THE NETFLIX INTERVIEW.
TECHNICAL INTERVIEW PROCESS
Outlined in this post is the interview process at Netflix for software engineers, preparation tips, and what’s different or unique about Netflix’s hiring process as opposed to other tech companies. At the end we’ll provide some sample interview questions asked at Netflix.
(keep scrolling FOR A FULL WRITEUP with DETAILS)
THE NETFLIX INTERVIEW.
Remember when you’d receive Netflix DVDs in the mail? Seems like a long time ago. Netflix has come a long way since then and have completely disrupted the film and television industries.
How they got there you may ask? By hiring the best talent. So, if you’re looking to land a job at Netflix, then you’ve come to the right place.
Netflix has a fairly unique interviewing process that is unlike most major tech companies. They have a rigorous “core values” document (you’ll also be sent a slide version of it from a recruiter) which you’ll need to carefully sift through. Netflix places a heavy emphasis on culture, so don’t take this lightly.
They also stray away from hiring fresh grads or interns, not to say that it’s unheard of, but typically their hiring starts at around three years of experience.
Let’s get into the details of what their interview process looks like and what’s different.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
The first thing you should do is update your LinkedIn and resume to be metrics/deliverables driven. Be succinct, show how what you’ve done relates to the position, and tailor it to the job description as it will better demonstrate how you’re a fit for the role. It’s also a good idea to show how the work you’ve done can translate into their core values.
Here is our guide on tackling the actual coding interview process with a 12-week plan.
CHOOSING YOUR LANGUAGE
Prescreen with recruiter
From resume submission to first contact, you can expect it to take about a week for the recruiter to reach out to you.
If a recruiter takes a liking to your resume or LinkedIn profile, then they’ll reach out to you to schedule a time to chat. Before the phone call, the recruiter will send you over their core values presentation slide (can be found on their website too). This is a must-read as it’s known that Netflix interviews will focus heavily on culture fit. Your initial phone screen will be around 30 minutes, where the recruiter will dig into your resume and gauge your enthusiasm for Netflix and the position.
It may be that you’ll have one more pre-screen with a hiring manager, but this will be mostly cultural fit questions and past projects you’ve worked on, and maybe a few questions testing your knowledge of an area you claim to be an expert in (i.e. Java).
Cultural questions you can expect:
How did you handle a task where you had a deadline that you couldn’t meet?
What do you not like about the Netflix culture?
Explain a past project that you worked on (expect probing questions).
Technical phone interview
Once you’ve completed your phone screen, it will take a few days to a week to schedule your technical phone interview.
If all goes well in the pre-screen interview(s), the recruiter will schedule another 45-60 minute phone call with a hiring or engineering manager. This is where you can expect some more open-ended technical questions, technology-specific questions, as well as a shared editor exercise where you’ll have to solve a coding challenge. The first 15 minutes or so will be questions related to your resume as well as behavioral questions related to their culture.
Note: You may have the choice of a take home assignment or a technical phone interview. For the take home assignment you’ll have 6-8 hours to complete it, whereas your phone interview will be around 45 minutes to an hour. Whatever the case, pick the one you are most comfortable with.
Again, make sure you’ve read Netflix’s values page and be prepared for cultural fit questions.
Example take home project
Build a working microservice to calculate and edit the pricing of subscriptions based on rules they give you. Also provide a complete system design document.
Example culture question
Give me an example of a situation where you had to deal with conflict.
Example open-ended technical question
Tell me about a time you made a design choice that didn’t go well.
Example coding exercise question
Given two sets A & B, get unique elements from each set in an optimal way.
Your on-site will come about a week or two after your phone interview.
Netflix splits their on-site interview process into two parts: The first half will be more technical with a mix of cultural questions where you’ll meet with peers, members of the team or close collaborators. The second half will be less technical where you’ll speak with HR, directors, and upper management.
The first half
In the first half, you’ll have around four interviews at about 45 minutes each (totaling 4 hours). These interviews will be a mix of 1:1 and 2:1. Your first three interviews will be with the engineering team. Here they’ll ask you three types of questions:
Technical questions specific to the job and technologies you are familiar with
Whiteboarding exercises — don’t expect LeetCode type questions (either design or coding based)
Cultural fit questions
Make sure you’ve studied up on system design; be ready to go deep into the technical details of recent projects including all technologies you use (how, why, pain points), deployments etc.
Here are some great resources for system design interviews
For your fourth interview you’ll meet with HR. This round is purely behavioral/cultural questions. Note: If you don’t perform well in the first half you will not move onto the second half.
The second half
In the second half, you’ll have around three interviews at about 45 minutes each. You’ll most likely have one round with HR, one with the hiring manager (who makes the decision), and one with the engineering manager.
For the HR and hiring manager rounds, expect more behavioral questions. The engineering manager round will be more technical, mostly open-ended questions about things on your resume, and questions specific to Netflix and its workings.
In both rounds, the interviews will focus more on your technical competency where coding is more of a secondary skill. Make sure you really know the stuff on your resume and all aspects of the job.
THE OFFER / NO offer
From on-site to offer will take about another week or two. This is so management can either evaluate other candidates or to draft up your offer letter along with other logistics.
In the event that you don’t receive an offer, you’ll most likely have to wait six months to a year to re-apply. Don’t expect any feedback after your interview, but you can conclude that you either didn’t have enough experience or that it just wasn’t a fit culturally.
If you do receive a job offer, the hiring manager will call you to discuss things like salary, start date, etc.
Hiring for teams
Netflix hires for teams, and as such, each interview process will be different. They will test you on aspects particular to the job/team and in areas where you claim to be an expert in.
Years of experience
Before applying to Netflix, it should be noted that they generally don’t hire new grads or interns. They tend to hire those who have 3+ years of experience. This isn’t to say that they don’t hire new grads, but it isn’t the norm.
This is without a doubt the most important aspect of your interview. They have an entire document (also in slide presentation form) dedicated to their culture and values. If you really want a job at Netflix, then you must read this document carefully. As an exercise, it’s suggested that you think carefully about each value and how it relates to your personal and professional experience.
The on-site is split into two sections. You can expect 50% to be technical and 50% to be behavioral. If you don’t perform well in the first half, then you will be sent home.
Most major tech companies like Google and Facebook test rigorously on algorithms and data structures with a heavy emphasis on whiteboard coding exercises. Netflix will have a few of these problems, but they will generally ask open-ended technical questions that are specific to the job that test your overall knowledge of a technology. As mentioned throughout, don’t take behavioral questions lightly. You may have the technical acumen to hang with the best, but if you don’t do your homework here then you’ll be sent home.
It doesn’t hurt to study up on LeetCode problems (you may have a few algorithm and data structure questions), but for the most part they won’t help you in a Netflix interview. What Netflix really wants to see is your understanding of the role (challenges, technologies, how you fit), your technical acumen (coding, design, and overall knowledge of a language), and last but not least, your cultural fit. Take this information and prepare accordingly. Good luck!
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