Company culture

Netflix' culture is more supportive than you think

Answering your burning questions about the company culture, getting hired, and Netflix salaries.

Netflix stands out from other prominent tech companies, like Amazon or Apple, for one major reason: its culture memo. Pioneered by CEO Reed Hastings, this document outlines the company's core values and corporate culture. Under his direction, Netflix was built on tenants like freedom, responsibility, and high performance.

According to most team members, this culture works, and it's one of the major reasons they stick around. We'll break down what this culture looks like in action, and how to land a job on a Netflix "dream team."

The hiring process isn't what you're used to

Like any tech giant, getting hired at Netflix isn't easy. You'll need to prepare a killer resume, conduct thorough company research, and practice recent interview questions before you walk in the door. 

In addition to the usual prep, there are a few components that are unique to the Netflix hiring process. Here's what you should know:

  1. The recruitment process varies by group, so research your group carefully before applying.
  2. The hiring manager has more power in the final decision than the hiring committee.
  3. Netflix does not test Leetcode problems. Their interviews are more involved and often have one big problem to work through, from start to finish. 
  4. Take-home assignments are common in a lot of groups. They're not hard, but the real test is how you communicate the result to the hiring manager.

Engineers should be aware of the unique process as well. Their interview consists of coding, two rounds of system design, and two rounds of behavioral interviews. Additionally, it's important to note that Netflix only recruits senior engineers, so don't expect to break in right after you graduate.

The offer is anything but traditional

Everyone is the same level

Netflix only recruits senior engineers and pays them well. Salaries are comparable to Google, averaging $450,000 for most software engineers.

However, one thing that is different is leveling: everyone is the same level here. This is a huge draw for engineers who are sick of playing political games at Facebook and Google. A Netflix employee added the following comment on Blind:

"I am leaving Google for Netflix specifically for this reason. I’ve been Google L5 for 5 years, did great job (my solo work was mentioned on the first page of Hacker News quite a few times) but was unable to get promotion due to bogus promo requirements. I am looking forward to not have my comp limited by a random committee that does not know me and does not care about what I’m doing."

Your salary is all cash

The salary is all cash. Yes, you read that right, ALL CASH. There are no bonuses, equity, refreshers, or other forms of compensation. Your offer letter will just have one number in it, which is your base salary.

If you do want stocks, Netflix has an Option plan you can refer to. Discounts are large: up to 40% off the stock price and you can use 100% of your salary to buy options.

Before you accept an offer, make sure you're getting paid what you're worth (especially since all-cash offers are non-traditional in the tech world).

The cultural tenants you should know about

By nearly all accounts, the company's culture day-to-day follows the Netflix culture deck closely. We read through it so that you don't have to. Here's what you should know. 

Real Values

Netflix boasts a values-oriented culture. They expect employees to live by these values, through both their words and actions. They are:

  • Judgment: being wise and thinking strategically. Prioritizing long term, data driven decisions
  • Communication: concise, respectful, and adaptive. Includes providing helpful feedback
  • Curiosity: learning quickly, keeping an open mind, and making valuable connections/contributions
  • Courage: speaking your mind, making tough decisions, and taking calculated risks
  • Passion: ambition and quiet confidence. Includes a desire for personal and professional excellence
  • Selflessness: being helpful and prioritizing the needs of the company
  • Innovation: creating new ideas and optimizing current processes. Includes a thirst for change
  • Inclusion: collaborating across differences, inspecting your own biases, and helping create a safe workplace for everyone
  • Integrity: treating others with respect, taking accountability, and practicing transparency
  • Impact: being results-oriented and consistently performing well

Candor and feedback are major tenants of their culture. They expect every employee to model these values and, if they fall short, others will provide feedback on how to improve.

A Netflix employee based in LA explained on Glassdoor:

"Culture Values are held to a high standard. There has been a very large emphasis on inclusion & diversity, specifically in the past couple of years. I would say 90% of the people that work there are absolute rock stars. What the company focuses on as a whole is bringing joy to our members and encouraging creativity in storytelling."

Dream Team

The "Dream Team" is a central component of Netflix's high-performance culture. Essentially, the company strives to make every team the best it can be. They expect every employee to work quickly, make substantial contributions, and excel at teamwork. In other words, they expect excellence.

Managers judge who to hold onto using the keeper test. According to the culture memo, they pose the question:

"If one of the members of the team was thinking of leaving for another firm, would the manager try hard to keep them from leaving."

Employees who don't pass the keeper test are let go and given a generous severance package.

Netflix understands that their model isn't for everyone: some folks value job security too highly, and will put up with inefficiency in exchange for stability. However, they believe their model will attract (and work for) those who prioritize excellence. 

Freedom and Responsibility

Netflix places a lot of trust in their teams to do what is best for the company. They are given a ton of decision-making power and room to innovate with little supervision.

In exchange, they bear the burden of accountability: employees own the results of their actions. 

This principle shines through in all aspects of Netflix's business. Here are a few perks that come out of Freedom and Responsibility:

  • Nearly all important documents are accessible to any employee
  • There are no formal constraints on vacation days or parental leave
  • You don't need to ask for approval to reimburse expenses. If you need something to do your job better, you can simply order it

As long as you use your best judgment, and act with Netflix's best interests at heart, you are free to do as you please. The company believes that "freedom and rapid recovery is better than trying to prevent error." Excessive policy and constraints is the enemy to innovation.

The work environment day-to-day

Although the culture deck is accurate, it doesn't cover everything you need to know. Here are a few more things you can expect when you work at Netflix.

The environment isn't cutthroat

While most FAANG companies fight for the best talent, few are more aggressive than Netflix when it comes to maintaining that standard. The keeper test and the strict intolerance of brilliant jerks show Netflix's commitment to employee excellence.

You may think that would create a competitive culture, where employees try to one-up each other. However, this doesn't seem to be the case. One employee commented:

"It’s not cutthroat at all. In fact, I feel that the people here are some of the most empathetic I’ve ever worked with. Real time feedback is an actual thing here. It’s great because it comes from a place of wanting to help your coworker grow and become even better at what they do."

Expect a supportive culture

Many engineers we spoke with were initially worried that the culture would be fast-paced and burn them out, but that doesn't seem to be true. Netflix truly cares about its employees' well-being. 

There are many reports of the environment being supportive to new parents and people who are taking care of their elderly parents. Technical support on the job is also top-notch - support engineers reply fast and the company culture encourages collaboration.

The pace is not intense and there are no crazy KPIs like at Facebook. Even the bus schedule reflects that - in Fremont, you'll get picked up at 9:20 in the morning, and the bus returns from the company at 4:20 in the afternoon. That's a 7-hour workday.

"I don't work more than 2, maybe 3 hours of overtime per week. The pace is very reasonable." says an engineer at Netflix.

👉 Read about the amazing perks Netflix offers: The Key Words for Netflix’s Benefits: Flexibility and Convenience

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