When I joined Facebook in 2008, we could’ve fit all of the company’s employees into a single movie theater. There were just a few hundred of us, mostly based in Palo Alto. Now, nine years later, we’d need a stadium. As the company has grown nearly 35 times–to 17,000 people in more than 50 offices in 30 countries–we’ve recruited entire teams we never imagined we’d need.
So it’s no surprise that our recruiting process has had to evolve with us. Here are three key factors we want job candidates at Facebook to show our recruiters and hiring managers–no matter at what level, on which team, or where in the world we’re hiring.
1. Your Strengths (Well Proven Or Otherwise)
Yes, this sounds totally obvious, but it isn’t in practice. Very few companies actually work hard enough to understand and identify candidates’ talents, then successfully match those to their hiring needs. In fact, some recruiting experts suggest that past performance isn’t a good indicator of how someone will do on the job–that hiring for potential is often smarter than hiring for performance.
But sometimes the things somebody’s already done really do hint at even greater things to come. In both cases, it makes sense to focus on strengths. People in jobs that play up their talents and let them do work they enjoy are more engaged and perform better than people in roles that don’t play to their strengths.
So I like to ask candidates, “What were you doing on your very best day at work?”–and then give them a hint: “It was probably a day when you lost track of time because you were so engrossed in your work.” We want you to do that not just on your best day but every day.
2. The Skills To Build It Yourself
Builders look at the world with fresh eyes. They see things that are good, but could be better, and figure out how to make it so. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg still really likes to code; just last year he built an artificial intelligence system for his own home. We look for candidates who’ve got that same building mind-set, whether they’re applying for executive roles or internships.
Hyla Wallis, a university recruiting programs manager, who hires hundreds of Facebook’s interns, told Fast Company recently about “a student who actually collected a database to show events or activities [and] volunteering opportunities within their community.” This information wasn’t all in one spot, so the candidate “built something and shared it out,” Wallis said.
If you can show a hiring manager at Facebook something you yourself thought of, put together on your own, and then convinced other people to start using, you’ll stand a better chance of sticking out.
3. Comfort With Learning The Hard Way
Tomorrow’s technology depends on the imagination of the people we hire today, which demands genuine intellectual curiosity, not just a great GPA. This kind of learning often involves risk-taking and resilience–and it isn’t always easy to find.
While other companies might look for people with a constant stream of successes to point to, we look for a steep learning curve. Have you tried something really hard and failed the first time, and the second, maybe even the third–and learned from it? You can’t envision and iterate on brand-new platforms, devices, or uses for AI and virtual reality without a deep and serious love of learning–not to mention the resilience to push through the stumbles along the way.
So when you’re interviewing for a job at Facebook, don’t hesitate to talk about the blunders you’ve made in the pursuit of big ideas–we want to hear about those as much as your wins. If you’re a builder with a learning mind-set, give your strengths some real thought first: What are you good at? What have you tried to make? And what did you learn from the experience–no matter how it went? If you can explain that, then Facebook might be the right place for you to do the very best work of your career.
Lori Goler is Head of People at Facebook.