The Facebook Approach to Hiring

By Alan Olsen



When you’re looking for someone to do some kind of service for you, whether it’s building a house, repairing a car, filing your taxes, or even fixing a broken a pipe, in most cases you look for someone who has experience. So how important is experience? In many situations, like in business for example, it’s extremely important. In fact, in the business world most people are always looking for experience in both the other companies they work with and in whom they hire. Surely experience does matter – in some situations more than others – but it might not always be as important as some make it.


You Have to Earn Experience

The funny thing about experience, however, is there is only one way to get it. No one is born with experience; so everyone has to start somewhere. It’s unfortunate, but many people who would otherwise do a wonderful job if given the opportunity are never even considered for a position simply because they don’t have the requisite years of experience doing the desired tasks. Every company has its own policies and practices for hiring, and while many stick to rigid experience requirements, other companies have taken a different approach. For example, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, explained his company’s approach on hiring during a recent interview.


Focus on Talent

“I started the company when I was 19, so I can't institutionally believe that experience is that important, right, or else I would have a hard time reckoning selling myself and the company.” Mark explained that Facebook is really focused on hiring and investing in good people who are really talented no matter how much experience they might have, or lack. In fact, if they are the right person for the job it doesn’t matter if they haven’t even done that thing before. Mark said that rule of thumb applies to everyone they hire, both “people who are fresh out of university as well as people like the CFO, who took the company public, [but] had not taken a company public before.”


Give Them New Opportunities to Grow

When asked how he and others at Facebook assess someone's raw talent, he said, “I think what's important is not to believe that someone has to have specifically done the job that they're going to do in order to be able to do it well.” He also explained that one of the things Facebook has done well is to give people at the company plenty of opportunities to grow and succeed. And one of the things he’s most proud of is the fact that Facebook has about 12 different product groups and all but one of them is run by someone that did not join the company running a product group or reporting to him. “Literally none of them started off reporting to me. They all started off in different roles…and they've all grown. I think what happens is people see that you create opportunities for people, and that also, I think, keeps the best people engaged and makes the best people want to come to work at your company."