Before we discuss this question, let us recap what the Behavioral Interview Round at Facebook is.
Behavioral Interview Round is also known as the Jedi Interview round at Facebook.
It is about you and your history, your résumé, and your motivation.
The purpose of this interview is to assess whether the candidate will thrive in Facebook's peer-to-peer, minimal process, and unstructured engineering organization.
For Software Engineers, the behavioral interview is actually part behavioral and part coding. The coding part is a shorter version of the usual coding interviews and is included to supplement the other two coding interviews to get an additional coding signal.
Know yourself! Take the time to review your résumé, as the interviewer will almost certainly ask about key events in your work history.
Have concrete examples or anecdotes to support each of the questions.
Familiarize yourself with Facebook's mission statement and its five core values:
- Be Bold
- Focus on Impact
- Move Fast
- Be Open
- Build Social Value
Be yourself! Be open and honest about your successes and failures.
Be humble and focus on teamwork, leadership, and mentorship qualities.
Now, let us review how to effectively answer this question.
Video Explanation with Evaluation Criteria, Response Framework, Tips & Tricks, Sample Answer (Example), and a Special Case of "Never Worked On Ambiguous Projects".
"Tell me about a time when the project was ambiguous" is one of the tough questions asked in the behavioral interview.
In everyone's career journey, they face a challenging situation where they need to work on a task that is ambiguous, uncertain, and does not have a clear path forward. By this question, the interviewer's goal is not to trick you but to assess how well you can adapt and perform in challenging situations and unstructured environments.
They are trying to understand your ability to be:
- Stay calm,
- Exercise judgment, and
- Act responsibly in such unexpected scenarios.
They are assessing your perseverance to explore the ambiguity and learn new things, despite the challenges. They are also evaluating your:
- Time management,
- Problem-solving, and
- Decision-making skills.
Employers want to know if you can handle competing priorities, shift gears when needed, and understand the implications of missing deadlines. They are looking to see if your coworkers can rely on you to get the work done.
Our advice is to pick a compelling and honest story that can articulate a real-life experience where you had to work on an ambiguous task at your workplace.
Describe the situation, the events that occurred, and explain the ambiguity involved in the task at hand. For example, it may be one of the following scenarios:
- Your manager or director may ask you to lead the development of a vague feature request.
- You may discover a potential area of improvement in the current architecture, which may be ambiguous, to begin with.
Explain your strategy to the interviewer on how you proactively gathered the requirements and use cases to bring more clarity to the project. For example:
- Conducting customer interviews or user research to gather data to make an informed decision.
- Exploring open-source projects and reading research publications to understand the existing technologies and how you can leverage them to architect your new service.
Also, elaborate on the quick proof of concept or prototype that you implemented to validate your solution. Show that you proactively communicated your findings and key decisions to all the stakeholders.
Finally, express how your strategy helped define a plan of action and complete the required deliverables within the deadline. Also, let the interviewer know how the outcome and the impact were beneficial to the company or team. Explain the learnings you took from this challenging situation and how they helped you become a better engineer.
Here are some tips and tricks that will help you effectively prepare this question for the behavioral interview.
Use a compelling story that is honest and believable.
- It is most desirable to describe a real-life example to the interviewer to show that you have actually faced such a situation in your career and not just talk about a generic strategy.
Always remain calm, composed, and confident while answering this question.
Do not sugarcoat your answer with irrelevant details.
- Spend more time talking about the actions you took to understand the ambiguity of the project.
- For example, focus on the strategy you used to gather the data to bring clarity to the project.
Show that you proactively communicated your findings and key decisions to all the stakeholders.
The biggest way to mess up answering this question is by simply saying that you have never faced a challenging situation at your workplace where the task at hand was ambiguous.
- Instead, explain your strategies for dealing with such situations in your day-to-day life.
Focus on the business impact that you had on your company or team.
Prepare the response for this question beforehand, as it will be tough to structure your answer on the spot during the interview.
Do not memorize the answer as it should come naturally, and you should sound confident to the interviewer.
Here is Ross. He is currently working as a Staff Software Engineer at a major technology company. He is interviewing for the role of Staff Software Engineer at Facebook.
🎧 Listen to his response to this question in this YouTube Video
It may be the case that you have actually never faced a challenging situation at your workplace where the task at hand was ambiguous. New Grads and entry-level software engineers usually fall under this category.
If you are in such a situation, do not end your answer by simply saying that you have never faced an ambiguous scenario. Instead, try to use a real-life experience from your college or everyday life. For example:
- You may need to gather data or do a quick proof of concept to validate your idea for a course project or thesis.
This will help the interviewer evaluate you on the following attributes mentioned earlier:
- How well you adapt and perform in obscure situations,
- Ability to be proactive and resourceful,
- Exercise judgment and act responsibly under pressure,
- Perseverance to explore the ambiguity and learn new things,
- Communication skills, and
- Problem solving and decision-making skills.
Learn more about the Evaluation Criteria, Response Framework, Tips & Tricks, and Sample Answers (Examples) to effectively prepare and answer these top questions asked in the Behavioral Interviews at Facebook. Certain special cases are also discussed which are usually faced by the candidates during these interviews.
If you have not read our first article on Top Facebook Behavioral Interview Questions, we recommend reading it by clicking the below link:
In case if you have not read our series on Cracking the Facebook System Design Interview, we recommend reading it by clicking the below link:
👩💻 Best System Design Interview Course
🚀 Complete SWE Interview Course [💰 Limited Time 10% offer]
🙋♀️ Behavioral Interview Guide [💰 Special Discount]
📚 Recommended Interview Preparation Book (on Amazon)
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