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How does billion-dollar startup, Automattic hire without ever meeting or talking to a candidate?

January 28, 2016
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Something is missing here…

Let’s face it, getting a job is tough. Especially in this economy, most job applicants can expect to be put through a rigorous interview process. Often times, this involves multiple rounds of interviews with their potential employer. Tech startup Automattic has a different approach. The billion-dollar startup hires its applicants without ever meeting them or talking to them on the phone.

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A remote workforce

Valued at $1.16 billion, Automattic is the company behind the popular blogging platform WordPress. In its early years, Automattic tried traditional résumé screening and interviews when hiring. However, this approach proved difficult because most of the over 400 people currently employed by the company work exclusively from home and live all around the world. Although they maintain a small office in San Francisco, most of their employees work somewhere other than headquarters.

In addition to a $2,500 budget to spend building out their home office, remote workers get a new Mac or other technology they might need. Never traditional, the tech company also doesn’t hold meetings or use email. Instead, they communicate via chat rooms, Skype, Google Hangouts, or the company’s own blogging tools. The company says they do this to avoid remote workers feeling as if they’re second-class citizens.

The tryout method

When interviewing and hiring, CEO Matt Mullenweg came to focus on tryouts. This applicant-screening process gives candidates genuine job responsibilities and relationships. During the trial period, final candidates are paid to spend several weeks working on a project and essentially “tryout” to become a permanent member of the team.

By using the tryout method, the company can hire smarter, retain strong employees longer, and reduce terminations and turnover.

How it works

Former Automattic hiring manager, Dave Martin, wrote on his blog, “We don’t schedule chats, we don’t fly people out, and we rarely even have a single voice call before people are hired.” CEO Mullenweg personally reviews most of the résumés they receive. His first-pass weeds out around 85% of candidates immediately. He then sends on resumes to hiring managers. Hiring managers then invite the candidate into a Skype chat, telling them to respond whenever they are available. If all goes well, the candidate is then invited to complete a trial project. If the trial goes well, prospects are referred back to Mullenweg for a final chat, where the offer will be made.

Essentially, a candidate can end up joining the team without ever having had a single voice call with their new direct manager.

Would you try it?

This type of approach may work for other companies. Particularly those who don’t have a traditional office. If nothing else, companies might benefit from a “tryout” method to ensure it’s a good fit before making final offers to potential candidates.

#AutomatticHiring

Nichole earned a Master's in Sociology from Texas State University and has publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has spent her career in tech and advertising. Her writing interests include the intersection of tech and society. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication and Media Studies at Murdoch University.

1 Comments

  1. Thanks Nichole,

    I am applying for a job with Automattic this week and your behind the scenes insights truly help.

    For instance, I did not know that Automattic graciously helps equip their workers with new office equipment and provides $2,500 to set up their home office.

    Thanks again,

    Cheers from Hong Kong!

    Rayfil Wong

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