Netflix Machine Learning Interview Questions + Guide in 2024

Netflix Machine Learning Interview Questions + Guide in 2024Netflix Machine Learning Interview Questions + Guide in 2024


As one of the most renowned online movie streaming platforms, Netflix strives to provide highly personalized product recommendations to its over 160 million members. Improving user experience has been one of Netflix’s key research topics, and machine learning plays a significant role in achieving that goal.

As a result, Netflix is constantly seeking top talent to join its research team, making the competition for a machine learning engineer position quite tough. To increase your chances of being hired, be fully prepared for the interview process.

If you’re preparing for an interview at Netflix and searching for commonly asked questions for a machine learning engineer position, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide outlines several frequently encountered interview questions tailored to machine learning engineer positions at Netflix. Each question has sample responses to help you learn to craft good answers.

We’ll also share valuable tips to help you differentiate yourself from other candidates. Let’s dive into these questions and prepare you for success in your Netflix interview!

What Is the Interview Process Like for a Machine Learning Engineer Position at Netflix?

The interview process at Netflix may vary depending on the role you’re applying for. Since a machine learning engineer position is very technical, you’ll likely have four distinct interview stages, two of which will test your technical knowledge.

1. Initial Discussion with a Recruiter

The interview process at Netflix begins with screening your application documents, including your resume and cover letter. If the recruiter finds that you fulfill the qualifications and could be a good fit, they will invite you to the first phone discussion. This stage allows you to discuss your background, experiences, and aspirations while demonstrating your enthusiasm for the role.

2. Evaluation by Hiring Manager

Following the recruiter call, you’ll speak with a hiring manager at Netflix. They will delve deeper into your qualifications, experiences, and suitability for the position and assess whether your motivations and skills fit the job requirements.

3. Online Technical Assessment

Next, you’ll proceed to the online technical assessment. This stage involves tackling technical questions about machine learning concepts, algorithmic problem-solving, and coding proficiency. In some cases, you may be given a take-home challenge involving a use case and a certain amount of time to research and address the problem before presenting your solution.

4. In-Person Interviews

The final stage of the Netflix machine learning engineer interview process is on-site. It consists of multiple interview rounds with the manager and members of the machine learning department. Topics may include technical skills, problem-solving capabilities, machine-learning algorithms, and cultural alignment. This is the time to showcase your expertise and engage in discussions with future coworkers.

What Questions Are Asked in Netflix’s Machine Learning Engineer Interview?

In a Netflix machine learning engineer interview, expect various questions to test your technical proficiency, problem-solving abilities, and cultural compatibility. Topics covered include machine learning concepts and algorithms, data structures, and coding proficiency in Python or other relevant languages. Additionally, there will be behavioral questions, in which they will ask about past projects and alignment with Netflix’s core values and mission.

1. How do you stay up to date on the latest developments in the machine learning field?

The evolution of machine learning and deep learning is rapid, and by asking this question, Netflix is evaluating your commitment to continuous learning and your ability to keep up with advancements in the field. A machine learning engineer who proactively keeps updated is more likely to contribute effectively to Netflix’s machine learning projects and initiatives.

How to Answer

First, mention various sources you use to stay informed, such as academic journals, research papers, conferences, online courses, blogs, podcasts, and social media platforms. Then, don’t forget to highlight your commitment to continuous learning by regularly allocating time to read, watch, or listen to educational content related to machine learning, or by contributing to an open-source project. Finally, emphasize how your newly acquired knowledge benefits you and your employer.


“Staying up to date on the latest developments in the machine learning field is important to me, so I have various ways to stay informed. First, I regularly read research papers from conferences like NeurIPS, ICML, and CVPR. Also, each week I participate in online courses on platforms like Coursera, Udacity, or MIT OpenCourseWare. I’m also involved in open-source projects on GitHub, where I collaborate with other developers and contribute code to solve real-world problems. Applying new knowledge and techniques to projects helps me strengthen my understanding and stay at the front of advancements in the field.”

2. Tell me about a time when your colleagues disagreed with you and what you did to engage them and address their concerns.

Collaboration and teamwork are essential in a fast-paced and dynamic environment like Netflix. If you want to become their machine learning engineer, you’ll likely work with cross-functional teams. Therefore, this question checks your ability to navigate disagreements, foster open dialogue, and work collaboratively to achieve common goals.

How to Answer

Mention a specific situation directly related to machine learning or data science in which your colleagues disagreed with you. Then, describe your steps to address the disagreement and bring your colleagues into the conversation. Emphasize your willingness to listen to their perspectives, understand their concerns, and consider alternative viewpoints. Highlight how you fostered open dialogue and collaboration by encouraging constructive feedback, facilitating discussions, and finding common ground.


“In a previous project, my colleagues and I were developing a machine learning model to predict user engagement metrics for a new feature rollout. During the planning phase, there was disagreement among the team about which algorithm to use for the prediction task. Some team members advocated for using a complex deep learning model due to its potential for capturing intricate patterns in the data. In contrast, others, including myself, preferred a simpler model like gradient-boosted trees for its interpretability and ease of implementation.

To address the disagreement, I initiated a series of discussions with the team to understand their perspectives and concerns. I listened to their reasoning and provided reasons for my preferred approach, emphasizing factors like model interpretability, training time, and scalability. Through open dialogue, we set up a structured evaluation process to compare the performance of the deep learning model and the gradient-boosted trees model on a validation dataset. As a result of our collaborative effort, we discovered that while the deep learning model achieved marginally higher predictive accuracy, the gradient-boosted trees model provided more actionable insights and was easier to interpret. Ultimately, we agreed to proceed with the gradient-boosted trees model.”

3. In your past role, how did you test machine learning models to ensure they performed as intended?

One of the tasks for a machine learning engineer at Netflix is to continuously assess the model’s performance both before and after deployment. This question evaluates your understanding of testing methodologies specific to machine learning models and your ability to ensure model performance aligns with Netflix’s business objectives.

How to Answer

Discuss the evaluation metrics commonly used to assess model performance, such as accuracy, precision, recall, F1 score, or area under the ROC curve (AUC). Next, techniques like k-fold cross-validation should be mentioned to robustly evaluate model performance and ensure consistency across different subsets of the data. If necessary, also mention the importance of hyperparameter tuning to optimize model performance and discuss the strategies you used, such as grid search or random search. Finally, explain how you conducted real-world testing or A/B testing to validate model performance in production environments and measure its impact on business metrics.


“In my previous role, testing machine learning models was critical to ensuring their effectiveness and reliability. We used a variety of testing methodologies to thoroughly evaluate model performance and alignment with business objectives. We started by defining clear evaluation metrics, and since we were dealing with classification tasks, we decided to use the F1 score. Then, we implemented cross-validation techniques like k-fold cross-validation to robustly evaluate model performance across different data subsets and ensure consistency.

Once the model was deployed in a production environment, we conducted an A/B test to validate model performance in production environments and measure its impact on customer conversion rates. This allowed us to iterate and refine the models continuously to ensure they met business objectives effectively.”

4. How do you prioritize tasks and stay organized when you have multiple deadlines?

Machine learning projects at Netflix often involve complex tasks with tight deadlines, requiring effective time management and organizational skills. By asking this question, Netflix aims to assess your ability to handle the demands of multiple deadlines and prioritize tasks efficiently.

How to Answer

Start by explaining your method for managing multiple deadlines, such as using to-do lists or project management tools. Highlight the importance of setting clear priorities based on project urgency, impact on business goals, and dependencies between tasks. Then, describe how you prioritize tasks by assessing their relative importance, deadlines, resource requirements, and potential challenges. Remember to mention your ability to adapt to changing priorities and unexpected developments by re-evaluating deadlines, reallocating resources, and adjusting your schedule.


“To stay organized when I have multiple deadlines, I use project management tools like Asana or Trello to create detailed task lists and timelines for each project. I prioritize tasks based on factors such as project urgency, impact on business goals, and dependencies between tasks. Time blocking is another strategy I use to designate time slots for each task or project. By breaking down large tasks into smaller, manageable sub-tasks, I ensure steady progress and avoid last-minute rushes. However, priorities may shift throughout the process. When that happens, I re-evaluate deadlines, reallocate resources, and adjust my schedule to meet critical project milestones.”

5. In your opinion, what is the most valuable application for machine learning in our business?

Netflix operates in a highly competitive movie streaming industry where innovation and technological advancements are key to maintaining a leading position. Machine learning engineers play a pivotal role in this as they develop sophisticated AI systems to enhance user and customer experience. With this question, Netflix wants to gauge your understanding of the company’s business priorities and your ability to identify and articulate valuable applications of machine learning that align with the company’s strategic goals.

