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8 steps to an offer: Ace your Netflix software engineer interview

So you have an interview at Netflix, or you’ve just submitted an application and are eagerly awaiting a response. Job searches and interviews can be daunting, and Netflix is certainly very particular about who they hire. However, with the right interview preparation, you can cruise through the hiring process and land your dream job.

Today we'll cover 8 steps to help you ace your software engineer interview at Netflix. While this article focuses on Netflix, you can apply much of what you learn to other FAANG companies, such as Amazon and Apple.

We'll cover the following steps:

8 steps to prepare for your Netflix software engineer interview

1. Study the Netflix culture deck

Many software engineers make the mistake of underestimating the importance of their culture fit in the interview process. Make no mistake – Netflix cares, and so should you.

“Our core philosophy is people over process. More specifically, we have great people working together as a dream team. With this approach, we are a more flexible, fun, stimulating, creative, collaborative and successful organization.” – From the Netflix culture memo

If you haven’t heard from the recruiter yet, they’ll tell you that you need to read the culture deck before your initial phone screen. Even for technical roles, your culture fit is weighs heavily on your candidacy, from start to finish.

So go and check out the Netflix culture memo.

2. Connect your past experience with Netflix culture and values

Look at your resume and start connecting dots between your past experience and Netflix’s values. You’ll want to tell a story about how your past accomplishments demonstrate your alignment with Netflix’s cultural values, such as leadership and candor.

Phone interviews are the very first steps in the interview process. There are two phone calls, where the recruiter and hiring manager will primarily ask behavioral questions to assess your culture fit. All they’ll have in hand is your resume and perhaps your LinkedIn profile. By targeting details in your resume, you’ll build a more tangible story of your culture fit.

Tip: Practice talking about your accomplishments out loud. As opposed to writing a cover letter and resume, sometimes verbalizing our strengths is the hardest part.

3. Prepare to grok the system design interview

Netflix’s technical interview questions aren’t like LeetCode questions. Instead, they’re more open-ended, with the aim of assessing your design skills and subject matter expertise. Since Netflix mainly hires senior developers, this emphasis on design skills is in line with industry expectations. This means you’ll want to study system design principles and practice system design interview questions.

System design interviews ask open-ended questions such as “Design the Uber backend,” “Design TinyURL," or “Design an API.” While you may not be asked this particular question, practicing designing video streaming services such as Netflix will surely be good to know too! Throughout the interview, you’ll share your thought process and whiteboard solutions to demonstrate how you apply design principles to real-world problems.

4. Study the fundamentals in one programming language

Netflix’s technical questions are focused on design, but you’ll still need to show your problem-solving skills with more basic programming concepts. Unless the job description says otherwise, we recommend focusing on a strong working knowledge of one programming language. Make sure to study various programming basics in that language, including design patterns and algorithms and data structures, such as binary search trees and linked lists.

5. Learn the ins and outs of the Netflix interview process

The Netflix hiring process consists of phone calls and onsite interviews. They cover both technical questions and behavioral questions. Since Netflix values hiring for their team, the interview process will not only involve HR and hiring managers, but engineering team members as well. You’ll want to research and prepare for each round in the interview process so that you know what to expect – and what is expected of you.

Reminder: Don’t procrastinate on reading the culture deck. Your culture fit will play a huge part in the interview process, as early as the initial phone screen.

6. Shake off your imposter syndrome

Job interviews make a lot of us nervous, and imposter syndrome can make it even worse. While it’s good to be humble, we often vastly underestimate the value we bring to the table (This is especially true for women in the tech world). If we don’t truly believe in ourselves, it’ll be harder to convince others to believe in us too.

Take some time to reflect and fully own your narrative and your accomplishments. Be generous with yourself and believe that you have the right stuff to blow the other candidates out of the water.

Tip: Sometimes it helps to dress the part. Even if nobody can see you in your PJs during a phone interview, there’s something powerful about embodying your professionalism with a professional "uniform."

 7. Have a winning mindset

A winning mindset is the key to success. While this may mean something different to everyone, we challenge you to approach it from what may seem a surprising angle: Be unafraid of failure.

There’s something liberating about fully engaging in the interview process, without getting too hung up about the results. Even if you don’t get an offer, you haven’t failed. With so many other developers competing for jobs at Netflix, sometimes you just won’t be the top pick. Don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t. Instead, reflect on what you could do better next time – and celebrate what you already did well. Certainly, you’ve become a stronger interviewer – and you’re one step closer to a developer job you love.

8. Position yourself as a next-gen engineer

Netflix is looking for folks who can journey forward with them into the constantly changing landscape of tech. You’ll want to position yourself as the right candidate to evolve and embrace new challenges with them along the way.

To position yourself as a next-gen engineer, express your enthusiasm and awareness of emerging technologies such as machine learning. Even if your position only requires proficiency in one language, express excitement about any opportunities to work with the other technologies at Netflix. Netflix uses various technologies across teams and departments, including Scala, Flink, Kafka, and SQL.

Wrapping up and next steps

Now that you know how to prepare for your Netflix interview, it’s time to get the pedal to the metal and get that dream job.

To help you grok your interviews, we’ve created Interview Prep with Educative. Here, you’ll find all our interview prep resources in one place, from courses and learning paths to free tutorials and educational blog resources. We cover all the bases, from coding questions to system design questions and answers.
Now go show them what you’ve got, and don’t forget us little people when you become a Netflix employee.

Happy learning!

Continue learning about interview prep on Educative

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