The social network eschews the puzzles favored by other tech giants. But, proving that you have what it takes to live up to the firm's hacker ethos may be even harder.By Miguel Helft and Jessi Hempel
FORTUNE -- For engineers hoping to land a job at Facebook, here's the good news: Facebook is not Google. You don't need a computer science degree from Stanford or Carnegie Mellon. You don't need a Ph.D. You don't need a quasi-perfect GPA, and you may not have to chase copies of your SAT transcript. After all, Facebook was started by a college dropout with a passion for hacking, not by a pair of doctoral students working on the seemingly intractable problem of finding relevance in a sea of Web pages.
Now here is the bad news: none of that means joining Facebook's engineering ranks is easy.
As the company has grown, and Mark Zuckerberg has moved from coder to curator, he has needed a never-ending supply of engineers who are not only smart programmers but also embrace Facebook's hacker ethos. Many have come through the company's vast recruiting operation, which has reached well beyond the top schools. "I'd rather have the top student out of U.T. or University of Central Florida than the 30th best from Stanford," says Jocelyn Goldfein, an engineering director. To reach students in schools where it cannot send interviewers, Facebook has set up online programming puzzles that students can try to solve in hopes of getting noticed.
Those lucky enough to make the first cut should be prepared to show their hacker chops: the first interview will involve coding, not brainteasers first popularized by Microsoft (MSFT) in the 1990s. "There's no hand-waving your way through a coding interview," Goldfein says. "So it's just sort of a great first litmus test that we're dealing with someone serious."
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