Tadummm.. The unique opening sound that is followed by the big red ‘N’ in the middle of the screen. There is no denying that Netflix is one of the most successful and influential entertainment companies in the world. Back in 2022, the company generated $31.6 billion in revenue.  And in 2023, it has gained over 220.6 million subscribers worldwide, taking the throne of the most popular streaming service. 
Netflix is not only known for its original and diverse content, but also for its innovative and inclusive culture. How does Netflix attract, hire, and retain the best talent in the industry? What are the secrets behind its recruitment process? We will explore the Netflix hiring philosophy, strategy, and practices, and how you can take inspiration from them to elevate your own hiring game. Let’s grab a bucket of popcorn and hit the play icon.
What Does Netflix Look for In Candidates?
Netflix has a unique and distinctive culture that values freedom, responsibility, and excellence. The company has a famous culture deck that outlines its core philosophy and expectations.  According to the deck, Netflix looks for candidates who have the following characteristics:
- Judgment: Ideal candidates would make wise decisions despite ambiguity, use data to inform their intuition and choices, look beyond symptoms to identify systemic issues, spend money wisely, and think long-term.
- Selflessness: Netflix looks for talent who seek what is best for the company, not themselves or their team, who are humble and open-minded, make time to help colleagues, debate ideas openly, and support decisions even when they disagree.
- Courage: The right candidates for Netflix would be able to make tough decisions without agonizing or delaying, take informed risks and are open to failure, question actions inconsistent with the culture, are vulnerable in search of truth and connection, and give and take feedback.
- Communication: The global streaming platform prefers individuals who listen well and seek to understand before responding, who are calm in stressful situations, who write and think concisely and coherently, who adapt their communication style to different people and contexts, and embrace inclusion and diversity.
- Inclusion: Candidates who work well with people of different backgrounds, identities, values, and cultures, are excited to build diverse teams where everyone feels welcome and respected, recognize and counteract their biases, take action if someone is marginalizing a colleague, and treat everyone with respect regardless of their position would be perfect for Netflix.
- Integrity: Last but not least, Netflix is looking for talent who exhibit and are known for candor and transparency, admit mistakes and apologize, share information openly and deliberately, are loyal to the company when absent, and only say things about others that they would say to their face.
Netflix Recruitment Process: It’s All About the Culture
Netflix attracts talent by showcasing its culture and values through various channels. For example, Netflix has a dedicated website that features its culture, inclusion, and social impact initiatives.  It also leverages social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to highlight its projects, events, and achievements. In addition to that, the streaming platform Titan creates and distributes original content that reflects its culture and vision, such as documentaries and podcasts. 
Netflix’s culture advertisement is not only aimed at external audiences, but also at internal ones. The company wants to ensure that its current employees are aligned with its culture and values, and that they are engaged and motivated. Netflix does this by providing regular feedback, recognition, and rewards, as well as opportunities for learning, development, and growth. The top streaming content provider also fosters a culture of collaboration, innovation, and experimentation, where employees are encouraged to share ideas, try new things, and learn from failures.
Inside Netflix’s Recruitment Process
Netflix’s recruitment process is not a typical one. It is designed to assess not only the skills and experience of the candidates, but also their fit with the company’s culture and values. Here are some of the main features of Netflix’s hiring process:
- Estimation questions: Netflix likes to challenge candidates with estimation questions that test their analytical and problem-solving skills. For example, a candidate might be asked to estimate how many subscribers Netflix has in a certain country, or how much bandwidth Netflix consumes globally. These questions require candidates to make reasonable assumptions, use logical reasoning, and show their thought processes.
- Interview rounds: The top streaming platform usually conducts four to six rounds of interviews for each role, depending on the level and function. The first round is usually a phone screen with a recruiter, followed by a technical or functional interview with a hiring manager or a senior team member. The second round is a culture fit interview, where candidates are evaluated on how well they align with Netflix’s core values. The culture fit interview is very important, as the company only hires people who share its vision and philosophy. The remaining rounds are usually more technical or functional interviews with other team members or stakeholders, where candidates are asked to demonstrate their skills and knowledge through coding challenges, case studies, or presentations.
- Minimum experience: Netflix prefers to hire experienced candidates who have at least three years of relevant work experience in their field. Netflix believes that hiring seasoned professionals allows them to delegate more responsibility and autonomy to their employees, and avoid micromanagement and bureaucracy. The company also values candidates who have diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and who can bring fresh ideas and insights to the company.
- The Keeper test: The home of popular shows such as ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Dark’ has a high-performance culture, where employees are expected to deliver exceptional results and constantly improve themselves. Netflix applies the keeper test to evaluate its current and potential employees, which is a simple question: “Would you fight for this person to stay on your team?” If the answer is yes, then the person is a keeper. If the answer is no, then the person is not a good fit for the company and should be let go or not hired. Netflix believes that the keeper test ensures that they only have the best people on their team, and that they reward and retain them accordingly.
Netflix also has a policy of “adequate performance gets a generous severance package”, which means that employees who do not meet the standards or expectations are let go with fair compensation.  The company believes that this policy helps maintain a high-performing and motivated workforce, and also creates a sense of urgency and accountability among its employees.
Besides that, the global streaming service provider strives to ensure diversity and inclusion in its recruitment process, by attracting and hiring candidates from different backgrounds, identities, values, and cultures. Netflix does this by partnering with various organizations, programs, and initiatives that support underrepresented and marginalized communities, such as the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Black Film Collective, the Latinx Film Collective, the Asian American Film Collective, the LGBTQ+ Film Collective, the Disability Film Collective, and the Women in Film Collective. 
The company also provides training and resources to its recruiters and hiring managers on how to reduce bias and promote inclusion in the hiring process, such as using inclusive language, conducting structured interviews, and diversifying interview panels.
Targeting Contingent Workforce
Aside from looking for full-time staff, Netflix also puts effort into recruiting contractors or contingent workers. As Vinos Samuel, TA Operations & Contingent Talent Leader - APAC of Netflix, revealed, the world-famous streaming service provider builds a very clear process and mindset right from the get-go. The company values contingent worker’s skills and sees them as the opportunity to possibly fill in empty seats in the near future,
“At Netflix, we put contingent recruitment’s responsibility under the Talent department, because we know that, though we are hiring contractors, we are hiring certain skills that are coming along with it. And that is part of your overall workforce. So, from a talent perspective, or from an HR perspective, it is a great pipeline for us to build full-time talent as well. So, if you’re hiring good contractors on the temporary workforce side, or independent contractor side, tomorrow, when you have a full-time need, you could easily convert them. If you do this well, it is a great inlet for your full-time employees,” says Mr. Samuel.
Netflix also has a unique approach to integrating a contingent workforce into the company’s culture. The global streaming Titan is very high on inclusion and diversity and takes it as a key enabler for its business and decision-making. It highly invests in applying inclusion and diversity to all of its aspects, from content creation to business strategies. Goes without saying that the company doesn’t leave its contingent workforce aside. Netflix sees them as part of the company as well,
“In terms of any facilities that we have in the office that the contingent workforce are part of, they have access to it. We have free lunches, for example, it’s extended to them, we have a hardware setup, which they can pick up what they want for enabling their work, they have access to that. We don’t put any restrictions,” Mr. Samuel addresses.
Click here to watch our podcast episode featuring Netflix’s Vinos Samuel.
Take Inspiration from the Netflix Recruitment Process
Needless to say, Netflix’s recruitment process is unique and effective. Netflix has been able to hire and retain some of the most talented and diverse people in the industry, who have helped the company achieve its vision and goals. Netflix’s recruitment process also reflects its culture and values, which are the core of its success and differentiation. Here are some of the key takeaways that you can take inspiration from and apply to your own hiring strategy:
- Showcase your culture and values: Your culture and values are what make your company unique and attractive to potential candidates. Make sure you communicate them clearly and consistently throughout your website, social media, content, and events. Also, make sure you live up to them internally, by providing feedback, recognition, rewards, and opportunities to your employees.
- Hire for fit and potential: The candidates you’re looking for should not only have the skills and experience required for the role, but also the fit and potential to thrive in your culture and environment. Shine a spotlight on individuals who share your vision, mission, and values, and who can bring new perspectives, ideas, and solutions to your company. It’s also a good idea to look for candidates who have the ability and willingness to learn, grow, and adapt to changing needs and challenges.
- Be rigorous and selective: Make sure that your hiring process is structured and consistent, to ensure that you evaluate candidates fairly and objectively. Use multiple methods and sources to assess candidates’ skills, knowledge, fit, and potential, such as tests, portfolios, interviews, presentations, or demonstrations.
- Promote diversity and inclusion: Your hiring process should promote diversity and inclusion, by attracting and hiring candidates from different backgrounds, identities, values, and cultures. Why? Diversity and inclusion can help you enhance your creativity, innovation, and problem-solving, as well as your customer satisfaction and loyalty. A good start to promoting diversity and inclusion is partnering with organizations, programs, and initiatives that support underrepresented and marginalized communities. Also, provide training and resources to your recruiters and hiring managers on how to reduce bias, and promote inclusion and diversify your hiring sources, methods, and panels.
Aside from Netflix’s effective hiring strategy, using the right tool can also help you attract the best talent and ensure a successful hire. For example, leveraging an Applicant Tracking System to showcase your employer brand and widen your talent pool. With an ATS like Manatal, you’ll have the ability to design a career page that matches with your brand right from scratch.
Through Manatal’s Branded Career Page feature, you’ll have the option to design and adjust your career site however you like. You can upload content like blogs, images, video, or even special graphic designs within a few clicks. You can also design custom application forms tailored to your vacancies, and integrate your career page with your website and social media platforms.
Netflix achieved remarkable success and influence in the entertainment industry. Part of the company’s accomplishment stems from its unique and rigorous recruitment process that is designed to attract, hire, and retain the best talent. As a recruiter, you can learn from Netflix’s recruitment approach and apply it to your own hiring strategy, by focusing on showcasing your culture and values, being rigorous and selective when it comes to hiring, and encouraging diversity and inclusion. Not only adopting these practices will help you attract more talent and widen your candidate pool, but it will also enable you to foster a solid culture and maintain and growth in your company while increasing employee engagement and retention.