Netflix recruiters Chrissy Running and Mike Jones discuss the hiring process at Netflix; diversity, freedom and responsibility, compensation, vacation, and more. A lively and fun conversation with Lyle Troxell and Michael Paulson.
Netflix recruiters Chrissy Running and Mike Jones discuss the hiring process at Netflix; diversity, freedom and responsibility, compensation, vacation, and more. A lively and fun conversation with Lyle Troxell and Michael Paulson.
Many: We Are Netflix
Male: For curious people that enjoy what we create at Netflix, this podcast explores how the company operates via conversations between colleagues.
Lyle: Mike Jones studied biochemistry at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, then received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Supply Chain Management from the College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Has a long career including roles at ADP, Istation, and AT&T. And Mike’s first H.R. related role was a technical recruiter at Google in Austin. Then moved on to a three-and-a-half-year stint at Facebook focusing on recruiting for iOS Engineers. And about eight months ago, Mike joined Netflix as a technical recruiting researcher.Mike Jones, thanks for joining us.
Mike: Thank you, of course. Happy to be here.
Lyle: Okay. A real quick question: Did I lie about anything, first off?
Lyle: Was that all true?
Mike: Not at all.
Lyle: Okay. That’s good.
Mike: I-, it’s Istation.
Lyle: Istation. Okay.
Mike: Yeah. We have to correct some people all the time. We try to push them to change the name or—
Lyle: Or capitalize something. Yeah.
Mike: …like, put an accent over it or something, but...
Lyle: Yeah. Istation, okay. So, but at Facebook, you have-, on your LinkedIn profile, say recruiter and also diversity POC.Is that point of contact?
Lyle: So, was that part of your role?
Mike: Yes. So, it was a project that I took on that was kind of indefinite where I was responsible for essentially leading the charge for diversity recruiting for all of iOS.
Lyle: And I’m assuming that’s a very hard topic in the Silicon Valley, right? Because like, 80 percent white guys is like, a pretty serious problem we have in tech.
Lyle: Crissy Running studied organizational communication, business management, and public relations at Washington State University.Chrissy has worked in hiring at—
Lyle: Aerotek. Ooh, Aerotek Engineering, Tesla Motors, and Yahoo. Almost three years ago Chrissy joined Netflix. And you now have a staff including Mike right here. So, Chrissy Running, thank you for joining us.
Chrissy: Thank you for having me.
Lyle: What was the transition to manager? How’d that go for you?
Chrissy: At Netflix, it’s an easy transition because all of our managers here still recruits. We’re still hands-on. Verses at a lot of companies you get really removed once you step into a manager role.So, at Netflix, it’s more of an easy transition. But it is hard because you want to give your team opportunities instead of jumping in and doing everything yourself. So, I’m still finding that happy balance.
Lyle: Since I touched on diversity, is that a hard point? Is that something you guys are always working?How do you try to deal with getting a more diverse audience? Because you guys focus on engineers, right?
Lyle: How do you work on that?
Mike: A lot of it comes down to, really, understanding why diversity is important. You know, that’s the key to really getting everybody on board and just really understanding that, hey, if you’re building a company where your product is, you know, essentially the world, you need your employees to actually reflect who your customer base is going to be. Starting from that is, you know, is a really important point to get people motivated to, you know, to actually dig deep and search further for that, you know, for that talent since it is… You know, since it is-, it’s definitely missing here in the Bay Area in the tech scene.
Lyle: Is it a specific business goal of ours to become more diverse so that we represent our audience better? Is that like, a real mission of ours? Or is that more like, it feels right to do that?
Chrissy: I think that’s an added bonus. I think the end goal is to have a diverse team because you want diverse thought. You want people that can solve problems in different ways. So, I think that it’s really understanding, what does diversity mean?You know? Even if you hired five people that all differently from an appearance standpoint, but they all went to Stanford and majored in the same thing, and then they all went on to work at Google. How diverse is your team? So, I think it’s taking it a step further in understanding from managers like, what does diversity mean to you? And when I ask managers at Netflix that, I get really different and interesting answers.
Lyle: Diverse answers, you could say?
Lyle: I’ve talked on this topic a bit on my personal podcast over the years. And it’s because it sets this very challenging problem because this large base of people graduating, a whole pipeline, that whole argument thing, which is a little misleading to the real problem. But I think that that core aspect of like, it’s beneficial for the business is a key point to start with. Because if you’re not doing that, you’re just making yourselves look better.Like, you have to understand that it’s important at the root level to have diverse thought, which means people from all different backgrounds and areas. Do you think we’re doing well? Some of these large corporations have, that, kind of, diversity documents that they publish and, kind of, be proud and pat themselves on the back. I mean, I know that we’re doing badly only in as much as I know all the people that work here. And it’s still not representation of the human population of the planet or even of California. But do you feel like we’re getting better at this?
Chrissy: I think we’re getting better at it because we’re educating our self on different ways to explore it and why it’s important. To your point, it’s not just let’s hire diverse people so that we can get our numbers up and look good. It’s, why is this important? How do we find these people? And so, approaching it from that, I see us getting better. I also think that the way that we approach diversity is different and more genuine than a lot of companies. You know, a lot of companies just hire a diversity and inclusion manager. And they’re in charge of hiring diversity for the whole company. And at Netflix, we say it’s everyone’s job. And so, in that, you know, we’re always doing things to better educate ourselves. So, we have unconscious bias training for our whole team. We’ve had a few of those. We have another one coming up this next month. The engineering teams do it as well. So, it’s not only how do we get these people in the door, but then, how do we make them happy? How do we create an inclusive environment where they want to stay, where they want to recommend their friends? And so, I think that juts through education we’re continuing to get better. But it’s not like flipping a light switch. It’s going to take time. And I think that we’ll see the results over the next five years.
Lyle: I’m going to start us off with a statement that just seems apropos. I really don’t like recruiters.
Chrissy: We get that a lot.
Lyle: Michael, have you had that experience?
Mike: You know, I never get annoying e-mails where people just assume I can’t wait to leave a full-time position for a contract position.
Lyle: You never get those on Tuesday.
Mike: Just-, yeah. That happens.That feeling of mine, actually, stems from the dot com era when it was just everybody want-, if you could type on a computer, you know, you were needed. And so, there was really nasty tactics being used. And I still see a bit of that. I’m, of course, being flippant. I don’t really feel that way. In fact, in the last five years or so, I’ve felt that the contact I’ve gotten from recruiters, even just blind contact, has been a lot better. Maybe it’s because they got more knowledge about who I am from my LinkedIn profile or whatever. Or maybe the-, just the area has become a more-, technical recruiting has become a more fine-grown discipline. There’s better trained people in the environment. And I’m assuming that’s the reason.
Mike: I would definitely say so. That, and the competition has gotten significantly better. So, if you get a blind reach out that just says, ‘Hey, I saw your experience and I think you’d be great. You know, let’s chat.’ And has reference to nothing that you’ve done in the past, you’re less likely to respond to that one. Where if I send you a message that says, hey, I’ve seen your career. You know, I like the work that you did here at Netflix, or, you know, your previous company. You know, I really think you’d be a great fit for this role because of X, Y, Z, you’re at least more apt to respond to that than if I sent something out to you that was just blind that seemed like it was a robot blasting out to a thousand people.
Lyle: Is this the research part in your title?
Mike: It is. It’s apparent when I get unsolicited messages that say, hey, we have this awesome engineering position. You know, you should come work here. And I’m like, wow, you didn’t even—
Lyle: You missed.
