Applying to Automattic

In this article I tell the story of when I was applying to Automattic. They are, in my opinion, the coolest technology company in the world.

Step #1 – The Application

I applied via email with a resume attached on June 25th, 2018 at 15:13 PST. The specific position I was after is ‘Code Wrangler’. The email functioned as what would be traditionally called a ‘cover letter’. In the email I answered the following questions:

  • Tell us some details about an interesting programming problem you’ve worked on. What made it interesting?
  • How do you use our products or their competitors’? How would you improve one of them?
  • What questions do you have for us?

I sent the email and a moment later I received what must be an automated response.

The email explained that Automattic receives a lot of applications so I should not expect to receive a response swiftly. They provided some links to learn more about WordPress. They linked to:

Step #2 – The Additional Questions

On  July 4th, 2018 I received an email from one of the hiring folks at Automattic with additional questions.

  • Why did you apply to Automattic?
  • What do you like about software development?
  • How did you get into it?
  • What’s your favourite thing you’ve worked on? What experience do you have with testing (unit/integration/regression)?
  • Can you share a story about a time you’ve worked with someone to solve a problem
  • How did you approach it and who did what?

Though the questions were attached in a .txt document, the next step was to go to their greenhouse.io document site and fill in my responses there.

I’m fairly confident that I filled my answers into that greenhouse.io document that day, but I didn’t hear back for a while.

On July 23rd, I followed up via an email to double check that the Automattician had actually received my responses. It had been 19 days and I hadn’t heard anything. That email didn’t get responded to either. After I didn’t hear back for a week, I assumed I had made a terrible error in my response questions and would never hear back from them again.

Luckily, I did hear back….

Step #3 – Slack Chat

I heard back from Automattic 35 days later on August 8th, 2018 via email. The Automattician explained that based on my answers, they would like to set up a Slack chat within the week. In the email there was a link to another greenhouse.io web application with a calendar.

The Automattician lives in Australia so the avaliable times were between 5pm and midnight. This works great for me because I like to stay up late and work.

I selected a few times that worked well for me. Again, I didn’t hear back until the last day of the three days that I selected. None-the-less, I’m excited to experience the Automattic Slack chat.

The Slack Chat Happened

Our Slack chat happened. Here are some details of what happened…

I asked,  “From what you’ve seen in my response to the technical questions, what would you suggest I dive into learning next? Is there a book or specific resource that you think would be good for me to dive into?”

Cpt. Automattican suggested the following resources:

I’ve always had the intuition that this was the best way to get a job at Automattic anyways.

They are a company that is growing quickly and need people who know how to do the work. Contributing to WordPress means doing that work. Therefore, people who do the work get hired.

On a final note, there was an ominous message calmly relayed by Cpt. Automattician. He mentioned, “we aren’t in a position to take on junior or mid-level developers, which is something I am working on changing, but that limits us.” This was in response to me asking, “what is the bottle neck in Automattics capacity to scale?” I’m guessing I’d be generous to call myself a mid-level developer at this point. With luck, I don’t know my own power!

Stand-by fellow reader! Cpt. Automattician has promised to get back to me within the next day or two.

The Interview Follow-up

“Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. After carefully reviewing your application and our interview, we will not be moving forward to the next stage. We don’t think that your skills and experience are a match for this position at this time.”

This isn’t a huge surprise for me. I’ve become moderately good at computer programming over the past few years, but I have a long way to go.

Of course, I’ll never give up. A few months from now, I’m confident my new skills will bring me to a new opportunity. 

For now… that is the end of this chapter. Thank you for reading. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

6 Replies to “Applying to Automattic”

  1. Hi!
    I am really wanting to work for Automattic, also. I’m curious about your cover letter and if you I corporates any light humor, or if it was strictly professional? I’ve read a lot about the CEO and needing to stand out during the application process. I’m wondering if humor is a good start, and I know tech companies tend to have a more “fun” work environment.

    1. To be honest, I don’t think I’m technically capable enough to work as a software developer at Automattic. It seemed like I was doing well until the technical questions. At that point, it became apparent that I wasn’t a good fit at that point.

  2. Will you apply again in the near future?

    You really received a response from them very quickly after submitting the resume. Did you do something special to receive a quick reply?

    1. Yes, I think I’ll apply again one day. To be honest, I think contributing on GitHub is likely the best way to get hired. If you can solve some issues with some PRs, I bet that’s the best way to get things moving.

      1. I’ve seen Automatticians’ LinkedIn profiles and they have worked or contributed to open source for years prior. I’m interested in the business wrangler side or growth wrangler. But I have no idea how to do open source in those areas…

  3. Hi Ian,

    I’m in the midst of applying for Product Designer position at Automattic. Quick Google search landed me on your site.

    Thanks for the insights! It helps me to be more prepared 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.