You’ve surely been through an interview where you thought you’d end up being offered a job. You were so sure because you felt comfortable going through their various interview stages, ignoring the fact that they sent you to 3 different departments to be interviewed. Maybe they even asked too many unnecessary questions, such as your exact salary breakdown, but you knew you did well.
Now that you’re running your own process in recruiting skilled talents, you notice that some of your candidates end up discontinuing their interviews with you. Maybe they even end up ghosting you. They were so good and perfect for your team, but maybe there was a disconnect between them and the people they’ve spoken with in your company. You rethink if you’ve overdone things, or maybe lacked in your offer.
Look at it as an opportunity to improve your recruitment process. Maybe you can find some ideas from Netflix’s hiring process and implement them on your own to get more candidates.
People First: A Peek into Netflix’s Work Culture and Values
To tell great stories through the excellence of their team is what made Netflix one of the most successful entertainment providers in the world. With their core philosophy of people over process, Netflix created a dream team of talented people with whom they work to create stories that entertain the world.¹ What makes their work culture successful?
Decision-making is encouraged.
One of the company’s most valued behaviors is judgement. Employees need to be able to make wise decisions despite uncertainty and use data to influence choices.
If there are open issues within the office, employees are allowed to disagree as long as they can explain why. This helps clarify the different views among them and can help people reflect on the actions they can take.
Information is openly, broadly, and deliberately shared among them.
A leader’s role at Netflix is to coach the team, set context, provide suggestions and feedback, and be highly knowledgeable about their work. Instead of micro-managing every small decision, their leaders can explore the different projects they’re handling. This information can improve decision-making by setting better context for their colleagues.
They also have this concept of having an informed captain, whose responsibility is to listen to other people’s views and then make the correct judgement call. This is a faster approach to committee decision-making and allows the leader to have more sense of responsibility.
Communication is both candid and direct.
Meaningful feedback, both positive and constructive, is part of their everyday lives at work. People are taught how to receive and give feedback through coaching, and representing the behaviors desired across the company. Individuals need to rely on trust and positive intent to succeed in this area.
Only highly effective people are kept in the dream team.
What makes Netflix’s dream team stand out is that they invest in its members, who are willingly pursuing ambitious shared goals. They encourage collaboration and sharing of information, while politics is discouraged. To help retain and gain candidates, the company offers pay that’s among the highest in the market.
They modeled themselves on a professional sports team, not a family, for each teammate to be the best, and to deeply care and do what’s best for the team.
Rules can be avoided.
Netflix’s goal is to inspire people more than to manage them. This helps generate a sense of responsibility, accountability, and self-discipline which leads to great work. The goal is to create a strong sense of care for the brand, so people will do what is best for the company.
What to Admire in Netflix’s Recruitment Process
Now that you’ve had a view of what values fuel Netflix’s inside culture, let’s see how they conduct their interview processes for backend engineers.
These stages are similar to what happens in Centralized Hiring, where multiple hiring decisions are made through one unified process across multiple teams who share the same needs in skill, function, and experience level. Each phase considers the talent’s preferences and skills and helps identify where the succeeding interviews should focus on.
1. Recruiter Phone Screen: An Overview of Possibilities
A recruiter explains the hiring process. This is when they also assess the person’s high-level qualifications and review the relevant vacancies. This determines if the applicant has a strong affinity for one or more of them.
If the candidate’s experience and interests align with any of the roles discussed, the recruiter will then schedule a phone screen interview with a hiring manager.²
This allows a talent to have a clear overview of what they can contribute within a company. They can have an idea of what job position they like best and which ones they can switch to in case they want to explore a different path within the same company.
2. Manager Phone Screen: Setting Expectations
This discussion is about a person’s technical background and how they complete problem solving through their work. This describes what it’s like to work within a team and also provides examples of technical challenges that teams experience.
Giving the applicant an idea of what they will be dealing with if they get hired sets expectations. This can lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed as it helps them imagine themselves in the shoes of current employees.
3. Technical Screen: Testing a Candidate’s Skills
This is the final stage before a person proceeds to on-site interviews. It is used to assess a person’s technical skills and if they’re a match with the team they want to join. The problems that will be solved during this time are related to the team’s current tasks. This may include an hour of discussion with one of the engineers, or a coding exercise.
Immediately assessing a candidate’s skills allows you and your hiring managers to see if they fit your requirements. This also helps the candidate think better if they can do these tasks daily.
4. Interview 1: Get to Know the Team and their Excellence
This first set of on-site interviews is done with four or five people for 45 minutes each. The panel may include engineers, a hiring manager, and a recruiter. The engineers will assess an applicant’s skills in solving design and coding problems.
A panel interview with experts can help determine if a person can work on the spot and under pressure. This shows how quickly they can respond to urgent requirements or emergencies in the office. This also helps their potential colleagues see if they can communicate and understand each other clearly.
5. Interview 2: Working and Adapting to Another Team
For this stage, the talent will have to meet with two or three more people, for another 45 minutes each. The next panel will be composed of an engineering director, a partner engineer or manager, and another engineering leader. This will let Netflix see how developed a person’s soft skills are and how well they can partner with people from another team.
An applicant’s soft skills can help them stay as long as possible in a company. This involves how well they treat their colleagues and superiors and how they act when help is asked of them despite their very busy schedule. This stage in your recruitment process will help you identify people who will cherish your company’s values as much as you and your current team do.
6. Decision and Offer: Will You Work with Netflix?
After the last interview phase, all gathered feedback will be reviewed to help decide if an interviewee will be offered a position or not. If they are offered a role, a recruiter will discuss their expectations with them and answer any other questions the candidate may have. A start date will also be discussed for when they can join their new team.
Once your potential employee has finished all the tests and you’ve decided that they’re the right fit, it’s time to make an attractive job offer. Be considerate if they mention anything about any financial difficulties they may have and see if you can adjust your offer based on that. You need them in your team as much as they need what you are offering. Invest in them as much as you can before they even say yes.
Read more on hiring: Maximize Your Business with Staff Leasing: A Comprehensive Guide
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1 “Netflix Culture — Seeking Excellence”. https://jobs.netflix.com/culture . Accessed last March 13, 2023.
2 Karen Casella. “Demystifying Interviewing for Backend Engineers @ Netflix”. https://netflixtechblog.com/demystifying-interviewing-for-backend-engineers-netflix-aceb26a83495 . Published last February 1, 2022. Accessed last March 13, 2023.