“Shopify dedicates an entire week to onboarding new team members. This covers everything from company history, to values, to high level discussions on culture and vision. A large portion of this process involves experience sharing from executives and leaders at the company.
Early on, onboarding employees will team up to develop their own Shopify store, as a way to get acquainted with the product, and also to collect feedback from multiple pairs of fresh eyes.
During this process, a lot of time is spent helping new teammates develop friendships with one another. Across the board, Shopify employees agree that they are close with multiple of their colleagues—many admit to spending evenings & weekends with each other on a regular basis.
When it comes to company vision, a few things are echoed quite regularly during the onboarding process. To start, the company in its entirety exists to empower entrepreneurs. Given thousands of people require Shopify in order to make a living, there is a tremendous responsibility associated with the work each employee does.
This support is also echoed in sales and support. Every shopify partner is matched with a success rep, and larger merchants are connected with round the clock support via phone.
For developers, before this formal onboarding process begins, they receive a number of videos describing the direction of product, development, and internal process, delivered by upper management like Tobi and Harley.
From here, there’s time to set up a development environment, and a number of small bugs that are assigned to help new engineers spin up. By providing individuals with application-related problem sets, individuals are able to get acquainted with the code base conceptually, before needing to spend time ramping up on the internal tools that are used to actually push changes.
These problem sets are paired with talks on development best practices, and Code Labs which provide hands-on workshops aimed at giving new recruits a chance to practice the norms at Shopify, like how to provide an effective code review.
Overall, Shopify’s commitment to creating safe spaces for learning, and opportunities to build relationships that extend beyond working hours, helps to set up new employees for success.”
“Maternity and paternity leave, a $100 budget for professional development, freedom to work from home, and (mostly) unlimited vacation—although naturally you’re still expected to hit targets.”
“Highly autonomous. A great place to learn. Strong bonds & friendships amongst employees.”
“First and foremost, there’s free lunches multiple times a week. Offices are a mix of open and closed concept spaces, and individuals are encouraged to work from wherever they work best, whether it be bean bag chair, office, or their own bedroom.”
“Prior to starting my shopify store, I had experience working in a large company where I developed specific skills, but had very little control over my own destiny. As a designer, I loved building products that would delight and surprise consumers, but found that in larger corporations I was more often designing for sales and marketing than I was for actual humans!
I decided to take a run at making products directly, in part by leveraging relationships I had built at my last job. Shopify played a crucial role here, in that it simplifies my work flow so that I can focus on what I love—design.
For example, Shopify’s app’s do a huge amount of heavy lifting for us when it comes to collecting product reviews, managing back of store, back of store, and printing orders. This has allowed myself and one other teammate to run the whole operation, and to do so in a way where we can maintain a very high level of quality in our wrapping as well as our shipping timelines. We take a huge amount of pride in providing an initial product experience that delights our users.
Beyond this, I’ve learned an immense amount about marketing and operations through both my shopify guru and shopify university. The reality was, prior to this help, I knew almost nothing about running an actual business. Shopify has, in many ways, been crucial to my business’ success.”
“My uncle owned a belt and boot store that didn’t do poorly, but provided enough for him to live on. His set-up was entirely brick and mortar, in part because of his own discomfort with the internet. I came along, and over the course of a twenty four months have helped increase his business by nearly two hundred percent.
Shopify wasn’t actually my initial choice, but after fumbling around with wordpress and a few other options, I had a huge “Aha” moment when I was final able to find an interface that my uncle was mostly comfortable with.”
Because Shopify trusts individuals to level-up, a number of junior and middle managers have fairly limited experience. While some employees see this as a problem, others understand that this is bound to be a reality at a company that prioritizes employee learning.
Shopify has a number of specialities that reflect the different career tracks you can advance down. Each team has a different set of KPI’s and goals that it’s responsible for, and—as an individual level’s up in their ability—a different set of tracks they can travel down.
Shopify prides themself on having a limited number of requisite skills for any given role. They believe that experience can come in many forms, and that passionate can make up for a lot. The one universal skill required to be successful at the company is the abiltiy to work autonomously.
“As a shopify guru, I work entirely remotely. That means that I can often be found propped up in bed, or clothed in pyjamas. Moving beyond this, the role itself is one where you’re directly responsible for the success of a number of shopify customers, known as merchants. This involves taking phone calls, answering messages over chat, and replying via email.
Each shopify store is a little different, so to learn what unique challenges and opportunities they are facing, you’ll be assigned to specific stores. In many cases, there is no playbook for how to resolve a customers complaints. As a general rule, Shopify trusts you to do what you need to in order to delight the merchant. I can tell you that I’ve become far more resourceful since taking on the job—often I need to walk through exactly what my merchant is experience, and think hard about how best to puzzle my way out of the situation, before presenting them with what is hopefully a clear and complete solution.
Given that, for many merchants, shopify is their livelihood, when things aren’t working it makes for a very serious situation. In times like this, I’m grateful that I have the autonomy needed to act independently, rather than seeking a supervisors approval on every small fix.
While at some companies it might be a bit isolating to work remotely, at shopify we’re paired in squads with others who work the same shifts as us. We have a very active slack conversations, and regularly help each other by sharing insights and solutions.
On top of this, three times a week each guru will spend an hour explicitly engaging in personal development, which often looks like peer to peer coaching sessions, engaging in training courses, or sharing ideas and feedback through a team meeting.
Most gurus, myself included, work on a 6 week schedule. For the first four weeks, we work the same days consistently, and for the last two we end up working coverage. While others might not love coverage, I think the change in hours I’m working and people who are in my squad makes for an engaging dose of variety!”