Mike: Yeah. You didn’t even open my profile. And I think that’s what separates a good recruiter from a bad one is, you know, here at Netflix don’t play the numbers game. It’s really more quality approach over a quantity approach.
Lyle: I assume that the job at hiring at Netflix as for engineers is a lot easier than other companies. Not specifically because the pay or the job or any of that. It’s just that the Netflix name has this, kind of, excitement. People are excited about the term. You know?And when I wear shwag around and someone’s like, you work at Netflix? They get excited about that. And I’m assuming that’s true for an engineer, even if they’re happy at their role at Google or AT&T or wherever they are. I’m assuming that they go, I’ll talk to you. Is that true?
Mike: I definitely think so. Netflix—
Lyle: So, your job is easy is what you’re saying.
Mike: Yeah, I wish.
Mike: I would say it does make it a little easier. But it’s still quite difficult, especially going up against some of our larger competitors. So, I definitely wouldn’t say it’s easy by any means. But it, kind of, sparked this thing in people’s minds like, hey, I haven’t been reached out to anybody from Netflix whereas, you know, a larger company, you may have been reached out to by, you know, 10 recruiters, you know, talking about the same job. I get a lot of responses saying like, wow. It’s nice to hear from somebody at, you know, at Netflix. You know, yeah, let’s hop on a call and, you know, I might not be interested. But, you know, let’s-, you know, I’m interested to hear what, you know, what you guys have going on and, you know, where the future’s going to take you.
Chrissy: I would say it also depends on the type of engineer you’re reaching out to. So, if we’re talking about video streaming, if we’re talking about UI, I think that people are very interested. When we’re talking about device-specific, more embedded software engineering roles, I, a lot of the time, will get ‘Wow, I didn’t know that Netflix did so much work on different devices.’ And I didn’t think about Netflix for, you know, embedded game consoles or set top boxes and that sort of thing. So, I think in some regards, UI engineering, for example, has done a really great job of branding the work that they do. And so, they’ve almost created like, a community outside of Netflix.
Chrissy: And then I think on the other side of the house in some of our teams, we still have work to do to explain to the world like, what we do with devices and why it’s so cool.
Lyle: So, what’s the pitch on embedded devices? What do you say?
Chrissy: We’re on hundreds of millions of devices. Depends on the type of engineer I’m talking to.
Lyle: Let’s say you’re talking to somebody that does driver development for Chips of something.
Lyle: I hope you’re ready for this.
Lyle: What do you say in that realm? I’m just putting you on the spot. I’m—
Chrissy: Sure. No.No, no, no. It’s great. So, I’ll give you an example for like, Mike and I are working on a security role where we’re looking for people who can essentially work with all the different partners.So, when you think about the OEMs or all the people that build actual devices. So, we’re looking for an engineer who can actually review the code for these different partners for the products that they’re building so that we can make sure that it’s devices that are built in a way that will stream Netflix in a secure way. And so, it’s really awesome because these engineers are actually influencing the way that different devices are built down to the chip level.
Mike: And when we’re talking about devices, we’re talking about TVs or things that act like TVs.
Mike: This is a code-base called NRDP, Netflix Ready Device Platform. It’s kind of like an operating system that we build our app on and we make a whole SDK for-, a manufacturer, like, any TV manufacturer. I see an LG TV in front of me right now. Like, an LG or Sony. We give them this big kit. They install it in their TV and get it running. And that whole process, of course, is a whole bunch of engineering they have to do.And we check it and make sure it works.And, of course, when we get a unit from them, we help them all along the process. And then at some point their system is ready and thumbs up and ready to go.And then we can deploy our app on their system. And that’s how the Netflix icon shows up on your TV effectively. So, that whole process means that, oh, if I’m been working at a manufacturing company for a long time doing embedded chip design stuff, could be a very useful role at Netflix engaging with those types of people at LG or whatever and actually demoing it. If you walk around, you’ll see a whole bunch of PCBs on standoffs which are the next version of the greatest TV that’s about to come out which is kind of cool.
Lyle: By the way, what is OEM? I am not…
Chrissy: Original Engineering-, Equipment Manufacturer.
Lyle: So, the LG is the OEM?
Lyle: We got the Netflix brand which helps sometimes but will confuse somebody. Because it’s like, oh, you do that kind of stuff? So, that’s a bit of a barrier. But in general, I’m assuming that especially if they’re in the area… Because, of course, all our engineering efforts are in Silicon Valley still. Do we have any LG-, I mean, any people in Los Angeles that are development?
Lyle: Content engineering, right?
Chrissy: Yeah. The studio tech world.
Lyle: That’s a new thing because when I was here, first came, no engineers down there. So, a bit of that barrier. But we’ve got the great brand. What’s the story that’s different here verses like, hiring at Google or hiring at Yahoo?How is it different?
Mike: The thing that I chat with candidates about the most is our teams are really, really lean compared to, you know, compared to a lot of our competitors. So, if you come here, you’re going to own a really, really large chunk of what it is that you work on. And we’re going to put all of the trust in you that you’re going to, you know, you’re going to get all this done because the great thing about being at a large company is if you don’t get something done, you know, somebody else on your team probably will. Whereas here, it’s all on you or it doesn’t get done. Someone having ownership or a lot more ownership over what it is that they’re working on is a big pull for them.
Lyle: We got that in the last podcast with Jessica Giordano. [phonetic 00:12:31] We really got a lot of that feeling that they had ownership.I actually led a project that was, kind of, started up in engineered focused. Very different than you’ll see in a situation where there’s 300 people working on the same thing.
Lyle: Does that scare candidates? How often do people go, I don’t want… I don’t want to be the sole cog in this machine?
Mike: I haven’t seen that just yet. But if so, that’s probably a bad sign. So…
Lyle: Or a good sign not to be here, yeah.
Mike: But I mean, even me personally, I, you know, came from a background where the mobile recruiting is done by close to 100 recruiters.Whereas here it’s, kind of, you know, myself and, you know, a recruiter working with me on the roles. And, you know, that’s pretty much it. So, even from that standpoint, the ownership that I have now over the entire process and the entire pipeline is night and day from what it was for me in the past.
Lyle: Was it scary for you?
Mike: It was. It was.Lynn, or director, kind of, gave me a warning before coming in. And…
Lyle: What’d she say?
Mike: She told me, ‘Hey, Mike, look…’ And Lynn loves when I tell this story because she always happens to be over my shoulder when I’m telling it at a happy hour or something. But she told me, hey, Mike, you know, you’re going to come in here. We’re going to pay you well. And you’re probably going to work significantly harder. And I was like, ah, you don’t know what you’re talking about.Like, I work pretty hard. And then got here. And my first couple of weeks I was like, all right. This is all you, Mike. Like, you know, what progress have we had? Because there’s no one else doing it. So, you’re the only one moving the needle. So, yeah. It was a big change.
Lyle: Harder or with more responsibility and ownership?I find the later, right? I feel like my actual hours are, kind of, comparable to how I’ve always worked. I’ve always been, kind of, someone that got things done. But the actual ownership level of responsibility is a little different. So, you feel more empowered, but also more responsible.
Mike: Yeah, I think so. And you’re going to have more impact. But also, it, kind of, forces you to work a lot more efficiently to get the same job done or a larger job done in a similar amount of time. So, working efficiently was one of my challenges starting off.
Lyle: Chrissy’s nodding her head. That’s not a good sign.
Lyle: She agrees.
