The Automattic hiring process

The Automattic hiring process is known for being pretty unique. But having been through it myself and now managing other people through it, I genuinely think it’s an amazing, forward-thinking way to do it.

There are plenty of blog posts around which tell you of the hiring process but with many of these from the perspective of those who failed in their application, the results can be inaccurate or lacking some detail. As a member of the Automattic hiring team, I thought I’d give a more definitive outline.

Now, up-front, I have to point out that I’m also part of the hiring team specifically for the WordPress VIP team and, more specifically, for the Support Engineer role. So, the process in other areas of Automattic and other roles will vary, so please bear that in mind.

Generally, the hiring process will consist of up to 5 stages…

  1. Your initial application (i.e. looking at your cover letter and resume)
  2. An initial technical challenge. Usually some kind of technical exercise or project to do
  3. A first interview. Performed remotely, usually via Slack. For most VIP roles, the next two stages aren’t required and you’ll go straight to the trial after this.
  4. A test. Usually technical questions, a project or a further, more complex, exercise.
  5. A second interview.
  6. A trial. This is what you’ll read about the most – you’re taken on as a paid contractor and will work aside other Automattic employees. You do this in whatever time is available to you – we don’t set minimum hours to work but, of course, we need to see enough output to make a fair judgement of your work. This stage often takes 3-4 weeks.
    If you ever get through to this, then applicants who can work 20-40 hours per week on it have the best rates of success. I’d also recommend taking the first few days off from any current commitments that you may have, as this usually consists of initial training.
  7. A final chat (aka “The Matt Chat”). By this time, HR will have said that they’re happy to employ you but as no stage before will salary have been discussed. At this point, you speak to Matt (Mullenweg), HR or, for VIP, Nick Gernert – salary is discussed as well as final role details and they make the final decision to accept your employment.

It may take some time to hear back from that initial stage – usually days to weeks (in my case it was months but I’m told this is an exception!). After that it may take a few weeks to get to the trial.

Each hiring team has its own process and it will therefore vary depending on the role that you’re applying for. However, the above list represents, I hope, a fair idea of what to expect – if you’re lucky it may be shorter.

Here are some write-ups from some people who have been through (at least some of) the application process, which I would recommend…

18 responses

  1.  avatar

    I’m interested in applying to Automattic. I think I have good skills in PHP and JavaScript but I have no experience with WordPress. Do you think this would hinder my chances?

    1. It depends on the area of Automattic, and I wouldn’t want to speak on behalf of others, but I suspect it would (it would for VIP).

      My best recommendation would be to set up a local development environment that mirrors the production ones used by For VIP you can do that using these instructions:

      I would also recommend exploring the WordPress Developer Resource site, found at This is a great way to understand WordPress at a deeper level.

  2. […] a great deal that’s been written about what it’s like to work at Automattic, how it recruits and the benefits so I won’t repeat those […]

  3. I’ve worked with PHP, WordPress, Drupal, Node.js, Microservices, and I’m now a solution architect for an event driven Microservices architecture.

    Would the Software Engineer position expose me to architectural challenges?

    What does VIP really entail?

    Are there any hands off opportunity like engineering manager or product owner?

  4. First, thank you for the informative post on a process of interest to many. Thanks, also, for the tips in your comment. Very helpful. Next, shouldn’t item #2 be called “A pre-interview challenge”, as it comes before the first interview? Finally, is the trial performed remotely? If carried out at Automattic, does the applicant bear the financial burden of travel, housing, etc. during this time period?


    1. Hi Tim,

      Thanks for getting in touch. You were right about the pre-interview challenge and I’ve correct that in the post now.

      With regard the trial, Automattic is totally remote (i.e. no offices) so, yes, the trial is remote too. There are no expenses here but, as I mention, you are paid an hourly rate.

  5. Hello David,

    Thank you for your post. I just want to share my experience. I applied as a JavaScript Engineer at Automattic. First response email I received was about a form (getting-to-know) that I should fill up. In the email, she told me that after I submit the form I will get a response within a week. But it’s been a week now and response yet. Again, thank you for sharing your post.

    1. Hi Hugh,

      I’m not able to check the progress of your application, as I’m not part of the hiring team responsible for that role. However, the reply would have been a default response, with the usual timescale (a week) included – and we do try to get within that time. In this case, the number of applications and available bandwidth probably prevented this from being achievable.

      I assume by now, though, you’ve heard back from them.

  6. […] I mean by saying “work before hiring” is doing trials. For instance Automattic hires candidates with their trial […]

  7. […] I mean by saying “work before hiring” is doing trials. For instance Automattic hires candidates with their trial […]

  8. Yash Jaiswal avatar
    Yash Jaiswal

    Hello David.
    I am interested to join the backend engineering team of Automattic. Although I have been working as a backend engineer for three years now, (that is my total professional experience after graduating), my domain of working has mostly been Java with mild exposure to JavaScript. Having said that, I don’t see it would be difficult to adapt to PHP or JavaScript. How much of my inexperience with PHP would be a blocker in getting a job at Automattic? I have learnt PHP during my graduation but haven’t worked on it after that. Thanks.

    1. Hi Yash.

      The first thing I’d suggest doing is to work out exactly which role at Automattic you’re applying for, as there are a number of engineering jobs. Each one will have its own set of requirements.

      If you don’t have much PHP experience, that would suggest to me that you have little WordPress development experience too – this may be the biggest blocker for you.

  9. […] I mean by saying “work before hiring” is doing trials. For instance Automattic hires candidates with their trial […]

  10. Brian Leung avatar
    Brian Leung

    Hi David, I applied a position at Automattic on 6 Oct and I got an auto-reply email on that day. However, I have not received any feedback until now. Do you think that my application is already failed? If yes, I may try other opportunities. Many thanks.

    1. Which role did you apply for, Brian?

      1. Dear David, I applied the System Engineer(VIP) at Anyway, thank you so much for your reply.

  11. just wanted to know how long should one wait before applying again, if failed the first application at any of the interview stages?

    1. 6-12 months is the usual recommendation.

Talk to me!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: