Facebook product designer interview: the only post you'll need to read

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Product designer interviews at Facebook are really challenging. The questions are difficult, specific to Facebook, and cover a wide range of topics.

The good news is that the right preparation can help you maximize your chances of landing a job offer, and we've put together the ultimate guide below to help you succeed.

Here's an overview of what we will cover in this guide:

1. Interview process and timeline

1.1 What interviews to expect

What's the Facebook product designer interview process and timeline? It typically takes ~4 weeks and follows these steps:

  1. Application or recruiter outreach
  2. Recruiter phone screen
  3. First round of interviews (2 interviews)
  4. Recruiter check-in (sometimes)
  5. Onsite interviews (4 interviews)

Let's look at each of these steps in more detail below:

1.1.1 Application or recruiter outreach

Step one is getting a Facebook interview in the first place. In this guide we're focusing primarily on the interviews, so we'll keep this portion brief. You may apply to the position, or a recruiter may reach out to you directly through LinkedIn (or similar).

If you apply, then you'll want to make sure that your documents and portfolio are up to date and specifically targeted to the role at Facebook. Once you have your documents together you can submit your application. And, if possible, it can also be helpful to get an employee or contact at Facebook to refer you to the recruiting team internally. Now let's get to the interviews!

1.1.2 Recruiter phone screen

In most cases, you'll start your interview process with Facebook by talking to an HR recruiter on the phone. They are looking to confirm that you've got a chance of getting the job at all, so be prepared to explain your background and why you’re a good fit at Facebook. You should expect typical behavioral and resume questions like, "Tell me about yourself", "Why Facebook?", or "Tell me about a time...".

You should also be prepared to walk the recruiter through your portfolio, although you probably won't get into as much detail during this conversation compared to future rounds. 

If you get past this first HR screen, the recruiter will then help you schedule the next round of interviews. One great thing about Facebook is that they are very transparent about their recruiting process, and once you pass this initial screen, they will typically provide you with more details on the remaining steps in the hiring process.

1.1.3 First round of interviews

For the first round of interviews, you'll typically have 2 back-to-back interviews. Both interviews will be about 45-minutes long and they will likely be held via videoconference (i.e. BlueJeans).

One of the interviews will be a "past work" interview, where you will present your portfolio. Your interviewer for this interview will likely be the hiring manager for the role. The other interview will be an app critique. You'll usually have a different interviewer for these two interviews, and for the app critique it will probably be with a current Facebook product designer.

Don't worry if you're not sure what to expect during these interviews, we have more information on them below, including how to prepare. 

1.1.4 Recruiter check-in (sometimes)

Facebook's recruiters for product design roles have a reputation for being very engaged throughout the interview process. After your first round of interviews, you may even have a second call with a recruiter. 

However, if you've been invited to the onsite interviews (the final round), then you may talk to a different recruiter at this stage (i.e. not the recruiter you spoke with at the beginning of the process). If you do end up talking with a different recruiter, then this will probably be the recruiter who will be involved in your onsite interviews.

1.1.5 Onsite interviews

The last major stage of the interview process, is the onsite interviews. For this, you'll typically spend ~4 hours interviewing with Facebook. Here are the interviews you can expect to face during your onsite:

  1. Past work (30mins), where you'll be evaluated on your design work from past projects and on your communication skills. 
  2. App critique (45mins), where you'll be tested on your ability to recognize good and bad designs and on your ability to make good recommendations for improvements.
  3. Problem solving (45mins), where you'll need to demonstrate your ability to collaborate and your ability to address new design challenges in a structured way.
  4. Behavioral (45mins), where you'll be further evaluated on your past work experience, your motivation for applying, and your fit with Facebook's culture.

[PRE-COVID] In addition to these interviews, you'll also have a brief 15-minute meet and greet with your recruiter and lunch with a fellow product designer during your onsite visit. The lunch interview is meant to be your time to ask questions about what it's like to work at Facebook. The company won't be evaluating you during this time, but we recommend that you behave as if they were.

2. Example questions

Now let's dive into more details on the four types of interviews you should be prepared for during your Facebook product designer interviews. Note that these four interview types cover the interviews you will face in both your first round and onsite interviews (i.e. you'll have "past work" and "app critique" interviews in both rounds).

  • Past work
  • App critique
  • Problem solving 
  • Behavioral

In the below subsections, we've also compiled a selection of real Facebook product designer interview questions, according to data from Glassdoor. These are great example questions that you can use to start practicing for your interviews.