Lyle: She agrees. That was your problem.
Lyle: Was it one of the 360 points that you mentioned?
Mike: Yeah. Right?And, you know, our notion of real-time feedback, that was something that was presented to me a number of times.And, you know, it really, you know, really, kind of, helped me zero in on exactly where I was wasting time and where I could be more efficient with my time on a daily basis. So, it definitely helped out.
Lyle: What was your big fears of coming here? Because you said you were-, you had some hesitation.
Mike: I think just taking the leap. You know, taking the leap was pretty scary. I was pretty happy at Facebook. You know, it was just the fear of the unknown, really. And being-, you know, and taking on the responsibility of something that, again, there’s no-, you know, there’s no one to fall back on.
Lyle: So, your role specifically is like, the one point person for iOS engineer hiring here?
Lyle: Was it mobile engineering?
Lyle: Mobile. Okay.So, it’s bigger as well.
Lyle: There’s probably five managers that deal with that kind of role. And they’re all talking to you saying, I need this kind of people. I need, you know, QA or I need engineers, whatever their need is. And you’re having to field all this. I’m assuming that means you-, a big part of your role is, kind of, building up an un-, a space of what’s possible in the area, what people you are-, we already have contacts for. It’s a lot of like, collection of, kind of, relationships that we could then take advantage of. Unfortunately, I hate to say it that way to then contact a person without being cold.So, how do you foster getting that information and collecting? What does it look like from a… Like, if I watched over your shoulder, what would you be doing?
Mike: Sure. So, a lot of it, you know, comes down to just really figuring out like, if I come across a candidate and I see that they’re connected with, you know, with some of the team members here, reaching out to the team members and saying, hey, you know, can you reach out to this person? You’re—
Lyle: So, you’re like, looking at LinkedIn. Find somebody.
Mike: Hm-hmm. [affirmative]
Lyle: And then you say, hey, they’ve got a connection with Michael. Let’s see if Michael knows who this person is.
Lyle: And then, you know, hey, Michael, do you mind-, you know, if you do know this person, and, you know, you agree with, you know, you agree that they should, you know, they should be here at Netflix. You know, do you mind making an introduction so that at least we can hop on the phone? Because obviously an introduction coming from you is much better than a completely cold reach out from me. As personalized as it may be.
Lyle: So, I work with Mobile all the time, right? That’s my space. And I see really great people. Not a lot of people leaving. A lot of work being done. Why do we need someone dedicated full-time to hire more engineers in mobile? What’s the secret? What am I not getting? Am I about to lose my job?
Chrissy: I think right now we’re trying to do what every company is trying to do. Or, not every company, but a lot of the companies in the Bay Area. And that’s, we want to expand globally. And so, in order to do that, a lot of people use mobile predominantly to listen to music, to watch movies, and watch content. And so, when we think about expanding globally, mobile is a huge, huge priority for us. It’s also a really, really hard skillset to hire for because everyone else is hiring mobile, specifically Android. Because around the world, a lot of people use Android. But in the U.S., most-, the Android team’s not going to be happy with me.
Lyle: Don’t say it. Don’t you say it.
Chrissy: Okay. I won’t say it. But…
Lyle: Don’t you say it.
Lyle: Michael picked up his Android device. What you’re saying is in the U.S. it’s the market with the highest saturation of iOS compared to Android. Other markets normally Android leads rather than iOS.
Chrissy: Right. Which makes it difficult to find those Android engineers to do some of the global work that we’re trying to do.
Lyle: Because they’ve got jobs.
Chrissy: And so, I think for us, you know, we don’t have a ton of mobile hiring on the roadmap for this year. But our goal is to have a waiting list to get into Netflix. I mean, we want to brand ourselves and be the company that people think about when they say, hm, where do I want to work next?
Lyle: So, does that mean that you’re-, when you’re talking to people, kind of, engaging with and learning about and such, you might go, oh, that’s a person I want to talk to again in six months or a year. You might be thinking, hey, they’ll probably join us in the next five years at some point. Is that the kind of thought process?
Chrissy: Absolutely. And so, to kind of go back to your initial question that was, you know, what would it look like if I looked over your shoulder? A lot of our job is, you know, getting to the warmest leads or candidates that are familiar with Netflix. So, maybe they’ve attended an event. Maybe they’ve listened to a podcast. Maybe we’ve had dinner with them before. And so, getting to those people first. And, in fact, sometimes those conversations lead to an opportunistic hire. So, Mike just hired someone on the Android team that we don’t even have a job opening right now. But she came in. She killed it in the interview. And it was like, why would we not hire this person?
Lyle: Did she accept the offer?
Mike: She did.
Lyle: Okay, that’s good.
Mike: She did. So, so we high-fived her in the office yesterday. Of course, in the world of mobile recruiting, there was an offer already on the table, you know, with some pressure coming down on her. So, you know, so it was definitely challenging, especially in the Android space.
Lyle: Was this platform Android, or UI Android?
Lyle: There’s no manager for the UI team right now, right?Aren’t you guys hiring that too?
Chrissy: Yeah. Plug.Plug if you’re an Android director.
Mike: Yes. Please come talk to us.
Lyle: So, I’m assuming like, San Pan [phonetic 00:19:28] who manages those teams in general, kind of, helped in the recruiting process that this was a hiring manager and… Yeah.
Chrissy: Well, I was just going to give a quick shout out to Mike too because this candidate was already at offer stage with another company.I think she had actually verbally accepted another offer. And Netflix got her in, interviewed, and gave her an offer the same day while she was on-site. So, we…I think the difference between us and companies is we can really hustle for someone that we’re excited about.
Lyle: Any time I’ve transitioned jobs, it’s always been, kind of, a surprise that it happened. And then all of a sudden, I was in a new job. Like, it felt like that. And it feels like, the better way to do that, of course, is to look at a lot of potentials at the same time. But, of course, that takes more work and all that. So, I can kind of get that space. Like, if I’m in the process where I’m going to leave where I currently am. I’m about to go somewhere else. If someone talks to me at that same time, a lot of those questions I already have answered. I’m decided to leave. So, now it’s really a discussion about where I want to go. So, it seemed like the appropriate time to do that. Of course, that other company, there are people in your same roles trying to get that person. So, there’s a bit of pressure there. How do you make sure that she made the right decision, Mike?
Mike: So, a lot of it fell on Sam and Bianca who’s the back-end recruiter. I think what helped us in this situation was taking more of the consultative approach and just saying like, hey, we-, you know, we really want you to find what the best place for you is going to be. And if it’s not Netflix, then that’s okay, rather than…
Lyle: Is that genuine?
Mike: Yeah. Absolutely.Absolutely.
Lyle: Why is that genuine? Because, of course, you’re, kind of, judged on whether you get good people in or not, right?
Mike: Absolutely. But we’re less metrics driven than, you know, than most companies out there and most-, you know, most recruiting organizations. And it’s specifically set up that way so that we aren’t trying to fit, you know, a circle into a square, you know, a square hole. You know, we want somebody to come here because they want to be here and they want to stay for a long time.
Lyle: And they’ll fit well. Right? Like, they’ll have a good job to be here.
Lyle: And the truth is, if she said, yeah, we’re going to go somewhere else… She’s going to go with this other company. In three or four years you might have the same conversation with her. And by that time, she’ll be like, hm. They were really genuine with me and helped me out.
Lyle: Yeah. So, it is important to have a real relationship rather than just a… We don’t want to trick anybody to work here.
