Netflix's 5 toughest job-interview questions, according to company insiders

  • Nailing a job interview at Netflix can come down to showing you're a fit for the streaming company's clearly defined culture.
  • Insider asked former employees about the toughest questions from job interviews at Netflix, and the ones they highlighted tested how candidates would fit in with the company's culture.
  • The questions included the innocuous yet loaded, "Do you have any questions for me?" and, "What do you do when you disagree with your boss?"
  • Insider also reported on how to use employee referrals to help score a job interview at Netflix. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Nailing a job interview at Netflix comes down to showing you would thrive in the streaming company's clearly defined culture.

Former Netflix employees told Insider in 2019 about some of the questions they were asked and ones they've asked candidates as part of the hiring process at the streaming company.

The questions varied based on the position and the people conducting the interview. Candidates for engineering roles, for instance, had to answer technical questions or complete rigorous technical tests.

But many of the toughest questions, which spanned roles, were tied to Netflix's famed culture deck, now a memo, which is a must-read for anyone who aspires to work there.

"The whole interview process felt like a test," one insider said. "The test being, are you a good culture fit for Netflix?"

1. What questions do you have for me?

Curiosity is one of the core values that Netflix outlines in its culture memo.

Insiders said they would ask, "What questions do you have for me?" to assess how curious candidates were.

It's an innocuous question job seekers are likely to encounter in interviews at any company. At Netflix, it's also a loaded one.

Cindy Holland, a former vice president of original content at Netflix, told The New York Times that she often began interviews with that question to catch people off guard.

"Some people respond well to that first question, and some people are so thrown that they say they don't have any questions," Holland said. "It doesn't disqualify them automatically, but it definitely tells me something about them."

Asking smart questions about the company's culture and processes could serve candidates well in an interview.

"Netflix smiles on folks who ask a lot of questions," one insider said.

2. What do you do when you disagree with your boss?

"What do you do when you disagree with your boss?" is another question insiders said came up in job interviews at Netflix. It's meant to assess how comfortable candidates would be giving and receiving feedback and how they might handle conflict.

Integrity is another tenant of Netflix's culture. "You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and being non-political," the culture memo says when describing some of the qualities it values most in employees. 

Employees are encouraged to regularly give feedback to other employees, including their bosses, all the way up to co-CEO Reed Hastings. People also routinely push back on ideas in meetings to make sure they've considered things from all angles before moving forward, insiders said.

Some insiders also said they were asked about a time when they were given particularly difficult feedback and how they handled it.

3. Teach me something.

"Pick a topic you're passionate about and teach me about it" is another interview topic that a former employee encountered at Netflix.

It is designed to get a sense of the candidate's personality. But interviewers are judging the way the question is answered, more so than the topics candidates pick.

Failure to think of a topic on the spot and articulate it clearly can be a red flag. Passion is one of Netflix's key values, as is communication.

"I realized this person was probably not going to do well outside of their comfort zone," the former employee said of a candidate who struggled to respond to the prompt.

One red flag in an interview probably won't crush your dreams of working at Netflix. Candidates are normally interviewed by multiple people over numerous rounds. One former employee estimated they were interviewed by as many as 10 people. The hiring manager ultimately makes the decision.

4. Tell us about a time you failed.

At Netflix, this common job-interview subject is meant to test how honest and vulnerable candidates are willing to be.

The company looks for people who own up to their failures and learn from them, its culture memo says.

Don't try to give a softball example for this one by describing a small misstep that turned out great in the end.

"They don't want something positive," one insider said. "They want you to tell a story where you fell flat on your face and how you worked through that."

5. How would you work with a team on a hypothetical project?

Some Netflix insiders also said they were asked in job interviews to describe how they might work in a hypothetical scenario.

A common scenario that came up was a project that required collaborating across teams. There are many teams within Netflix, and they change all the time, insiders said. Hiring managers want to know if candidates can work well with others.

Candidates might be asked how they would put together a plan to collaborate across teams on a given project or how they would handle working on it as part of team.

"Regardless of the position, everything is very collaborative over there," one insider said.

Managers would face similar questions about how they would manage a team. The company isn't looking for micromanagers. It wants people who give others the tools to get their jobs done.

"We don't buy into the lore of CEOs, or other senior leaders, who are so involved in the details that their product or service becomes amazing," the culture memo says. "We pride ourselves on how few, not how many, decisions senior management makes."

This post was originally published on December 18, 2019 and has been updated.

Read more of our coverage on Insider, including our ultimate guide to getting a job at Netflix:

  • The ultimate guide to getting a job at Netflix. We talked to its head of recruiting, former employees, and staffing experts to learn exactly what it takes to get hired in 2020.: We share top tips on everything from how to prepare to how to nail the interview.
  • Netflix salaries revealed: How much engineers, marketers, content execs, and others made at the streaming service in 2020: Analysis of the base salaries Netflix offered for certain roles, based on US work-visa disclosures.
  • How to get a job interview at Netflix with the help of employee referrals — and what to avoid doing, according to company insiders: Recommendations from Netflix employees can get prospective candidates noticed by Netflix recruiters. Former employees shared their top tips on getting referrals, and using them to land a job.
  • The best Netflix teams and roles for entry-level job seekers, according to former employees and current listings: While Netflix doesn't have many entry-level jobs, it does have some opportunities for talented people who are starting their careers.
  • What to wear to a job interview at Netflix, according to the company's head recruiter: Dress is business casual, but Netflix's vice president of talent acquisition also suggests wearing clothing that makes you feel confident.
  • What to do if Netflix rejects you for a job the first time around, according to its head of hiring: Keep the dialogue going with recruiters immediately after learning you didn't get the job.
  • The top 10 slides from Netflix's groundbreaking first culture deck that experts say had the most impact: Netflix's culture deck is a must read for prospective candidates. Recruiters explain what sets Netflix's culture apart from other tech companies.

Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.

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