The ultimate guide to getting a job at Hulu in 2020, according to its head of HR
Aidy Bryant in the Hulu series, "Shrill." (Allyson Riggs/Hulu via AP)
- Business Insider spoke to Hulu's head of human resources about what it takes to get hired at the streaming company.
- Candidates applying in 2020 should be prepared to show how they live up to Hulu's five core values, and answer "knock-out questions" that could eliminate them from consideration.
- Employee referrals and networking at Hulu events can also give applicants a leg up.
- Hulu is staffing up in 2020 in its technology, marketing, and ad sales teams.
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Hulu's profile is rising among job seekers as the company moves into a pivotal position in 2020's streaming wars, as a piece of its parent company Disney's strategy.
The 12-year-old streaming company received more online applications and employee referrals in 2019 than in years past, Shannon Sullivan, senior vice president of talent and organization at Hulu, told Business Insider.
Three or four years ago, Hulu had to hustle to get noticed by talent, cold-calling and messaging recruits and working with external staffing firms to find candidates. Last year, most of its hires applied directly to the company, Sullivan said.
Hulu, which employs roughly 2,400, vetted more than 20,000 applicants in 2019, and built a database of more than one million people who have been through the hiring process or shown interest in Hulu over the years.
The company has an internal recruiting team of about 30. These staffers source and vet candidates, mine the company's candidate database to target the prospects with open roles, and manage the candidate experience from online application to employment offer.
Business Insider spoke to Sullivan, who oversees recruiting as Hulu's top human-resources exec, what it takes to land a job at Hulu in 2020.Hulu
Know what Hulu values in candidates
Workplace culture is key in the early stages of Hulu's hiring process. The company has moved nearly all of its recruiting in-house - as is common among larger, more established businesses like Google and Facebook - in part to get a better feel for how prospects will fit into its culture.
"Our recruiters play a really important role early on in the process of identifying whether someone is going to be a culture add, meaning they're someone that can really demonstrate that they live by our values," Sullivan said.
Hulu has five main values that it details on its careers website:
- "Think big," or show impact and innovate
- "Viewers first," or put customers at the center of the experience
- "One team," or a collaborative spirit
- "Embrace fun," or have fun while you work
- "We are Hulugans," or embrace diversity and inclusion
Hulu recruiters look for these attributes in every stage of the hiring process, but especially in the early ones when they're searching LinkedIn and social profiles, reviewing cover letters and resumés, and conducting phone screeners.
They look for candidates who highlight collaboration, impact on the business and its industry, or show a focus on the customer. Applicants could also include workplace groups in their LinkedIn profiles, or post on social media about activities they participate in, to show they can play as hard as they work.
"It's really about being passionate about our values, and having examples of where that is just natural to you," Sullivan said. "Those are the types of folks that would stand out and be successful here at Hulu."
Hulu has even overlooked some job qualifications when applicants are clear culture fit.
"As Hulu has scaled and gotten bigger, we can more afford the opportunity to, what I call, take risks on people and in certain roles where you might not have the direct industry or functional experience," Sullivan said. "What it helps us do is bring in a more diverse set of talent that hasn't done the exact same things that Hulugans here have already already done and we can get some new ideas."
Culture is a guiding force in the hiring process at most companies these days, staffing experts say. Hulu's top competitor, Netflix, for example, is known for its distinct and demanding workplace culture. The toughest questions in Netflix's interview process usually tie back to its 4,000-word culture memo.
"Every company that I have worked with has placed culture at the top of the list in terms of importance, particularly for the most senior-level positions," one recruiter who specializes in media said.
Work your professional network for employee referrals
Referrals from people who work at Hulu carry a lot of weight.
More than 30% of Hulu's hires last year came from employee referrals, Sullivan said. The company offers cash bonuses to employees who refer candidates who get hired, so staffers are incentivized to make recommendations.
Candidates who are recommended by employees within Hulu usually get a call from a recruiter when there's an opening they might be a fit for.
But the company also weighs referrals against other factors, like its diversity and inclusion goals and culture fit.
"People tend to refer people like them, so if we hire too much or over-index on referrals, we might put at risk some of our work around diversity and inclusion," Sullivan said. "It's this balance."
Other companies like Netflix also use employee referrals to find recruits. Netflix, however, doesn't have a formal referral program.
