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Takeaways From Netflix’s Interview Framework 

May 10, 2023

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Takeaways From Netflix's Interview Framework 

Let’s imagine you’re at the helm of your company’s hiring process. You’ve noticed a troubling trend: promising candidates often drop out or ghost you post-interview. It’s a common hurdle in recruitment, but the solution might be simpler than you think. Sometimes, a few strategic adjustments can significantly improve your outcomes.  

The Netflix interview process is notable in its recruitment interview process. If you’re looking to transform your recruitment strategies, then this blog will help provide insights straight from Netflix’s interview playbook. 

Understanding the Netflix Way 

Firstly, we need to grasp the essence of Netflix’s culture. It’s not just about finding the best talent; it’s about finding the right fit. Their principles of “Freedom and Responsibility” and “Context, not Control” aren’t mere slogans; they’re the bedrock of their hiring philosophy.¹ 

Freedom and Responsibility 

At Netflix, “Freedom and Responsibility” refers to empowering employees with the freedom to make decisions and the responsibility to act in Netflix’s best interests. This principle is critical during the hiring process as they look for candidates who can thrive in an environment of autonomy and accountability. 

The culture encourages innovation and risk-taking, which is why Netflix seeks individuals who are not just skilled but also bold and enterprising. 

Context, Not Control 

Instead of micromanaging, Netflix leaders provide their teams with context—the information and understanding they need to make the best possible decisions. 

This means during interviews, Netflix assesses a candidate’s ability to work independently, think critically, and make decisions based on the broader context of the company’s goals and strategies. 

Cultural Fit in Hiring 

Netflix’s interview process rigorously evaluates how well a candidate’s personal values and work style align with these core principles. They believe that skills can be developed, but alignment with their core values is non-negotiable. 

The ideal Netflix candidate is someone proactive, self-motivated, and comfortable navigating ambiguity, reflecting the “Freedom and Responsibility” ethos. 

Netflix’s Interview Framework 

Having defined their culture and the type of candidates they’re looking to attract, each stage of the Netflix hiring process is meticulously designed to ensure candidates are not only skilled but also a good fit for the company’s unique culture. 

Initial Recruiter Phone Screen 

This is typically a 30-minute conversation where a recruiter assesses the candidate’s background, experience, and interest in the company. The focus is on understanding the candidate’s previous job experiences, projects, the position they are applying for, and their alignment with Netflix’s culture and values. 

Technical Interview 

If the candidate passes the initial screen, they proceed to the technical phone screen, which lasts about 45-60 minutes. This stage involves a blend of technical and behavioral questions. The technical part may include a coding exercise or a detailed discussion about specific technologies and programming languages the candidate is familiar with. Sometimes, Netflix offers a choice between a live technical screening or a take-home assignment. This round is typically conducted by the hiring or an engineering manager. 

On-Site Interviews 

The on-site interviews are divided into two main parts: 

  • Round 1: This consists of five individual interviews, four of which are technical. These interviews test the candidate’s skills in coding, whiteboarding, data structures, algorithms, and system design. A member of Human Resources conducts the fifth interview and focuses entirely on behavioral and cultural fit questions. 
  • Round 2: This involves interviews that are less technical and more focused on cultural fit and behavioral aspects. These interviews are conducted by HR, the hiring manager, and another engineering manager. This round is crucial as it delves deeper into whether the candidate aligns with the company’s values and culture. 

Hiring Decision 

After completing all the interview rounds, the decision to hire a candidate at Netflix is made unanimously by the interview team. The process emphasizes not just technical skills but also cultural fit. If a candidate is not selected, they can reapply after a wait period of 6-12 months. 

Tailoring Your Hiring Process to Find the Best Candidates 

Effective hiring is not just about filling a vacancy; it’s about shaping the future of your organization. Whether it’s emphasizing cultural fit, refining your interview techniques, or enhancing candidate feedback, there’s much to learn from Netflix’s approach. 

So how can you integrate these insights from the Netflix interview process into your own recruitment process? 

Select Candidates for Long-Term Success and Retention 

At Netflix, they focus on assessing how well a candidate’s values align with the company’s culture. This approach emphasizes building a team with a forward-looking perspective. The goal is to seek individuals who not only share your vision but are also committed to the long-term growth and evolution of your organization.  