2.1 Past work interview questions

Facebook product designers work on products and features that are used by millions of people. So, it's extremely important for Facebook to hire designers who have a track record of high-quality, thoughtful design work. 

There are two interviews in the Facebook interview process that are focused primarily on your portfolio. During the first round of interviews, you'll have a portfolio review with the hiring manager for the role. And during the onsite interviews, you'll give a 30-minute presentation of ~2 of your past projects. 

Both of these interviews are considered the same "type" of interview (i.e. past work interview), but it's especially important that you come prepared to deliver your past work "presentation style" in the onsite interview. That's because during the onsite, you'll be sharing your work with a panel of around 5 people, including your interviewers for the day and your recruiter. In addition, during your presentation for the onsite, you'll typically have no interruptions. 

To help you start preparing for this style of interview, we've listed a few example questions below. Keep in mind that your portfolio / past work samples will drive the discussion in this type of interview, but you should be ready to answer questions about your work, the approach you took, why you made specific design decisions, etc.

The questions below are all real Facebook product designer interview questions from Glassdoor, we've just made edits to the language in some places to improve the clarity or grammar.

Facebook product designer interview questions - Past work

  • What problem did you solve with this project?
  • What metrics signaled you to work on this problem?
  • If you could work on your project again, what would you do differently?
  • What guided your assumptions and hypothesis?
  • What was the biggest failing of this project?
  • How did you measure success?

2.2 App critique interview questions

It is vital for Facebook product designers to be able to distinguish between good design and bad design. And one way that Facebook evaluates your ability to do this, is using "app critique" interviews. An app critique interview is exactly what it sounds like. It's an interview where you analyze an existing app, and discuss the design of the app with your interviewer. 

The specific app that you'll be analyzing is usually decided at the beginning of your interview, so it's helpful to use an approach or framework that is dynamic (i.e. can be used to evaluate any app). With that said, there are a few apps that are commonly used during this interview. In particular, Google Maps and Yelp are both frequently used.

Here are a few examples of specific apps that have been used in this interview at Facebook according to Glassdoor data:

  • Google Maps
  • Yelp
  • YouTube
  • Spotify

In addition to the app that you're working with, your interviewer will also ask you related questions. Either to kick-off the interview, or to dig-deeper into particular areas. Below, we've listed several example questions that were asked in Facebook product designer interviews, according to data from Glassdoor. Note that we've edited the language in some places to improve the clarity or grammar.

Facebook product designer interview questions - App critique

  • What do you think they can do better?
  • What does the company want out of this app?
  • Looking at this mobile app, what do you think these buttons do?
  • Why are these items placed here?
  • If you have all the power in the company, what would you change about this app?
  • The bookmarking icon is the same as the collections icon. Why do you think they made them the same icon?
  • Why do you think this feature was added?

2.3 Problem solving interview questions

At Facebook, designs are developed to solve user problems. As a result, the company needs to hire product designers who can take ambiguous problems, break them down, and create solutions for them. 

One way that Facebook evaluates candidates' problem solving skills, is through a dedicated "problem solving" interview. This interview is also sometimes called a "whiteboard interview" because you'll be using a whiteboard to organize your approach and solutions. 

Below we've listed several real problem solving questions that were asked in Facebook product designer interviews, according to data from Glassdoor. Note that we've edited the language of the questions in some places to improve the clarity or grammar.

Also, the ATM question is used pretty frequently compared to the other questions, so it would be a good idea to include that question in your preparation.

Facebook product designer interview questions - Problem solving

  • Redesign the ATM
  • Design a library book rental delivery app
  • Design a scheduling app
  • How would you make an app that helps you decide which gift to buy?
  • Redesign a TV remote

2.4 Behavioral interview questions

Google product designers usually work with a variety of stakeholders, like engineers, product managers, PMMs, etc. And they need to be able to communicate clearly and work with others efficiently. In addition, Facebook wants to make sure that the candidates they're hiring share the company's values, and have the potential to thrive within Facebook's culture.

Facebook uses behavioral interviews to help them evaluate candidates' on these areas. Behavioral interviews are also an opportunity for the company to dig deeper on your past work experience. Be prepared to talk about your top accomplishments, situations where you've had a positive impact on a team, and your motivation for applying to be a Facebook product designer.

