Facebook program manager interview: the only post you'll need to read

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Program manager 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.

And if you're targeting a technical program manager position (which is a closely related role), then check out our separate guide on Facebook TPM interviews

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 program manager interview process and timeline? It takes four to eight weeks on average and follows these steps:

  1. Resume, cover letter, and referrals
  2. Recruiter phone screen: one interview
  3. Hiring manager interview: one interview
  4. Onsite interviews: typically four to five interviews

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

1.1.1 Resume, cover letter, and referrals

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’ll need a quality resume and cover letter that are tailored to program manager positions, and to Facebook more specifically.

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. 

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..."

If you get past this first HR screen, the recruiter will then help you schedule an interview with the hiring manager. 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.

For example, they will often share a PDF that outlines the interview process for the role that you're applying for, like this Facebook TPM interview guide PDF (*Note: we haven't been able to find a publicly posted copy of Facebook's program manager interview guide, but we would expect it to be similar to this TPM version).

1.1.3 Hiring manager interview

Next, you'll usually have a video call with the hiring manager for the role. The types of questions you'll be asked during this interview are pretty much the same as the questions you'll be asked during the onsite interviews (see below).

The role of the phone screen is to make sure it's worth bringing you onsite. Your interviewer will therefore try to make sure there isn't an area where you are particularly weak and don't stand a chance of meeting the hiring bar.

1.1.4 Onsite interviews

The last major stage of the interview process are the onsite interviews. For this, you'll typically spend a full day interviewing with Facebook. Each interview will last about 45 minutes and will likely cover one of the following topics:

  1. Program sense, where you'll be tested on your program management and execution acumen.
  2. Partnership, where you'll need to demonstrate your ability to work efficiently with cross-functional teams (e.g. engineering, product, etc.)
  3. Leadership, where you'll need to show that you've successfully led teams in the past (e.g. motivate, resolve conflict, etc.)
  4. Role specific / technical, where you'll be asked questions related to the specific role or functional area for which you've applied, this could also include technical questions

You can expect your interviews to focus quite a bit on project management related skills (i.e. managing timelines, juggling competing priorities, etc.) and collaboration skills (i.e. working cross-functionally, communication, etc.).

This is very similar to TPM interviews at Facebook, which usually also cover these areas. However, one of the notable differences you may see in program manager (vs. TPM) interviews, is less emphasis on technical questions.

With that said, the exact interviews you'll encounter depend a lot on the specific role you're applying for, and the people you speak with. As a result, you may still be asked technical questions, and you should be prepared for questions related to the functional area that you're applying to (you can use the job description to help you get a sense of this). 

[PRE-COVID] In addition to these interviews, you'll also have lunch with a fellow program manager while you are onsite. 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.

In some cases, Facebook may ask you to do a follow up interview after your onsite to drill further into one of the four areas listed above. This means you're close to getting an offer but the company wants to double check you're meeting the hiring bar for a given criteria.

1.2 What happens behind the scenes

Your recruiter is leading the process and taking you from one stage to the next. Here's what happens behind the scenes:

  • After the hiring manager interview, your interviewer submits their ratings and notes to the internal system. Your recruiter then reviews the feedback, and decides to move you to the onsite interview or not depending on how well you've done.
  • After the onsite, the five interviewers will make a recommendation on hiring you or not and the recruiter compiles your "packet" (interview feedback, resume, referrals, etc.). If they think you can get the job, they will present your case at the next candidate review meeting.
  • Candidate review meetings are used to assess all candidates who have recently finished their interview loops and are close to getting an offer. Your packet will be analyzed and possible concerns will be discussed. Your interviewers are invited to join your candidate review meeting, but will usually only attend if there's a strong disagreement in the grades you received (e.g. 2 no hires, 3 hires). If after discussions the team still can't agree whether you should get an offer or not, you might be asked to do a follow up interview to settle the debate. At the end of the candidate review meeting, a hire / no hire recommendation is made for consideration by the hiring committee.
  • The hiring committee includes senior leaders from across Facebook. This step is usually a formality and the committee follows the recommendation of the candidate review meeting. The main focus is on fine-tuning the exact level and therefore compensation you will be offered.

It's also important to note that hiring managers and people who refer you have little influence on the overall process. They can help you get an interview at the beginning but that's about it.

2. Example questions

Now let's dive into more details on the four types of interviews you should be prepared for during your Facebook program manager interviews. We'll address these roughly in their order of emphasis for program managers.

  • Program sense
  • Partnership
  • Leadership
  • Role specific / technical

In the below subsections, we've also compiled a selection of real Facebook program manager interview questions, according to data from Glassdoor (*note: we've adjusted the phrasing of some questions to improve the grammar or readability). These are great example questions that you can use to start practicing for your interviews.

2.1 Program sense

Facebook program managers design and execute programs from end-to-end, and it's important for them to have strong project management skills, like planning, working with others and unblocking situations when needed.

This is the part of the interview process where you need to show you think about programs in a comprehensive way (e.g. resources, risks, KPIs, etc.) and have a track record of executing perfectly. If you'd like to get a more general understanding of the questions that program managers are asked, you can also read our program manager interview guide.

