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 🙂

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.