Preparing for interviews at FAANG companies can be intimidating. Research has shown that getting an offer at a FAANG company is harder than getting into prestigious institutions such as Stanford or Harvard. Netflix, in particular, is known for having extremely rigorous interviews that go through many, different stages before giving an offer.
At Interview Kickstart, we have helped more than 3,500 engineers prepare for interviews at FAANG companies and have learned very valuable information from their successes. Many of our technical and behavioral staff work at these FAANG companies and know what it takes to prepare for interviews at those companies.
In this interview guide, you will learn about Netflix's Interview Process from real people who have interviewed at the company. You will also learn about specific qualities that Netflix hiring managers look for with real quotes from Netflix employees and executives. We will also show you actual interview questions and topics given in Netflix interviews that are both technical and behavioral so you will be prepared to answer any question during your interview. We have also prepared useful tips that you can use in your interview and resume that have proven to be successful. This guide also features job-specific information for various roles such as software engineer, front-end developer, engineering manager, and more. Lastly, we will go over an overview of Netflix’s company culture so that you will know what to expect for your Netflix interview.
Netflix Interview Process
According to Indeed.com, 54% of interviewees’ interviews took about a day or two to a week. 46% of interviewees’ interviews took two weeks or longer. During these interviews, the overall experience that Netflix interviewers have found was that it was close to excellent. However, more than half of the interviewees found that their interviews at Netflix were more difficult than easy. So how did they do it?
Netflix Interview Experience
Here’s what a Netflix Software Engineering candidates said about their interview process in terms of the interview process length:
2 Week Duration:
“During Stage 1, I had my initial phone screening interview with the HR representative of Netflix. In Stage 2, I had an interview with the hiring manager. Finally, in Stage 3, there was an onsite interview composed of two parts. The first part was with four data scientists/engineers. The second was with three higher-level executives. The questions were a mix of product, business, analytical, and statistics questions. Statistics questions mostly revolve around A/B testing (hypothesis testing, etc). There can be some easy-medium level SQL questions. Analytical questions include a hypothetical problem to analyze, metrics to evaluate product performance, etc. Higher-level executives mostly focus mostly on the background and past experience.”
3 Week Duration:
“During the first stage, I had my initial phone screen with an HR representative. The second stage, I had another phone interview, but with an engineer. In my final stage, I had an onsite composed of two parts. The first part consisted of 4 technical interviews and 1 HR representative interview. After completing those interviews, I had a meeting with two directors from Google.”
8 Week Duration:
“The first stage consisted of a phone screen from an HR representative. The second stage consists of a phone interview with the hiring manager or designers from the team. Lastly, I had an onsite interview which included a panel portfolio review followed by a product brainstorming session. Then, there was a whiteboard exercise that took place and another 30 minutes was spent putting together polished mockups. The team members that interviewed me ranged from project managers, engineers, developers, designers, design directors, and managers.
What Qualities Does Netflix Look For in Candidates?
What qualities make Netflix employees stand out in their interviews? Based on public documents and experiences from current and former employees at Netflix, here are the essential qualities that hiring managers look for when hiring employees:
Quality 1: You Understand How Netflix Works
A desirable candidate for Netflix is one who does research on the company.
Patty McCord, a talent manager at Netflix commented that:
“Candidates should prepare themselves with an understanding of Netflix’s values and any relevant news about the company.”
Christophe Jouin, a device engineer said that:
“Each candidate should be a Netflix subscriber and be familiar with the product from the user perspective. Mr. Jouin says that everyone at Netflix is passionate about their product and they own it from day 1 of their jobs.”
Quality 2: You’re Honest and Selfless
To work at Netflix, you have to be honest. This can be when choosing their work hours, prioritizing projects, or reimbursing vacation expenses. Netflix looks for team players who can be confident in having each others’ backs. Netflix wants employees that are willing to share honest information openly that will not only benefit the team but help others grow with them.
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, said:
“Responsible people thrive on freedom and are worthy of freedom.”
Quality 3: You Have Great Judgement
As a Netflix employee, it is essential that each employee is able to think critically. Specifically, Netflix employees must be able to use data to make strategic, practical decisions that will provide long-term benefits to the company.