Below, we've compiled a list of example behavioral questions. All of the below questions are real Facebook product designer interview questions from Glassdoor, we've just edited the language in some places (e.g. grammar, phrasing, translating to English, etc.).

Facebook product designer interview questions - Behavioral

  • Why Facebook?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about your role at your current company
  • Why are you transitioning from your current position?
  • Tell me about your background in design and some recent projects you've worked on
  • How large was the team you were working on?
  • Who else did you work with when you were doing X?
  • What kind of challenges did you face working on your current product?
  • How do you influence product?
  • What made you get into design?
  • Which part of the design process interests you most?
  • Why do you want to be a product designer rather than a UX researcher?
  • What is the area where you have the most to learn?
  • What do you want to do in the future?

3. How to prepare

Now that you know what questions to expect, let's focus on how to prepare. Here are the four preparation steps we recommend, to help you get an offer as a Facebook product designer.

3.1 Learn about Facebook's culture

Most candidates fail to do this. But before investing a ton of time preparing for an interview at Facebook, you should make sure it's actually the right company for you.

Facebook is prestigious, so it's tempting to ignore this step completely. But in our view, the prestige in itself won't make you happy day-to-day. It's the type of work and the people you work with that will.

If you know anyone who works at Facebook (or used to) it's a good idea to talk to them to understand what the culture is like. In addition, we would recommend reading about Facebook's 5 core values and hacker culture.

3.2 Practice by yourself

As mentioned above, you'll have four main types of interviews at Facebook: past work, app critique, problem solving, and behavioral. Here's how we'd recommend preparing for each one.

For the past work interviews, we recommend that you first update and polish your portfolio. If you need some tips to get your portfolio optimized, check out this article, which provides a step-by-step guide and examples of great portfolios. This will help you get the basics of your portfolio in order, but you're also going to need to translate your portfolio into a presentation, particularly for the onsite "past work" presentation. For this, we highly recommend Lily Konings' approach.

For the app critique interviews, we recommend that you start by learning how to approach an app critique using a framework. To help with that, you can read Dan Shilov's guide, which covers several potential frameworks that you could use. In addition, we'd recommend that you review section 3 of this article, which gives an example of a "good" and "bad" app critique of Venmo. Then, you should start practicing with the example apps we mentioned in section 2.2.

For the problem solving interview, we recommend studying the approach described in this article. It covers a systematic approach for tackling whiteboard interviews like the one you'll encounter at Facebook. It also highlights common mistakes and a helpful strategy for allocating your whiteboard space. We'd also recommend that you practice with the questions we've provided in section 2.3 above. This will help you to start getting comfortable with this interview format.

For behavioral interviews, we recommend learning our step-by-step method for answering behavioral questions. Once you've familiarized yourself with the method, then get some practice with the questions we've provided in section 2.4 above. 

Finally, a great way to prepare for all of these different types of interviews, is to do a few practice rounds by yourself. To get the most out of this time, we recommend practicing out loud and setting a timer. And for the interviews where you would typically engage with an interviewer, play the role of both the candidate and the interviewer. This probably sounds strange, but trust us, it can significantly improve your communication, focus, and time management.

3.3 Practice with peers

Practicing by yourself will only take you so far. One of the main challenges of product designer interviews is communicating in a way that's impactful and easy to understand.

As a result, we strongly recommend practicing the different types of product designer interviews with a peer interviewing you. Practicing with a peer takes you one step closer to matching the conditions of the real interviews, because now you'll have another human being asking you questions.

In addition, since a peer will be able to view your answers a bit more objectively, they should also be able to give you some initial feedback to help you improve. A great place to start with peer interviews is to practice with friends or family if you can. Or you could try out our mock interview platform, which lets you connect and practice with other people in the same situation as you.

3.4 Practice with ex-interviewers

Practicing with peers can be a great help, and it's usually free. But at some point, you'll start noticing that the feedback you are getting from peers isn't helping you that much anymore. Once you reach that stage, we recommend practicing with ex-interviewers from top tech companies like Facebook.

If you know a product designer or someone who has experience running interviews at Facebook or another big tech company, then that's fantastic. But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.

This problem is exactly why we're preparing to launch a coaching service for product designers, where you can get one-on-one practice and feedback from Facebook ex-interviewers. Drop-in your email address below to get notified when we launch!

Any questions about Facebook product designer interviews?

If you have any questions about Facebook product designer interviews, do not hesitate to ask them in the comments below. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!