Mike: Absolutely. And I think when it comes to-, when it comes to evaluating offers and where you’re-, you know, where you’re looking at spending the next, you know, three to five to 10 years of your life, I think it’s important to have everything on the table so that you can really make the best decision for yourself and your family if you have one. So that when you do land here, you know, all right. You know? I made the right decision. I knew all of my options were on the table, or I knew what my options were. You know, and I feel like I made the right choice, you know, without a-, you know, without any crazy pressure from any recruiters as well.
Chrissy: Yeah. One of the things about working at Netflix is as a recruiter, we’re-, Mike already mentioned this. But we’re not measured by how many people we hire. We’re not measured by how many people we extend offers to. And the reason we do that is because if I’m partnering with a hiring manager, I need to be their consultant and I need to be able to poke holes and say like, you know, if you only have one opening for the rest of the year, is this the person that you want? What are the risks of hiring this person? Would you be disappointed if they joined another company? And I think our business partners really appreciate that.And so, we never want to be held to metrics because we don’t want to feel like we’re obligated to make a hire.We always want to do what’s best for the company and best for the candidate. And so, we are able to generally say like… I get paid the same regardless of whether you come. Right? My job is not on the line.
Lyle: There’s no commission thing going on.
Chrissy: Exactly. So, like, let’s talk about the pros and cons of you joining Netflix. Let’s talk about your reservations. Let’s talk about where you want to be in five years from now.And I think candidates really appreciate that because we’ve all had those calls with the recruiter where we just feel like we’re being cornered. So, I think candidates really appreciate that. And to your point, we do have people that will call us two weeks later or a year later and say, ‘Hey, I made a huge mistake. I want to come to Netflix.’
Lyle: Chrissy, how… If you’re not looking at metrics, how do you know Mike’s doing a good job?
Chrissy: I know that Mike’s doing a good job because we have a culture of open feedback. And so, I know that he’s doing a good job when I hear managers come to me and say, ‘Wow, I’m so impressed with the way Mike Taylor’s every message to these candidates.’ I can see how many candidates are responding to Mike and that his response rate is really high considering the type of engineers he’s going to. Candidates that will say, you know, ‘I joined because of Mike.And he made the process so comfortable for me.’ So, I think just keeping it real with Mike and telling him the things that he’s really excelling at and then telling him, hey, you’re going down a rabbit hole. What’s been going on this week? And him to say, oh, shoot, okay, I needed to hear that. You know, we’ve had those conversations. And then that allows him to pivot and make changes and get better really quickly.
Lyle: Let’s talk about feedback for a second. Did either of you give each other 360 feed—
Lyle: We should probably qua—
Lyle: Yeah. Got it.
Lyle: You want to do it? Go ahead. 360.Go ahead.
Lyle: 360 Feedback is a once-a-year event that we get everybody rallied around the idea that constructive feedback will make everyone at the company better. And so, everyone gets an opportunity to tell any other co-workers, partners on other teams, hey, here are areas in which I see you excelling. Here are areas in which I think you should stop doing this behavior.And here are areas that I think you should start doing a behavior.
Lyle: Chris, do you want to add anything to that?
Chrissy: I would say that the way in which we do this feedback is traditionally written. But a lot of teams-, our team, for example, does it verbally. So, we give it to each other real-time.
Lyle: So, you do the 360’s real-time?
Chrissy: Yeah. We give-, yeah. Verbal.
Lyle: During the year? So, you read yours out loud?
Lyle: Dear Chrissy…
Lyle: It’s a performance piece on stage.
Lyle: To clarify, so what Michael’s saying is that we do that real feedback all the time, critiquing and giving feedback to each other so we can learn throughout the year. And then…And that’s, kind of like, brushing your teeth is the analogy we use. And that the 360 process where we write it down is more like, we visit the dentist and get a good cleaning. So, it’s, kind of, to help you keep that hygiene going of being really clear and give candid feedback. The thing that’s, kind of, amazing here is when you practice this. Especially when you’ve been here a long time, you notice that your colleagues change in the good ways because of your feedback which is weird to see. Like, I almost don’t… I almost don’t believe it when it happens. Like, yeah. That person’s not doing that anymore. It’s-, they resolve-, they improved themselves if you will. So, let me-, so, I just want to ask you like, because you guys are, got the manager/employee relationship, do either of you give feedback that was hard to hear/hard to give this time around that you want to share with the world?
Chrissy: To each other, or just in general?
Lyle: Well, I thought to each other because it-, the two-sided thing is kind of an interesting process. But I also don’t want to put you on the spot.
Chrissy: I was on maternity leave. So, I, unfortunately, didn’t get as much feedback. I was kind of like, out of sight, out of mind. But I think I give Mike feedback. So, if he’s comfortable sharing, he can…
Mike: I’d say that the common theme of my feedback was don’t be afraid to hop in. I found myself pretty hesitant to really, dive in and use the skills and, you know, and resources that I’d gained over the, you know, over the past couple of years within.
Lyle: Over your career.
Mike: Yeah. Over my career. And I was so used to asking for permission rather than just hopping in and kind of doing.What I knew in my head was right but I was so used to getting, you know, getting a checkmark. Like, okay. Now you can-, you know, now you can move forward. So, that was… You know, that was a big theme of my feedback.
Lyle: Was it hard to hear?
Lyle: Was it-, the first time you heard it, were you surprise?
Mike: No. So, it wasn’t-, you know, it wasn’t the first time I heard it. And that’s the point, you know, of real-time feedback is, you know, hey, this shouldn’t be the first time that you’re hearing it. And if so, something was wrong along the way and somebody should have spoken up and said it initially. It was refreshing to hear because while uncomfortable, you know, to some extent, it was refreshing to hear and to know that, hey, you know, this is feedback that I’ve gotten before. And along-, you know, bundled up within that feedback as well, it said, you know, hey, we’ve seen you make progress. Like, it’s-, you know, you’re doing great. But, you know, keep going.
Lyle: Right. So, even though a lot of people you talk to are people that know somebody at Netflix because there’s, kind of, that aspect. There’s also the, kind of, cold call. How do you guys-, how do you explain this… I think of Netflix, the way the Netflix business works is very different than most businesses. In general, this idea of freedom responsibility and what that actually means inside that.How do you present that to people that don’t know the name of the company? How do you start that dialogue?
Chrissy: Mike and I had a lot of conversations about this before he joined trying to explain it. But it is really hard. You know?You almost have to come in and experience it yourself.
Mike: Yeah. It’s tough.And actually, you know, I have something written down here, which Chrissy probably doesn’t know that I’m going to mention. But I attended a Netflix happy hour prior to coming on board. And Chrissy asked at some point, you know, what vacations do you have planned? And I was like, oh, I’m not a big vacation guy. You know, I typically take like, a day or two off here. And the stare that I got from her, like, I felt like reached down into my soul. And she was like—
Lyle: Was this before you worked here?
Mike: Yeah. This is before I got here.
Lyle: Wow. That’s an interesting tactic to hire.
Lyle: Oh, so, you scare people is what you’re saying.
Mike: I was like, oh, my gosh. And offer was signed already. And, you know, she… She said, hey, if you, you know, if you don’t start taking… You know, if you don’t start taking more vacations, we’re going to have…You know, we’re going to have some one-on-ones about this. And I was like, oh, gosh. Like…
Lyle: Wait, Chrissy, why? Why is it so important for you that employees take vacations?
Chrissy: I mean, I don’t want to take the air out of his sails, but he’s getting there.
Lyle: Okay, go ahead. Go ahead, Mike.