How to Answer

Begin by demonstrating your understanding of Netflix’s business model, target audience, and competitive landscape. To do this, research Netflix’s current machine-learning initiatives and strategic priorities beforehand to provide context for your answer. Next, consider various areas where machine learning can significantly benefit Netflix. These may include improving recommendation algorithms to enhance user engagement, optimizing content delivery and streaming quality to improve user experience, or automating content tagging and categorization to streamline content discovery.


“One of the most valuable applications for machine learning in Netflix’s business is enhancing the recommendation algorithms used to personalize content recommendations for users. Netflix’s success heavily depends on its ability to deliver personalized content recommendations that cater to subscribers’ various preferences. By leveraging machine learning techniques such as collaborative filtering, natural language processing, and deep learning, Netflix can continuously improve the accuracy and relevance of its recommendations to drive user engagement and retention.”

6. If the number of trees in a random forest is increased sequentially, will the accuracy of the model continue to increase?

As a machine learning engineer, having a deep understanding of the behavior of different machine learning algorithms helps ensure the correct application of the model. Among all the machine learning algorithms, random forest is one of the most commonly applied algorithms in the real world, as it usually leads to better performance and interpretability.

How to Answer

Start by explaining the general concept of random forests. Then, explain that increasing the number of trees in a random forest might improve model robustness and reduce variance, which may lead to better generalization and higher accuracy on unseen data. Finally, discuss the trade-offs of continuously increasing the number of trees.


“In a random forest, increasing the number of trees sequentially can positively impact the model’s accuracy up to a certain point. Adding more trees to a random forest algorithm can improve model robustness and reduce variance, which may lead to better generalization and higher accuracy on unseen data. This is because each tree in the ensemble captures different aspects of the data, and combining their predictions helps mitigate individual errors.

However, once the ensemble reaches a certain size, further increasing the number of trees may result in minimal improvement in accuracy or even overfitting to the training data. Also, increasing the number of trees comes with trade-offs such as increased computational cost and model complexity.”

7. How might you develop a recommendation system to accommodate a large user base? What would you do differently if the user base is small?

This question is relevant for Netflix because its user base consists of millions of active users as well as new or sporadic users. Knowing how to design a recommendation system that can effectively handle all scenarios is critical for ensuring user engagement and satisfaction.

How to Answer

There are many potential approaches to answering this question. You can highlight techniques such as distributed computing, parallel processing, or cloud-based solutions that can efficiently handle large volumes of user data. Then, segue by mentioning collaborative filtering as one of the possible algorithms to develop a recommendation system. For a small user base, don’t forget to mention an approach to address data sparsity, such as content-based recommendations, hybrid approaches, or active learning techniques to address data sparsity issues in smaller user segments.


“In designing a recommendation system for a large user base like Netflix, scalability is one of the most crucial aspects. To scale the recommendation system, we can use distributed computing frameworks such as Apache Spark or leveraging cloud-based solutions. As the recommendation algorithm, I would suggest collaborative filtering techniques like matrix factorization or deep learning models to capture user preferences and generate personalized recommendations based on the collective behavior of millions of users.

However, when dealing with a small user base, data sparsity becomes a challenge. In such cases, we may rely more on content-based recommendation approaches, using metadata such as genres, cast, or director information to make relevant suggestions. Additionally, hybrid recommendation systems combining collaborative filtering with content-based methods can help mitigate data sparsity issues by leveraging both user interactions and content similarities.”

8. Given an integer N, how would you write a function that returns a list of all the prime numbers up to N?

This question is asked in a machine learning engineer interview at Netflix to assess your problem-solving skills, algorithmic thinking, and ability to write efficient code. As an aspiring machine learning engineer, you should have a strong foundation in programming and computational concepts to efficiently implement and optimize machine learning algorithms and models.

How to Answer

Consider the mathematical concept of finding a prime number, such as the Sieve of Eratosthenes algorithm. Typically, this involves iterating through each number from 2 to N and checking if it is divisible by any number other than 1 and itself. Then, discuss strategies for optimizing the algorithm to improve its efficiency, such as only checking divisibility by prime numbers up to the square root of N, as factors beyond that would already have been covered.


“We can use the Sieve of Eratosthenes algorithm to efficiently find prime numbers up to the given integer N. We iterate through each number from 2 to the square root of N, marking multiples of each prime number as non-prime. Finally, we collect the prime numbers remaining in the boolean array and return them as a list.”

def prime_numbers(N):

primes = []

if N < 2:

return primes  # No prime numbers less than 2

# Initialize a boolean array to track prime numbers

is_prime = [True] * (N + 1)

is_prime[0] = is_prime[1] = False  # 0 and 1 are not prime

# Iterate through numbers from 2 to sqrt(N)

for i in range(2, int(N**0.5) + 1):

if is_prime[i]:

# Mark multiples of i as non-prime

for j in range(i*i, N + 1, i):

is_prime[j] = False

# Collect prime numbers

for i in range(2, N + 1):

if is_prime[i]:


return primes

9. How to fine-tune a model with input features is much larger than the number of samples. What if the number of samples is much larger than the number of features?