Quality 4: You’re Always Looking to Learn New Things
Innovation and creativity are highly important at Netflix. To be a valuable employee, you have to be a continuous learner. You have to be able to embrace change and constantly challenge the status quo to continually make educated decisions.
Quality 5: You’re an Effective Communicator
Not only does Netflix require employees that are creative and are continuous learners, but they also want effective communicators. To be an effective employee at Netflix, you need to be able to communicate effectively across cross-functional teams and manage multiple stakeholders. You need to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas verbally and through written communication. Lastly, being a good communicator means that you are a good listener and maintain clarity in your thoughts and ideas.
Quality 6: You’re Passionate About Your Role
As a Netflix employee, you are part of an organization that is used by 1.2 million monthly subscribers around the world. Therefore, to be a valuable employee at Netflix, you have to be passionate in serving that huge subscriber base. You have to have high energy and demonstrate a strong work ethic for your role. More importantly, you must always strive for the best interests of Netflix subscribers even if it means questioning your team members to ensure that each decision is adequate.
Quality 7: You Have the Courage To Do The Right Things
Another important quality that a Netflix employee should have is that they always question everything that is inconsistent with the company’s values. A Netflix employee should have the boldness to make decisions that will be in the best interest of the company and be able to stand by that decision.
Quality 8: You Create Impact By Getting Things Done
Lastly, being a thriving Netflix employee means that you have to love your job and work that you do. You have to be able to out your best work and set a high standard for yourself and others in your team.
Netflix Qualifications for Each Role
For qualifications for each role, we looked at Netflix’s website for job descriptions for roles such as Software Engineer.
Here are the qualifications to apply for the Senior Software Engineer position at Netflix:
- Senior-level full-stack engineer with 5+ years of experience
- Experience integrating with internal and third-party services
- Strong knowledge of building restful APIs for internal and external products
- You have knowledge of cloud computing platforms like Amazon Web Services
- Ability to work closely with internal stakeholders and vendors to understand their systems, build custom solutions, integrate with these systems and deploy the solution
- Strong data structures, algorithms, and design patterns knowledge
- Demonstrable ability to work across multiple teams to deliver an end product
- Enjoy building internal solutions and have lead development of enterprise-level applications
Here are the qualifications to apply for the Front End Developer position at Netflix:
- Front end developer who can design and deploy rich, performant, analytical applications from the ground up (prototyping experience a plus!)
- Comfortable making a variety of static and interactive visualizations for a variety of audiences
- Familiarity of design concepts related to charting metaphors, the use of color and typography, and can design clear, intuitive visualizations
- Experience designing, building, and iterating on interactive user interfaces, with a strong sense of the holistic user experience, not just the individual pieces.
- Knows how to develop thoughtful user experiences, considering layout, color, and other design elements to develop user-friendly web applications
- Proficient at writing SQL to access and transform data
- Knowledge of scripting languages for server-side data manipulation such as Python (pandas/numpy), R, bash is not required but welcome
Here are the qualifications to apply for the Engineering Manager position at Netflix:
- Experience in solving large-scale distributed systems challenges. Must demonstrate success as an engineer/architect of complex distributed systems prior to transitioning into a manager.
- Experienced using technologies in several of the following areas: microservices, various IPC models, Java, Spring or Guice, cloud-based deployments (AWS preferred).
- Equally passionate about working with engineering and non-engineering stakeholders. A strong partner, who can collaborate effectively and selflessly.
- Strong communicator, with the ability to share technical ideas and direction across the organization and a proven ability to influence decision making at all levels within the organization and in a variety of contexts.
- Experience in building and leading a talent dense team of senior engineers, and are comfortable delivering and accepting candid feedback.
- Great at strategizing vision, evolving roadmaps based on changing business needs, and motivating teams to execute on them.
Netflix Technical Topics to Prepare and Some Common Questions
Technical topics that are most common in Netflix coding interviews are:
Technical Topic 1: Arrays
a. Determining if the sum of three integers is equal to the given value
Problem Statement 1: Given an array of integers and a value, determine if there are any three integers in the array whose sum equals the given value.
b. Set columns and rows as zeros
Problem Statement 2: Given a two-dimensional array, if any element within is zero, make its whole row and column zero.