Mike: But, no. It was great because it really encourages you to take time to recharge. I definitely appreciated it. And it was a story that I told, you know, family and co-workers. And…
Lyle: My new boss is forcing me to take vacations.
Mike: Yeah. She just threated me to take more vacation or else we’re going to have issues. And then, what’s funny, I actually had a one-on-one with one of our team members, Bianca yesterday. And she said, so, you’ve got to stop taking these three-day, you know, these three-day or, you know, one-day and then weekend vacations. She’s like, when are you going to take two weeks off?And I was like, uh… So, we literally sat down and looked through my calendar and said, all right. This is probably the week that you should go do it. So…
Lyle: So, you’re getting help on your vacations.
Mike: Yeah. To get out of the office.
Lyle: A little real-time feedback, you’ve got to relax a little bit more. Just take that, take that time off.
Chrissy: I think it’s important because we all work extremely hard here. And so, Netflix philosophy is essentially we’re not tracking how many hours you spend in the office or that you spend answering e-mails. And so, we’re not going to track the time that you spend on vacation.And I think it’s not only important for Mike to recharge and for myself to recharge, but the example that it sends to everyone else. And so, we all know those people who never take vacations. And then it can be-, it can spiral. It can become, you know, where everyone thinks, oh, because of this senior recruiter or this senior manager doesn’t take vacation, it means I can’t take vacation. And so, I think it’s just good to hold our peers accountable and our colleagues accountable because, really, you know, we need to encourage each other. And so, when I joined Netflix, I was interviewing.And my manager said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to interview on these days because I’m going to be at Bottle Rock in Napa.’ And I thought, oh, that’s cool. And then she went to extend me the offer and she said, ‘You’ve got to accept by this date because I’m going camping with my family and I’m not going to have cell phone service for a week and a half.’
Lyle: And you’re like, you just came back from a thing.
Chrissy: Exactly. And then, it gets better. She’s like, ‘All right. So, I’ve got to have you start on this day because I’m going to Europe for three weeks with my husband.’ And I’m like, does this lady work? But really, you know, she’s a mom of four. And family comes first. And so, for me, I love having that example of someone who spends time with their family, who takes that time to re-charge, but also, when she’s at the office, you know, just kills it in her job.
Lyle: And so, she does kill it. She is good at her job. She works hard.
Lyle: Yeah. Yeah.I think, kind of, everybody here is working on-, you know, one of the things I try to talk-, I do a couple of things.And you guys can judge me on if I’m doing this right. I say, first off, if you’ve found yourself in jobs where you’re a little frustrated by people not picking up the ball and doing things, that’s a good sign that you’d fit here because everybody does pick up the ball. And in other-, I worked in education for a long time. And wonderful people. Some really amazing things. Of course, the core goal of the university is really admirable. But there was definitely times where I’m like, wow, I have to compensate for these people. And I’d get resentment because I’d be doing all this work because I wanted to get it done and other people weren’t getting… You don’t run into that problem here. So, I kind of lean on that. Like, what do you look like over the career? Do you have to be told what to do? Are you, kind of-, do you start dilly-dallying and not doing the work because something distracts you? That’s not a good sign. And that’s really just more that I know some people will thrive in this environment. I know some people will not. This motivation of like, moving from a-, being told what to do to being motivated to do it by yourself. The one responsibility you have as an employee here is to change yourself to do that. That’s hard to do.
Lyle: How do you decide to do that? How do you do it?
Mike: I think a lot of it comes down to really, looking around at your peers and realizing that they’re doing the same. And I think a lot of the motivation comes from, you know, sitting in a meeting and being like, wow. I’m going to push myself to be, you know, to be more like this person because, you know, because that’s where I want to be in my career, you know, in a year-two years from now. So, I think a lot of it comes from, really, just looking around the table and seeing, you know, how much-, you know, the great work that our peers are doing and really, you know, a lot of it comes from that, kind of, peer motivation there to make sure that you get the job done. And again, if you don’t, you know, the ball is, kind of, yours. So, if you-, you know, if the ball is dropped, there really aren’t many people who will, you know, who can pick it up behind you.
Lyle: It’s kind of like how you raise kids to be independent in some ways, right? Like, well, do it or you’re not going to get it done.
Lyle: Okay. So, diversity, we have a serious problem in software engineering that I’m glad we’re, kind of, assessing that and showing that and spearing across the company. I hear it from my manager directly which is really cool to hear the need for us to focus on empowering diversity in every process of our work. So, that’s great. The other aspect we have that’s, kind of, problematic in the engineering space is this idea of how you judge whether a person has the qualifications to do the job. And this does not mean they have a bachelor’s degree in science or whatever. I don’t have a degree in computer science. Michael, do you?
Mike: Oh, yeah. Montana State University. Just FYI, anyone from Montana, please come out.
Lyle: So, you’re not alone?
Lyle: But what we do in tech is we find people that are interested in being here. And they come in to a pipeline process. This is how big businesses work. And that person’s put into a room with a couple of people that quiz them with a whiteboard. How do you make a link list? You know?What are the other things people…?
Mike: We do not do that here. I can’t tell you what we do here because we’re [unintelligible 00:33:10].
Lyle: [unintelligible 00:33:10].
Mike: But we, kind of, know that this process doesn’t really achieve the goal that it’s supposed to achieve. And yet, we’re-, I still see it happening here at Netflix at some level.I-, you made a comment about someone not understanding prototypical chain recently. Which I was like, yeah, but it will take like, five minutes to teach them that. So, I’m not convinced that we’re doing that part of it well. And I know that that’s not your role because the hiring manager. But do you guys-, have you been researching that and looking at it and seeing what better tactics there are to help improve our hiring managers on the process and flow?
Chrissy: Absolutely. And it is conversations that we have with managers because our job is to get the best people in the door. And part of that is how do we assess? Who are we assessing? Are we setting them up for success? So, I think a common misconception in the industry is that you have to have those, kind of like, gotcha questions. Right?But that’s not real life. In real life, you’re given all the context. You’re given time. And then you’re-, you execute. And so, I think that taking a step back and approaching recurring from that lens is like… So, if we give these people the context going into it, what are the risks? Is this different from what their job would look like? And so, just, I think challenging managers to think that way. The other thing coming back to diversity is, so a common thing I see is managers wanting to do a 10-15-hour take-home exercise. Me, as a mom, I do not have 10 hours after work to go home and do a 10-hour exercise. And so, if you’re expecting your candidates to do these exercises outside of an interview or these like, take-home assignments, you may be only appealing to one side of the audience. Or, you know, perhaps you have a man and a woman. They both do the exercise. The woman spends three hours that she has. The man spends 15. And therefore, you get different outputs. So, one solution to that is, have them do an exercise on-site. And instead of having them do some crazy, you know, computer science fundamental type gotcha question, why don’t you have them work on something that would be similar to what they would actually work on here?And give them the context about like, this is what we do here. This is why it’s important. Here’s how we build this.
Lyle: Are we doing that?
Chrissy: Some teams.
Lyle: If we get rid of the take home though, you’re judging someone’s technical skills potentially in, you know, maybe an hour or two hours.That’s a very hard thing to do to get right. I feel like we probably are more selective than we need to from a technical perspective because I came from a self-taught and I’ve had to learn a lot here even though I’m a senior-, was hired as a senior. So, I’m curious, do you guys watch the process in the hiring flow? Do you take a look and do you sit in the meetings with the whiteboards? Do you do that kind of stuff?