Now here are a few example FB program sense questions from Glassdoor. Notice that you should be ready to answer hypothetical questions (e.g. How would you do XYZ), and behavioral questions (e.g. Tell me about a time you did XYZ).

Facebook program manager interview questions - Program sense

  • Tell me about a program you managed from from kick-off through execution
  • Tell me about a problem you faced when going from strategy to implementation
  • Tell me about a project you've managed. What were some of the metrics you used to determine the success of the project?
  • How do you prioritize competing projects, goals, or stakeholder requests?
  • Describe your program management experience

2.2 Partnership

Facebook program managers usually work in cross-functional teams with other engineers, product managers, PMMs, designers, data analysts, etc. They need to be able to communicate clearly, work with others efficiently, build trust and relationships, etc.

This is the part of the interview process where you really want to show that you are good at working with others and driving successful cross-functional collaboration. Be prepared to talk about situations where you've used influence to drive stakeholder alignment, engaged across multiple teams, etc.

Below you'll find a list of example partnership questions from Glassdoor. In addition to questions from Facebook interview reports, we've also added a couple of questions from Google to provide additional practice materials (Google questions are marked at the end with parentheses).

Facebook program manager interview questions - Partnership

  • Have you ever collaborated with multiple teams? What challenges did you face?
  • Give an example of how you've worked with cross-functional teams and the role you played?
  • Tell me what others would say about you
  • Tell me about a time someone changed your mind on a topic. How did you feel about it? (*Google question)
  • How would you convince someone to get your work done if they happen to be a difficult personality? (*Google question)

2.3 Leadership

Facebook program managers lead programs, but don't have direct authority over most of the resources they work with. As a result, they need to be able to lead teams by influencing and motivating others, while also resolving conflicts, driving alignment, etc.

This interview will feel similar to the partnership interview but will focus more on pure leadership rather than your ability to work in a cross-functional environment.

We've compiled a list of example leadership questions below. In addition to leadership questions, we've also included several behavioral questions that you might get asked in any Facebook interview (e.g. "What are your strengths and weaknesses?", "Why Facebook?", etc.). All of the below questions were reported in Facebook interview reports on Glassdoor.

Facebook program manager interview questions - Leadership

  • How would you manage timelines in a highly matrixed environment, where there is no top down authority?
  • How would you advocate for a commitment to a priority, when that priority is not high on someone else's list?
  • Tell me about a time you dealt with a conflict at work
  • Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned from it
  • Why Facebook?
  • Walk me through your resume
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

2.4 Role specific / technical

Facebook program manager interviews tend to focus on the 3 areas we've just covered. However, you should also do your homework on the job description and any other details about the role that you can find.

You'll want to be prepared to speak knowledgeably about the functional area where you'd be working. If your role would be in a technical area, or if you'd be working closely with engineers, then your interviewers may also decide to ask you a few technical questions to evaluate your depth of knowledge and your ability to communicate about technical details.

We haven't listed specific example questions for this section because the questions would likely vary significantly role-to-role. However, if you'd like to get a sense for the type of technical questions that would be relevant to program managers, then you can look at the technical questions in our Facebook TPM interview guide.

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 program manager. For extra tips, take a look at our guide to program manager interview prep.

3.1 Learn about Facebook's culture

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

Facebook is prestigious and it's therefore tempting to ignore that step completely. But in our experience, 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 program managers, TPMs, engineers, or PMs who work 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: program sense, partnership, leadership, and role-specific / technical.

For program sense interviews, we recommend diving into how Facebook does program management. As a starting point, consider reading this blog post by Anand Parikh. Anand is a senior TPM at Facebook, and although program management and technical program management (TPM) are not exactly the same, they have a lot of overlap at Facebook. 

Another good step is to write out answers to the program sense questions we've listed above. You can also read our separate program manager interview guide in order to find additional example questions to practice with.

For partnership and leadership interviews, we recommend learning our step-by-step method for answering behavioral questions. You can then use that method to craft answers for the questions we have listed above.

You should also make sure you're well prepared for role-specific questions, and you should learn as much information as you can about the role before your interviews. You can begin by doing online research, reaching out to connections in a similar role or area, and your recruiter may also be able to provide some additional information in advance. And if you'd like to study up on technical questions, you can practice with the examples in our TPM guide.

Finally, a great way to practice all these different types of questions is to interview yourself out loud. Play the role of both the candidate and the interviewer, asking questions and answering them, just like two people would in an interview. Trust us, this can have a huge impact on how well you communicate your answers.

3.3 Practice with peers

Practicing by yourself will only take you so far. One of the main challenges of program manager interviews is communicating your different stories in a way that's easy to understand. As a result, we strongly recommend practicing program manager interviews with a peer interviewing you. A great place to start is to practice with friends or family members if you can.

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.

If you know a program manager 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.

Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practice 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from leading tech companies like Facebook. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.

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Any questions about Facebook program manager interviews?

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