Technical Topic 2: Linked Lists
a. Adding two integers
Problem Statement 1: Given the head pointers of two linked lists where each linked list represents an integer number (each node is a digit), add them and return the resulting linked list.
b. The intersection point of two linked lists
Problem Statement 2: Given the head nodes of two linked lists that may or may not intersect, find out if they do in fact intersect and return the point of intersection. Return null otherwise.
Technical Topic 3: Trees
a. Convert binary tree to a double linked list
Problem statement: Given a binary tree, populate an array to represent its zigzag level order traversal. You should populate the values of all nodes of the first level from left to right, then right to left for the next level and keep alternating in the same manner for the following levels.
b. Binary search tree
Problem statement: Given a binary tree, figure out whether it's a BST.
Technical Topic 4: Strings
a. Reverse words in a sentence
Problem statement: Given a sentence (an array of characters), reverse the order of words.
b. Segment string into dictionary words
Problem statement: We are given a dictionary of words and a large input string. We have to find out whether the input string can be completely segmented into the words of a given dictionary.
Technical Topic 5: Dynamic Programming
a. How many ways can you make change with coins and a total amount
Problem statement: Given coins denominations and total amount, find out the number of ways to make the change.
Technical Topic 6: Math and Stats
a. Given a set of integers, find all subsets
Problem statement: We are given a set of integers and we have to find all the possible subsets of this set of integers.
Technical Topic 7: Backtracking
a. Print balanced parentheses for a given number 'n'
Problem statement: Print all braces combinations for a given value n so that they are balanced.
Technical Topic 8: Graphs
a. Minimum Spanning tree
Problem statement: Find the minimum spanning tree of a connected, undirected graph with weighted edges.
Technical Topic 9: Design
a. Serialize/deserialize a binary tree
Problem statement: Serialize a binary tree to a file and then deserialize it back to a tree so that the original and the deserialized trees are identical.
Technical Topic 10: Sorting and Searching
a. Search for a given number in rotated array
Problem statement: Search for a given number in a sorted array that has been rotated by some arbitrary number. Return -1 if the number does not exist. Assume that the array does not contain duplicates.
b. Closest meeting point
Problem statement: Given N people on an MxM grid, find the point that requires the least total distance covered by all people to meet at that point.
Netflix Interview Questions
It is important to note that Netflix, like all other top tier tech companies, have a number of interview questions that they keep rotating between. Problems are also frequently removed from the rotation, and new ones will pop up on a regular basis. The most effective and efficient way to prepare for technical and behavioral interviews is to look for conceptual themes and patterns, rather than looking for “what questions are most commonly asked at company X”.
If you want to ace interviews at the most competitive companies, place an emphasis on pattern recognition and building your problem-solve skill. This is the only way to solve problems that you have never seen before and the only way to fully explain your solutions.
That being said, here are some of the most common questions we see today.
Technical Interview Questions
The following questions were real technical interview questions from actual Netflix employees:
- “Write a recursive function that solves the equation X[n] = X[n-1] + X[n-2] where X is an array that contains at least two integer values and the function should solve the question for the 3rd value in the arr2.
- “Each server application combination can have different attributes and can have different values. Write a method with the following signature: GetServerApps(string attributename, string attributevalue). Improve the performance.”
- “Given a binary search tree find the kth smallest element.”
- "Given two sets A & B, get unique elements from each set in an optimal way. Merge Sort Multithreading - How to run threads A, B, and C in a sequence”
- “What port does ping work on?”
- “Write a business_days_from_now() method, which takes as an input a number of business days, and returns a Date object which is that many business days from now. For this, a business day is only a weekday and not a weekend.”
- “Write a function which would take the filename and percentage as the parameters and print out the percentage of contents from the file printFromFile (String fileName, Integer percentage)”
- Write a function fib() that takes an integer n and returns the nth Fibonacci number.
- Implement a queue with 2 stacks. Your queue should have an enqueue and a dequeue method and it should be "first in first out" (FIFO).
- Write an efficient function that checks whether any permutation of an input string is a palindrome.
Behavioral Interview Questions
These are actual behavioral questions asked to Netflix employees:
- Tell me about a time when you did not agree with your manager.
- What is an example of something you worked on that you were really proud of?
