Facebook receives somewhere in the ballpark of 250,000 job applications each year. With so many applicants, narrowing down the candidate pool is no easy task. But Mark Zuckerberg’s litmus test is really pretty simple:
That’s what he told an audience gathered in Barcelona in 2015 during a Q&A with Mark, one of his periodic town hall-style forums. “As long as you have that as your rule for picking the people that you work with, you’re not going to go wrong,” he said.
Facebook has about 13,000 employees working in 64 offices across the globe, so clearly the vast majority don’t directly for Zuckerberg. But as long as each hiring hiring manager adheres to the same philosophy, the odds of continuing success are good.
“If you’re building a big organization, it works many layers down,” he said. “If each person is only hiring people to work directly for them, that they would want to work for – then you’re probably going to get a pretty strong organization.”
Zuckerberg noted that it’s easy to make compromises while hiring, due to too much work and not enough people to do it. But he cautioned companies against it.
“That leads you to want to get people in to do that work, even if they’re not the very best people,” he said. “So one of the things you always need to be very careful about is having a check in place so that you only hire the best people. You know that maybe you can compromise a little bit on quality today and still get a bunch of work done in the next six months. But over the long term you’re only going to be better off if you get someone really good.”
To that end, Facebook’s most-asked interview question is a great way for organizations to determine if a candidate is a good fit.
Zuckerberg said that one of the ways Facebook is able to attract such a high quality pool of applicants is by being upfront about what the company stands for.
“Facebook is not a company for everyone in the world,” he said. “We have a very strong opinion about the changes we want to create in the world. We believe that the world will be better when everyone has the ability to share what they think and to be able to connect with their friends and to be able to connect with the whole world. And there are plenty of people who have disagreements with that vision.”
More insight into Facebook’s hiring process can be found in their core values. Spelling these out so clearly both helps ensure the the right kind of candidates apply to the company, and provides insight for hiring managers when selecting candidates.
1. Be Bold
Facebook has a saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” You can’t build an innovative product by staying on a path that’s tried and true. They’re looking for candidates that will challenge the status quo. They communicate to employees that you can’t achieve greatness without making some mistakes along the way. Armed with the knowledge that they won’t be penalized for their failures, employees feel empowered to make courageous decisions.
2. Focus on Impact
To Facebook, having the biggest means building solutions to the most important problems. Broadly, Facebook wants to make the world more connected – but addressing a huge mission like this can manifest itself in a million different ways. Facebook is looking for candidates that can identify the biggest problems, and figure out ways to solve them.
3. Move Fast
The benefit of moving fast is that you can build more things. Facebook wants to hire builders – people with the capability and motivation to initiate, create, strengthen and improve. They want to build fast because moving slow means opportunities are lost. In their view, taking too long to release a product because you want to make sure it’s perfect is a bigger mistake than quickly releasing a product that still needs a few tweaks. Facebook want to hire people of action, not people whose perfectionism holds them back.
4. Be Open
Facebook believes that the more information someone has, the better decisions they can make – which leads to a greater impact. A lack of transparency can result in misinformed decisions that lead people down the wrong path. Facebook wants to hire people who are committed to sharing their knowledge for the good of the company and the world.
5. Build Social Value
Mark Zuckerberg didn’t just set out to create a company – he wanted to change the world. Facebook wants to hire people of principle who aren’t just looking to collect a paycheck but to fulfill a purpose. The company’s humanitarian values are reflected in mission-driven product aspects like the Celebrate Pride filter and their suicide prevention feature.
By maintaining uncompromising hiring standards, asking insightful interview questions and clearly communicating their core values, Facebook has assembled one of the world’s most widely admired workforces. These same guiding principles will help you build the workforce that’s best for your organization, too.
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