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The tricky interview question used by Facebook to weed out selfish candidates

When it comes to hiring, most employers want to test ‘soft skills’ too

Facebook is known for being passionate about hiring candidates with both technical skills and people skills – teamwork is vital within their corporation and they place a big focus on this throughout the interview process. In a recent article for The Harvard Business Review, Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering and infrastructure, said the company hires specifically for “the ability to calibrate to a team environment.”

Avoiding the generic interview questions, Facebook rather measures teamwork abilities by asking questions such as: “Can you tell me about four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved?”

Parikh said this question is designed to weed out “empire builders, self-servers, and whiners.”

When answering this question, Parikh added, “successful candidates should clearly demonstrate that their priorities are company, team, and self — in that order.”

The concept behind this tactic is pretty much that it is ‘better to give than to receive’, thereby building a team of ‘givers’.

Professor Adam Grant’s research suggests that givers, who always try to help others, are ultimately more successful than “takers,” who try to serve themselves, and “matchers,” who try to get equal benefit for themselves and others. Interpersonal relationships, Grant argues, are as important to achievement as are hard work, talent, and luck.

Hiring givers is a win-win situation. The employee enjoys their own personal success and the company benefits hugely by avoiding any office politics which could detract from productivity.

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