If you’ve been to the movies in the last 50 years or so, you’ve probably seen the name Dolby on the big screen. Since 1977 nearly every movie that’s won an Academy Award in the sound categories has featured Dolby Technology. Today Dolby is not just about audio; the company has been innovating like crazy, now offering incredible and powerful experiences in Cinema, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Audio, and Dolby Voice.
I recently got to visit Dolby Headquarters in San Francisco where I saw and heard for myself the way Dolby researchers and engineers are changing the way we experience both sight and sound. With over 2,200 employees across 21 countries, there’s a lot of innovating going on. What does it take to work there? We got some insights from Dolby’s George Hudgens, Sr. Director of HR Operations.
During my recent visit to Dolby, I got amazing demos of movies and audio; it seems like Dolby is innovating in so many different directions. Can you tell us about the types of software and engineering positions you hire for in these and other areas of growth?
We hire a wide variety of engineering talent for our audio and imaging technologies. Because of the breadth of technologies we work on, we hire a variety of engineering positions such as Software Developers, Architects, QA Engineers, Digital Signal Processing Engineers, Acoustic Engineers, and Research Scientists.
What types of skills does a candidate need to apply for an engineering position at Dolby?
We like to hire candidates with electrical engineering or computer science degrees or backgrounds. Since we use a variety of coding languages, it is important to have experience working with python, java, and c++.
Do candidates for music and audio positions need specific backgrounds in audio?
Not necessarily although many of our employees do have a music background. While it helps to have experience in audio, imaging, or entertainment, a passion for these areas is equally important. Most importantly, we are looking for smart people who are naturally curious, humble, and passionate about making an impact on our industry
What’s your interview process like?
The recruiter will do a phone screen and if that goes well, the hiring manager will do one also. Then we usually have two rounds of onsite interviews. For some of our roles, this could include online testing, with a testing tool such as codility, or else whiteboarding with the team onsite.
How can someone best prepare?
Learn as much as you can about the company and our technologies. Dolby is a unique company and we look for people who are passionate and curious about what we do.
Is there one tough question that’s always asked?
We like to think that we are fair with interviews and want to get to know the candidate and find out what they are capable of. We also appreciate candidates who ask us questions and take the time to interview us.
Are you seeing more women in engineering roles in the past few years?
Yes, and we have been hiring a lot more women in engineering roles. Our recruiters make sure to go out and find female engineering talent whether that is at a conference like Grace Hopper or through student groups. We also work very closely with organizations like Girls who Code and Women’s Audio Mission to inspire the next generation of innovators to seek a career in STEAM.
What do you do to attract a diverse group of candidates to Dolby?
We focus on going where the talent is, whether it is conferences like Tapia and Grace Hopper, or universities with strong diverse student bodies. We also work with our Employee Resource Groups within the company, who are our ambassadors in different communities, to create a culture of belonging for employees as well as desire for outside talent to join the company. In addition, we have a very robust intern program where we hire a lot of our early career hires. By targeting a diverse student population, combined with trends such as more diverse groups getting into STEAM, we are able to cultivate a diverse talent pool.
On your careers page you list all the employee benefits and free offerings, followed by: “One perk we don't offer: free dinner. We want you to be free for dinner.” Why is work/life balance so critical and how else are you helping employees create that balance?
Dolby has been around for over 50 years, so we know that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Our employees have lives outside of work and we want to encourage and celebrate that. That way they can be their best selves and do their best work.
We also offer our employees a 9/80 work schedule, which means employees have every other Friday off to spend time with their families or take time for themselves. Not surprisingly it is our most popular perk.