6 Things to Know About the Workplace Culture at Facebook
Search results for Facebook jobs and interview preparation are booming at the start of 2021, up 69% from the previous year. With over 50,000 employees, Facebook has grown its staff around 25% in 2020 despite COVID-19.
If you’re interested in applying for a job at Facebook and are keen to learn more about their culture, keep reading!
What’s the workplace culture like at Facebook, and will you fit in?
Game Day. Chocolate Fountains. Small Teams. Friday Q&A with “The Zuck” (Mark Zuckerberg). While Facebook is one of the top lucrative places to work in the tech industry, it only has half of the amount of employees and moves with “scorching fast velocity” in comparison to Google.
Do you have what it takes? We’ve put together a list of 6 things you should know about the people, the vibe, and the organizational structure at Facebook so you can determine if it’s the right environment for you to apply.
Socializing is valued not only on the platform but also in the workplace
Facebook was started by a young founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and the concept of the platform is focused around socializing and networking. By nature, the kinds of people that the company has attracted are those who tend to also be young and social.
The atmosphere of the company is very loose and casual, and it’s an environment that well-suits extroverts. Colleagues want you to speak out, say what’s on your mind, and be an active participant in all aspects of work.
In fact, you could even say you’re rewarded for being an extrovert!
“One of the things you get evaluated on and part of what measures your success is how much you’ve cooperated with other teams. Facebook really values what they call ‘XFN’ which is cross-functional collaboration. If you’ve said that you’ve done some work with another team on a project that is adjacently related to your work, and then the teams decide to come together to, say, build a report for clients, then that would be a positive for your performance review,” says Anthony, one of our Carrus Coaches and former Facebook employee.
In most companies, employees are limited to accessing company information unless they have clearance or are working on a related project. But at Facebook, information about what teams are working on is kept open in their internal database, which makes it easier for employees to pick up on how they can work together with other teams.
Here’s what Colym has to say about that:
“There are almost no internal barriers in terms of access to company information. From the latest user numbers, to what’s happening on secret project x, every employee has access from day one. Just to clarify, when I say “company information”, I’m referring to metrics and product roadmaps. Sensitive information like User Data and HR info (salaries etc) are kept on a need-to-know basis and access is carefully monitored.”
A big piece of advice that people new to Facebook hear? Go meet as many people as you can. In your first 30 days, get to know everyone on your team and go talk to people on other teams, even if they’re not working on anything related to your projects. Once you’ve built a network within Facebook, you’ll realize what people are working on that might be a good fit for your clients. (More tips on nailing it in your first 180 days).
Everyone’s very mission-driven
The mission at Facebook is “Bringing the world closer together”. Employees at Facebook are passionate about connecting people via the platform and it also plays out in how they interact at the office.
“When I was there, people really did believe that Facebook is connecting the world and making the world a better place. Whether you agree with that or not, people working there really felt strongly about it. It’s like a calling, and you’ll have a strong feeling of purpose. If you’re fanatical about the mission, you’ll do well at Facebook,” says Anthony.
Christopher feels the same way:
“I’m proud to work at Facebook. Internally, you have insight to the amazing things that everybody is working on and you get to see the thought process and decision making in real-time. Facebook wants to be a force for good in the world; which is also why we changed our branding, approach to marketing and even our company mission: Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Many companies have mission statements that get lost in the shuffle of daily work; but at Facebook, the mission is a constant driver of employee motivation.
People are “Type A”
While employees at Facebook tend to be extroverts who enjoy socializing, when it comes to executing their work, many tend to have “Type A” personality types. At Facebook, this means that people are very goal-oriented and focus towards getting ahead.
“It’s not that anyone would give you a hard time if you chose to leave early to go to a dentist appointment. It’s more that the people at Facebook tend to have ‘Type A’ personalities where they’d rather stay in the office to get ahead on upcoming work,” says Anthony.
“The greatest aspect of working at Facebook is that everyone is very motivated and very smart. The problem with this is that they all expect the very same of you. Holding a very high bar for excellence can certainly be demanding so it’s important to make sure you’re always carefully paying attention to your own personal work/life balance,” says a current Facebook Employee.
