Get and Pass the Engineering Leadership Interview with Kyle Cooper Leadership Recruiter at Meta

Published on Feb 12, 2022

16 min read

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Transcript

[00:00] Vidal: All right. So good afternoon today I have with me and my friend, Kyle Cooper. Kyle is a leadership recruiter at Meta. Kyle, would you like to perhaps say a few words to introduce yourself to ManagersClub?

[00:09] Kyle: Yeah, I’m really happy to be here. As Vidal said leadership a recruiter with Meta supporting software engineering leadership, as well as data science leadership, but yeah, excited to have this conversation and help out folks out there who are looking for new roles.

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How should someone get on a company’s radar to interview?

[00:23] Vidal: Awesome. Why don’t we start with how should somebody get on a company’s radar? If you haven’t already reached out to them and they don’t know you, what would be the best way for someone to get on a radar?

[00:34] Kyle: Yeah, I think in general, just doing a bit of research on the company, whether that’s following the company first just on LinkedIn, but also even connecting with some people in the organization that could be aligned to know your interests, your roles, things that you’d be most excited about.

I think that’s the simplest answer in getting on the radar. You can apply for positions. I think that’s always really helpful because that will get you on the recruiter’s radar and get you in the process and that sort of thing. So that’s always a great option.

I think doing the research first though, before you apply is usually the best practice because of that. You have a little bit more insight in terms of the types of teams and could get potential introductions to hiring managers through those connections you made through your research. But I would say those main things.

What do you look for in LinkedIn Profile, resume, etc.? How important are those?

[01:23] Vidal: Okay. I want to ask about LinkedIn profiles and resumes and people spend a lot of time working on those. And can maybe tell from your perspective what do you look for in those profiles? What should people put on there?

[01:37] Kyle: Yeah, I think keeping it up to date as much as possible is the most important thing.

Obviously, if you’re not looking for a role, like you may not put things on there, but especially when you’re in leadership, you’re usually also hiring external folks for your team as well. So keeping your LinkedIn up to date, not only with the titles and companies you’re located at, but really the types of projects that your teams are working on.

I think that is not only helpful for your own hiring, but it’s really helpful for the external folks when they are searching for candidates. They can take a quick glance at a profile that comes up in a keyword search or something, and they can clearly articulate what this candidate does for my project or product standpoint.

Sometimes you can include the scope of role, maybe you’re in senior leadership and you’re more passionate about managing other managers. So making some of those little points on there is helpful. But also making sure that you don’t need to get super detailed in your previous work experience, but making sure it’s on there in terms of, if you were an engineer as the example now, what did you do as an engineer?

Like what were some of the projects or spaces that you were successful at? How did that lead you into management? I think that’s always really helpful as well for the people that are looking at your profile to get a sense of the candidate’s journey. What are some things this candidate could be passionate about? Is my role that I am reaching out to Vidal for gonna meet that career trajectory that I’m seeing?

I think just those points are really helpful just for whether it’s a recruiter or a hiring manager that’s doing some of their own research. Making sure you pop up on those searches.

How essential is domain-specific experience, such as machine learning, front-end engineering, and so on, compared to general management experience?

[03:26] Vidal: Okay. How essential is domain-specific expertise? For example, machine learning or front engineering compared to general management experience, when you’re doing your leadership recruiting?

[03:39] Kyle: Yeah, I think it really comes down to like for Meta specifically, is how do managers get measured? Is it all career development? Is it more delegation? Is it project management? Is it a combination of those factors? So having expertise in a specific technical area, whether it’s machine learning mobile, can really help you with the development of your reports.

And so having some specialized experiences is important, but as you get to some larger companies that like a Google, LinkedIn, a Meta, a lot of those specialized technologies, you’re getting the exposure to pretty regularly. So having that great general leadership experience when it comes to how to build a career development plan for your report, how to build a performance plan as well.

Those skills are very important when it comes to growing an organization so it’s a combination of both. I think as you get more senior, it’s more general as you get up. Getting your foot in the door, sometimes having a little bit of specialized experience is important, but really just understanding what is the role that I’m interviewing for who would be my reports. And can I lead those folks? Not only from a general growth standpoint also from a technical growth standpoint. So I would say it’s a multiple of factors.

[05:05] Vidal: Okay. So it sounds like for more entry-level it, this domain-specific stuff is more important, but as you get higher and higher up, it becomes less important. Makes sense.

Before the interview, what are the most crucial questions an applicant should ask the recruiter?

Vidal: Before an interview, a candidate will have an opportunity to have a prep call usually with the recruiter. So what is some advice you have? What are some important questions that a candidate should ask you to prepare in that prep call?

question mark on chalk board

[05:30] Kyle: Yeah, I think from the candidates, what they should ask is making sure they’re very clear on the selection process.

Like what does the selection process look like? Does it go to a candidate review board? How involved are the interviewers in the hiring manager? To just really get in a sense of that. And then also gain a sense of what are the main focus areas that I’m going to be doing in the interview.

