Facebook Product Design Interview:
Part 1

Only recently, I had the opportunity to interview for a product design internship position at Facebook. Like most, to me, this was the trajectory to the best thing that could happen to my career.

Sidenote: If you’re applying, one way to get design interviews by doing quick critiques

When I first got the email, I was extremely excited, but at the same time unbelievably nervous. I have always been a front-end developer, with some design experience, and none in design interviews. So I hit the Internet like no other, Google-ing, Glassdoor-ing, and Quora-ing, amongst various others, and found some help, but there could be more.

That being said, whatever guidance I did get from these few sources that I found was extremely helpful, so I hope I can give back to the rest of the community, and future interviewees via this post.

I’m going to walk through the journey of the entire interview process, from the recruiter call, all the way to the decision. The interview is in 3 parts, first one being the Recruiter Call, followed by a Past Work Call, and finally the App Critique Call. After much anticipation and anxiety, you will finally hear about the decision in about a week.

The Recruiter Call

The first step of the product design internship interview process is the recruiter call. Very similar to most, and identical to other Facebook phone screens, you will be contacted by a recruiter to set up a time, and have a phone conversation which is broken down into three parts:

Introductions & Timeframe

I had a casual conversation with the recruiter, introducing myself, followed by a brief introduction by the recruiter as to what she does, how she manages interns, and her past experiences with interns. I was truly impressed by the last part. I might have hit the jackpot with this recruiter, who was overseeing 7 interns in the past summer, out of which 5 pitched to Mark Zuckerberg.

After this, we discussed the timeframe, when I am looking to get an offer, any other offers on the table, deadlines and the dates I am seeking an internship for. The recruiter seemed extremely flexible about this. She was initially under the impression that I was interviewing for the next summer, but when I told her I was actually looking to start within the next two months, she agreed to that instantly.

The call pivoted quickly after the formalities.

Experience & Why Facebook

The recruiter jumped right into my resume, asking about my past experiences, how much design experience I have had and to explain some of the things I had done in the past.

It’s extremely important to stop yourself from discussing the non-design aspects in detail, as you can feel yourself losing the recruiter’s interest at that point. I slipped up into the front-end part for a minute or so, when she asked

“What design considerations did you make while creating the UI spec”

That got me right back on track, and I made a quick mental note to focus on the design. Another important thing to remember is to not blabber away, but try to have more of a conversation in this part. The recruiter will always have questions, so try not to go on with a saga, but leave room for questions in between. A free flowing conversation will leave more room for you to correct yourself, come back on track, and get cues as to what the recruiter is expecting to hear.

She asked me to walk through an entire project on my portfolio in terms of the product, concept, and design decisions I made.

Facebook places a great amount of importance into shipping products, having a rounded approach, and employees who’s goals are aligned to those of yours. After discussing past experience, some of the questions were whether you have taken a product from beginning to end, discussing that experience, working with teams, and finally the big one

Why Facebook Product Design

It’s important to have a good reason, not just “because it’s Facebook” or “because it would be great on my resumé”. Their goals have always been clear, impacting and changing lives, making a difference, delivering relevant news, focusing on communities, user-centered approach to design, amongst others. Find which one you share their passion with and you can’t go wrong.

Last but not least, have this answer ready:

What team would you like to be a part of and why

I had this one thought out already — Groups. Apart from the obvious reasons that there is a visible effort and focus that Facebook has placed on this area recently, it is something that goes back to their roots of community based social networking.

Next Steps & Interview Process

By this point, the recruiter had already told me that they would definitely be moving forward with me. I was taken by surprise because in my research about these interviews, most people said that they heard via email about this.

She quickly went on to explaining the remaining process, which is two phone interviews, one about my past work and the other critiquing an unknown app. She mentioned the past work one would be similar to the walkthrough I did in this one, but with more projects. Some of the advice she gave me for the interviews was:

  1. Update your portfolio and know your work inside out
  2. Choose the ones you want to discuss beforehand
  3. Practice for the app critique interview as they are most likely popular apps
  4. Have a preference ready because the interviewer might let you choose
Continue to Part 2

Hiring? Please feel free to reach out to me!