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Netflix Senior Research Manager (Qualitative) Interview Questions & Reviews

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Senior Research Manager (Qualitative) Interview

Senior Research Manager (Qualitative)
Los Gatos, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Netflix in September 2012.

Interview Details – I was not actively seeking a new job, but was contacted via LinkedIn by a persistent recruiter who asked me to reconsider the position when the discussion had grown cold after several weeks. (Apparently they were having trouble filling the position).

I was pretty comprehensive job explaining my background/interests/skill set, had a phone screen with the recruiter, spoke with several people on their research team via Skype and telephone, and was invited to their campus for an interview.

I was curious to see how Netflix's approach to research had changed (if at all) in the year since the Qwickster debacle, and so figured I'd chat with them. Had they figured out how to understand user needs and contexts? Was there opportunity for a guy like me there? Why not find out?

A schedule of interviews was provided, but it changed at the last minute. Not a big deal, but it did raise a small red flag. Bigger deal -- the position had been presented as a Director role, but had watered down to a Senior Manager role for the interview. Had there been mutual interest after the on-site interview, I'd have brought this up ex post facto, but there wasn't.

The first person to interview me was a recruiting lead, who took some basic notes on my background. I interviewed with two VPs. One was aggressive and somewhat belittling. The other was pleasant, but nonspecific about the role.

The overall onsite interview process was somewhat surreal for a tech company. In fact, it felt more like an interview at a somewhat self-important Midwestern manufacturing company than a top Silicon Valley employer.

An excessive portion of the discussion focused around minutiae of my work history (like most qual professionals, I've had several stints of about 18 months to gain progressive experience and increase my compensation). A somewhat arrogant (and completely false) subtext of "you must not have worked out at those jobs" was proffered, curious for a firm that claims to want ambitious people rather than tenured chair warmers. While it was mildly insulting, it was also easily brushed aside.

Most surprising to me was the entirely conventional nature of their research operation, which likely explains why we mutually did not sense a good fit (and possibly why they seem to be having trouble hiring for the position). Their operation appears to be an extremely basic (almost old fashioned) marketing research job, where "qualitative research" consists of focus groups and conventional in-lab work. More advanced UCD practices seemed absent, and one of the interviewers actually seemed to get annoyed with me when I focused on a discussion of UCD as the center of high impact strategic qual. That certainly contrasted markedly with the description of the position I'd received in previous phone/Skype discussions.

As part of this discussion, I was asked to describe "my research process," and when I described individual bespoke initiatives, got interrupted a few times by a slightly annoyed interviewer. I never got to fully explain an end-to-end project, which was a bit disappointing. (I'm not really a believer in one-size-fits all cookie-cutter processes.)

About ten minutes into the interview with the first VP, I'd pretty much decided I wasn't interested. After the second VP interview, the recruiter came in and cut the process short (as is their standard) with a standard "we're not interested in moving forward, we have no feedback" line. I breathed a sigh of relief -- I could have my afternoon back!

'm not sure that an ambitious and successful member of UPA, IXDA or QRCA would be especially excited by this opening. In their favor, the HR representatives were communicative (and persistent), but I would rank the on-site interview process as well below average from a candidate perspective.

Interview Question – Describe your work history in detail. Why have you pursued multiple opportunities over the last five years?   Answer Question

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