For a designer trying to break into the tech industry, working at Facebook may be a dream come true.
Julie Zhuo, director of product design at Facebook, revealed how the company hand-picks its team of designers in an interview with First Round Review. She started with the company as a product designer in 2006, when she was 22 years old.
How Facebook finds its candidates
“The best way to find great talent is to look at the products you admire and figure out who built them,” Zhuo said.
In other words, the first step of getting a job at Facebook is to impress them with the work you’re already doing.
Get ready to be scrutinized
Early in the hiring process, Facebook brings in potential candidates to see their work in person.
“You have to see what they have done to dissect their work in person,” Zhuo said.
She’s looking to see if the product solves a real problem, is easy to use, and has beautiful details. She described it like this:
We’re not looking for something that’s just functional. We want products that leave people feeling like the folks who built this cared about them and their individual experiences. That aspect of high quality and craft is extremely important to us.
In some cases, candidates impressed Zhuo by bringing in early versions of their work to show how the product developed over time. This can tell you a lot about a potential co-worker, she says.
Ivy League degree not required
While Facebook certainly hires applicants from prestigious universities, some of its most talented designers and developers are self taught. She said:
Sometimes, designers without traditional training possess an ingenuity that you don’t usually see. We’re really just looking for people who have that element of extreme pro-activity. Even if they did go to a great school, they should have experience stretching themselves on projects both inside and outside of the classroom. Great candidates take the initiative to experiment, design and build on their own.
Show that you’re a team player
Even great designers might not get the offer if they don’t work well with others.
During the interview process, Facebook will sometimes have a candidate work with three or four other designers to see what the team dynamic would be like. This includes looking over one another’s work and providing feedback, she said.
A few sample questions
Zhuo says that the most important quality in a designer is “thoughtfulness” and she has a few favourite interview questions to determine how thoughtful a designer really is.
For instance, she’ll ask this about a long-term project in the person’s portfolio:
If you had two more months to work on it, what would you have done differently? What would you have added or continued to refine?
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