Netflix deals with vast amounts of data, including user interactions, content metadata, and streaming logs on a daily basis. Therefore, it’s common to encounter datasets where the number of features greatly exceeds the number of samples or vice versa. Netflix seeks machine learning engineers who understand how to effectively handle these situations to build robust and accurate machine learning models.

How to Answer

First, discuss how to develop a model with more features than samples, including techniques like dimensionality reduction, feature selection, regularization, or ensemble methods. Next, mention strategies for a model with more samples than features, such as cross-validation, regularization, algorithms, and data augmentation techniques.


“When dealing with a model where the number of features exceeds the number of samples, dimensionality reduction techniques like PCA can be used. Also, feature selection methods like Lasso regularization can help identify and prioritize the most informative features, reducing model complexity and the risk of overfitting. Ensemble methods such as random forests can also handle high-dimensional data effectively by aggregating predictions from multiple decision trees, each trained on a subset of features.

Meanwhile, in scenarios where we have more samples than features, cross-validation becomes crucial for robust model evaluation. This is because this technique provides a more reliable estimate of model performance. Regularization techniques like ridge regression can also help to mitigate the risk of overfitting and improve generalization performance. As for algorithms, we can use stochastic gradient descent or tree-based as both methods are well-suited for handling large datasets efficiently. Data augmentation techniques such as bootstrapping or SMOTE can also be beneficial for enriching the dataset and enhancing model robustness.”

10. Let’s say you have an N-dimensional array that can have any number of nested lists, and each nested list can contain any number of integer elements. How would you write a function that takes an N-dimensional array as input and returns a 1D array?

Machine learning engineers at Netflix need to possess good programming skills, as they will develop deep learning and machine learning algorithms daily. This question, in particular, will test your problem-solving skills and your ability to write clean and efficient code.

How to Answer

Begin by understanding the problem statement and clarifying any ambiguities. The task is to flatten an N-dimensional array into a 1D array, where each element in the output array corresponds to an integer from the input array. Then, discuss the approach you would take to flatten the N-dimensional array. This typically involves recursively traversing the nested lists and appending each integer to the output array.


“To solve this problem, we define a function flatten_array that takes an N-dimensional array as input and returns a flattened 1D array. We iterate through each element in the input array, and if the element is a list, we recursively flatten it using the same function. Finally, we return the flattened array.”

def flatten_array(array):

flattened = []

for item in array:

if isinstance(item, list):




return flattened

11. Explain how to decompose model errors into variance and bias.

This question checks your understanding of model evaluation and your ability to diagnose and address common issues that may arise during model training and deployment. Understanding the sources of error in a machine learning model, specifically variance and bias, is crucial for machine learning engineers to build robust and accurate predictive models.

How to Answer

Start by defining bias and variance. Next, discuss the bias-variance tradeoff and how finding the right balance is crucial for building models that generalize well to unseen data. Then, describe how to decompose the total error of a model into bias and variance components using techniques like the bias-variance decomposition or learning curves. Finally, explain the strategies for addressing bias and variance.


“Bias and variance are two key components that contribute to the total error of a model. Bias represents the error introduced by the simplifying assumptions made by the model, while variance measures the model’s sensitivity to small fluctuations in the training data. Increasing model complexity typically reduces bias but increases variance, and vice versa. Achieving the right balance is essential for developing models that generalize well to unseen data.

To decompose model errors into bias and variance components, we can use techniques like the bias-variance decomposition or learning curves. These methods allow us to analyze how the model’s performance varies with changes in model complexity or dataset size. To reduce the bias in the model, we can increase the model complexity by adding more relevant features or using more sophisticated algorithms. To reduce variance, we can regularize the model, use ensemble methods like bagging or boosting, or increase the training data.”

12. When are SVMs preferable to deep learning models?

A machine learning engineer at Netflix needs to know well the different machine learning algorithms and their suitability depending on the use case. As Netflix applies a wide range of machine learning techniques for its business products, understanding when to use a simpler model like support vector machines (SVMs) versus more complex models like deep learning models is essential.