Mike: Not the on-site technical interviews. Just because it would just go way over my head.
Lyle: Right, right, right.
Mike: But with each candidate that comes in, we typically will do a debrief, you know, with the entire team and really just discuss how each interview went. And really dig down. And if we find out that, hey, if we’re doing X and we’re just seeing that, you know, 99 percent of the candidates aren’t making it through, maybe we should take a step back and, you know, and see, is this, you know, is this the right way to go about evaluating this talent? And can anybody pass it? You know?
Lyle: Is really-, I mean, it’s a hard problem.
Lyle: I’m not saying it’s an easy problem by any means.What about the aspect of when you find someone, you guys are like, oh, this person’s amazing? Like, you know, they’re at Apple. They did some, you know, iOS development at Apple in the operating system and they’re being hired on the iOS team as the process. When they went to the whiteboarding, they failed. And they’re not getting hired. Do you ever see that problem and go, wait a second.Let’s reassess this. Let’s hire them anyway? Any of that kind of thing?
Chrissy: One that does happen, oftentimes it’s… They’re coming from a large company and haven’t had quite the ownership that we’re looking for. So, that’s one thing is, you know, there’s 150 other people working on this one tiny piece of the pie. And when we are interviewing someone, the technical skills are important, yes. But it’s also, how do you work cross-functionally?How do you defend your ideas? How do you show up in meetings? How do you innovate? So, all of those things could be reasons why these people would be disqualified. If it does really seem like a technical miss and this person let’s say, worked at startups, had ownership, and it really should have been a slam dunk, I think that just talking to the manager and the team, like, where did we miss? Right? Where do we think things went wrong here? And to your point, Lyle, I think asking the questions of, okay, they missed these few questions. How long would it take someone to learn this? What’s the time that it would take to ramp? Because if this role’s going to take us six or seven months to hire on and find the right person, someone could ramp up in a month. Maybe it’s worth the investment.
Lyle: Right. This person looks great in all other ways. So, let’s give them three months and…
Lyle: We talk about this a lot, actually, on our team.
Lyle: Do we? Okay. Because I’m not in the technical hiring on our team.I haven’t been for a while. So, what does it work like for OUI?
Mike: One big thing is we emphasize communication as a large part because being on OUI, we’re not on any individual team. We are simply a team that has to integrate with all other teams. And so, we’re often a conduit for communication and not necessarily the most technically challenging problems. And so, that makes things different. It makes it a little bit harder. So, that means our algo portion of the interview is definitely not something that I’ve gotten at other places. It’s definitely easier and harder at the exact same time. Our take home is now reduced. We-, you know, we tell people not to really spend more than five hours on it.You should be spending a little amount of time. It’s about defending your ideas and how to extend it. And we have live exercises of extending it. We’re trying to alter it so that if someone comes in and they’re technically confident and great at communication, they’ll more likely achieve getting onto OUI than say, if you’re really, really awesome at algorithms. Like, we recently had an interview where someone was really awesome at algorithms, but their communication wasn’t quite par.
Lyle: Like, by the book, kind of thing, right?
Mike: Yeah. Like, if you asked them to make a linked list, they’ll ask for single or double?Like, they’ll be just really, really on point. But communication may be lacking and that is more of a concern for a team in which you’re, kind of, dictating all these other teams’ experiences.
Lyle: Right. And seriously, we just hire-, we just completed hiring two people. So, we’re, kind of… We just went through that process. What was the mis factor? Like, how many people came in for, you know, one of those positions verses how many we actually interviewed?
Mike: So, here’s an interesting fact that the two people that we did hire, I did not interview. So, maybe there’s a little something there.
Lyle: [unintelligible 00:39:12].
Mike: Apparently, I just say no. But, you know, often I think any good company that you’re trying to hire “all-stars”, you’re missing 100 out of one is my assumption. It’s not easy. If the analogy is sports teams, then only very few out of a thousand actually ever get anywhere near there. And so, I think that’s somewhat similar here. But recruiting oftenly filters out most of that. And so, when they come on-site, they’re more likely for success then.
Lyle: Do we still use a sports team metaphor here?
Lyle: I think in our document. We do a ‘Dream Team.’
Lyle: See, I ignore all sports. So, I didn’t know that.
Chrissy: I think one thing that’s important to highlight with our interview process though is that we don’t strive for consensus. And so, a lot of times, you know, hiring managers will say, thank you for your feedback. I’m going to take the bet. You know?Where it’s very different from most companies where you get maybe an average score. And that score either leads to a hire or a no hire. So, I’ve seen it where most people on the interview panel were a no and we still hire the people and they’re great. And so, ultimately, going back to, you know, freedom and responsibly and what does that look like on a day-to-day basis at Netflix? Hiring managers have the freedom to hire people that they believe are going to be successful, you know, regardless of the feedback that they get from their team. It’s important data points. But it’s not the deciding factor.
Lyle: One of the things that I recalled doing in my interview process is afterwards when talking with the hiring manager, Maxine, I’d mentioned my pro-, the process in where I went-, when it went okay and where it didn’t.And also, gave feedback to the team members that I met and who I thought, kind of, you know, questioned that. And I think that, kind of, I talked to you about this. But I think it, kind of, led to her thinking, oh, he’s thinking in a broader sense.Not just about the job he’s doing, he’s thinking about the team itself. So, like, they-, the qualities of just figuring out if a person’s going to be there is pretty complex. Okay.So, you touched on earlier that you guys look at bias training, implicit bias. And I want to talk a little bit about bias because the hiring process, of course, that’s the fault to some degree is if you go… Well, I’m going to put this person in an engineering room and these people are going to study their ability to do something. And/or they’re going to interview them for an hour about how they feel, the biases of the people that are interviewing play a major part in this. So, understanding your own implicit bias is critical to getting that out of the picture as much as possible, not that we really can. So, how do-, is that something we do here? Are we do a lot of training on implicit bias? Can you explain it?
Mike: I think it’s really important just to… We’re never going to get rid of all of our biases.But the biggest part is really identifying it and understanding it and still being able to make the right decision with-, you know, with that in mind.
Chrissy: Yeah. I’ve done the training and I know a lot of the engineering teams I support have done it as well. And so, when you go through the training, it basically, you know, you’re having to make really quick decisions on this or that one. Right or left? Right or left? And so, you do it as fast as you can. It presents you with your biases. And then it’s-, the training is basically like, now that we know this, what do we do with it? And so, I think teaching people just to acknowledge their own bias is helpful because then you can actually sit down and say, how do I feel about this person? Or it allows you to approach a call with knowing this is my bias, how am I going to approach this call differently? And so, it’s not perfect. I think interviewing is superficial the way it’s set up. Right? You’re judging someone in a half day, or an hour, or 30 minutes. But trying to make the most of those conversations in a way that maybe highlights their experience differently than, you know, just asking those standard questions.
Lyle: Isn’t our process, even in a sense, biased? I mean, kind of, explain this. That I can’t speak for how the world and how different cultures act or behave. But we are looking for people with whom have, kind of, independent type spirit where they want to run with projects. They want to be the lead. They want to do all these things. And so, naturally, there’s going to be… I don’t know if the whole world operates that way. And so…
Lyle: You’re looking for egotists is what you’re saying?
Lyle: Not necessarily. Like, people who want to accomplish things whether they’re hard or easy. I don’t know if that’s the right way to put it. Like, they want to be the person who pushes it across the finish line. Like, there are just a whole set of people that aren’t like that. I went to school. As a CS major, there’s a lot of people like that just in CS in general.
