How to get a job at Netflix, according to the VP in charge of hiring, former employees, and recruiting experts
- Netflix is one of the most sought-after places to work in tech and media, and its employees are among the happiest out there.
- We interviewed former Netflix employees, staffing experts, and the company's top recruiter to learn precisely what it takes to land a job at the streaming company in 2020.
- To get a job, you must know Netflix's famed culture memo - and its current business priorities - inside and out, and be prepared to relate them to your own skills and experience.
- "We're really looking for people who can help us with that scale and who want to live in a culture of freedom and responsibility and take risks," Valarie Toda, vice president of talent acquisition at Netflix, said.
- We also broke down how to get noticed by Netflix recruiters, the interview process, and what to do if you don't get the job.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
Netflix is hiring for hundreds of roles, from its headquarters in Los Gatos, California, to its outpost in Tokyo, Japan, and many offices in between, including its new space in Paris, France.
Even as media companies like Disney and tech giants like Apple push into streaming video, Netflix remains the No. 1 service in the world, and one of the most-sought after tech companies to work for. Its employees are also some of the happiest out there.
To staff up as it continues to expand, Netflix has amassed an army of more than 200 recruiters globally, and moved most its talent-acquisition efforts in house in recent years.
Business Insider asked former Netflix employees, staffing experts, and the company's top recruiting exec, what it takes to land a job at the streaming company.
Here's what we found.
PART A: Do your homework on Netflix's business and culture first
1. Read Netflix's culture memo from start to finish
If you ask someone at Netflix what they look for in job candidates, you'll probably hear a list of lofty attributes like "curiosity," "courage," and "selflessness."
Those aren't just platitudes to Netflix recruiters. These qualities are deeply ingrained into Netflix's culture, which is detailed in a more than 4,000-word culture memo on the streaming company's website. The document made waves when it was first released a decade ago because of elements of its management philosophy like its high-performance culture, lack of a formal vacation policy, and aversion to "brilliant jerks."
Some of those elements remain in the culture memo today. The company's 10 core values are: judgment, communication, curiosity, courage, passion, selflessness, innovation, inclusion, integrity, and impact.
If you're serious about getting a job at Netflix, you should know the culture memo inside and out. Be prepared to demonstrate how you exemplify those ideals at every stage of the hiring process.
"The No. 1 thing is read the culture memo," Valarie Toda, vice president of talent acquisition at Netflix, told Business Insider when discussing her advice for prospective candidates.
In the interview stage, for example, you'll likely be expected to give candid feedback, which ties into Netflix's communications and integrity values. The company hires on culture as much as it hires for skill.
One recent candidate was asked during an interview about how she might change specific features in Netflix's US product, Toda said. The candidate was from Mexico and suggested that Netflix should also ask about features from versions of its products outside of the US, since the company was trying to grow globally.
"It was amazing feedback and really showed that she had done research on our company, and she was trying to make us better," Toda said. "Come with questions, challenge our thinking."
While you're reading up on Netflix's culture, honestly reflect on whether it's right for you. With values like "communication" and "passion" also come candid feedback, and the expectation that workers should perform at the top of their fields. The Wall Street Journal in 2018 reported that Netflix's culture has also resulted in blunt and frequent firings.
"You don't do yourself a favor if you trick the interview system to get in," one former employee told Business Insider. "It's a really challenging place to work ... They don't just put it [culture deck] away when you get hired. It comes up all the time, in every meeting."
2. Get to know the business
Prospective candidates should get familiar with Netflix's business, too.
Netflix is a global company. Most of its members - more than 100 million of its 160 million subscribers - are now outside of the US, and its fastest growing regions are international, like its Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.
The streaming company also acts more like an entertainment business than a tech firm these days. It's spending billions more on programming than it is on technology.
"Get to know the business," Toda said. "Have a good sense of what content we're working on. There's lots of articles out there about what we're trying to accomplish."
Netflix has a "WeAreNetflix" account on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks where it documents what its like to work at the streaming company. It also has a podcast where its execs and recruiters discuss what individual teams, like legal, are doing.
In 2020, scale is the name of the game.
