Netflix is a giant in the streaming world, and has been at the top of the game for years. Even in the face of competition from other services, it’s recognized as a major player. What’s more, its unique company culture ensures that it’s known as a great place to work.
So how can you give yourself the best advantages when it comes to getting hired by Netflix? Once you’ve freshened up your resume, the best thing you can do for yourself is prepare for your interview. Netflix’s hiring process isn’t as involved the processes at many other tech companies – but they hire based on highly specific criteria, and you will need to be ready in order to prove that you meet those standards.
That’s where we come in! In this article, we’ll cover the following points:
You’ll find that many interview questions at Netflix are informed by the company’s cultural memo. This document sets out what Netflix looks for in employees, and it’s a great touchstone for you to use as you prepare to attend your interview. If you can tie your responses back to the qualities mentioned in the cultural memo, you’ll stand a much better chance of remaining in contention for the job you want!
Your Netflix interview experience can be divided into roughly three parts. Here’s a quick primer on what to expect, and roughly when to expect it.
This initial interview will be completed remotely, and should take about 30 minutes. It will focus heavily on your past work experience, as well as Netflix’s culture. Be prepared for the behavioral questions to seem a little blunt – Netflix takes pride in its culture of radical candor, and will expect you to show that you can participate.
If you’re applying for a role with a technical element, the recruiter will also ask some basic technical questions. These will be intended to test your knowledge, rather than your problem-solving abilities. The real test of your ability to think on your feet will come later!
The second phone screen will focus more heavily on technical problems, which you will be expected to solve. If you’re applying for a role that requires coding expertise, these questions will focus on the languages you are familiar with. Likewise, if you’re hoping for a role that specializes in a particular technology, expect your questions to skew in that direction.
In particular, candidates for engineering roles will be asked to complete a coding task using a shared editor during this interview. Keep in mind that you may instead be asked to complete a take-home project, which will take about 6-8 hours.
If you aren’t applying for a technical role, you should still expect some tricky brain-teasers at this stage! Remember, the answer itself is usually less important than the way you think. Hiring managers want to see the way your mind works, so don’t be afraid to think out loud as you work through the problem.
You should expect seven rounds of on-site interviews at Netflix. The first half will focus heavily on technical questions – or, for non-technical roles, brain-teasers designed to explore your approach to problem-solving. If you’re a technical candidate, be prepared to solve problems in real time using a whiteboard.
The second half of the on-site interview process will be all about your cultural fit. Be ready to talk about the culture memo! You should also be prepared for the fact that if you don’t perform well, Netflix is very likely to end the interview early rather than continue going through the motions.
These interviews may be 1:1 or 2:1, and the second half will usually involve at least two company directors. The hiring process at Netflix relies heavily on unanimity. That means that you will need to make a good impression with all your interviewers – failing to impress just one of them might cost you the job.
Interview questions at Netflix will vary depending on the role you’re applying for. If you’re hoping to land a more technical job, expect some technical questions. Either way, expect to answer some behavioral questions, both about your understanding of Netflix and your experience in previous jobs.
Here are a few questions you might face when applying to work at Netflix. To help you out, we’ve also included some notes on how to answer them. But don’t forget that Netflix wants to learn about you, not us – make sure you tailor your answers to the qualities that make you unique.
This is an invitation for you to share your reflections on Netflix’s culture. It should go without saying that you will need to read the culture memo (and then read it again) well in advance of your interview! Spend some time thinking about it, because it should inform all of the behavioral answers you give during the interview stage.
The culture memo is long; nobody is asking you to provide an in-depth meditation on the whole thing. But if you’ve read it closely, you will probably have found at least one section of the memo that speaks to you. Consider where your values and Netflix’s values align, and be ready to talk about how and why that’s the case.
Despite what you might think, it may actually be to your advantage to share any critical thoughts you have about the culture memo. Netflix looks for employees who can disagree and commit – that is, share any concerns or dissent clearly and forthrightly, while still being prepared to commit to whatever strategy is ultimately chosen. But if you want to take this approach, you should think carefully about how you frame your concerns – don’t dismiss the whole memo, and be ready to offer constructive suggestions rather than tearing it down.
Example answer: “I’m really impressed by Netflix’s commitment to farming dissent. So many more traditional companies make it difficult for employees to raise misgivings or concerns, which means a select few people end up making unilateral decisions that affect everyone. I believe that having the opportunity to dissent encourages involvement in decision-making, and helps people to feel like they can really get behind every decision – even the ones they didn’t agree with at first.”
