Team Lead in DevEx
Joined January 2018
Written in an imaginary interview format, sitting beside a virtual fireplace in an overstuffed chair.
What led you to apply at Automattic?
When I applied to Automattic it was a total accident. A recruiter sent me a message and mentioned that she worked with a company that was “seeking a remote iOS Developer.” Usually I ignore recruiter messages, but I was working remotely at my current company and loved it. The culture at this mystery company sounded compelling. So I did something completely against my nature. I trusted her with a copy of my resume and set up a call.
After I sent my resume, I received a one-liner:
“The company I am working with is automattic.com”
I was so excited.
Oh snap! The WordPress people? That’s high caliber. I’m on Central Time. Looking forward to your call.
What attracted you to working at Automattic?
They give you the benefit of a doubt. In my interview I made it clear that I wrote code in Objective-C and did not have any experience with Swift. One of the reasons I wanted to work here was because Automattic’s apps use a modern language. I was not rejected outright for lacking experience in one of the required languages listed in the job description.
The hiring process is fair and less biased. My resume was accepted despite the fact that I do not have a Computer Science degree. Also, I had never worked for FAANG or other name-brand company before applying to Automattic. My interview was conducted over Slack in a text-based chat. No voice calls or video. My skills were tested using a standard code test.
After I went through the interview and code test, I was set up to do a trial project. At the time, trial projects were real-world code tasks in Automattic’s open-source code bases. I was invited to several Slack channels and pointed to the iOS code base. This has changed for some of our roles. We’ve moved to synthetic trials to further reduce bias.
As I went through my trial, I discovered the people here are wicked smart, empathetic, and kind. My future colleagues poked fun at my choice of science fiction novels, not my gender. The most controversial discussions revolved around chewy cookies vs. crunchy biscuits, not whether Android was better than iOS. In Slack I read deep conversations about the inner workings of Swift and the differing opinions held.
What do you like about Automattic’s culture?
The distinct lack of blame culture is refreshing. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it. Your peers will help you correct it and you’re expected to learn from it. We also emphasize giving timely and useful feedback. Giving feedback is also an exercise in empathy and kindness.
How does Automattic help you achieve your long term career goals?
By providing autonomy, flexibility, and opportunities for growth. I have extra skills that were not always exercised at other companies. Automattic encourages you to participate and contribute to the things you care about. I’m a developer, but I like writing documentation. I have edit rights to all kinds of internal documentation. I’m a developer, but I’m interested in hiring. So I’ve been asked if I would like to participate in hiring. As a professional I’m supported in the various areas of growth that interest me. I have pursued depth in Swift, breadth in understanding the business aspects of software, developing leadership abilities, and applying my other skills when there is a need.
What does Automattic do really well?
Automattic creates equity and invests in inclusion. One area that Automattic creates equity is the hiring process. We created a hiring process that introduces less bias. Interviews are conducted over Slack. (You don’t have to upload a photo of yourself, which can prevent attractiveness bias, age discrimination, and conformity bias.) Code tests are scored using a standardized rubric, which makes it more fair. And we are piloting synthetic trials, so that everyone’s skills are tested in the same environment. And once I joined Automattic I discovered I was not alone! I’m not the only woman in tech. I’m not the only person from the Midwest in the U.S. I’m not the only parent. It’s nice to have company.