are interested to know how you motivate a team, resolve conflicts, and drive alignment. You’ll need to back up your answers with examples of how you have handled team conflicts in the past.
Make sure to brush up on the following technical concepts for your technical program manager facebook interview prep:
- CS Fundamentals
- Algorithm Design/Analysis
- Data Structures
- System Design
- Scalability/Distributed Systems/Web Services
- Facebook Platform and Products - what you would do to improve or change them
- Program Management Approaches to Challenging Scenarios - technical and non-technical
Sample Facebook Technical Program Manager Interview Questions
Here’s a list of sample questions you can expect during your interview for the position of Technical Program Manager at Facebook:
- How would you design a distributed botnet?
- How do you define roadmap milestones and execute your projects?
- What is your step-by-step approach to managing programs?
- How do you make tradeoffs between time, resources, scope, and risks?
- How do you manage cross-team dependencies and deliverables?
- How would you handle performance decline in a program?
- Tell me about the most challenging situation you've been in as a TPM.
Facebook Technical Program Manager Interview Tips
There are a few things you should be aware of while preparing for and during the interview:
- Make sure to familiarize yourself with the five core values of Facebook — move fast, be bold, focus on impact, be open, and build social value. Each fundamental interview area corresponds to a particular value. For instance, for Program Sense, Facebook expects and encourages everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means they can be wrong sometimes.
- For technical topics, it is advisable to write down the solution and then describe it. Jotting down your thoughts can help you to become more organized.
- Interviewers are too keen to drop hints to guide you in the right direction. Make sure you pay attention and listen.
- Never hesitate to ask questions if you are not clear about something. Asking clarifying questions is not a sign of weakness.
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FAQs on Facebook Technical Program Manager Career
1. What is the best way to get hired as a Technical Program Manager at Facebook?
It’s advisable to transition from a technical position once you have r relevant project/program management skills under your belt. This ensures that you have familiarity with the technical aspects of a project. To enhance your credibility as a technical program manager, you can also obtain additional certifications such as Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and Scrum Master Certification.
2. What’s the average salary of a Technical Program Manager at Facebook?
The average salary of an early career Technical Program Manager with 1-4 years of experience is about $122,415. For someone with 5-9 years of experience, the average salary is $136,555.
Please note that this information is based on data available in the public domain. The exact compensation may vary based on an individual’s competency and skills.
3. What are the top industries for a Technical Program Manager?
Most modern companies that are slowly shifting to the digital business model need Technical Program Managers to support the various technical needs within the organization and drive the company strategy.
Healthcare, financial services, construction and engineering, legal services, and IT companies are some of the popular industries where a Technical Program Manager can build a prosperous career.