How do the Automattic, GitLab and Zapier's hiring pipelines work?

To dive you into a topic, we usually give an inspirational quote from someone cool. This time will be no exception.

"Our flexible-work philosophy is one reason we use the unique hiring process: we have to go to great lengths to identify people who will thrive in our culture. <...> Nothing you do for your company has as much impact as putting the right people around the table. The aphorism is true: You can't manage your way out of a bad team. An approach to hiring that genuinely identifies real skill and fit will give you the best shot at assembling the right team."

This quote is from an excellent article from 2014 by Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic. In many ways, this article is still ahead of the concept of how hiring should be arranged within IT companies.

Companies like Automattic (1220 employees from 77 countries, 3 billion valuation) are remote work titans that have the knack of hiring the best talent worldwide, so their example can become a guide to action. We have already done detailed research on how established remote tech companies hire. Now, we have reviewed the hiring pipelines in Automattic, GitLab, and Zapier, using their websites and the stories of those who passed. Looking at this, you can implement something new (like a CEO interview via messaging) or change the approach your company has entirely.

Pre-screening /
Pre-interview challenge


Looking at your cover letter and resume + some kind of technical exercise or project to do.

Pre-screening Questionnaire:
- general questions about education and experience,
- technical questions.

Pre-screening Questionnaire
(6 essay questions).
The application is evaluated based on
- relevant skills for the job,
- writing and communication skills,
- knowledge of Zapier as a company and a product.

Screening call or video conversation

Screening call:
general questions about experience and company values.

The top 5 to 10 applicants join for a video conversation with the hiring manager about the role.

Job Fit Interview

Text-only interview (90-minute chat, usually via Slack) about
- motivation,
- technical depth,
- problem solving,
- managing complexity.

A video conversation with the hiring manager about
- the role,
- your relevant experience for this role,
- chance to evaluate whether or not Zapier matches up with the values you want to have in an employer.

Skills Interview /
Technical interview

Technical interview (video call, last > 1 hour):
- discussing the code review and ways to improve the code,
- live coding,
- candidate can ask questions about GitLab, the process and remote setup.

Zoom call with the hiring team.

Manager interview

Variety of questions, both technical and soft skills. Also, a chance to ask all the questions about the job's everyday aspects and know who your potential teammates would be.

Take-home skills test

A take-home coding challenge with a near-real-world piece of code to evaluate your abilities around
- security,
- performance,
- problem solving,
- how you communicate and adapt to an unfamiliar codebase.

No more than 4-6 hours of actual coding time and a week to complete this stage.

A short exercise done outside of the interview for some positions.

No generic tests like whiteboard algorithm quizzes or questions how many golf balls could fit inside a school bus.

Final Interview

The interview around you and your work mindset, which also touches on the previous test.

Very similar to the Manager interview step, but with the person higher up in the organization.

An hour-long interview with employees of Zapier across departments, asking behavioral questions about your work style.


Trial project to determine mutual compatibility and evaluate your work, communication, and effectiveness.
This work is
- paid,
- part-time,
- last between 2 and 8 weeks (often 4-6 weeks),
- around 40 hours of work,
- very flexible to work with your schedule.

Final Decision:
Reference Checks & Background check

The hiring manager contact references for promising candidates and start the background check process.

3 references are requested, at least 2 references need to be completed, and at least 1 needs to be a past manager.

If multiple candidates meet the hiring bar, Zapier selects the best candidate and ask for references.

CEO interview

A final chat, aka "The Matt Chat".
You speak to Matt Mullenweg, HR, or, for VIP, Nick Gernert to discuss salary and final role details.

The CEO may choose to interview candidates in the last round interview after reviewing the offer package.


Average Time-to-Hire


53.06 days

But keep in mind still that in the same article, Matt Mullenweg said, "Even as our company has grown, I continue to spend at least a third of my time on hiring."

That's when you should remember those who run this blog:) We can't resist the temptation to say: if you want to hire strong talent faster, just do it here. 6nomads saves a lot of time by taking on all the "dirty" stages and leaving you with the main thing — choosing the right ones from the best.

And, by the way, we have again improved the search system based on specializations, skills, and even "as a plus" skills.
Just check it here.
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29 June / 2020