Julie Zhuo was 22 when she was hired as an intern at Facebook. The company was young. She quickly moved through the ranks to grow Facebook's design team. Ten years later, she's the VP of product design and leads the team responsible for designing Facebook.

Zhuo now has 250 employees and counting. Making smart, strategic hires is a key part of the job. To make the most of the time she has with candidates interviewing at Facebook, Zhuo likes asks a question about their future selves. (Hat tip to First Round for their list of excellent interview questions.)

More revealing than "Tell me about yourself."

Zhuo doesn't want a candidate to regurgitate her resume. Instead, she asks: "Imagine yourself in three years. What do you hope will be different about you then compared to now?"

With this open-ended question, it's up to the candidate to choose what direction she wants to take it. Zhuo is looking to learn three things from the response: how ambitious the candidate is, how goal-oriented she is, and how self-reflective she is. 

Hiring for a growth mindset. 

A key personality trait Zhuo hires for is a growth mindset. Even if a candidate doesn't check every box, having the curiosity to learn and drive to grow is crucial. Hearing a candidate's vision for their own growth helps Zhuo understand if they have that quality. 

Candidates usually come into interviews prepared to speak on their past accomplishments. While what you've accomplished in your career is important -- that's what got them the interview, after all -- it isn't necessarily reflective of where you're going next. 

That's why Zhuo asks about their future vision for themselves. She looks to hire people who are eager to keep moving forward. It's also important that they have self-awareness. Everyone has strengths and weakness. If their answer reflects how they hope to build upon those in the next few years, that's a good sign for Zhuo. 

Harnessing the impact of every single hire.

Zhuo knows hiring can be painful, especially when it takes a long time. Yet no matter how desperately you need to fill a position, she encourages hiring managers to look beyond the need to plug holes. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to strengthen the muscle and impact of your team. 

"Hiring is not a problem to be solved but an opportunity to build the future of your organization," Zhuo has said. ​

Published on: Sep 17, 2019
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