And most recruiters and companies can be pretty clear with the expectations of each section. They’re not going to be able to give you the answers to the questions, but you can at least understand like what those expectations are. And once you understand that, really getting a sense from the recruiter of what have other candidates done to prepare? Like you’ve worked with other candidates regularly, what have you heard are some best practices on how I should prepare. Practice does, make quote unquote, make perfect, right? And the more you can practice these interviews. You know what each section your stories that you’re gonna tell the better foot you’re going to put forward in the interview.

So the more information you can gain from the recruiter on expectations, best practices Like leveraging the recruiter. If they could connect you with somebody internally that may be able to talk through their experience. Recruiting each organization has different policies around prep calls and things of that nature, but a lot of companies are starting to offer it.

I know with leadership specifically technical practice is usually a big area because they’re not coding day-to-day, but companies like Meta, we’re going to have a coding interview a lot of times, and that’s where you’re going to want to prepare, so just making sure you do set a time side to prepare and areas that you’re not doing so much day today is probably the best advice that I can give.

And I hope that candidates ask me those sorts of things on the call. When candidates don’t ask a lot about best practices on preparing and, when I emphasize practicing and it doesn’t seem to hit home, that’s when I have concerns, because the only way I think you’re going to do well in the interview is either you’re interviewing other places, which is essentially making you practice or you’re practicing a lot before the interview.

[07:44] Vidal: Okay. Yeah. No, I think practice is very important, especially like you say those things you don’t do everyday coding challenges and stuff.

Do you have any advice specifically for women and underrepresented minorities looking to land EM jobs?

Vidal: Do you have any advice specifically for women and underrepresented minorities that are looking either for engineering leadership positions or just like engineering in general?

[08:02] Kyle: Yeah, I think. The research point is so important. I think a lot of the folks that are targeting engineering and engineering leadership roles, these are the brightest of people out there. So in doing some research on the companies that you’re targeting, seeing what sort of events and things they have for underrepresented minorities, I think there are a lot of good materials and options out there for some of the larger companies, but also you’ll find is doing some research on some people that may be passionate in groups that you’re passionate about, just like on LinkedIn and similar to an internal Facebook, you belong to groups and you can find out events and make sure you join those. And you’re building these relationships with folks that are passionate about similar things, and then you’re able to build relationships internally with people in the company that may have a similar path and journey that you did. And really identifying potential mentors that you can work with and help along the way.

Like I know for myself if somebody that has a similar background as me as a bartender, not any technical experience reached out to me and said, Hey, like I have seen what you’ve done. Tell me about how you did it. What were some things that’s something that I would really be open to because I know how hard it was to break into the work environment? So similar if you’re a woman, an underrepresented minority, a lot of these folks are also passionate about bringing people into the organization to create that diversity, to create that great working environment. And a lot of folks are willing to help. Being curious. Attending events as much as possible and getting yourself out there I think is the best advice I can give.

[09:46] Vidal: I think that’s really a great point because you’re right. I think a lot of women, underrepresented minorities are very sensitive to this, so if you were to reach out to them for help, they’d probably be pretty receptive, at least most of them to that.

You’ve attended a lot of debriefs…. What are the most common causes for people not getting hired, and what can candidates do to improve their chances of getting hired?

Vidal: You’ve attended a lot of debriefs in your career. Could you tell us maybe what are some of the most common causes that people don’t get hired? And what can a candidate do to maybe, prevent that?

[10:10] Kyle: Yeah, I think, again, it depends on the expectations of the role, and really making sure as a candidate, you have a really good understanding of what are they looking for from a signal standpoint, the interviewers for.

For my full interview, what are the areas I need to make sure I nail? And a lot of times what we see is it’s two things. One is we call it hand-wavy and I know it’s a general term everybody will use, but essentially to stay in very highly. No, not getting into the details, whether it’s a project that most proud of, whether it’s a conflict resolution situation that they dealt with cross-functional partners, whether it’s managing folks, the good and the bad being as specific as possible of the situation and almost taking that STAR method and being really methodical when you’re telling your stories to make sure those interviewers are getting all those points that their rubric, that, how they measure a candidate for the interview, you’re hitting all those points.

And if you’re not giving details, there’s a lot of assumptions that may be happening that you think the interviewer is assuming correctly, but you don’t know unless maybe they worked with you in the past that’s different. So being specific, also checking in with the interviewers, I think. Asking them the straight up. “Hey do I need to go more in-depth here, more detailed or are we good?” I think I tell a lot of candidates to do that as they go through the interviews because 45 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, however long they are time flies!

And making sure that you’re being as detailed as possible or not overly detailed. You’ll get that answer from the interviewer a lot of times. And then on the technical side, what we see if it is a frontline manager, as an example, and you’re managing a lot of engineers, including senior engineers, making sure that technically, they can guide that senior engineer. They can have those deep conversations.

We’re not looking for people that know, especially on leadership, the latest and greatest technology maybe, but they can get their hands dirty a little bit and dive in and guide somebody up. “Hey man, this is how I would problem solve this. Like you’re the expert, but this is what I would do”. And just being familiar with the technology that your team would work in and where your teams are at that you’re currently at is so important. So then the interviewer can get a sense of, Hey, this person is pretty sound technically. I think they would really make an impact on this product because that’s the technical issues that they’re dealing with.

