Success Story: How to Become a Data Science Manager at Meta

Success Story: How to Become a Data Science Manager at Meta


At Interview Query, we love to hear from members who have successfully landed data science jobs in the field. To help the rest of our community, we share their career path and interview stories to help you plan and reach your own career goals.

Recently, we spoke with Dhiraj Hinduja, a former CapitalOne data scientist who landed a job with Meta in October of 2022. Dhiraj offered insights into the difference between interviews for data scientist and manager-level roles, tips for interviewing success, and how you can turn a data science internship into a full-time job.

What’s your background?

I’m originally from Mumbai and studied mechanical engineering as an undergrad. My first few jobs were in customer marketing analytics. I moved to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s in Business Analytics at the University of Minnesota - Carlson School of Management.

After my Master’s, I worked for three years in digital marketing with CapitalOne.

How did you land a job at Meta?

I started looking for jobs in January of 2022, and joined Interview Query to refresh my technical skills. The first company I interviewed with was Meta for a senior IC role. I did the full interview loop but didn’t get an offer. The rejected landed in March of 2022.

I took a job at a startup, and by June Meta had reached out for a different position, a managerial role. I had built similar systems at CapitalOne, which is probably why they had approached me for this role.

How do management interviews differ from data scientist interviews?

For management positions, they aren’t expecting you to write code, but rather to lead a team of people who can write code. The signals they were capturing in the interview were more towards leadership and people management, rather than assessing if I could do the code writing itself.

What was your interview preparation process?

I used three tools to help me prepare:

  • I used Interview Query for the technical preparation.
  • I scheduled several mock interviews, specifically looking at product management.
  • I read the book Fearless Salary Negotiation by George Judy, which helped me negotiate a higher salary than what was offered.

Ultimately, I started my job search in January of 2022, and I had completed the full loop for the IC role in March.

However, when I was contacted about the managerial role, I wasn’t actively prepping for interviews. It came out of the blue, so I just went with the flow and didn’t spend as much time with the technical prep. That process took about 2-3 months.

What advice would you share about finding a job in the current climate?

There are a few things that I think would help:

1) Stay positive.

Rejections are a normal part of the process. Allow yourself time to feel bad after getting rejected. But then, learn from the experience and move on.

I was rejected twice by Meta before being hired the third time. It’s completely normal. Keep trying and you’ll get there.

2) Try for an internship.

If you’re a student, see if you can grab an internship spot with a company that you might like. Then, use the internship to assess the company and see if it’s a place you want to work full-time.

3) Network with current employees.

Most companies have a standard interview rubric that they use. See if you can find someone in your network on LinkedIn. This can help you land a referral, as well as learn more about the interview rubric.

Are referrals important for landing a job?

A lot of companies are getting more sophisticated about referrals because people do referrals just for money, and that often lowers the quality of referral candidates from the companies perspective.

But if you can make it easy for people to refer you and you can improve the quality of the referral, that will help the referral have more of an impact.

What tips do you have for getting referrals?

A few tips that I would share are:

1) Prepare an elevator pitch about your experience.

If you’re already working, summarize your work in 45 to 60 seconds. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to refer you for a position. The elevator pitch gives them a succinct version of what you will bring to the team, and it can help to improve the quality of the referral. It also makes it easier for the person you’ve interacted with to advocate for you later in the process if they are given a chance to do so.

2) Read The 20-Minute Networking Meeting.

If you struggle with networking, this book provides strategies you can use. For example, it gives a list of questions to use in networking situations. One of the questions that I recommend is, “Whom do you recommend I should meet?” This question will let you know if there’s anyone in their network that could help you reach your career goals.

3) Be direct.

A lot of people shy away from asking for referrals. But if a networking conversation is going well, just be direct about it. Ask for the referral and be transparent. I got a referral for Apple a few years ago after a five-minute conversation, so it works. (Although I should note the book advises against this, I disagree).

4) Use tools to make your process faster.

Power tools can help you save time. I used Linked Helper [an AI lead-gen tool for LinkedIn, which helps you personalize your LinkedIn invitations and select an eligible audience. It can help you save a lot of time.

What can interns do to be successful and land full-time jobs?

I would suggest the following:

1) Understand your primary objective.

If you were hired as an intern to solve a problem, know that objective well. If you can solve that problem for the team, your manager is going to really like you. At the end of an internship, managers informs the company which interns they should consider hiring in the future.

If you can solve the headache you were hired to solve, you’ll be in a good position when you start looking for full-time jobs.

2) Build relationships and network.

Talk to your managers, colleagues, and employees. You will run into these people again in your career. And those people that you’ve connected with will want to help. Of course, some won’t be helpful, but that’s OK.

3) Assess the company.

Use your internship to answer this question: Is this a company you want to work with full-time? Did I like the work culture? Perhaps, ask it about the manager as well. Did the manager prioritize time to support you and unblock you when you needed it?

Internships are a great way to determine the next steps in your career.