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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

Top Interview Tips From a Software Engineer Recruiter at Facebook (and She’s Hiring Interns!)

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Jessie K, a university recruiter at Facebook.
| Courtesy of Facebook

As someone with a lifelong curiosity about people, becoming a recruiter felt like a natural next step for Jessie K., who’s currently a university recruiter at Facebook responsible for finding and hiring software engineering interns.

“I’ve always been interested in seeing what makes people tick and how their brains work,” says Jessie, who has a degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “When I graduated, I knew I wanted my career to incorporate working with and meeting new people.”

She enjoyed meeting college recruiters during events at school so much that she became one, focused on financial services. And when Facebook came calling, she jumped at the chance to join the tech company—where interns sometimes get the opportunity to transition into full-time roles. (Check out these success stories.)

Here, Jessie shares the ins and outs of the software engineer intern recruiting process at Facebook, including how often she’s hiring and how to prepare for interviews.

What led to your job at Facebook and how did you know this role was for you?

About five years ago, Facebook reached out about a university sourcing opportunity. Immediately after my interviews were over I knew Facebook was the company that I wanted to work at. Every person I interviewed with was so enthusiastic about the work they were doing to hire the best builders and were super passionate about Facebook’s mission to bring the world closer together. Since joining, I’ve recruited at several colleges and hired thousands of interns and new graduates throughout the company. I’m still amazed that I get to work for such an amazing company, with some of the smartest people in the world.

How does the software engineer recruiting process work at Facebook?

Software engineering internships and full-time university graduate opportunities are open on a rolling basis. We hire thousands of interns each year to work on real teams and projects. Our recruitment season is usually busiest from late August to March because most of our interns work throughout the summer.

What is the software engineer intern experience like at Facebook?

Software engineer interns are matched to a team at Facebook about three months before the internship starts. Interns have the opportunity to make a real impact at our company. Most interns ship code or contribute to real-world projects in their first week. You’ll also have 1:1 time with a manager throughout your internship to ensure you are learning and growing. Finally, outside of the core responsibilities, you’ll have freedom to take on projects that really spark your interest.

What skills does it take to succeed as a software engineer at Facebook?

I’m not a software engineer, but I can say that most of our engineers aren’t coding all day and really have to have the communication skills to work cross-functionally with product managers, UX researchers, designers, and other integral people on their teams.

What should candidates expect during the interview process?

In general, our interviews are 45-minutes long. At the start of the interview, you’ll spend no more than five minutes introducing yourself with the engineer. This will be short and casual. The next 30 to 35 minutes are spent on coding, and you’ll be given one to two coding questions to complete. Some are based on data structures, algorithms, binary trees, or topics pertaining to the scale of our technology. Don't stress if you need some time to think through the solution; this is expected. Just make sure to share what you are thinking so your interviewer can follow along.

And remember that there are many solutions to one problem. You can solve a problem any way you choose. Facebook engineers use all types of languages, so use the language you’re most comfortable with.

During the last five minutes, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, so come prepared with a few.

What can a candidate do to prepare for the interviews?

An interview is typically different from the work you’ll be doing during your internship, so it’s important to brush up on skills you haven’t practiced recently. We recommend that candidates have either recently taken an introduction to data structures and algorithms or computer science class, or they spend a good chunk of time perfecting their skills on their own.

For the coding portion, practice writing your code by hand with a pen and paper if your interview will be in person and use if your interview is via phone or video call. Schedule time to study and practice writing code so that you feel prepared.

What advice do you have for engineers just starting out in their careers?

When you are first starting out in your career, it is very common to suffer from imposter syndrome. Remind yourself that you were hired for a reason and that you won’t know how to do everything from day one. This is completely normal! Make sure to lean on your colleagues to ask questions, seek advice, and ask for feedback especially in a new job.

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