How to Answer

Start by discussing the characteristics and advantages of support vector machines and then the strengths of deep learning models, such as neural networks. Then, explain when one method is preferable to another, depending on the use case.


“In a nutshell, support vector machines (SVMs) are preferable to deep learning models in certain scenarios due to their simplicity, interpretability, and efficiency. They are particularly effective in high-dimensional spaces and are robust to overfitting, making them suitable for classification tasks with a small to moderate number of features and a limited amount of labeled data. In cases where we need to classify text documents into categories based on a small set of features or attributes, SVMs may outperform deep learning models.

On the other hand, deep learning models, such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs) or recurrent neural networks (RNNs), excel in tasks involving large-scale datasets with complex patterns, such as image recognition or natural language processing. For example, in image classification or speech recognition, where the input data is high-dimensional and contains complex patterns, deep learning models can automatically learn hierarchical representations from raw data.”

13. What do eigenvalues and eigenvectors mean in PCA?

The principal component analysis (PCA) algorithm is important for understanding user preferences and modeling content similarities to improve Netflix’s recommendation systems. So, if you want to become a machine learning engineer at Netflix, understanding the mathematical concepts behind PCA, such as eigenvalues and eigenvectors, is essential.

How to Answer

Start by defining eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Then, explain their significance in PCA and discuss how eigenvalues and eigenvectors are used in PCA to identify the principal components of a dataset. Eigenvectors represent the directions of maximum variance in the data, while eigenvalues indicate the amount of variance explained by each eigenvector or principal component. Make sure that you emphasize the interpretation of eigenvalues and eigenvectors in PCA. Higher eigenvalues correspond to principal components that capture more variance in the data, while eigenvectors represent the directions along which the data varies the most.


“An eigenvector of a square matrix represents a direction that remains unchanged when the matrix is applied as a linear transformation, while the corresponding eigenvalue indicates the scale of the transformation along that direction.

In a PCA algorithm, we select the top eigenvectors based on their corresponding eigenvalues to retain the most significant dimensions of the data while discarding the least important ones. By projecting the data onto this lower-dimensional space defined by the selected eigenvectors, we effectively reduce the dimensionality of the dataset while preserving as much variance as possible. As an example, if we’re analyzing user preferences on Netflix, the eigenvalues and eigenvectors derived from PCA could help us identify the most influential factors driving user behavior, such as preferred genres or viewing habits.

Higher eigenvalues would correspond to principal components capturing more variance in user preferences, while the associated eigenvectors would represent the directions along which user preferences vary the most.”

14. Given two lists: one is the true value and another is the predicted value, how would you write a Python function to calculate the root mean squared error of a regression model?

Netflix relies heavily on machine learning models for various tasks, including recommendation systems, content personalization, and content categorization. So your ability as an aspiring machine learning engineer to evaluate model performance is crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of these machine learning solutions in production.

How to Answer

Begin by understanding the task at hand: to write a function to calculate the root mean squared error (RMSE) of a regression model. RMSE measures the average deviation of the predicted values from the true values, providing a single metric to evaluate the model’s performance. Remember to consider edge cases such as empty lists or lists of different lengths by providing error handling mechanisms and informative error messages.


“To solve this problem, we define a function calculate_rmse that takes two lists, y_pred and y_true, as input parameters and returns the root mean squared error (RMSE) of a regression model. We calculate the squared errors between corresponding predicted and true values, compute the mean squared error, and then take the square root to obtain the RMSE.”

import numpy as np

def calculate_rmse(y_pred, y_true):

if len(y_pred) != len(y_true):

raise ValueError("The lengths of y_pred and y_true must be the same.")

squared_errors = [(pred - true) ** 2 for pred, true in zip(y_pred, y_true)]

mean_squared_error = np.mean(squared_errors)

rmse = np.sqrt(mean_squared_error)

return rmse

15. What are the different types of activation functions, and how do they correlate with vanishing gradient problems?

If you want to become a machine learning engineer at Netflix, you need to have a deep understanding of the training dynamics of a deep learning model. The activation function is one of the most important parts of the training process of a deep learning model, as it helps the model learn the pattern in the data. Understanding concepts like vanishing gradients ensures you’re able to debug a problem that frequently arises during deep learning model training.

How to Answer

Begin by explaining the role of activation functions in neural networks, where they introduce non-linearity to the model and enable it to learn complex mappings between input and output data. Next, discuss different types of activation functions and their correlation with vanishing gradient problems. Finally, highlight the mitigation strategies for addressing the vanishing gradient problem, such as using activation functions like ReLU or variants that do not suffer from saturation.