Chrissy: I think that you’re absolutely right. And so, often times, if you looked at our culture and asked questions, like the question that comes up all the time in interviews is like, talk about feedback you’ve given or received. A lot of people aren’t in environments where, A) they’re comfortable giving feedback, or B) they’ve just never been in that environment. And so, I think you can’t just eliminate someone because of that.Okay, Michael, you haven’t been in an environment where you were encouraged to give feedback. What about in your personal life? Or, what about in other times of your life? Or, given what you know about the Netflix culture, how would you approach that situation differently here and what feedback would you have given? So, allowing them the opportunity to explain it.And if someone hasn’t done that, it’s okay. But I think then there needs to be a conversation about, okay, Michael. You haven’t worked in an environment where it’s been, you know, encouraged to give and receive feedback. Let’s talk about how we’re going to work on getting you there so that you can be set up for success when you join. And so, I think it’s okay that people haven’t done everything that we’re talking about in our culture, but being really up front and honest about it.
Lyle: Yeah. We want to be really transparent on what we’re doing on this podcast. This podcast is a recruiting mechanism. Like, that’s why we’re making it happen. Because we feel like the culture here is really great.And not even necessarily to work here, but just to spread this way of doing business. I’d like to see that spread. I think a couple years ago, we took the stage in one of our company meetings.Was like, we’re going to do two important things here. We’re going to do really great streaming video and we’re going to run a business that operates in the way we operate. I mean, he said on stage that he feels like that’s a really important aspect of what we’re doing. So, how do you pitch it? How do you share with people what the fundamentals actually are?
Mike: That’s tough. I mean, you know, the biggest thing… And again, I’ll go back to this is really pitching ownership and I think we hear freedom and responsibility so often here that it-, we, kind of, become numb to it.But coming here from a culture that freedom and responsibility was kind of preached but wasn’t really backed up. I think that’s a huge, huge selling point here.
Lyle: Describe it, then. Describe freedom and responsibility.
Mike: For example, my offer letter was, I think like, four pages.And most of it was, you know, was just saying, hey, don’t do-, you know, don’t do anything stupid. And, you know, like, I appreciated one of the points in it where it said, you know, hey, we don’t have any particular teams that are going to audit your travel or your expenses or anything like that. Act in the best interest of Netflix. That’s a piece that really sunk in with me is, hey, you know, no one’s telling me exactly what to do. But I should, you know, I should act in the best interest of the company. And nobody’s going to be there behind you to, you know, to approve an expense report. Or, you know, hey, why did you fly first class here? Like, if you feel like you need to do it, then do it. So, having that freedom is huge. But also, if you cross that line, you know, obviously, I think, you know, having that balance and making sure that you are making the right choices. And, you know, you were hired here for a reason. You’re an expert in your space. But also, making sure that, you know, that you’re able to balance the freedom side, you know, with all of the responsibility that comes with it. It’s tough. We always tell people, we hire adults. You know?You’re going to come here. You’re going to act like an adult. And, you know, hey, I think one of the pieces in the culture memo says, ‘We don’t have a dress code, but nobody’s come to work naked yet.’And, you know, it's like, we don’t have to have rules in red tape around everything. We’re going to hire the best people and allow them to make the right decisions.
Lyle: I would like to, kind of, double click on that. That…
Lyle: He has shown up at work naked, actually.
Lyle: Yeah. So, first off, it was twice. It wasn’t a big deal. No, but…But in real-, I did show up in all-American spandex once. I was really pumped up for the Olympics. But none-the-less, you know, in every single interview, I virtually say the exact same thing which is the best way, I think, to describe Netflix culture is with the expense policy.No one reviews it and it’s five words long which is “Act in Netflix’s best interest.” Which means that when we hire you, we assume you’re going to be an adult. You’re going to run things as if you were running it for yourself. You wouldn’t-, most humans won’t run their own life into the ground, therefore they’re going to run their job, hopefully, in the same way, if given the opportunity to.
Lyle: I’ve never had to sit there and fill out receipts and like, do that whole megamarole [phonetic 00:47:25] of, you know, saying, yeah, I upgraded the flight for 25 dollars more to make it business class. Like, I never had to justify that.
Lyle: Spend hundreds of dollars of your time saying you saved 25 dollars.
Lyle: My last-, I worked at the comp-, last time I worked at a company before Netflix, I remember spending an entire day on expense reports for a week that I traveled multiple occasions. It took me a day to do this. I’m like, that is such a waste of time. Like, you’re going to reimburse me anyway. Just do it. So, it’s nice to not have that here. Okay.Any closing remarks from you guys?
Lyle: Chrissy hasn’t given her…
Chrissy: Yeah. I can give mine. I think one of the things-, how I pitch the culture is your work will speak for itself.So, at a lot of companies, they have levels, they have performance reviews. It can feel like you have to rub shoulders with the right people to get your-, the job you want. In fact, this is a lot of what Mike and I talked about when I was hiring him. It’s come in, do great work, and it will be recognized.And so, I love that I can look around at our team and see people who have gotten promoted in six months of working at Netflix. Or one of my colleagues got promoted when they were out on parental leave. And you can just, really just see that people are having success. You don’t have to stay here for X amount of years. You don’t have to get certain amount of marks on your performance review.You don’t have to jump from one level to the next. It really is that the best people will be in the best jobs.
Lyle: Yeah. You guys must also have the problem of you’re competing with Google and Facebook and all that. All those guys offer stock options as part of the hiring incentive. We don’t do that. We have a stock option thing that you can actually buy into. We give a little bit, five percent of the salary on top. Very standard. All this is very standard across the entire company. Is it hard for you guys to try to hire somebody where, well, yeah, but if I work there and, you know, X, Y company does really well, I’m going to make a lot more money.
Lyle: They’re both shaking their heads no.
Mike: Yeah. I haven’t come across it very much. And the reason is, in those instances, I mean, you’re also handcuffed to stay there for, you know, X amount of time before receiving any of that money. Where we’re going to, you know, Netflix is going to tell you, hey, we’re going to give you this money up front. And if you want to go buy a boat, then go buy a boat. You know, if you want to go invest it, then go invest it.Going back to the whole freedom and responsibility thing, we’re going to give you everything up front and we’re not going to force you to stay for X amount of time before getting 100 percent of your money. We’re going to give you 100 percent of your money up front and let you, you know, let you do what you’d like to do with it.
Lyle: Are the salaries, if you look over, like, a three-year average of someone working at Google doing the same engineering process as doing here, is the salary about comparable? If you look at that stock options and all-, medical and all that and try to neutralize them, are they about the same?
Chrissy: Yeah. And that’s a great question. It is.Because, you know, while, Lyle, maybe you got hired at a certain salary or compensation, we’re collecting data points from the industry to then always determine your personal top of market.Part of Mike and I’s job is to understand what does a senior software engineer make at the Facebooks or the Googles or etcetera, when you take into consideration their base bonus and their equity that’s vesting over, you know, an annualized amount of time. And so, we take that into consideration and pay our engineers, to Mike’s point, you know, in one big base salary.
Lyle: So, the salary looks really big compared to the salaries at other companies because there’s other compensation there.
Chrissy: Correct. With the idea that, hey, we’re not going to pay you a bonus. We want you working hard all of the time, and not just doing that push to get that extra bonus.
Lyle: Not incentivizing you for having more people come in the door for hiring, right?
Lyle: Like, not that, kind of, crazy incentives. Yeah. So, just massive salaries.
