Now, certainly, people will do the trial who were able to comfortably "talk the talk" but not "walk the walk", and there's some attrition there. But for the others? Cheap labor!
I can say that the trial I did nearly three years ago took me 3 weeks to do, and I put 6h30m in the first week, 8h in the second week, and 6h45m in the third week, for a total of 21h15m.
Also, just to be clear, everyone gets the standard $25/h rate, it doesn't matter if you're a developer from San Francisco or customer support from the Czech Republic. It's something that's easier to standardize, is typically for a short period of time, and has zero correlation to final pay -- which is normally above market rates for wherever you happen to live.
I took a ~4% pay cut when I came aboard at Automattic, which was more than offset by company paid benefits (Health, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance all company paid at 100%, I just took 12 weeks paid paternity leave, 401k matching, work trips and conferences are 100% expense-able, etc), and got more than that raised back on my first year's annual salary review.
Source: I've worked for Automattic since May 2013. It's a great place to be.
That being said, please don't think you need to know PHP to work at Automattic. I mean, it's useful, sure, but JS knowledge is huge as well, and we have some folks on our Data team that just do Python. Our Mobile team works pretty much purely in the languages for Android and iOS. Elasticsearch is something we also do huge amounts of work with (as @gibrown can testify)
If it's interesting to anyone, here's my resume as I submitted it with my application (with personal information redacted) (yes, I wrote it in markdown) -- https://gist.githubusercontent.com/georgestephanis/a5095ca4f...
Lotsa fun problems to solve and 25% of the Web runs WordPress. Big impact at a moderately sized company.
Yeah at this level and in this market, this is not an acceptable practice.
This is also, per the article again, undertaken while one has a job.
Not playing sides, just adding context -- I have no affiliation with the company.
That leaves one full day off, and a few hours each evening, by which I've likely been up since 5am, done a full day's work, got our son off to bed, and cooked a meal. Even if I thought I was likely to produce anything worth submitting, there's no way I want to give up the few hours of time my wife and I get together as a couple for the sake of a glorified job interview.
I guess I could take some time off work and treat it as my day job for a week, but then I've given up a decent chunk of my leave allowance in return for a job interview, and the addition of some tax paperwork to my life because I've been doing freelance work.
From now on, any long, drawn-out interview process gets a 'pass' from me. I've had my time wasted too many times (employer suddenly goes dark after the final interview, no communication, no responses to any attempt at contact, etc). In fact, I've given up on my most recent job search after experiencing two of those in a row (need to save my vacation days for an actual vacation at some point).
On second thought, I suppose if I were unemployed and desperate I might be willing to put up with an onerous hiring process.
That said, maybe it's supposed to select against people who are ultimately unlikely to block out the time to go through the screening and hiring process regardless of its form. It's some tens of hours either way.
I respect that they at least pay for that time, which softens the blow somewhat, but at least for me the extra money isn't anywhere near as valuable as some free time. I know what burn out feels like, and there's no way I'd risk it for the chance of a job.
The only point at which this becomes a problem is if the industry expectation shifts so that you can only find a good job by performing contract work for a month before knowing if you'll be hired or not.
As long as there are options, well... the people who prefer doing algorithmic puzzles will interview at the puzzle-interview companies, the people who prefer doing side-projects will interview at the contractor-then-employee companies, and so on and so forth...
My take is that if it selects against candidates who view remote employment as just another free lance job, more the better for both sides. Remote employment is not another form of freelance work. The relationship is different.
I'm not really sure how you've made that leap. It doesn't seem to me that hiring people for a freelance job selects for people who don't think of remote work as a freelance job. If anything you're selecting for people able to make that commitment.
If the company is guarding against false positives in hiring, then what they are looking for is people who are able to reframe the short term form in terms of the long term form. That is people who treat the trial as trial employment rather than as strictly a free lance proposition because people who have made that transition are a safer bet than people who at the end of a month are still thinking like free lancers.
Putting on a suit and tie for two days of travel and job interviews is just as much a mock business situation as a trial project. It's just likely to be less informative to both parties. And it's still selecting for commitment to the hiring process.
I'm not seeing this as much different and I get paid twice for the twice. I doubt they want more than 40 hours of work out of you in one month while you work full time on a separate job.
I have no idea if this has any correlation to the salary they ultimately offer.
You're right though...it would seem to narrow the field down to those willing to severely undervalue their work for at least 30 days.
Money is money, but I could think of more things I could be doing than work for a highly profitable company for what might about to $15-20/hr take home pay.
That's a good point. Never even occurred to me.
It feels like a relatively tasteful way to say "thanks for your time, now go out and have a nice evening to celebrate its all over".
But let's assume it's 30 hours total. I often turn down contract work because I'm booked full, so I could have worked those 30 hours at $100 per hour. This "interview" will cost me $2250--in addition to the time spend doing the actual asynchronous interviews.
I'm not willing to spend 2 grand for the chance at a job with this company. I might be willing to lose $500 or so in lost income to spend half a day interviewing.
Do companies really want to limit their potential applicant pools like this?