- How do you stay organized? How do you handle competing tasks or projects?
- What has been your biggest challenge while you work?
- Describe a time when you received extremely difficult feedback and how you handled it.
- Tell me about your work experience and how you would make Netflix even better than it is? (Why Netflix)
- What do you think of our culture memo?
- Pick a topic you’re passionate about and teach me about it
- How would you work with a team on a hypothetical project?
- What feedback would your peers give you if you ask them for some criticism?
Netflix Interview Tips
To get some interview tips, we chose to highlight some advice given by Christophe Jouin, Director of Device Engineering, at Netflix. Here are his tips:
“Read, and then re-read, the Netflix culture deck (here) and spend some time thinking about it. It's for real and the deck describes exactly how we work at Netflix”
“Try the Netflix service.”
“If you haven’t received the job description prior to scheduling your onsite interview, take a look at it. Carefully read the specifications on the Netflix Careers page and use that information to your advantage.”
“Once you get the list of people who will be on your panel of interviewers, take this information as an opportunity to get to know the group before you meet them in person.”
“If you are being considered for a leadership position, reflect on what you believe makes a great leader in general, but also more specifically at Netflix. Read about the history of Netflix and about Reed Hastings, our founder, and CEO. Ask yourself this question: "which parts of my leadership experience would I leverage the most at Netflix?"
“During the interview, make sure you avoid giving answers that sound rehearsed. Take your time and don't be afraid to tell the interviewer you need a minute to figure it out.”
Interview Experiences of Netflix Employees
To get an understanding of actual interview experiences at Netflix, we examined Paul Johnson, former director of engineering, on how his interview went.
“When I was interviewing with Netflix, it was long-winded and irritating. I was on the verge of walking away from the process twice. Since I've joined, as a manager, I've found it's actually well organized, swift, and successful.
I was contacted on LinkedIn by a recruiter. He e-mailed me the job spec (this was for Automation Manager) and asked me if I was interested. I told him I wasn't since the job was probably a bit too junior for me. He came back to me with a revised job spec for Senior Automation Manager with additional responsibilities. Now I was interested, so he arranged a phone interview with a different recruiter.”
Stage 1: First Phone Screen
“The first phone screen was a breeze. Asking me about my experience, what I was looking for in my career etc. Nothing difficult.
That leads to a second phone interview, this time with the hiring manager. That was a more in-depth look at my experience to date, discussions of similar projects I'd been involved with (they were primarily looking to hire me to install a bunch of machines to automate the processing of DVDs that are returned from customers). We talked about his prior career and experience as well. It was a good call, and I liked him from the start. He was someone I could work with.”
Stage 2: Face-to-Face with Recruiter and Hiring Manager
“Next, they arranged a face to face with the second recruiter and the hiring manager back to back.
The interview with the recruiter did not go well. I disliked him immediately, and I've subsequently found that the length of the overall process I faced was as a result of him not liking me either. We talked about my experiences as a manager and the Netflix culture deck. He was very pleased with the culture deck, but clearly had no understanding of what applying it actually meant. He seemed to think it was impressive because other people outside of Netflix say it sounds great. He was very hung up on "Netflix only tolerate fully formed adults", yet as a relatively inexperienced person in his mid-20's, he had no idea about the complexities of adult life and the challenges that can bring. I'm pleased to say he's no longer on Netflix.”
Stage 3: Interview with Hiring Manager
“I then met with the hiring manager, and it was great. We got on immediately (well after he'd stopped laughing at me for wearing a suit. I'd asked for a look at the production facilities and the equipment I'd be working on, so they arranged that, where I again briefly met the hiring manager and had an interview with an HR Manager. The HR Manager was great. I discussed my misgivings based on my discussion with the recruiter, and he put my mind at ease.
Stage 4: Interview with VP of HR
“I was now expecting an offer
Instead, I was asked to go in for an interview with Allison Hopkins, who was VP of HR. That was a great interview. We again discussed my experience, ideas about management, and my goals in life. She was great, again, making me want to work at Netflix. I like her a lot, and it's a cause of sadness that she is no longer with Netflix.”
Stage 5: Interview with Head of the DVD Division
“I was now expecting an offer.
