Exactly 10 months ago, I applied for a position with the Holy Grail of WordPress companies, Automattic. As it was just before the Christmas holidays, and many Automatticians (that’s what Automattic employees are called) were either already or soon-to-be on vacation, the time between my application, the interview, and the next phase took a couple of weeks. But just before the new year began, I knew I’d made it to the final stage where the fun would begin.
Let’s step back though and start from the beginning. I wanted to share my thoughts on what it’s like to apply for a position at Automattic, go through an interview, and continue on with the process through hiring and onboarding the first few weeks. Why, you ask? Who cares? Well, actually, Automattic is always hiring and always growing, so there are lots of people who are interested. Plus, the whole process is just incredibly different than most, so it’s helpful for people to get a feel for the process before jumping in.
The First Step
Of course, it all began with the job description and application for the position. We actually have some open positions right now for a new team that I’ll be leading, so if you’re reading this in October 2021, check out one of our job descriptions here. If that job has been filled by the time you see this, then check out our Work With Us page instead.
So, I applied for a job as Technical Content Writer for WordPress.com (which is owned by Automattic), and I was quickly told that they would like to interview me. Automattic’s interview process is certainly unique. You see, Automattic is a fully-remote company and always has been. We all work from home (or wherever we want). Since we are a diverse company with employees around the globe, our communication relies on communication via text. If you have a question, don’t expect an immediate answer, as the person answering may be asleep thousands of miles away. Async communication is key here, so it actually makes sense that an interview be conducted via text. And indeed it is.
The entire Automattic interview (usually an hour long) is conducted via Slack, all text-based. A text-based interview is strange and yet freeing because you aren’t worried about how you look, if your shirt is wrinkled, or whether your face makes a weird expression when asked a question. But if you’re uncomfortable communicating this way, then you’ll be uncomfortable working at Automattic anyway. This style of interview is a good intro to how we work. The entire process is meant to help Automattic decide if you are right for the job and to help you decide if Automattic is the right place for you.
Once the interview was complete, I nervously waited to hear back. Just after Christmas as people started returning from break, I got the email inviting me to do a trial project. Bingo! A trial project is usually the final stage of the process. A trial project is a short, paid project – usually lasting from 1 to 6 weeks – that allows applicants to work on a project in the company with all the tools and access to people and other resources needed to complete the project. This really helps everyone know if the person is a good fit because you are actually working in the company with the people on your team. And no matter what position you’re applying for, you’ll get paid $25/hour as a contractor, while you work on this project. How, where, and when you work is completely up to you. If you already have a job, you can work on the project after work, on weekends, or whatever time suits you best.
I started my trial the first week of January, and by January 12th, I’d wrapped up my project, presented it, took a huge deep breath, and waited for a response. A week or so later, I was formally offered the position and by February 1st, I was fully onboard. Note that not all applicants go through this process that quickly.
The trial itself was actually a lot of fun. I was given a project that included several sub-projects. Because I was applying for a writing position, of course, it involved a lot of writing. Different positions focus on different tasks naturally. I felt empowered to dig as deep as I needed to discover problems, to craft solutions to those problems, and to show how those solutions would help both users and the company. I worked from home, in the evenings, and on the weekend. And because I was getting paid for it, it was very similar to just doing a side job.
The last piece of the process involves the first 2 weeks of every new Automattician’s time. Everyone – everyone – who starts a new job with Automattic goes through a 2-week rotation in our Happiness department. (Happiness = customer support). This process is truly eye-opening (and scary, yes). We of course go through training and have a buddy to guide us through the entire rotation, so you aren’t just thrown into the deep end without a life vest. Still, as useful as it is to really get a handle on what our users’ needs are, it’s not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. So it’s a bit stressful, I won’t lie. I was really happy to move out of rotation and into my “real job” after those first two weeks were over. Some people, however, love that rotation, but I think even they find it a bit stressful too, simply because it is information overload! The cool thing though is that everyone experiences the same thing and everyone is always there to help. And that’s true every single day at Automattic.
Join Us! It’s Amazing Here
The people are amazing, brilliant, kind, and caring. The benefits are mind-blowing. The work is fulfilling. If it sounds like I’m a company cheerleader, well…I guess I am. As my one year anniversary gets closer, I wanted to look back on the experience and encourage others (maybe you?) to apply for a job here as well. If the way we do things resonates with you, if you like who we are, if our creed speaks to you, if the hiring process intrigues you, then maybe you are a future Automattician waiting in the wings. If so, we’re here, waiting to hear from you! Come work with us, maybe even on my team! Who knows?