“Activation functions are essential components of neural networks, introducing non-linearity and enabling complex mappings between input and output data. Several types of activation functions are commonly used in deep learning models, including sigmoid, tanh, ReLU, Leaky ReLU, ELU, and Softmax functions.

The sigmoid and tanh activation functions squash input values to a range between 0 and 1 or -1 and 1, respectively. While effective in certain contexts, these functions can lead to the vanishing gradient problem during training. As the network depth increases, gradients approaching zero cause slow or ineffective weight updates, hindering learning in deep networks.

Meanwhile, ReLU (rectified linear unit) addresses the vanishing gradient problem by introducing a simple thresholding non-linearity. ReLU sets negative values to zero, allowing for faster training and preventing gradient saturation. Leaky ReLU and ELU (exponential linear unit) are variants of ReLU that alleviate some of its limitations, such as dead neurons or gradients that vanish in the negative region.”

16. You have access to reviews of 10,000 movies. Each review contains multiple sentences along with a score ranging from 1 to 10. How would you design an ML system to predict the movie score based on the review text?

This question evaluates your ability to design machine learning systems for text analysis tasks, which are fundamental to many aspects at Netflix, such as recommendation systems and content analysis.

How to Answer

Begin by understanding the task of designing a machine learning system to predict movie scores based on review text. Then, discuss steps for preprocessing the review text data, such as tokenization, removing stopwords, stemming or lemmatization, and handling rare or misspelled words. Then, mention different suitable machine learning algorithms for this task, such as linear regression, decision trees, random forests, gradient boosting, or neural networks. Finally, discuss strategies for evaluating the performance of the machine learning model, such as cross-validation, splitting the data into training and test sets, and using appropriate evaluation metrics like mean squared error (MSE) or root mean squared error (RMSE).


“Designing a machine learning system to predict movie scores based on review text involves several key steps. First, I would preprocess the review text data by tokenizing the text, removing stopwords, and performing stemming or lemmatization to normalize the text. Next, I would implement machine learning algorithms such as random forests, gradient boosting, or neural networks. Then, before I train the model, I would split the data into training and test sets and use cross-validation to evaluate the model’s performance, using metrics like mean squared error (MSE) or root mean squared error (RMSE).”

17. Can we use mean squared error for evaluating classification problems instead of cross-entropy?

Understanding different evaluation metrics for assessing model performance accurately is also a crucial aspect of becoming a machine learning engineer. By asking this question, Netflix aims to gauge your knowledge of evaluation metrics commonly applied in a deep learning model and your ability to select appropriate metrics based on the nature of the problem and the characteristics of the data.

How to Answer

First, highlight the difference between MSE, commonly used for regression tasks, and cross-entropy, more appropriate for classification tasks. Explain that MSE measures the average squared difference between predicted and actual values, while cross-entropy measures the dissimilarity between predicted and actual probability distributions.

Next, emphasize that cross-entropy is specifically designed for classification problems and has several advantages over MSE in this context. Cross-entropy accounts for the probabilistic nature of classification tasks and penalizes misclassifications more effectively, leading to better optimization and model performance.


“Mean squared error (MSE) is commonly used for regression tasks, and Cross-entropy is typically preferred for evaluating classification problems. MSE measures the average squared difference between predicted and actual values, making it suitable for regression tasks where the output is continuous. On the other hand, cross-entropy measures the dissimilarity between predicted and actual probability distributions, making it well-suited for classification tasks where the output is categorical.

When dealing with classification problems, I would choose cross-entropy over MSE. Cross-entropy accounts for the probabilistic nature of classification tasks and penalizes misclassifications more effectively, leading to better optimization and model performance. It also enables the interpretation of model outputs as probabilities, facilitating confidence estimation and uncertainty quantification.”

18. We have two models: one with 85% accuracy and one with 82%. Which one do you pick?

This question is asked in a machine learning engineer interview at Netflix to check your decision-making skills and understanding of model evaluation metrics. As a machine learning engineer at Netflix, you often need to select the most appropriate model for a given task or problem. Understanding how to interpret model performance metrics and make informed decisions is crucial for building effective machine-learning solutions.

How to Answer

Before making a decision, consider the context of the problem at hand. Determine which model performance metric is most relevant to the specific task or application. Accuracy is a common metric, but it may not always be the most appropriate, depending on factors such as class imbalance, cost sensitivity, or the importance of false positives versus false negatives. So, make sure you first understand the context of the problem.