Shopify makes it easy to start your own e-commerce business. They provide a host of tools aimed at empowering entrepreneurs and small business owners to sell their wares simply over the web.
The company was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Harvey Winkley, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake. Headquartered in Ottawa, Shopify now has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, as well as in a number of international locations, including San Francisco and Berlin.
In 2015 the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange, and today they have $580 million dollars in annual recurring revenue as well as a $1.3 billion dollar valuation.
The company is hiring across a wide range of functions including development and marketing. Notably, Shopify has embraced remote work for a number of it’s employees, especially in customer success functions
Shopify’s overarching mission is to make commerce better for everyone. By making life easier for merchants, the company opens doors for a better consumer experience.
One of the company’s key values is thrive on change, which means employees are expected to find pleasure in, and build for, a dynamic world. You can see this value particularly clearly when examing Shopify’s internal innovation efforts, like Shopify Marketplace, many of which operate as start-ups within a broader company.
Another value is operate on trust. A common theme throughout reviews from Shopify employees is that one must be comfortable acting autonomously to succeed in their role. For those who are, there is substantial opportunity per personal development and advancement. Operate on trust means that Shopify-ers are expected to take ownership over their domains, and in doing so avoid behaviour that would prevent others from doing the same.
Shopify also values solving problems at a rapid pace. This means that teams are expected to maintain a high velocity of output, and that decisions should be made and, if necessary, corrected rather than debated ad-nauseum. One can see this value at work in the expectations of individual team members. For example, Shopify’s Guru’s are expected to maintain three active chat conversations at a time, while slower moving companies are comfortable with two.
Finally, teammates should leverage the diverse perspectives of their teammates in everything they do. Toronto is the world’s most international city, with over half of all citizens being born outside of Canada, making this office particularly exemplary of Shopify’s diversity related value. While Shopify certainly highlights a diverse range of individuals in their promotional videos, some have questioned their commitment to diversity on the basis of their continued service provision to Breitbart news.
What is your life’s story?
If you’ve taken some time to reflect before your interview, this sort of question should come incredibly naturally to you. If you’re struggling with where to start, here’s one potential approach you could take:
To start, actively think about which qualities you most want to emphasize in your interview. If you’re applying for software engineering roles, it might be your ability to generate creative solutions to problems, or your ability to rigorously problem solve. If you’re applying for a guru role, it might be your ability to build relationships, communicate clearly, and remain calm in tense situations.
Once you’ve come up with three to four qualities that you think are most important qualities in the role, spend time coming up with a 1-2 experiences where you exemplified each of these.
From here, your goal is to think up a way of telling your story that allows you to touch on each of these experiences, and in doing so pro-actively highlight the skills you know they are seeking. A final cherry on top is to end with a clear rationale for what you’re hoping to accomplish in your career, and why this role at shopify is the best possible next step for you given your trajectory.
What was missing in your last role that you’re hoping to have in this position?
This is a challenging question as it requires that you integrate your past experiences with your knowledge of shopify, and do so in a way that is constructive. One of the most common ways that people will botch this question is being excessively negative about their past employer. You can stand out by taking ownership for shortcomings that you observed in your past environment, and describing how you could have done more to change them.
Beyond this, try to describe how the experience you are seeking in this new role will benefit not only you, but your teammates and the broader company. For example, if you’re looking for a workplace where constructive criticism is actively provided to employees, discuss what implications this has for you, but also the learnings of your peers, and Shopify’s overall bottom line.
Why do you want to join Shopify?
This question is looking to gauge a few things in potential candidates. To start, have you done your basic homework on Shopify? Do you understand what they do, and the impact they want to make. Beyond this, do you connect with the company mission? It tends to be that passionate people are able to drive results even with limited experience, so communicating why you value Shopify’s mission is definitely a good idea—especially if you can connect it to your own entrepreneurial pursuits.
Beyond this, companies want to see that you have taken the time to carve out an ideal trajectory, and that as a result you hope to make Shopify a meaningful part of this path. The alternative would be you are just looking for any sort of job, which often leads to high employee churn and low personal investment.
Shopify’s three founders, Tobias Lütke, Scott Lake, and Daniel Weinand didn’t initially intend to build a site that builds other websites. Instead, in 2004 they were hoping to sell snowboarding equipment themselves, but were dissatisfied with the available options. Tobi ended up building an in-house solution, that in 2006 they branded and began selling as shopify.
A year later, in 2007, they raised a seed round. In 2009, Shopify began to flourish as a platform with the introduction of their App Store and API platform, which allowed developers to create and sell apps that enhance shopify stores. Today, Shopify’s App Store has over 1200 different offerings, many of which are free to end users.
In 2010, the company introduce an iOS App, which simplified the process of managing a store from mobile. Simultaneously, Shopify rolled out their inaugural “Build-a-business” competition, which incentivized would-be entrepreneurs to start something using the company’s e-commerce platform.
In the 36 months between December 2010 and December 2012, Shopify would raise $121 million dollars through the Series A, B, and C funding rounds. By 2014, the company had 120,000 retailers on the platform, and ranked as the 7th fastest growing company in North America.
During the spring of 2015, Shopify IPO’d on the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, the company has relentlessly pursued innovation, through acquisition, partnerships, and internal product development. Frenzy, a mobile app aimed at facilitating flash sales, and Shopify Marketplace, where individuals can buy or sell their Shopify stores, stand out as two relatively recent and promising developments.
The company also has a track record of subsuming smaller companies in order to acqui-hire talent. For example Satish Kanwar, the company’s now VP & GM of Channels, was brought on board following the acquisition of Jet Cooper, which Satish had co-founded.