"We're really looking for people who can help us with that scale and who want to live in a culture of freedom and responsibility and take risks and really push what we're trying to accomplish," Toda said.
Candidates can spin that in their favor by highlighting projects they've worked on that have made a big impact.
And if you're coming from a small company or startup, you could show your impact by emphasizing how broad your job responsibilities are, Toda said.
"There's a scrappiness factor there," she said. "You have the ability to work on different kinds of projects and have a really big, broad impact on those projects."
PART B: How to get Netflix's attention and score an interview
1. Craft your story
Landing a job at Netflix comes down to how you tell your story.
Craft your social profiles, resumé, or portfolio to showcase your skills, more than just your job titles. Netflix is known for making "unconventional hires" who may not have held the exact role they're hiring for before but have transferable skills for roles, company insiders said.
Netflix, for instance, hired a person on its globalization team - which helps tailor content for different parts of the world through subtitling, dubbing, and other methods - who had no experience doing that specific job.
"He's led large teams," Toda said. "He's worked at scale. And he knows how to get really large projects done. We thought that was more important than the specific industry skill."
Hiring managers also tend to focus on the dynamics of the team the candidate is applying for. Some job postings describe the existing members of the team. Read up, and think about what you could add.
"What new perspective are they going to bring?" Toda said.
Netflix recruiters like to see that you're passionate about the company and its values, too. That could be as simple as including a sentence in your email to a hiring manager or recruiter that says, "I'm really passionate about X value from your culture memo," or "My favorite Netflix shows are X, Y, Z."
"Show your passion for what the company stands for," Avi Mally, CEO of Three Pillars Consulting, a firm that specializes in recruiting for digital-media companies, said.
2. Get into a recruiter's database
Like other tech companies, Netflix hosts community events that can be great opportunities to network with hiring managers, and get into a recruiter's database.
Its product engineering team, for example, is hosting an event in Los Angeles, California in early February that is open to anyone who registers online.
You can find out about these events by following Netflix's social channels, especially its "WeAreNetflix" handle. Netflix usually shares the details online, as do its employees.
3. Work your network
Netflix, like other companies, also relies on employee referrals to find rockstar recruits. About 15% of people on Glassdoor who said they interviewed at Netflix got the opportunity through employee referrals.
A recommendation from a current Netflix employee should, for the most part, get you a 30-minute call from a Netflix recruiter, former employees familiar with the process said.
Netflix confirmed that it values employee recommendations, but is most interested in finding the best person for each role, be it through referrals or other means.
The company does not have a formal referral program that offers bonuses or other perks for referring employees who get hired. (It doesn't offer any bonuses.) So job hunters seeking referrals from Netflix employees will have to show they're worth the energy.
One recruiting expert recommended crafting a pitch that's three paragraphs or less.
"Assume people are reading it on their phones," said the recruiter, who has worked with Netflix, and spoke under condition of anonymity. "More than three swipes up on your phone, it's too long. You should be able to tell somebody why you're reaching out and what you have to offer."
While recommendations can help candidates get a foot in the door at Netflix, name dropping won't help much in the interview and vetting process.
A referral will get the conversation started with Netflix. It won't land candidates the job.
One former employee said they brought up their referrer in the first recruiting call, and were quickly told that the call was about why they were interested in Netflix.
"If they do get a referral, I wouldn't use it as a crutch in the interview process," that person said. "Referrals do not generally work as well at Netflix as they do other places."
Insiders also recommended applying for openings through Netflix's website before requesting a referral. Netflix really does mine those online applications, the insiders said. The employee recommendations could go further if recruiters see the person who was referred has been actively applying and interested in Netflix.
Read more about using employee referrals to get hired at Netflix: How to get a job interview at Netflix with the help of employee referrals - and what to avoid doing, according to company insiders
PART C: How to ace the interview and follow up if you don't get hired
1. What to expect from the interview process
The interview process at Netflix begins with a 30-minute phone call from a recruiter, who will want to know why you are interested in Netflix and the broad strokes of where you are in your career.
That's followed by a call with the hiring manager, who would be your boss if you get the job. Then comes an interview panel at Netflix's offices. Depending on the role, there may also be a technical or skills test at some point.