This is a tricky one! On one hand, you don’t want to talk unfavorably about Netflix – you want them to hire you, after all. On the other hand, Netflix encourages employees to share their dissenting opinions and participate actively in improving the company’s direction.
That’s what this question is testing: it’s trying to ascertain how effectively you can voice dissent, and how constructive you are when offering feedback. For a disruptive tech company in a growth phase, this is a vitally important quality to screen for. So don’t be afraid of pointing out the things you’d change about Netflix if you could!
It’s worth keeping in mind that some aspects of Netflix’s company policy are bedded in very deeply, as per the culture memo. You aren’t likely to have much success if you try to tell your hiring manager that Netflix should, for example, stop hosting controversial content. Instead, think about how you can tie your suggestions into the culture memo, and use the memo to make a case for your ideas.
Example answer: “I would continue to double down on Netflix’s efforts to diversify its employees, to ensure that a range of different perspectives are represented by the content Netflix puts out. I know this isn’t necessarily the kind of process you can force, so I would prioritize building a supportive and welcoming environment for employees from all backgrounds. I believe this will ultimately lead to a company that can speak to a wealth of different audiences and continue to grow.”
You may have heard some other companies describe their teams as ‘like family’ – Netflix takes the opposite approach! Whereas families offer unconditional love and support to all members, Netflix expects all employees to be part of a ‘Dream Team.’ That means every employee needs to do their best, make exemplary contributions, and support the other members of the team.
This is the answer your hiring manager will be hoping to hear. Netflix looks for candidates who thrive as part of a team, and who are prepared to do the best work of their lives in that context. They also don’t want candidates who rely on other people to function at work – the best team members can work independently for the betterment of everyone else on the team, and that’s what Netflix will expect from you.
Example answer: “I love collaborating with others, because it enables us all to pool our strengths and resources to create a better product. In my previous role, I’ve been praised for taking the initiative while maintaining a strong commitment to my team’s shared goals. I like to work independently where necessary, but I always keep the team’s intended result in mind.”
This is another tricky question – nobody likes to revisit their old mistakes, particularly when trying to land a new job! But Netflix’s culture values informed risk-taking, and recognizes that this approach can sometimes lead to mistakes. The focus is on learning from those missteps, rather than trying to write policy that will prevent them from happening.
In short, you don’t need to be ashamed of making mistakes here. You do, however, need to show that you can respond to your mistakes with integrity and a willingness to learn. When thinking about how to answer this question, focus on the mistakes that you handled well – the ones you owned up to, rectified, and learned from after the fact.
You may also benefit from mentioning that you were encouraged by the supportive attitude to mistakes in your previous role. This is an approach you will definitely find at Netflix, and pointing it out will show that you have done your research.
Example answer: “In my previous role, I overcommitted myself to two projects with really short turn-around times. While I was able to deliver one, I couldn’t deliver the other on time – and in the process of trying to do both, my performance on the first project ended up taking a hit. Fortunately, my manager was sympathetic when I took ownership of this bad judgment call, and the rest of my team was able to help me correct my errors and produce the work that was needed. I learned to plan more effectively, and to communicate with the rest of my team when I need help – but most importantly, I learned that mistakes aren’t the end of the world. It’s what you learn from them that counts.”
Netflix’s ‘Dream Team’ approach has a flip side: if your performance dips consistently, your position with the company may be in danger. That means it’s important for employees to be able to accept and act on feedback, even when it’s hard to hear.
Like the previous question, this question isn’t necessarily concerned with the nature of the feedback. Hiring managers asking you this question will want to hear about the approach you took in response to the feedback. If you were receptive (but also reflective), and if you actively worked to improve your performance as a result of being criticized, you will be in a position to give a good answer.
Example answer: “After my first few months at my previous role, a team member told me that I wasn’t taking ownership of my responsibilities. Obviously that was hard to hear, especially since I felt like I was still learning! But I soon saw that she was trying to give me advice on how to improve, rather than to put me down. I worked on my confidence and made a conscious effort to show more leadership when it came to the projects I’d taken on when I started, and I found that it yielded great results.”
We’ve focused heavily on behavioral questions so far, because most candidates are likely to be asked this type of question. But depending on your role, you may also have to answer some technical questions. These are intended to give you a way to show off your expertise, your creativity, and your understanding of the product.
Technical questions are rotated in and out of use frequently, so don’t prepare canned responses to these questions – they may not come up at all! But here are a few reported technical questions that have featured in previous Netflix interviews. Some are specific problems intended to be solved, while others are more open-ended; you should expect a selection of each.