They further elaborated that they wanted a flat rate like this because they wanted to avoid what would effectively be salary negotiations before they even knew if they wanted to hire someone.
I can sympathize with that position, though I think it might be more reasonable to do something like paying trials the lowest hourly rate given to anyone in the company doing that job. That'd provide context, while still being a vaguely appropriate payment for the work done.
Also, that you accepted it tells a lot.
Not exactly the best thing to do and/or broadcast. How do they think it is ok to have people moonlight for what is almost certainly a competitor, most likely leaking out a lot of techniques and work that they have been developing for their current employer.
Read it carefully, then imagine if you did a side project relating to what your current expertise is, for Automattic on the weekends.
Then ask yourself if it would violate your agreement.
It might not, or you might not have such an agreement, but we do and I think (although IANAL) this does not sit well with that agreement.
tl;dr: they're normally willing to work with you if there's a problem.
It's better than nothing (lots of companies ask applicants to do this home work gratis), but seems curiously low.
For people who have something to prove, well, the only question is which particular strategy the company will use to ask them to prove it. As far as it goes, 20 hrs of paid labor outside of work if your contract allows it, is not the worst I can think of.
I'm assuming that type of thing is a no go and leave off a larger chunk of candidates than most people would be willing to admit.
It resulted in a few awkward conversations with HR / legal but I stood my ground and insisted that them owning my entire life was unfair and said I was happy to have them own my output during work hours but nothing more. If they don't come around I'd consider it a red flag.
I don't do this any more. I realized after a couple of these jobs that this level of explicit disrespect written into a contract pretty much tells you all you need to know about working there before you've even joined.
Now I just pass politely and move on.
The pay at places that would try and ram that in there was never that great anyway.
I was happily employed At each company for years with an amicable "break up".
One company was <5 FT and another was >50 FT. Both in the US.
Tbh, we had this come up when we purchased and I negotiated it out of my "new" hiring contract successfully.
So far everyone I have on LinkedIn at #ParentCompany has quit but my little isolated bubble trundles on largely immune to such problems as long as we hit our sales/profit numbers.
So I suspect you are correct in some cases but you can still sit in protected bubbles that have that in the contract AND are still worth working for.
Sure, on an individual level for someone who has this problem, it sucks. At a personal level when people at Automattic talk about individual candidates, it probably also sucks. But at a corporate level, evaluating whether their process is meeting their business needs? This issue, though legit, doesn't smell like a deal-killer.
I'd guess if you are employed somewhere with these draconian rules concerning unrelated side projects (i.e. pre-approval) then you might not be the type of person they want. I know that feels a bit like employee/victim-blaming, but it also shows how important that employee values his personal software freedoms.
It's also a great way to punish the naive who have since wised up and want out.
There sure do seem to be an awful lot of stupid biases like this floating around for an industry that claims it can't find talent.
63 of those have gone on to an interview (25% of applications received)
That statistic stuck out to me and it looks really high. When I've gone through resumes for technical positions, less than 5% looked like something we'd want to set up an interview for. I'm guessing places like Google and Facebook interview less than 1% of their stacks of resumes. Is anyone else in that 25% acceptance range for interviewing programming positions?
I tend to think that this pre-screening likely means that they are underinclusive—if anything—in moving candidates through the process. That is probably OK for a company like Automattic, which gets tons of resumes. But for a startup that has less name recognition, it could be more of a problem. Very interest read, overall!
But that was when he only had like 12 people working for him.
(edit: it's still there on every page served a decade later)
Look at just a handful of people in 2005 http://web.archive.org/web/20051223160551/http://automattic....
a dozen in 2006 http://web.archive.org/web/20061225011025/http://automattic....
to the insanity of today https://automattic.com/map/
and still Automattic is mostly a one-trick pony, it's 100% WordPress all the way down. Even when Matt had a chance to have a second program with bbPress and fix many of the nightmares with wordpress, he doubled-back and had them rewrite it into an insanely bloated plugin for wordpress instead.
And yes, as noted, Simperium/Simplenote, Cloudup, PollDaddy, Gravatar, others -- these aren't WordPress.
It was exponentially faster than wordpress and fixed a great deal of WP legacy nightmare.
Then Matt ruined it by having them create backpress and porting it to that.
Then he destroyed it by making it into a wordpress plugin and just kept the name even though it was completely different.
(I'm somewhat of a bbpress standalone "expert" perhaps the last one for what little it is worth)
There's always going to be a special place in my heart for bbPress 1.x, and BackPress. These two projects were the most optimized, as far as all of the sister-projects go, and still to this day power large swaths of WordPress.org.
I don't think it's fair to place all of the blame on Matt, though I understand how and why that's easy to do, especially when your opinion has not been the popular vote either time.
The choice to move bbPress to BackPress was, I think, an obvious one in 2007/8. BackPress was the future, and until WordPress became hugely successful and backwards compatibility became paramount, WordPress was on course to get the same heart transplant. It wasn't until it became clearly obvious that breakage would occur and most everyone agreed that the BackPress dependency exponentially increased the barrier to entry that the shift away from BackPress happened, and bbPress lost its legs again.