Chrissy: One way to put it.
Lyle: I’m assuming that that normally is a real feather in the cap when you’re trying to hire someone, right? You help make the final offer, right?
Chrissy: Yes. It is.But that’s why we save it for, kind of, that final conversation. We want people to come here because of the job and because the company-, because the people they’ll be working with the product, not because of that dollar amount.
Lyle: Right. And because that job’s going to fit them. I think it’s really important to understand that not everybody’s going to fit here. It’s-, you’ve got to be, like you said, kind of the, like, what Michael was saying earlier, kind of, that person that gets things done, likes to have ownership, likes to move forward and active.
Lyle: It’s crucial that kind of person come here that we don’t-, and that’s, I think, the biggest part of your job is to make sure that we don’t get someone that’s going to go-, is always going to ask what to do. No offense. But also, you know, can really run forward and be empowered to do that.And also change a bit over time and grow.
Chrissy: And that’s, a lot of the time, why we hold back that number until we know if someone really wants to work here. And that can feel scary for engineers of-, what do you mean?You’re asking me if I want to work here.Well, I don’t know what it’s going to pay. And so, hey, take money off the table. We say we pay top of market. If you believe everything that you’ve read about our culture, do you want to be here at the end of the day?
Lyle: Yeah. That’s the more important question.
Lyle: So, does that mean they have to verbally accept before you’ll tell them what their offer is?
Chrissy: In a lot of cases, yes. Not every case. You know?I think if someone’s moving from across the country and they don’t-, you know, they’re still trying to understand how their compensation is comparable to the Bay Area and they’re moving their whole family. Like, of course, that’s a conversation that we’re going to have before they sign in ink.But in most cases, Michael, yes.We’re saying, hey, the job is yours if you want it. We have a lot of data on our end to indicate what top of market is. If you have any data that is helpful, please share it with us because this is like, a two-way thing. And that’s what it’ll look like if you work at Netflix is, you know, you’re giving your manager data to-, that you have about what your industry is paying.
Lyle: To as much as your managers will say, go ahead and interview other places if you don’t want to learn about what kind of offering they can give you, so we know more about it.
Chrissy: Absolutely. But, yeah.I’ll say to candidates. The job is yours. You know? So, money off the table, do you want this job? And of course, you know, you communicate with-, no two candidates are the same. So, you communicate it in different ways. But essentially, yes. I would say 80 to 90 percent of the time we’re asking candidates to accept before they have an offer. Mike, that was your experience, right?
Mike: Yeah, it was. I didn’t get-, I didn’t get any numbers in my offer until the very-, essentially, the very last call. And I think the reason why was just because I was still on the fence. And I really appreciated my recruiter, Elaina really just digging in and really trying to figure out, do you want to be here? Like, are you absolutely sure that you want to be here? We’re going to pay you well. You know?You’re going to make great money.But we don’t want that to be a reason why you come here.
Lyle: Yeah. Yeah.It’s an important thing. Did you miss some stuff at Facebook?
Mike: Obviously, you know, I have quite a few friends over there.And having an amusement park of a campus was nice as well. But I feel like my work at Netflix is a lot more fulfilling.
Lyle: Hm-hmm. [affirmative] So, you made the right decision is what you’re saying.
Mike: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lyle: That’s good.
Mike: And the thing is, I think a lot of that came out during the recruiting process as well to make sure that I was 100 percent sure and that I wasn’t running from Facebook, that I was, you know, that I was coming to Netflix instead. Because if I’m running from Facebook, then that’s probably a, you know, that’s probably a red flag. Where it’s like, all right. He’s going to come here. And then if something-, you know, if something doesn’t go well, then he’s, you know, he’s going to jump ship again. All of that recruiting time was, you know, was wasted if that’s the case. So, I think that’s why we dig so deeply into, you know, really understanding, do you want to be here? Like, with everything else off of the table, you know, do you want to be here and are you going to enjoy the job? And, you know, when things get-, you know, when times get rough, are you going to jump ship? Or, you know, are you going to stay on board and really try to ride this thing out?
Lyle: Thank you, Chrissy, and thank you Mike—
Mike: Of course.
Lyle: …for joining us today. And Michael, was there any closing words you had for us today?
Mike: I really wanted to make a pun, but I just… I just did not accomplish it.
Lyle: That’s not how you lead into it. Do it now.
Mike: No, I’m going-, I-, you know, this is a-, this is a culture, honestly, Lyle. So, I am being honest here. All right?This is candid moment into my life as a failure which is, I was going to make a joke about how you guys are just so talented.
Lyle: Yeah, it was pretty weak.
Chrissy: In talent?
Lyle: I see.
Lyle: Yeah. But I just couldn’t work it in. You know?I felt like I was like, Dave Chapelle.I write my jokes backwards. I start with the punchline and I work backwards.But I’m not like Dave Chappelle. This is why I don’t get paid the big bucks. I am holding a microphone like Dave Chappelle, but that is it.
Chrissy: Mike, I feel so bad that I looked into your soul.
Mike: I swear she did. After a couple of drinks at that, I was like…
Chrissy: Well, and then, poor guy, he joins and he’s like, ‘Hey, I’m taking a trip to Thailand. Is that okay?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s awesome. How long are you going for?’ He’s like, ‘The weekend.’ And I’m like, what?
Chrissy: I was like… Why?
Lyle: Why are you going to Thailand for the weekend. That’s insane.
Chrissy: Oh, my gosh. I was like—
Lyle: Did you get him to extend it?
Lyle: Are you like, smuggling drugs at that point? That was just insane to do just a two-day trip. That’s—
Lyle: Michael, that’s the reason. That’s not a good reason.
Lyle: Can’t go-, you can’t go to Thailand for two days. Like, that doesn’t even make any sense.
Mike: What’s that? No. It was just a really last-minute trip. We booked the flights Wednesday, flew out, I think the next day, Thursday. Did a solid like, four days in Thailand. Had it jam packed. And by the last day we were like, all right, we’re ready. Like, we’ve done so much, we’re ready to go. But everybody’s told me, that’s nowhere near enough time to really enjoy. So…
Lyle: So, now you have to go back. Oh, darn.
Mike: Yeah. Like, shoot.
Lyle: Hey, maybe you can take it off on Wednesday this time and get a full five days?
Lyle: 25 percent increase.
Lyle: Did we go over what you guys-, what made sense to go over in this?
Mike: Yeah, that was good.
Chrissy: Yeah. I think so.
Lyle: Okay, good.
Chrissy: Yeah, it was really good.
Lyle: Do you like this format of you guys not having any idea what’s about to happen, and then… Because Amir was just like, do you have any questions planned? Do you-, you know, they want to know if they’re, you know, like, a set of canned questions? I was like, only tell them that they have to have some sort of culture moment in mind.
Chrissy: Was your culture moment when I stared in your soul?
Mike: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
Chrissy: Oh, my gosh.
Lyle: Chrissy Running.
Mike: Take more vacations.
Chrissy: Yeah. I’m going to have such a hard time recruiting for my own team now.
Mike: You’re going to have to change your Twitter handle to like, Laser Eyes. I mean, it’s nice. You’re going to come here to Netflix and your manager’s going to force you to take vacation. Like, all right.
Many: We Are Netflix.
Lyle: We all said it, kind of, in a very monotype tone. We Are Netflix.
Lyle: We Are Netflix.
Lyle: Wait, we’re going to get a big crowd of people. We Are Netflix.
[End of audio]