How I became a Happiness Engineer at Automattic Part 2: The Interview Process

Part 1: Application Process
Part 2: The Interview Process (this post)
Part 3: Paid Trial at Automattic

If you’re interested in what I did to apply for the Happiness Engineer position, I suggest giving Part 1 a read ūüôā

This post is about my own experience when I applied to become a Happiness Engineer at Automattic¬†and do not necessarily reflect current hiring processes within Automattic. One of the most amazing things about Automattic¬†is how we constantly change and try out new ways of doing things. So this is the process I went through, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these now happen in a different order than they did back in 2015 when I went through the process.

Chatting with the Hiring Team

After applying I received an email from someone on the hiring team for Happiness Engineers at Automattic.

We emailed back and forth and set up a time for an interview.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read online that the interview would be over Skype, but the person from hiring said we would chat over Slack. I had created a Slack account back in 2014,¬† but I never¬†used it a ton. I had a million questions, would this be video? Audio? Text?

When the time of the interview came, I got a ping on Slack and we just started instant messaging.  Everything was in text (no video and no voice).

happiness-engineer-salaryFor the first few minutes, I felt really awkward about it. I had never had an interview like this before. I kept trying to figure out where was the catch? How could they tell I was going to be a good fit for the company? Were the questions going to be super hard? I kept trying to prepare myself¬†for the worse, but… it never came.

When the Interview was over, I remember sitting back in my chair and thinking “What was that? Was that it? That did not feel like an interview.” I mean there was questions, but it felt like they were just trying to get to know me as a person. There was no trick questions, no awkward pauses, it was really straight-forward.

I quickly came to prefer Automattic’s interview method. It was unlike any¬†other interview experience I’ve had¬†and it¬†was¬†so much easier for me. It gave me time to really think about the question I was being asked and read over my answer before responding.

Actually, this became¬†something I truly began to respect about Automattic’s interview process. Since this was done all over text, it didn’t matter how old I was, what I¬†looked like, all that mattered was how I¬†communicated via text and if I¬†could do the work. That was it.

So what kind of questions was I asked in the interview?

Our first interview felt more like a chat with a friend than anything else. The focus was just on getting to know me. Not once was education brought up. Or what my expectations were for salary as a Happiness Engineer. I never once felt like I was asked a tough question.

My second interview went pretty much in the same fashion. We chatted on Slack (no video and no voice chat). It was a bit more technical and had more interviewy type questions about my background and my viewpoint on support and different aspects of the job.

Invited to do a “project”

After my second interview,¬†I was invited to do a “project”. Part of which was answering some support questions and the other part was more technical.

As embarrassing it is¬†to admit to this in writing, I made a mistake on¬†part of my technical project. I double¬†checked the project before turning it in, to make sure everything was working, but after I turned it in I realized a part of it broke. It was one of those things that¬†would sporadically work. Technology, SO much fun! In retrospect, I wish I would’ve slept on it for a day, so I could’ve triple checked it. As soon as I realized it wasn’t quite right- I tried to fix it. Unfortunately, the person I was interviewing with noticed that it was broken as well.

happiness-engineer-interviewI knew that this meant I probably failed the test. So I decided that I wasn’t going to make an excuse for it, but I was just going to fix it anyways. So I fixed it and came back and told her exactly what happened, why it broke, and how I fixed it.

I thought for sure that would be the end of the interview process for me. Somehow¬†it wasn’t, we just moved along.

This is where I learned an important lesson that has never been said to me but something that my time at¬†Automattic has taught me. Mistakes aren’t a¬†problem, it’s a matter of learning from them and fixing them.

I’ve gotta say… this was not the first nor the last mistake I’ve made during my time with Automattic and I did not have a perfect Trial. I messed up several¬†times throughout this process. I gave a few wrong answers. I could’ve given better support in some areas. I took each thing that went wrong and¬†I learned from each of my mistakes as quickly as I could, fixed them, and figured out how to move forward.

Invited to a Happiness Engineer Trial

happy-danceAfter the project, we scheduled another interview where we discussed more about the project. At the end of that chat I was invited to start a paid Trial at Automattic. How much are Trial Happiness Engineers paid? I was paid $25 an hour as an independent contractor. When I was a Trial, I did not earn a salary. I only became a salaried Happiness Engineer once I was hired as a full-time employee.

I was so beyond excited and gladly accepted.

So what was my experience like with the Paid Trial for a Happiness Engineer for Automattic?

Read Part 3: Paid Trial at Automattic here.