Hulu is a Los Angeles, Calif. based online video company, whose website and over-the-top subscription and Web syndication services offer on-demand streaming of TV shows, movies, webisodes, games and other media. The company has nearly 800 employees across eight offices in the U.S. and China, with about 120 “Hulugans” working across a variety of technical roles, including software developers, program managers, systems engineers and database developers.
Shannon Sullivan, Hulu’s director of talent management says the company looks for “rock star software developers at all levels.” This year, Hulu wants to bring on more senior software developers and people with team leadership experience.” In addition, it’s looking for strong technical program managers and product managers.
How to Navigate a Job Posting
Sullivan wants candidates to know that there are no secret handshakes in its recruiting process. “We are passionate about delivering a high-quality product to our users and are looking for candidates who share this passion,” she says. Hulu’s job descriptions are clearly written to emphasize both the company culture and the qualifications needed to excel at each position. Job descriptions accurately outline the responsibilities of the role, as well as its requirements, Sullivan says.
In terms of general skill sets, Sullivan points out that, “given the small sizes of our teams, it’s really critical that every software developer on board has strong CS fundamentals. In addition to that skill, we also look for experience with algorithms, data structures, large-scale distributed systems, and experience working with a variety of open source technologies.”
The Interview Process
While there can be some variances based on the candidate’s level and experience, Hulu tends to follow an interview format that includes a recruiter screen, two phone screens with dev team members and an onsite meeting. The phone screens are about probing for CS fundamentals – coding, design and architecture capabilities. For formal management roles and more senior contributor roles, they also test for leadership and mentorship capabilities through behavioral questions.
What Makes a Good Fit?
“A big part of our interview process is also a test for the right culture fit” says Sullivan. “At Hulu, we have created a pretty unique and awesome office culture. For this reason, there are times when we might turn away a candidate because the culture fit just wasn’t right.” For a clearer picture, candidates should read this document on the company’s website. It provides a look at the kind of organization that Hulu is and wants to be.
Employees who do the best at Hulu not only excel at the technical aspects of their job, but share these characteristics:
- Passionate about the product and mission. Working on the tech team at Hulu is more than just writing code. It’s important to find people that are excited to be at the intersection of technology and great content, and are passionate about making it better for users.
- Love being a big fish in a small pond. While their growth has been rapid, the tech teams are still relatively small. This means that everyone can have a big impact.
- Low ego. Candidates whose happiness is driven by title, who they report to and the like probably won’t be happy at Hulu. The company wants people who are “doers” as well as thinkers, with the ability to jump in to get the work done.
- Embrace fun. While employees take their mission seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Work-day events may include a Q&A with an actor from one of Hulu’s original series’, time to play video games in one of its game rooms or dressing up for the company’s annual “Huluween” party.
Advice for a Seasoned Professional
Hulu’s recruiters look specifically for people who can immediately fill gaps. “While we do regularly check applications to our career site, we would strongly suggest that you take your career into your own hands and reach out to one of our recruiters,” Sullivan says. It’s vital that you highlight your projects and accomplishments and the impact they’ve had. Passion for the product counts a lot. If you’re shopping yourself around and interviewing at a number of companies, Hulu might not be the place for you.
Advice for a New Graduate
While GPA is a factor, applicable experience trumps grades. The company wants individuals who’ve had summer internships, actively participate in clubs and write their own apps. Its interview process screens for people who have strong CS fundamentals and are logical and creative problem solvers. Sullivan adds that new grads should have a general sense for the work that they like and don’t like to do, as it helps the company assess whether it has the right opportunity available.