And they’ve done that in the past. Like I’m a hire. So being as specific as possible, and as much as you can roll up the sleeves, technically as well.

[13:00] Vidal: I think that’s a great point too, to check in with them yeah, am I being too detailed? Am I going on too long and not detailed enough? I think that’s very important to check in as you’re telling these things.

When someone receives an offer, how should they go about negotiating it? What are the do’s and dont’s?

So here’s a little bit of a more delicate topic. When someone receives an offer. Okay. They did well, they got an offer. How should they go about negotiating an offer with you? People often want to negotiate offers. We made them nervous or, don’t know how to negotiate it.

[13:23] Kyle: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of misconception out there around like the recruiters, holding the keys to how much money you’re going to get from a compensation standpoint. And at the end of the day, recruiters are measured on how many hires they get. It’s not measured on what money you gave them a lot of times, especially at large tech firms. And the more transparent you can be with the recruiter, especially around, other opportunities your comp expectations. You know that early and often that you could have some of these conversations with the recruiter, the better chance you are going to receive the largest offer possible.

Because for me, I want to get the candidate as much as I can get them, but I need the details to work with the compensation team to justify that, and so the more details you can share around, what your current expectations are, where else you’re interviewing, what are those offers looking like. We’re unable these days to ask for current which is a new rule. So there’s a lot of times what you’ll see if those aren’t being discussed, it will slow the offer process down because if you don’t share that information, you’re going to get a standard offer. And then they’re going to come back with numbers and Hey, this is what I actually need.

Now you’re delaying the offer. And so if you can give the numbers upfront as much as possible and look at the recruiter as a consultant and like working with them on it, and they’re going to do their best to get the best offer possible because that’s going to make you accept. And that’s how I’m measured.

The last thing I want is they give you an offer you don’t like, and you’re like, you know what, screw this Kyle like this isn’t what I’m looking for. And so the more you can help upfront like they’re going to do everything they can to make that happen for you because that’s how they’re measured.

So think about them as a partner. Think about them as a consultant and just be as transparent as possible. Another point is to do your own research. There are a lot of good details out there about companies and what salaries that typically these folks are making in these roles and all of that, to get a sense as well. But again, the more transparent you can be the better.

[15:37] Vidal: I think that’s a great point because yeah, the recruiter and even like the hiring manager, right? Like they want to get you there. And, it’s not really their money. They have a budget, if they can, make the argument to get you the money you need, then they’re willing to do it because like you say, they’re measured on filling the position.

[15:53] Kyle: Exactly. And the comp team is measured differently. It’s always about cross-functional teams right? Two different goals, but you’re working on the same thing. It’s always tricky. Yeah. Yeah.

Do you have any other advice or tips or anything to say to leadership candidates?

[16:03] Vidal: Do you have any other advice? Anything I didn’t ask that might be good to share with engineering leadership candidates?

[16:09] Kyle: Yeah. Honestly, I think building networks with folks that are passionate about similar things. I think, it’s been weird during COVID and the pandemic in terms of joining events and different, mixers and things of that nature, but really just thinking about your own career and identifying mentors or even folks that you see online and you see their career trajectory, like what are the steps that they took?

And can I build a network of folks that are doing the similar type of journey that I am, because, getting a job at a big company or any company, a lot of times it takes somebody in internally to refer ya sometimes. It takes somebody to walk you through, how to repair things of that nature.

And the more folks at other companies that know you’re familiar with your work, the better off you are. Finding people that are passionate about similar projects, similar spaces, all of that, I think just continue to do that. It’s hard in the pandemic. So being creative in that space is always tricky.

That’s probably just the best advice. Be curious, continue to network as much as possible, and attend events that you’re passionate about where people would also be there in a similar fashion.

[17:20] Vidal: I think that’s great. Yeah. Networking is very important.

How can someone reach out to you if they are interested in opportunities at Meta?

Kyle, you’ve been really generous with your time. Thank you so much for sharing your advice. How can people reach out to you if they wanted to discuss more if they were interested in opportunities at Meta that you have? What would be the best way?

[17:35] Kyle: I know. Totally. You can always find me on LinkedIn. It’s pretty simple.

Kyle Cooper, and there’s two Kyle Cooper’s at Meta. One is a data scientist and I’m a data science leadership recruiter. So it can be a little tricky. But you’ll find me feel free to connect with me also if you find a position online that we are supporting and it aligns really well with your background, feel free to ping me that over LinkedIn cause I can at least get ya in line with the appropriate recruiter appropriate team and make sure that, you can at least understand, Hey, is this position really open or, are they closing soon? So yeah, that’s probably the best way if you need some help at Meta, you find a role that you like and you think you’re a good fit for ping me, send it over and I’ll do my best to get you aligned.

[18:21] Vidal: Awesome. Thanks so much. I’ll talk with you soon.

[18:25] Kyle: All right. Vidal. Thank you.

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