Instead, I was asked to go in for an interview with the head of the DVD division. Another fun interview, we talked about the hiring manager a lot, who then came and joined us, and Andy and John (the hiring manager) somehow ended up debating which swearwords are and are not appropriate at an interview. I didn't offer much to that part of the interview. It was entertaining.”
Stage 6: Dinner with Hiring Manager
“I was now expecting an offer and getting irritated that it seemed like they were wasting my time.
Instead, I got invited to have dinner with the hiring manager. I was in two minds about saying no, because the process had taken so long, and I was beginning to question their seriousness. The dinner was awkward. John is a fairly reserved man (now a valued friend however, I met him for a beer in the same place we had the dinner last week and we had a laugh about it), and it felt like an uncomfortable first date. There was little to discuss - he knew what I had done, could do, etc.”
Stage 7: Offer Given
“I now decided that if an offer didn't come within the week, I'd pull out of consideration. Fortunately one did, and I've now been at Netflix approaching four years.
When I talked to the hiring manager about that dinner, he told me that the reason the whole process ended up taking too long was because of the recruiter who didn't like me. Normally, we have a process whereby anyone can
"veto" a candidate, but the disparity between John's opinion of me after the first face to face and the recruiters was so great, that John wasn't willing to stop talking to me. However, it did lead to everyone wanting to meet me to make sure it was John who was right.”
Netflix Resume Building Tips
Here are some resume building tips that we’ve accumulated:
- Introduction Section (Summary/Objective and Technical Skills
- Keep your resume at one-page. Recruiters are swamped already with dozens, if not thousands, of applicants to go through for each job opening.
- Reduce document length by writing no more than five bullet points of work experience for each position.
- Demonstrate your deep understanding in a given language and skill by referencing it multiple times throughout your resume.
- Since you are interviewing for a specific position, avoid making your resume appear as your entire work portfolio. Just focus on conveying your core skills relevant for the position.
- Research the company and optimize your resume accordingly to the needs of the position you are applying for.
- Look over the job descriptions for the roles that you are applying to. Identify the key words and areas of experience that you can highlight, then customize from there.
- Have someone else review your resume after reviewing it yourself for edits. They may catch something that can change your resume for the better.
- Your resume does not need to have attention-grabbing colors or creative fonts throughout. Keep it simple and plain. Remember that it is all about readability.
- If you have followed all of these tips so far and have yet to yield the results you want, consider reaching out to an expert. Every now and then, Interview Kickstart holds Resume Review Workshops so be the first to check it out by following our social media pages ;)
- List any programming languages you are well-versed in at the top.
- If you are a student or recent grad, it is recommended that you list your education first, followed by experience. If you are an experienced industry professional, you should list your experience first and education can be lowered on the page.
- When writing out your experience, be sure to use action-oriented words like designed, developed, created, etc. Your recruiter then will easily understand your skills and experience.
- For your experience, it is important that you list the results and impact of your work.
- Bold your subheadings in your resume to guide the recruiter’s eyes. Subheadings include names of your projects and schools/bootcamps you attended.
Netflix Typical Salaries for Roles
According to SalaryProject.com, the average salary for a senior software engineer at Netflix was $400,000 with a minimum salary of $320,000 and the highest salary of $600,000 in the San Jose, CA area.
These salaries are based on the base salary and additional compensation awarded.
According to Glassdoor.com, the average base pay for a senior engineering manager at Netflix was $273,845 with an average total pay of $305,000. The average additional pay was $37,654.
According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a Netflix front end developer was $206,103 per year.
On Glassdoor, the average rating across all reviewers was 4 stars out of 5. 73% of reviewers would recommend working at Netflix to their friends. 92% of reviewers approved of the current CEO, Reed Hastings.
According to Comparably.com, Across the 18 core culture metrics, Netflix is rated an outstanding A+ in overall culture, CEO rating, and diversity, with an A- in compensation. The ratings were by 93 Netflix employees that have left culture ratings. Males score Netflix's company culture slightly higher than females, with males rating the overall culture 85/100.
To deeper understand the company culture at Netflix, please watch this short video from Netflix that goes over their company culture and what “freedom and responsibility” actually means.
We hope you find this guide useful and valuable. Learn more on how to crack the toughest technical interviews by signing up for our free webinar!