How I mastered my Netflix interview and landed a creative content job – Business Insider | Region & Cash

  • Sam Gilliland made it his mission to work at Netflix after touring the LA headquarters.
  • He used his connections as an agent’s assistant to get an interview.
  • So he passed the interview with flying colors and worked his way up the ranks, as told to writer Eboni Boykin-Patterson.

As I said, this essay is based on a conversation with Samuel Gilliland, a former creative assistant at Netflix. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I worked at Netflix for two and a half years as a departmental assistant and then as a creative assistant.

Before that, I worked at ICM Partners, one of the Big Four talent agencies in Hollywood, as a floater (ICM was bought by CAA this year, so it’s the Big Three now). Floaters are assistants who work in the agency’s mail room but also tend desks when the agents’ assistants are absent or away, hoping to be hired at a desk themselves.

You try to do a great job on your car until a desk becomes available in a desired department, and then as a current employee with first hand experience you are in an advantageous position to apply.

Then I got hired in the media rights department, which is the agency department that handles the rights to books and publications for film and television. It gave me the relevant experience I needed to apply for a creative executive desk at Netflix.

When I first started researching how to get a creative job at Netflix, I heard that Netflix doesn’t get you first. Netflix is ​​usually someone’s second or third job — you have to work your way into a venture like this unless you’re deeply connected, which is always a thing, because relationships are also part of this game.

The agency route worked for me to get that experience, but a different approach would be to work with a showrunner, writer, or producer at a production company for a year. Once you’ve had that experience, throw your hat in the ring and hopefully get interviewed when a desk opens at Netflix.

I landed the Netflix interview through a connection

One of the assistants I had a great relationship with left ICM to work as one of the early floaters at Netflix. He helped grow Netflix’s Floater team, now called the Department Assistants team. He knew another assistant and I were looking for our next opportunity.

One day we all went to lunch together, and after that he took us on a tour of the Netflix offices. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the office and the energy of the place. From there, I was determined to make Netflix my next step. Luckily I was already friends with someone who could help.

The interview felt like a mood check

I got an interview through a friend’s recommendation. There were three back-to-back panels for the department assistant role. They are all HR specialists and have asked for assistance tasks. There are people who are good at making calls and dealing with the craziness of a busy desk, and there are people who aren’t good at it. I think their questions were more aimed at finding that out.

The interviewers are really strong advocates of their work culture, so they really pay attention to Netflix culture values. Many of the questions are designed to address how you demonstrate those values, without directly naming “courage” or “curiosity” or any of the other traits Netflix prioritizes.

The interview itself was very talkative – the panel is very good at what it does. To me it felt like a vibe check. Ultimately, this industry is very dynamic – it’s all about who you want to work with on a daily basis and whether the candidate can handle stress and is flexible.

The panel asked me to tell a story about how I dealt with a stressful situation – specifically at my agency desk. I was talking about flying for an agent for a week and it was the longest week of my life. It was really, really awful. One day the agent actually laid down inside me – basically just to breathe. But I was able to talk about how much I learned from it. They never phrase those experiences like, “Oh, he was a horrible person and I would never work with him again.”

I suggested that maybe our communication styles didn’t go well together at the time, and I remember hearing afterwards that my answer was good. A positive outlook was a big part of being able to emphasize growth. The whole role of an assistant is about what you learn and then how you grow. So I think they checked that.

There are a lot of egos in Hollywood, and recruiters have probably explored this element the most.

Most of the duties of a floater are administrative

I was hired by the ICM along with another assistant to join the team of departmental assistants. This team was truly new and growing, and Netflix was still figuring out what it was and what it would be. There was a lot of growing pains that came with it, but it was also really cool because we got to make it our own.

Most of my teammates have been agency assistants, and of course we all want to work on content desks. But now I think the general consensus is that they also want people who are interested in the company as a whole – who want to go into real estate or into marketing or into something other than the creative team.

The tasks as a department assistant were similar to those as a floater at the ICM. They float through the entire company – maybe a business affairs desk here, a politics desk there; But for the most part, you work with the non-script, music, television and film departments.

Some swimmers are longer. I floated on the Content Strategy and Analytics desk for about three months. I was on the real estate team for about a week. When you work as a departmental assistant, you see every corner of a company as big as Netflix.

The lion’s share of the work is answering emails, making phone calls, and making schedules. Responsibilities can range from these things to booking travel to many short term tasks as the industry is so fast moving.

It’s a lot to always be on your toes and be aware of it. I would say as a departmental assistant the tasks are even more administrative than with your own desk because you are only joining a new team for a short time and you don’t have the full context for the work.

Networking within the company eventually landed me on a comedy series team

After a year and a half floating as a departmental assistant, one of the creative assistants left the comedy series team and I threw my hat in the ring for this opening. Shortly after I got hired by Netflix, I reached out to the person in that role and said, “Hey, you’re on the comedy series team, I’d like to speak to you. Can you just tell me what that’s like? ?” The person I spoke to was an amazing person. Because of that relationship, she let me know when she was leaving and I was one of the first people she told.

I was invited for an editorial interview and hired as an assistant on the comedy series team. When I was officially sitting on a desk in terms of content, although it was still administrative, I was also able to work on projects. I read scripts, looked at incoming cuts and took notes. I was allowed to take part in team discussions and talk about the company’s philosophy.

As an assistant, your projects are still secondary to administrative tasks, but the opportunity to do these things is as you grow and eventually advance. I worked at this desk for about six months before my boss left Netflix to take a job at another company and invited me to go with her.

My story of getting a job at Netflix is ​​an example of relationships and how important they are in the industry. But it is also about being able to show great social skills. This whole gig and this whole entertainment world is very rooted in it.

At the end of the day you just talk to people and usually about the things you like and what you want to do. It’s always about talking to people because behind every show there are many people involved in the process; So you really need to master the social skills to pull it off.

If you work in Hollywood and would like to share your story, email Eboni Boykin-Patterson at

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