Interview prep

Netflix Interview: The Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about the interview process, including Netflix's notorious culture deck.

Netflix, the streaming giant that revolutionized the entertainment business, has a reputation for its high-pressure workplace. Employees are told to see themselves as part of a “pro sports team” -- not a family. The company’s controversial “keeper test” means any staff member offering “sustained B-level performance” will be shown the door (and Netflix’s generous severance package).

That said, the hiring process at Netflix is surprisingly unremarkable compared to other FAANGs, and employees report that even the technical interview questions aren’t that difficult.

More important than technical proficiency is culture fit -- how well you identify with Netflix’s famous culture deck. The culture memo includes principles like "farming for dissent” (asking your coworkers to point out what’s wrong with your idea) and “sunshining” (airing a mistake you’ve made in front of tens or even hundreds of your coworkers). 

Take time to understand Netflix’s culture ahead of time so you’ll know what to expect in your interview and prepare the right stories to tell. From there, you can make an educated decision as to whether a job at Netflix is a mutual fit. 

What to Know Before You Interview

Hiring decisions at Netflix are subjective, compared to other tech companies

Employees say that 40-50 percent of the Netflix interview is based on culture fit questions. Superior technical proficiency is less likely to net you the job than the right personality. The company famously eschews “brilliant jerks” -- high performers with poor interpersonal skills. Finally, unanimity is required to make a hiring decision: if one of your interviewers dislikes you, your chances of being hired fall dramatically. 

All hiring decisions are made by a hiring manager

Focus on wowing the hiring manager. Unlike at Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, the hiring process at Netflix is managed entirely by the hiring manager. They hire for the company first, then match new hires to specific teams using various criteria, such as their background and skill set.

The hiring manager oversees all aspects of recruiting, including

  • Coming up with evaluation criteria based on staffing needs
  • Partnering with recruiters to source
  • Screening and evaluating candidates
  • Onboarding new hires.

Recruiters collaborate with the hiring manager to understand technical domains and team needs, but the final hiring decision rests with the hiring manager. Candidates usually speak with the hiring manager during their phone screen and again during the onsite interview.

Show that you have an entrepreneurial mindset

Netflix’s hands-off management style and emphasis on employee autonomy means staff members typically receive very little direction from their superiors. Beyond setting big-picture goals for your role, your supervisor may not assign you specific tasks. Rather, you are responsible for coming up with problems to solve and ways you can contribute. This is why Netflix has a policy of sharing internal documents with all employees so that staffers gain insight into the business and its challenges. 

Show that you thrive in a laissez-faire environment by preparing examples where you took the initiative for a project, made a pivotal decision in the face of ambiguity, or started an entrepreneurial venture on your own or within a company.

The “keeper test” is intimidating, but it’s not as bad as you think

While several high-profile executive firings took employees by surprise, most Netflixers report they weren’t dismissed without warning. Instead, you’ll receive “increasingly acute feedback” over the course of several months, as one Quora user put it. Retention stats even suggest the keeper test might be slightly overplayed; the average tenure at Netflix is 3.1 years, beating out Amazon (1 year), Uber (1.8 years), Dropbox (2.1 years), and Facebook (2.5 years).

👉 Want to learn more about the unique culture at Netflix? Check out this link.

The Interview Process at Netflix

Pre-screen with a recruiter (30 minutes)

Before the phone call, the recruiter will send you a link to the Netflix core values page, a remastered version of the 2009 culture deck by CEO Reed Hastings. Familiarize yourself with Netflix’s unique brand of radical candor, including the following:

  • All internal documents are shared broadly and systematically for any employee to view and comment on. Quarterly business reviews are made available to all employees right after each quarterly earnings announcement.
  • Netflix managers don’t offer formal evaluations, opting for informal feedback sessions instead. This may involve multiple employees praising and/or critiquing an employee. 
  • Flexible work hours, unlimited vacation, and lax spending controls requires you to exercise your best judgment.

The recruiter will ask questions about Netflix’s culture, your past projects, and basic technical knowledge to test your domain expertise. Be prepared for blunt behavioral questions, such as:

What don’t you like about Netflix’s culture?