Consider, though, that bbPress is WordPress's moon in this scenario. It took the BackPress bullet so that WordPress didn't have to, and for that I think bbPress (and Sam Bauers' work at the time) is hugely responsible for the current success of the WordPress platform, even if it isn't ever championed as such. bbPress showed everyone first hand how much work it was just to get back to square one again. Why bother doing the same to WordPress?
In 2010, it was very clear that WordPress is the hub of our ecosystem, and everything else is a spoke. The decision to move bbPress to be a WordPress plugin, at that time, is another obvious one. The overlapping systems (I.E. BackPress) are abandonware, and there's no sense in trying to Frankenstein everything together anymore. Rather, the decision was to rebuild bbPress with everything we had learned since 2005, to take advantage of everything new that WordPress got and BackPress did not.
* Is bbPress the plugin bloated?
I don't think any more-so than a stand-alone version would be if it were trying to keep up with WordPress's current functionalities, or other forum software.
* Is bbPress the plugin confusing to users looking for forums?
I don't think so, since the problem it's solving now is specifically "forums for WordPress" rather than "forums so fast you'll freak."
* Could bbPress be something great had BackPress or pluginizing it never occurred?
No, to be quite blunt. If demand were there or if it was really as awesome as we remember it, anyone could have forked old bbPress to resurrect it, but it didn't (and likely will never) happen, because porting WordPress's improvements would take a lifetime.
* What's my personal stance on bbPress?
I loved 0.9. I love 1.2. I love 2.x. They're all great, and fun to work on, and rewarding, and incredibly satisfying to tinker with. I will always enjoy the thought of a BackPress powered internet vs. a WordPress one, but that's not where we are today. 10 years from now, when a RESTful WordPress has sites talking back & forth to each other, it may be possible to do the BackPress heart transplant we couldn't do 10 years prior, but that's highly unlikely.
Automattic has a funny way of taking the long way around and having it work out. In many ways, the current incarnation of WordPress.com is very much what BuddyPress was in 2008. Central activity stream, Notifications, Settings, Followers, etc... It's no surprise, then, that a company lead by Matt and projects lead by Matt should operate similarly. The long-long-games for WordPress, bbPress, BuddyPress, and Automattic separately as a company (and Jetpack), are incredibly optimistic and collectively are gunning to be an operating system for the World Wide Web; the connective tissue that keeps people communicating and congregating, and if bbPress needed to take a few hits along the way to make all of that possible, I'm okay with that, because I think it still has a bright future ahead of it, and will continue to be the forum software of choice for people already using WordPress.
I know it's unlikely I'll ever sway you to put as much passion into bbPress 2.x as you did 0.x, but I'd personally love it if you did. You had dozens of plugins and had contributed hugely in the beginning, and whether or not you feel it, I for one consider your early commitment and enjoyment of the bbPress platform to be incredibly inspiring.
PollDaddy, Simperium, etc. aren't WP.
Although I don't care for his example rejection letter, I like that they actually respond to applicants whether they interview them or not. It's nice to get feedback that your CV was actually read and reviewed by a human.
AI will have arrived when AI systems can get hired for remote jobs, competing directly with humans.
The more interesting part, though, is questions to gain the most insight. There are forums where experts in marketing, site optimization, etc detail the results of their experiments to show what had real value and what didn't. They become sets of tactics one can throw at new, but similar, problems. If it doesn't exist already, hiring people should create such a site for coming up with assessment questions and tactics. Curated by good moderators and industry veterans if possible. Thoughts? Existing examples?
I'm skeptical of this statement. It seems to rest on many unreliable assumptions (e.g. at a busy company, it seems that a team lead may know better than the CEO when his team needs additional resources to deliver).
Other than that, I love their approach to interviewing: casual, asynchronous communication.
When people are actively seeking a new role, they may not be the best version of themselves. They may be stressed, feeling frustrated, dealing with a life event, and attempting to conduct a job search on the side. This gives such candidates a better chance to be able to put a better foot forward IMO.
As a team lead at Automattic, pretty much all of us have regular chats with Matt -- some on bi-weekly group hangouts, others casual private conversations in Slack -- but we all communicate our personnel needs and concerns to him, and sometimes the solution isn't "Hire a new person for X squad" -- it may be take someone looking for a team switch and shift them around internally.
Having actually experienced this in practice, Matt really is stellar at making sure we have the people we need.
> NOTE: P2 is a WordPress theme that makes threaded discussions incredibly simple. We use P2 for a large portion of our internal communication.
> I’ll then create a new private WordPress.com blog and invite the applicant to be an editor. This is where I’ll post the project brief. This is also where I’ll move the conversation for the remainder of the trial.
I understand WordPress is their business, but I feel that using WordPress for internal chat and interview board is kind of weird.
Nothing there is difficult, people just need to think outside (the tiny) box they live in. Especially HR drones
But still, the classic answer "not being a great fit" reeks of cynicism.
It's not us - it's you. I'm surprised they feel the need to blame the candidate, especially since I'd guess experience isn't always the issue.