Watch Hulu's social accounts for networking events
For harder-to-fill positions in competitive fields like data science and engineering, Hulu hosts meetups and other community events to find and entice people to take an interest in the company.
"We're all fighting for the same talent," Sullivan said. "That's an area where we have big goals and are having to get creative on attracting people to Hulu."
Its recruiters scour LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social platforms, and invite people who fill desired roles at other companies. The events are opportunities to build relationships with Hulu recruiters, even if there's not an immediate opening.
"I say to hiring managers all the time," Sullivan said, "you may have to build a relationship with someone for six months to a year before they even take interest in coming to Hulu."
Candidates can boost the odds of scoring invites by connecting with Hulu recruiters on LinkedIn. Promising recruits who have applied to work at Hulu in the past may also be invited.
The company regularly posts on LinkedIn about outside career events it attends, such as college fairs, as well.
"Hulu is pretty big on social," Sullivan said.
And the company works with organizations like Year Up, which helps low- and middle-income students build skills and careers, and the Ada Developers Academy, a non-profit coding school for women and gender-diverse people, to make sure its candidate pools are inclusive.
Beware of the "knock-out" questions
Once you've crafted your online persona to catch the attention of Hulu recruiters, worked your network for referrals, and attended Hulu meetups, there's little left to do but apply for a job online.
Hulu looks for applicants who are thoughtful about matching their skill sets to job openings, rather than applying en masse to lots of listings that may not be right for them.
For the most sought-after positions, like internships, Hulu includes a few "knock-out questions" in the online application that will eliminate candidates from consideration if answered unsatisfactorily.
Here are two knock-out questions for a viewer-experience advocate position at Hulu:
- Do you have a high school diploma or GED?
- Are you able to commute to the San Antonio office?
Responding "no" to either question would remove the candidate from consideration.
For internships, Hulu asks questions like "Are you available to intern for 10-12 weeks over the summer?" and "What year are you currently in school?" to winnow out the pool of candidates.
Prepare for your interview
Candidates who survive the knock-out questions move onto the phone round, where recruiters look to see if the candidate has the basic qualifications for the job and start assessing the all-important question of culture fit.
There may also be a phone interview with a hiring manager, who will dive deeper into the candidate's skill sets and work experience.
If the calls go well, the applicants are brought in for on-site interviews where they meet with the hiring manager and other people on the team. This can last a few hours.
There are normally three types of interviews during the on-site: behavioral, case study, and culture fit.
There's a behavioral interview where candidates are asked questions about their work experience to see if they have the specific skills needed for the job.
Depending on the role, applicants may be asked to put together a "case study" on how they would handle a real-life issue that Hulu is facing, or complete a coding challenge to assess work style and critical thinking. One user on Glassdoor who said they interviewed for a compensation-analyst role said they were asked to put together a detailed plan for how the company could integrate its human resources and compensation policies with parent company Disney's, for example.
Interviewers will also ask questions that test whether candidates live up to Hulu's values. Sullivan likes to ask candidates, "What is one of the most impactful pieces of work you've ever developed?" The question is meant to see if candidates can think big, but applicants can tie other Hulu values into their answers, with examples that also demonstrate collaboration or putting the customer first.
Read Hulu's values ahead of the interview and keep a few anecdotes that speak to each of Hulu's attributes in your back pocket for the on-site.
Hulu also has four qualities it looks for in its leaders, Sullivan said:
- Communicate clearly and consistently
- Nurture growth
- Lead through change
- Prioritize Hulu-wide success
Be prepared to speak to those values during the interview, if applying for a management role.
The hiring process, from phone screener to job offer, takes about 30 days on average, Hulu said.
Hulu is staffing up in tech, marketing, and advertising in 2020
Hulu currently has more than 100 job postings on its website across its various US offices and its Beijing, China location. Most of the openings are its headquarters in Santa Monica, California.
The company will be staffing up on three important teams in 2020:
- Technology. There are 60 current openings across its Santa Monica; Beijing; and Seattle, Washington offices.
- Marketing, which can span traditional, brand, subscriber-acquisition, and social-media marketing, as well as customer support. The team is mostly based at Hulu's headquarters.
- Advertising sales. There are current openings in both New York and Santa Monica.
"Those are areas of significant growth for Hulu," Sullivan said.
Do you have questions, or tips, about working at Hulu? Email this reporter at email@example.com. Email for Signal number.
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