Phone screen with a hiring manager (45-60 minutes)

The second phone screen involves open-ended technical questions and questions specific to the technologies and/or programming languages you’re familiar with. If you’re interviewing for the engineering team, you’ll be asked to complete a coding challenge using a shared editor.

Alternatively, you’ll receive a take-home project, which takes 6-8 hours to complete. An example is being asked to build a working microservice to calculate and edit the pricing of subscriptions based on rules they give you. You’ll also be required to provide a complete system design document.

Onsite interviews (7 rounds)

In March, Netflix closed its LA offices after an employee allegedly contracted COVID-19. It’s unclear whether Netflix has reopened its office since and if the company is conducting onsite interviews.

Netflix’s typical onsite interview consists of two parts. The first part comprises four technical interviews (some 1:1, others 2:1), followed by a human resources interview. Technical candidates can expect to do whiteboard challenges and Leetcode problems, and answer questions about data structures and algorithms. 

Even if you aren’t interviewing for a technical role, expect brain teasers. For instance, one marketing manager candidate was asked:

How many cans of paint would you need to paint one wing of a 747?

Remember, there are no right answers; hiring managers are simply interested in your thought process. 

The second half of the onsite interview is less technical. You’ll speak with two directors. Be prepared to discuss culture fit at every stage of the interview process. The interview experience is intense and Netflix does not waste any time: if you perform poorly at any stage, the interview usually ends early.

Job Offer

After your onsite, you’ll receive a decision within 1-2 weeks. If you don’t receive an offer, you must wait 6-12 months to reapply. Netflix offers top-of-market compensation, based on a “good faith estimate of the highest compensation each employee could make at peer firms.” Each employee can choose how much of their compensation they want in salary versus stock options, with the option to change it each year. These 10-year stock options are fully vested and you can keep them even if you leave Netflix.

👉 Got the job offer? Read about the benefits at Netflix next.

Sample Interview Questions

Sample culture-focused questions at Netflix

  1. You have a great idea for how to improve our product, but you’re worried about stepping on someone else’s toes. What do you do?
  2. It’s your first day on the job and you have a few hours to kill before orientation. What would you do with that time?
  3. Tell me about a disagreement you’ve had with a coworker from another functional area. What was the nature of the disagreement, and how did the two of you work together to resolve it?
  4. We’ve all received feedback about where we can improve. What types of feedback have you heard consistently throughout your career?
  5. Tell me about one of your most trusted mentors. What have you learned from them that’s informed the way you work with others?
  6. How did you handle a task where you had a deadline that you couldn’t meet?
  7. Tell me about a time when you did not agree with your manager
  8. What is an example of something you worked on that you were really proud of.
  9. How do you stay organized? How do you handle competing tasks or projects?
  10. What has been your biggest challenge while you work?
  11. Describe a time when you received extremely difficult feedback and how you handled it.
  12. How would you work with a team on a hypothetical project?
  13. Tell me about a time you screwed up at your previous job.
  14. How would you deal with extreme deadline pressure and a frantic workplace?
  15. Describe how you would deal with a very opinionated coworker

👉 Want more interview questions you won't find on Glassdoor? Check them out here.

Sample technical interview questions at Netflix

  1. How would you test the latest iPhone's new antenna system? — Senior QA engineer candidate
  2. How would you determine if the price of a Netflix subscription is truly the deciding factor for a consumer? — Market research analyst candidate
  3. Explain how the process works from the time you enter into your browser and the data is rendered on screen. — Software engineering manager candidate
  4. If Netflix is looking to expand its presence in Asia, what are some factors that you can use to evaluate the size of the Asia market, and what can Netflix do to capture this market? — Senior financial analyst candidate
  5. Name five devices you can watch Netflix on — Systems engineer candidate
  6. What would you do if you were the CEO? — Partner product group candidate
  7. Who do you think is Netflix’s competitor and why? — Creative coordinator candidate
  8. What would you tell someone that is calling to talk about how Blockbuster is better than Netflix? — Customer service representative candidate
  9. How do you test the performance of your services? - Software engineer candidate
  10. How would you improve Netflix’s service? - Financial analyst candidate

👉 Want more interview questions you won't find on Glassdoor? Check them out here.

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