For the on-site interview, dress is business casual. But Toda said you should wear what makes you feel "confident" and ready for an "open and authentic dialogue."
If you feel best in a suit, you could forgo the tie for an open collar, Karen Danziger at the executive-search firm, Koller Search Partners, said. A pop of color also helps project confidence.
"We want to get to know you," Toda said.
During the on-site interview, you'd typically meet with four to eight people, including the hiring manager. The more senior the position, the more people you're likely to meet with, former employees said. Be prepared for at least half a day of interviews, the people said. Some candidates may be asked to come in multiple times to accommodate the schedules of top executives.
"It's a full day," one former employee said. "After I've seen them out, they just look exhausted."
Your interviewers may be taking notes during the panel, as well.
Netflix uses a recruiting software, called Lever, where interviewers can share feedback with the hiring manager during each round of the interview panel.
The interviewers also rate their recommendation on the candidate on a scale of one to four, one for "no," two for "leaning no," three for "leaning yes," and four for "yes," two former employees said. Other people involved in the candidate's interview process can also access this feedback, but it's not available to the candidate or employees more broadly, they said.
Netflix confirmed that it uses Lever to share feedback during the hiring process, but would not confirm the ratings system.
Hiring managers make the final decision on who to hire, after considering all the feedback from everyone involved in the hiring process.
2. Netflix's toughest interview questions tie back to its culture
Nailing a job interview at Netflix comes down to showing you would thrive in the streaming company's clearly defined culture.
One of Toda's favorite interview questions asks, "When was the last time that you gave direct feedback to your boss?"
It's meant to assess how comfortable candidates would be giving and receiving feedback and how they might handle conflict. Integrity and courage are two tenants of Netflix's culture. "You say what you think, when it's in the best interest of Netflix, even if it is uncomfortable," the memo says.
Employees are encouraged to regularly give feedback to other employees, including their bosses, all the way up to CEO Reed Hastings. People also routinely push back on ideas in meetings to make sure they've considered things from all angles before moving forward, insiders said.
But not every workplace is that open. Toda said one candidate crushed this interview question by simply admitting he had never given critical feedback to his boss before.
"I loved it because he said, 'I've never done it ... I've never been in an environment where I felt safe to do that,'" Toda said. "But then he also said, 'I read the culture memo and I know that I'm going to need to do it here. It's one of the reasons I'm interviewing, because I want to build that skill.'"
Read more about Netflix's toughest interview questions: Netflix's 5 toughest job-interview questions, according to company insiders
3. Stay in touch if you don't get the job
Netflix fielded 350,000 job applications in 2019, Toda said. By comparison, the company had fewer than 6,800 full-time employees.
It's a competitive company where even top applicants may not get hired.
Toda said not to get discouraged if you don't get hired the first, or even the second time, you interview at Netflix. One candidate interviewed at Netflix three different times before being hired.
His third time interviewing, he asked, "Why am I not being hired?" Toda said. "They had a really hard but really open conversation and we ended up hiring him."
One common reason a candidate may not be hired is that they may be applying for a managerial role and don't yet have enough management experience, she said.
"Keep in touch with us," she said. "Let us know as your career evolves."
Do you have questions, or tips, about working at Netflix? Email this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email for Signal number.
Read more of our coverage on BI Prime:
- How to get a job interview at Netflix with the help of employee referrals - and what to avoid doing, according to company insiders: Recommendations from Netflix employees can get prospective candidates noticed by Netflix recruiters. Former employees shared their top tips on getting referrals, and using them to land a job.
- Netflix's 5 toughest job-interview questions, according to company insiders: These are some of the job interview questions prospective candidates should be prepared to answer at any stage of the hiring process.
- The best Netflix teams and roles for entry-level job seekers, according to former employees and current listings: While Netflix doesn't have many entry-level jobs, it does have some opportunities for talented people who are starting their careers.
- The top 10 slides from Netflix's groundbreaking first culture deck that experts say had the most impact: Netflix's culture deck is a must read for prospective candidates. Recruiters explain what sets Netflix's culture apart from other tech companies.