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3 Ways Netflix Culture Shapes Their Recruiting

The team at Netflix is one-of-a-kind. After carefully documenting their values for employees in this 124-page culture deck eight years ago, they decided to share them with the world.

Yet Netflix culture admirers everywhere – our team included – were eager to see how they embed those principles into their recruiting processes. How do their cultural values push them to hire differently? Last week, we were lucky enough to find out firsthand from Netflix Engineering Recruiter Sydney Busch. Below, you’ll get a sneak peek into the values she revealed, but you can uncover even more in our full webinar recording

The prioritization of partnership

At Netflix, the recruiter is not responsible for making a hire at the end of the day. The hiring manager is. In Sydney’s experience, that responsibility pushes them to think deeply about their decisions and truly partner with recruiters. 

To explain their relationship further, Sydney used an illuminating metaphor – one that she in fact uses with hiring managers whenever she kicks off a new recruiting process. “At the end of the day, the hiring manager is the driver,” she explains. “They decide how fast or slow we go; they determine how and when we turn.” As for the recruiter? “We’re running navigation in the front seat and telling the hiring manager how to best reach their destination,” says Sydney. “And if we end up taking a wrong turn, we’ll both course-correct and figure out the best way to get there.” The bottom line is that the hiring manager and recruiter are equal players in every process. They have to put their heads together and determine how to most effectively reach their destination.

What do hiring managers and recruiters often get wrong? Sydney weighed in.

The absence of process  

Recruiting processes at Netflix aren’t structured; they aren’t driven by consensus or hiring committees. In building relationships with candidates, Sydney has absolutely no rules to follow. “Our guiding lens is not: ‘What does my company or boss say we should do?’”, explains Sydney. “It’s: ‘How can we show candidates our culture in every action?’” Each time she and her hiring manager begin a new recruiting process, their focus is on giving candidates a window into their future day-to-day.

“A year or so ago, we had a healthy debate about goodie bags,” Sydney shared. “A lot of other companies give candidates beanies or mugs, and we talked about giving that swag out ourselves.” The team was open to changing candidate experience, Sydney remembers, but the decision had to make sense. ‘Does giving candidates this swag reflect what we care about?’, they asked themselves. Technically, Netflix doesn’t have budgets, so they could have easily spent the money. “But, no budgets never means a free-for-all,” explains Sydney. “We act in Netflix’s best interest.”

In the end, they decided against beanies and mugs. They did, however, begin providing items like water bottles, granola bars, and other items that add to candidates’ experiences. That, to them, was making the most out of their lack of process.

The drive to find more stunning colleagues

To keep building the team they want, Netflix has to convey their most fundamental values in every recruiting process. That way, candidates can see whether or not their company culture aligns with their motivations. “The right person for Netflix isn’t going to need a sushi lunch to make them happy,” reflects Sydney. “They’re going to value the people they brainstorm with, collaborate with.” When it comes down to it, embedding Netflix culture in recruiting draws in the right people.

Also, the pillars of Netflix culture demand an army of stand-out colleagues.  “With our lack of process and how much we trust employees to make decisions, we have to make sure people are in place who know how to reach out to candidates and use proper judgment,” adds Sydney. When they have stunning colleagues on the front lines, they’re able to find more just like them.

We had such a blast working with you, Sydney! Thank you for personally embodying the Netflix culture we admire.

Want to hear Sydney’s three hiring manager-recruiter partnership fundamentals? Or learn about the reports she analyzes to level up her recruiting, or how she manages feedback sessions? Don’t forget to watch our full webinar – with 15 minutes of Q&A included – here.