A key element in this strategy is the “Keeper Test,” a distinctive feature of Netflix’s interview framework.³ This test involves asking, “If this person were to resign, would I fight hard to keep them?” By applying this mindset, managers focus on the long-term impact and value a candidate brings.  

This goes beyond traditional hiring assessments, ensuring that the individuals hired are not just talented but are also integral and indispensable to the organization’s ongoing success. 

Related article: The Employee Experience Advantage: Driving Engagement and Retention 

Look Beyond the Experience 

In today’s labor market, there are lots of skilled professionals who have what it takes to do a job perfectly but might often be overlooked due to the lack of years of experience. When considering your hiring strategy, focus on candidates’ skill sets and potential rather than solely on their past experiences or credentials.  

Don’t forget to highlight your company’s culture of growth and mentorship, as well as any training opportunities you offer. This approach not only enriches your team with dynamic and innovative talent but also aligns with the rapidly evolving demands of today’s industries, making your organization more resilient and forward-thinking. 

By prioritizing adaptability and a willingness to learn, you’ll open opportunities to a wider, more diverse talent pool, including fresh graduates with up-to-date skills. 

Ask More than Surface-Level Questions 

Rather than using hypothetical questions in standard interviews, use real-world scenarios for assessing how a candidate might perform in actual job situations. This method offers a more accurate representation of a candidate’s problem-solving and decision-making skills.  

Here are some examples of using real-life scenarios in interviews: 

  • “Our app is experiencing a specific bug that causes it to crash unexpectedly. Here’s the scenario and the code. How would you go about diagnosing and fixing this issue?” 
  • “You’ve detected an unusual pattern of traffic that suggests a potential security breach. How would you investigate and respond to this threat?” 
  • “Our deployment process is currently manual and error prone. How would you automate this process to improve efficiency and reliability?” 
  • “We want to predict customer churn based on our existing user data. How would you approach this problem, and what models might you use?” 

Don’t Ignore the Place of Soft Skills 

Acknowledge that soft skills—like leadership, teamwork, and communication—are just as important as technical abilities in achieving success. Assess a candidate’s ability to work effectively within a team and inspire others. Prioritize soft skills to ensure a well-rounded team dynamic where employees not only excel in their roles but also contribute positively to the team’s overall success. 

Read more: 6 Reasons Why Soft Skills Are the Key to Resilience in an AI-Forward Era 

Champion Diversity and Inclusion 

Diversity and Inclusion are a major part of Netflix’s hiring process, and they don’t keep quiet about it. Research has also consistently shown that these factors are very advantageous for even the overall health of a company. According to McKinsey, organizations with diverse teams outperform their counterparts by 36 percent.³ 

Actively seek candidates from diverse backgrounds and experiences, creating a workforce that mirrors the global audience your organization serves. By eliminating biases and promoting fairness in the hiring process, you can build a team that draws strength from a variety of perspectives, fostering innovation and creativity. 

Read more: Inclusive Organizational Transformation: Fostering a Culture of Belonging 

Be Feedback-Oriented 

Candidates receive constructive feedback post-interview in Netflix’s framework. This practice not only helps candidates in their professional growth but also enhances the company’s reputation and relationship with potential talent. 

In your pursuit of assembling a stellar team, remember that feedback is a two-way street. Encourage open communication and feedback from both candidates and interviewers. This transparency helps refine your hiring process continuously, ensuring that it remains effective and aligned with your organization’s evolving needs. 

ELEVATE YOUR BUSINESS WITH THE RIGHT CANDIDATES  

At Raso360, our mission is to accelerate your business success. We understand that the right people are the cornerstone of this journey. We assist you with building a workforce that is passionate about their duties and supports an excellent work environment by identifying applicants who are not only qualified but also a perfect fit for your needs. 

But we don’t stop there. We’re dedicated to creating lasting connections that empower your business, your team, and your clients to reach the zenith of their potential. Connect with us today, and let’s transform your business into a team that drives success and instills pride! 

References 

1 Netflix Jobs. jobs.netflix.com/culture

2 “The Netflix ‘Keeper Test’… and the Courage to Take It.” lornerubis.com, www.highlights.lornerubis.com/2015/08/the-netflix-keeper-test-and-the-courage-to-take-it

3 Dixon-Fyle, Sundiatu, et al. “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters.” McKinsey & Company, 19 May 2020, www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters

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