What to Expect During a Trial
All of the roles at Automattic involve a trial. A trial usually involves a short project or set of objectives that will be assessed by our hiring teams and takes place over 25-40 hours for non-Happiness roles, or 3 weeks for Happiness roles. Although the tasks might be different across the roles, there are several things that we look for to determine how you’re progressing, and whether Automattic will be the best fit for you. You can learn about developer, design, and Happiness Engineer trials at Automattic.
We have outlined some key areas that we hope you will find beneficial as you embark on your trial.
Once you have been offered a trial, things will move quickly. You will receive notes from the hiring team, and emails from HR. You will want to act on these requests immediately, as delays here may mean a delay to your start date. We need to allow at least 4-5 business days between inviting you to trial and your start date.
To ensure there are no unnecessary hiccups, you should ensure that you return information to the team who requested it. The emails you receive will have clear instructions here.
You have a trial lead, buddy, guide: what does that mean?
As part of your trial, you will have an Automattician guiding you throughout the project. This person may be called a trial guide, a lead, or a buddy, just to name a few. You will be introduced to the Automattician who is your guide when you begin the trial, and they will be your main point of contact. They will be highly familiar with your project and able to point you in the right direction as you work through the task(s). You can expect them to be the one point of contact for feedback on your work, direction on your work, and ultimately the person to recommend you to (hopefully) be hired.
We welcome you to engage with your trial guide beyond just your project. We invite you to ask your trial guide questions about Automattic, the team, our communication or projects Automattic has in the works. The trial is meant to give you an experience of what it is like to work at Automattic and not only confirm your fit from a skill perspective, but also for you to learn about us.
Communication and what is a P2?
Communication is oxygen. Here are some basic guidelines around communication at Automattic.
Frequency: Communicate as frequently as is necessary. Work with any stakeholders to define what seems a reasonable cadence for reporting your work, and stick to it reliably.
P2 / Slack: P2 is the internal blog tool that we use to share updates across the entire company. We use P2s to preserve information, and we say “P2 or it didn’t happen” to remind folks not let things get lost in the back scroll of Slack! Slack is great for immediate conversations, but for any discussion that has a decision or update attached to it, use P2 instead. You’ll be introduced to your specific trial P2.
There are no prescriptions for how we format P2 posts. But for any long posts, consider adding a summary to the top.
Clarity: This is one of the hardest things to learn concerning communication. We expect clarity of communication from all Automatticians, so put some care into how you write your updates and P2 posts. One simple trick is to read a draft of a post again the next day with fresh eyes and see if what you wrote makes sense to you!
Tone: adapt your tone to the situation. This is wise no matter the form or nature of the communication. When trying to communicate something less heavy, consider using a less formal tone. Be direct, avoid softening, and say what you mean.
Inclusivity: default to inclusive language. We would encourage you to avoid communicating in ways that marginalize people — e.g. using words like “guys” and “crazy” and other marginalizing or ableist language.
Inclusive language is vital to effective communication, as anything that distracts from the thing being communicated is detrimental to the main point.
When you use abbreviations, acronyms, or domain-specific terms, try to ensure your writing is readable to a general Automattician. E.g., everyone in Marketing might know what CAC means, but remember that any Automattician might stumble over your post.
Please remember that we work in an international environment. One small thing to make things easier to read for non-Americans is using this date format: 2020-12-31.
Provide timely updates
Proactive communication is vital to successful distributed work. As such, it’s up to you to keep us informed about your progress or blockers as you work on your trial. The format and cadence of your updates will depend on what role you are applying for. Typically, these updates will happen in your trial Slack channel or on your trial P2. You will get specific instructions from the hiring team before you begin your trial. If you aren’t sure what is expected, reach out in Slack.
Track your time
You’ll want to carefully track your hours so you can get paid. You will receive specific instructions from us before you start working on your trial. Billable hours include time spent in training, interacting with Automatticians and users (if applicable), updating your trial P2, or reading P2 posts or Field Guide pages related to your trial. If you have any questions about what is billable, reach out to us in Slack.
Part of your trial guide’s role is to help you be successful, and they will do this by providing feedback. It will normally be in the form of telling you what is going well and areas you need to develop.
This feedback is designed to ensure you are set up for success throughout your trial, as well as providing a flavor of how things work at Automattic. We embrace a strong feedback culture, and being able to give and receive feedback is an important part of that.
When you receive feedback, the most important thing to remember is that it is being shared to give you every opportunity to succeed. If something isn’t clear, you should feel comfortable asking for more information and clarification. Your trial guide will want you to do well, and you should receive any feedback given to you as indicators for where to focus your attention.