“When deciding between two models with 85% and 82% accuracy, it’s important to consider the context, and we might also need to evaluate additional performance metrics. While accuracy is a valuable metric, it may not always provide a complete picture of model performance, especially if the dataset is imbalanced or if false positives or false negatives have different consequences. I would review additional evaluation metrics such as precision, recall, and F1 score to assess the models’ performance across multiple dimensions.

I would also look at any specific requirements or constraints of the problem, such as the importance of minimizing false positives or false negatives. Additionally, I would consider trade-offs between model accuracy and other factors such as interpretability, computational complexity, or deployment considerations. A model with slightly lower accuracy may be preferred if it offers other advantages, such as faster inference time or easier interpretability.”

19. How would you build and test a metric to compare two users’ ranked lists of movie/TV show preferences?

Netflix’s core business model is to provide personalized recommendations to its users based on their preferences, which means building and testing metrics to compare user preferences is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of recommendation algorithms. By asking this question, Netflix aims to assess your ability to design evaluation metrics and sample selection strategies that align with the company’s goals of improving user experience and recommendation accuracy.

How to Answer

Start by specifying the goal of the metric, such as measuring the similarity between two ranked lists of movie or TV show preferences. Then, discuss metrics like Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient or Kendall’s tau, which quantify the degree of agreement between two ranked lists. Next, explain how to test the metric using labeled data or simulated user preferences to assess its reliability and effectiveness in capturing user preferences accurately.


“To build and test a metric for comparing two users’ ranked lists of movie or TV show preferences, we first need to define the objective of the metric, which is to quantify the similarity between the two ranked lists accurately. Among several similarity metrics, I would choose metrics such as Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient or Kendall’s tau because both assess the degree of agreement between two ranked lists. These two metrics account for both the order and the magnitude of differences between the rankings.

Meanwhile, we can evaluate the metric using labeled data where users have explicitly rated or ranked movies or TV shows. Alternatively, we can simulate user preferences based on historical data and compare the predicted rankings with ground truth rankings.”

20. Given a dictionary with weights, how would you write a function that returns a key at random with a probability proportional to the weights?

This question is asked in a machine learning engineer interview at Netflix to assess your ability to implement algorithms for random sampling. Netflix relies on various machine learning techniques for recommendation systems, where understanding probabilities and random sampling is crucial for providing personalized recommendations to users.

How to Answer

Begin by understanding the problem statement, which is to write a function that returns a key from a dictionary at random, with the probability of each key being proportional to its weight. Then, calculate the probability of selecting each key based on its weight. This can be done by dividing each weight by the total sum of weights. Next, generate a random number between 0 and 1 to represent the probability of selecting a key and then iterate through the keys in the dictionary and accumulate their probabilities. When the accumulated probability exceeds the random number generated, return the corresponding key.


“To solve this problem, first, we define a function that takes a dictionary of weights as input and returns a key at random, with the probability of each key being proportional to its weight. Next, we calculate the probability intervals for each key based on its weight and generate a random number between 0 and 1 before selecting the key corresponding to the interval that contains the random number.”

import random

def random_key(weights):

total_weight = sum(weights.values())

prob_intervals = {key: weight / total_weight for key, weight in weights.items()}

prob_accum = 0

rand_num = random.random()

for key, prob in prob_intervals.items():

prob_accum += prob

if rand_num <= prob_accum:

return key

How to Prepare for a Machine Learning Engineer Interview at Netflix

As you’ve seen from the list of questions above, the interview process at Netflix for a machine learning engineer position demands a strong understanding of machine learning algorithms and concepts, problem-solving capabilities, and familiarity with Netflix’s core business. Thus, you need strategies to stand out among other candidates.

Here are several tips to help you prepare effectively and excel during the interview process.

Gain Insight into Netflix and the Tech Landscape

Familiarize yourself with Netflix’s technological infrastructure, engineering ethos, and recent advancements in the field. To do this, we recommend you look at Netflix’s tech blog. There, you’ll find the latest technologies they’ve implemented in their infrastructure, providing good conversation points for your interview.

Demonstrating familiarity with Netflix’s mission, values, and latest projects showcases your alignment with the company’s objectives and highlights your motivation to join.

Hone Coding and Problem-Solving Skills

There will be many technical questions during the interview, during which you need to showcase your technical knowledge and coding proficiency. So, concentrate on mastering machine learning concepts and algorithms, programming, and optimization methodologies tailored to large-scale machine learning systems.

