- YouTube is among the hardest tech companies to land an interview and job at.
- Insider spoke with employees and the director of staffing for tips on nailing the interview process.
- Their top advice included research, networking, referrals, and scheduling informational interviews.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
YouTube is hiring for hundreds of roles, from jobs based out of its headquarters in San Bruno, California, to its offices in New York, Los Angeles, Sweden, France, and more.
YouTube and its parent company, Google, are some of the most attractive places to work in tech. Google ranked No. 6 on Glassdoor’s list of best places to work in 2021. And like at Google in general, getting hired at YouTube is no small feat.
In 2021, YouTube is hiring to increase the diversity of its staff, as well as to fill key roles in software engineering, user experience, account management, and trust and safety, according to the company.
Insider spoke with seven current YouTube employees, and YouTube’s director of global staffing Olga Donnelly, to learn what it takes to become a “YouTuber,” which is what the company calls its employees. Some of the people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized by the company to speak publicly about its hiring process.
The insiders’ top tips include reading up on YouTube, scheduling informational interviews with employees, and showing a strong passion for the platform.
“First and foremost, what we are honestly looking for is people who are really passionate about the platform and the product,” Donnelly told Insider. “We are looking for people who are creative problem solvers or who are innovative, or intellectually curious who want to get stuff done and really who want to have a lot of impact.”
How to stand out as an applicant
When reviewing job candidates, YouTube measures applicants’ “Googleyness,” which is a set of qualities that indicate if an applicant’s personality will fit the general culture at Google, a current YouTube employee told Insider. Some Googley qualities include good collaboration and the ability to successfully approach various challenges.
“Something that’s always really impressive to us is when people are able to come into an interview and explain how we can be better,” said Charniece Huff, a product manager at YouTube. “Those are the kind of applicants that really stand out to us.”
Another way to stand out is to show off your passion and knowledge for the video platform.
For instance, Donnelly said some YouTube applicants have caught the company’s attention by simply including a link in their resume to a YouTube video they made.
“It’s not a requirement, but it just makes our jobs fun when we are looking at people’s resumes,” Donnelly said. One applicant even sent a resume designed in the shape of a Google Map, she added.
Working with YouTube creators, or being a creator yourself, can also help your chances of getting hired.
Three YouTube employees told Insider that they had a YouTube channel prior to applying for a role at the company. And two employees who spoke with Insider worked at a company that managed YouTube creators’ businesses prior to landing their current roles.
For example, Matt Kovalakides, who is the head creator liaison at YouTube, is a former creator and he ran a comedy channel with 114,000 subscribers prior to applying to YouTube.
It’s also important to know your stuff. Keep up with the company by reading YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s letters addressing the YouTube community, and the YouTube Official Blog, Donnelly said.
“It seems obvious and basic but rarely anyone does it, and that can also inform the questions that you ask, to show that you actually care about it,” a second YouTube employee told Insider. “At the end of the day, I hire more for genuine interest, then technical background skills.”
Getting a referral goes a long way
Knowing someone at YouTube, or working with the company in a previous role, also helps when applying.
The first employee told Insider that they landed a role in the gaming department by networking at events that YouTube employees attended and building a working relationship with employees at the company. YouTube employees often attend events centered around creators and fan meet-ups, like VidCon, Playlist Live, and VidSummit.
“That not only gave me the proper connections that lead to me getting the job, but it also showed me that this was something I was interested in and that I would have liked to work with these people,” the first employee said.
Focus on networking within the vertical that you want to work for, the employee added. If you want to work in YouTube’s gaming department, for example, get to know the creators, brands, and industry professionals who interact most with the department and meet people within that space.
YouTube works closely with employees when looking to fill a new role, as well. Work your personal and professional networks for connections. The company often asks employees to recommend candidates within their networks, Donnelly said.
“It helps tremendously if you know people that work at YouTube,” the first employee said. “You’re kind of going to be indirectly tested on that in your various interviews. If you know those people, you have a huge advantage.”
If you don’t have any connections at YouTube, try reaching out to a YouTube recruiter through LinkedIn after applying for the position. Send a short message checking in on the status of your application, the employee added.
You should also stay on top of YouTube’s job listings because some openings go fast. A third YouTube employee said that prior to applying they turned on Google Careers job search alerts and checked new job listings daily.
Prepare for several rounds of interviews
The application process at YouTube typically consists of multiple rounds of interviews.
The third YouTube employee, who applied for their current job at YouTube in mid-2020, said the hiring process took about three months.
Huff, the YouTube product manager, previously worked at Google as an analyst. She said she went through four rounds of interviews after applying at YouTube.
The third YouTube employee added that applicants should expect a full day of hour-long interviews, timed short-answer questionnaires, and to be asked YouTube-specific questions, like, “Who do you watch on YouTube, and why?”
Here’s what the several rounds of interviews usually look like, according to the employees:
- First, a phone screening with the recruiter.
- Then, several interviews with your would-be manager.
- Next, an interview with the head of the department.
- Then, an interview with someone who doesn’t work within the department you’re applying for, but works with the department.
- Lastly, your application is presented to Google’s hiring committee, and you’ll go through a background check.
The recruiter follows up with applicants several times throughout this process to collect information to build out a profile, the first employee said.
“It was pretty intense, a marathon of interviews,” the third employee said. “Then I was told they would reach out in a couple of weeks.”
With employees at YouTube’s US offices working from home, interviews are being conducted via phone and video chat. Donnelly said applicants should make sure their laptops are plugged in and test whatever video-call service they will be using in advance of the interview. (YouTube uses Google Hangouts.)
“Familiarize yourself with the technology because the last thing you want to do is have some kind of technical glitch that will stress you out,” Donnelly said. “We have people join maybe about 10 minutes before their interview, and the recruiter will jump on the call to make sure the audio is working so that when they meet the interviewer they don’t have to worry about that.”
What YouTube looks for in an employee and the perks of working at the tech giant
Donnelly said that, ultimately, YouTube is looking to hire people who can help it face challenges and problem solve for issues it’s currently facing.
She said the qualities YouTube looks for in applicants include strong written and verbal communication skills, an understanding of data and problem solving, and strong relationship building skills.
Once you land a job at YouTube, employees told Insider there were perks that hires can take advantage of.
The insiders said YouTube offers several after-work programs for employees, like a stand-up comedy group, as well as occasional free lunches and internal-only events and fireside chats with people like Lady Gaga or President Obama.
The culture is almost like being in college, a fourth YouTube employee said.
“These companies are attempting to recreate the campus college experience,” the forth employee told Insider. “I definitely feel like I am in the closest approximation to the culture that I experienced while I was in college of inquisitive exploration, people having the freedom to explore anything they are interested in, from professional to personal interests.”
Do you have questions, or tips, about working at YouTube? Email this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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