If you’re hearing about “Type A” for the first time, know that there are 4 different kinds of personality types: A, B, C, and D. These are also known as Director, Socializer, Thinker, and Supporter.
Image from hiresuccess.com
Here are the characteristics of each in a nutshell:
- Type A (Director): Goal-oriented, Risk-Taking, Strong under stress
- Type B (Socializer): Relationship-oriented, Outgoing, Enthusiastic
- Type C (Thinker): Detail-oriented, Logical, Prepared
- Type D (Supporter): Task-oriented, Stabilizing, Cautious
Being open to ambiguity, changes, and pivots is key
Being open to ambiguity means that you are capable of doing work without detailed instruction.
Facebook is a relatively young company and the platform expanded rapidly in the past 15 years to be what it is today. That means that the business moves at a very fast pace and you won’t be receiving concrete instructions as to how to complete your work.
“During my first interview on the phone, I was asked, ‘Are you comfortable with ambiguity? Are you comfortable with not necessarily being told exactly what to do and with your role potentially changing six months down the line?’
“Most companies talk about being fast paced and dynamic, but the reality is that Facebook is more than that. If you’re someone who wants to fit into a clearly defined role where you can just go to work and have clear targets and be told what to do, and if you’re not used to a quick pace of change, then you might not be a good culture fit.
“People who struggled at the company are the ones who couldn’t adapt quickly. Facebook purposefully isn’t as prescriptive, and employees need to think how they can make an impact when work isn’t clearly defined,” says Anthony.
Even if you’ve been working in a company with a fast-paced environment, you can expect Facebook to take it to the next level.
Facebook has a “flat” organizational structure
A “flat” organizational structure – also known as a horizontal organizational structure – is where there are fewer managers and supervisors in relation to lower-level employees, and where employees have more freedom and authority to do their jobs. The benefits of a flat structure is that employees have more power in decision making and there is greater opportunity for cross-functional communication.
It’s the opposite of a vertical, hierarchical organizational structure in which there is a rigid chain of command and a feeling of different levels of authority with greater distance between low-level employees and high-level executives.
Image from slideteam.net
At Facebook, even an intern can email a senior leader and receive a reply. That’s something that wouldn’t happen at a company with a vertical structure where directly emailing a senior leader could be frowned upon.
This “flat” organization style is also visible in the office:
Facebook isn’t the kind of company where employees dream of having a corner office. People in leadership positions share desk space with team members.
“If you compare Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google to Mark Zuckerberg, they have their own executive suite on the top floor of their building that no one can access, whereas Mark has a desk just like everyone else’s and uses a meeting room that has glass walls which we call ‘The Fishbowl’. You can be walking clients along the campus in California and everyone can see him visibly,” says Anthony.
Mark hosts Friday Q&As
Mark Zuckerberg also hosts Q&A time every Friday in which employees of any level and role can directly ask him questions. He doesn’t delegate it to a junior employee, and he encourages everyone to ask questions.
“People will ask him pretty intense questions. From my understanding, that wouldn’t fly at Google,” Anthony reflects.
“[A perk of working at Facebook is ] the chance to listen to the Zuck in person and ask him questions at his weekly Q&A. Interns usually ask the most interesting and also the weirdest questions,” says Debojeet.
You’re going to have to pull your own weight. Maybe more.
Since Facebook has a flat organizational structure with fewer levels of hierarchy, there are less opportunities to delegate work tasks to other people. That means that even senior leaders might be in charge of executing tasks they might have otherwise delegated in other companies (such as creating their own slide decks for presentations), and those who have spent years delegating these tasks will have to adjust to carrying more weight.
“At Facebook, the organization operates very lean. Teams are very small, some with only a few people. And you can’t expect new people to get hired to help in pulling the weight. We’re always told ‘Do fewer things, better,’” says Anthony.
So, a perk of working at Facebook is that you’ll have more opportunities to be a decision-maker, but it also means that you’ll have more responsibilities toward executing the work. At Facebook, people move fast and they do it with fewer people.
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