Here at Interview Query, we have excellent resources to help you hone your coding and problem-solving skills. In our interview questions section, you’ll find questions to put your coding skills into practice. You can also take one of our challenges, in which you can solve a given machine-learning problem and then compare the performance of your solution with your peers.

If you want to practice your machine learning problem-solving skills, we have also gathered some machine learning project ideas tailored for beginners. There, you’ll find a list of projects that you can do, as well as information on the source of the dataset for your machine learning and analysis.

Highlight Domain Expertise

Given Netflix’s emphasis on content recommendation and user engagement, demonstrating a deep understanding of the entertainment industry can significantly enhance your candidacy.

For example, you can prepare personal projects that use machine learning techniques to analyze user preferences, predict viewer behavior, or optimize content recommendations. Emphasize your ability to derive actionable insights from data related to viewership patterns, content trends, or audience segmentation.

During the interview, explain your projects methodically, emphasizing the processes used and the results achieved. This demonstrates your ability to leverage machine learning in a manner aligned with Netflix’s objectives.

To further refine your ability to solve problems systematically and effectively communicate your project findings, consider completing some of the take-home challenges available on our platform. These challenges allow you to select problems of interest and practice presenting your solutions, enhancing your ability to explain complex concepts.

Engage in Mock Interviews and Peer Practice

During the last stage of the interview process, you’ll have an interview with your future manager and coworkers, where you’ll be presented with a problem you need to solve and explain to them. Therefore, you need to practice articulating your thought processes when solving problems, particularly when addressing technical questions. The best way to practice this is by soliciting feedback from peers or mentors so you can fine-tune your methodology and identify areas for enhancement.

The thing is, we know that finding a peer who shares your interests can be difficult. To solve this, we offer a mock interview service on our platform, connecting you to fellow data enthusiasts. You can set up mock interviews together, during which you can give and receive feedback on your interview performances.

If you’d like personalized interview preparation from an expert, we also offer coaching sessions on our platform. There, you’ll get tips and tricks on acing the interview process at well-known companies from professionals who already work there.


Below are some frequently asked questions about becoming a machine learning engineer at Netflix.

How much do machine learning engineers at Netflix make in a year?


Average Base Salary


Average Total Compensation

Min: $200K
Max: $631K
Base Salary
Median: $525K
Mean (Average): $455K
Data points: 6
Min: $73K
Max: $638K
Total Compensation
Median: $540K
Mean (Average): $435K
Data points: 6

View the full Machine Learning Engineer at Netflix salary guide

As a machine learning engineer at Netflix, people can expect to get paid around $200,000 and up to $631,000 a month, depending on their experience level. The base pay for a machine learning engineer, in general, is around $80,000 and up to $225,000 a month, which means that you’ll be nicely compensated at Netflix. You can find more in-depth stats for other data-related positions on Interview Query’s salaries page.

Where can I read more about people’s interview experiences for a machine learning position at Netflix on Interview Query?

We do not currently have a section on the interview experience for a machine learning position at Netflix. However, you can read about other people’s interview experiences at other companies for a machine learning engineer position or any other data-related position in our interview experiences section.

You can also interact with those seeking data-related positions and other data enthusiasts in the IQ community on Slack.

Does Interview Query have job postings for Netflix’s machine learning engineer position?

We do not directly list job postings for a specific company and position, including a machine learning engineer position at Netflix. However, we recommend you visit their career website if you want to check out current machine learning engineer positions or other positions at Netflix.

If you are looking to expand your horizons with a machine learning engineer position at a company other than Netflix, check out our jobs board. It’s updated with the most recent job postings for machine learning engineer positions and other data-related positions from some of the most recognized companies worldwide.


In this article, we have discussed several typical machine learning engineer interview questions at Netflix. As mentioned, getting a position at Netflix is challenging, so make sure you are fully prepared before the interview process.

Mastering fundamental machine learning algorithms and concepts, coding skills, demonstrating an interest in Netflix’s business product, and honing communication abilities should be crucial aspects of your preparation. Kudos to you if you can present a personal project that aligns with Netflix’s core values, as it can set you apart from other candidates.

If you’re also interested in the interview process for other data-related positions at Netflix, feel free to check them out on our site. We have interview guides for data scientists, data engineers, product managers, data analysts, and software engineers.

We hope this article has been helpful as you prepare for the interview for the machine learning engineer position at Netflix. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact us on our site!