How to become a coder at Netflix

Who doesn’t hope to become a coder at Netflix? Considering that everyone and their mother is glued to the streaming service every night, it’s one of those dream companies you’d love to work for. But how do you land a job there? Especially in software development. It must be a thrill to be a coder at Netflix. Well, let’s look at their business and see what it takes and where the roles are.

Get to grips with Netflix

Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings founded Netflix in 1997. Originally the company rented DVDs to people by posting them. People would then mail back the DVD when they were done.

And then, in 2007, they started streaming. And so began their historic growth to one of the most recognizable brands in the world. They now produce their own content and stream to almost every country, except China, Syria, North Korea, and Crimea. And in 2019, they made $20.156 billion with 8,600 employees.

Out of the biggest brand names in the world, Netflix is relatively small. So it’s much harder to find a job with them. But they need to hire someone, so maybe it’ll be you.

You’ll probably want to live in California

Netflix doesn’t have many job openings, compared to other companies. In November 2020, we could only find around 320 jobs on their careers page. And that was across all their teams. Only a quarter of these were programming roles.

The best team to look at is their core engineering team. The others start to stray away from traditional programming and dabble in other aspects of networking and computing. But they’re worth checking out. Either way, there aren’t many jobs. Just under 100.

Los Gatos is their software hub

When you break down the work by city, a very obvious trend emerges.

That’s right: almost every one of those 94 software engineering roles are in California. And the majority are in Los Gatos. There are a handful of other jobs, scattered around the globe. But they’re usually for very niche projects.

They offer a lot of remote work, though

A huge chunk (nearly 60%) of those 90 US jobs are remote working. You still need to live in the US, but it does give you more options. Great news. But you probably need to stick to somewhere in California.

What are the big trends Netflix looks for?

When looking through the job roles, there are a few trends that stand out. Unsurprisingly, a lot of it is to do with streaming, compression, and codecs. But they also want to make sure you’re familiar with embedded systems and graphics, as well as Linux system-level programming.

Let’s have a look at a few of the key ones.

Audio and video playback

You’ll need to know exactly how a computer plays audio and video. Netflix thrives on being able to stream content quickly over the internet, so you’ll need to know everything you can about exactly how a computer shows those videos.

Video codecs, like H.264/AVC, HEVC, and VP9

A video codec is how a computer compresses a massive video file into a much smaller one. Some compression techniques can lose quality, while others use clever algorithms so that the user can unpack the compressed file back to the original size on their end.

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the codecs used will be essential to become a coder at Netflix. So make sure you know all about them. 

User interface programming

It’s not just about the videos. Users need to be able to pick and choose which videos they want to watch. So knowing how to create a user interface from a design will be essential.

Knowledge of databases

Lastly, they have a lot of content. Think of all those TV shows, movies, and anime that they have on their servers. You’ll need to know how to use those databases and work with them in a variety of ways. So make sure you understand the principles of good database design before you head into your technical interview.

What skill will you need to become a coder at Netflix?

Aside from the trends, there were also more specific skills that they wanted from their developers. Firstly, they wanted experience in four different programming languages:

  • C
  • C++
  • JavaScript
  • Java

It’s also really important to make sure you’re familiar with their continuous delivery platform: Spinnaker. This is basically a way to roll out changes to a large number of servers at once. And it seems to be a key piece of software that they use.

Lastly, make sure you have a good understanding of SDKs. Whether that’s using them or creating them from scratch.

What’s the process?

Their hiring process is pretty typical. And you can search for jobs on their career page. You’ll likely have a phone interview and then a face-to-face interview, where you’ll need to answer technical questions and solve a programming problem.

It’s worth noting that their problems aren’t particularly tricky – they say themselves. Apparently, they’re really looking for how you solve it, rather than the answer itself. So it’s good practice to solve problems with data structures and algorithms before you go along.

The rest of their interview questions seem to be rather typical: around culture, challenges, and critique.

Give yourself the best chance

Need to amp up that CV? Get practical advice on real projects at our bootcamp. In 14 weeks, you’ll learn three full languages and get to practice your own projects. So if your CV needs a little flavor or you just want to make sure you’ve covered all the bases, check out our curriculum.

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