It takes engineers to hire engineers. Karat is your dedicated hiring engineer. We augment your engineering organization with a premium hiring service powered by a network of highly-skilled interviewers, robust hiring analytics, and best practice insights.
Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
We work hard, but believe everyone should lead full lives outside of the office, too.
Whether you’d prefer to be in our Seattle office or work from home, engineers have the flexibility to work wherever they’d like. As a distributed team that spans the globe, we have coverage across different time zones. For example, Cynthia (director of product management) lives on the east coast and prefers to start her day around 11am and finish later in the evening so she can help homeschool her son in the morning. That said, if you’re on the east coast and prefer to work 9-5, we encourage that too. “My team spans Seattle, England, and New Zealand, so we’re very conscious and accommodating of each other’s schedules,” says Thien-Kim (TK) (director of product management). Core meetings happen during overlapping periods of time (a small window that depends on your team’s schedule), but otherwise we trust you to get your work done when it suits you best.
In addition to 18 paid holidays and flexible time off (that people actually use!), engineers typically work ~40hr weeks. To keep our on-call system fair for everyone, we regularly rotate the schedule and have a bidding, auction-like system for holidays. Whatever your passions are outside of the office, we want you to take time to enjoy them, too. For example, Edgar, an interview engineer coordinator, is an avid photographer and Jason (staff software engineer) is passionate about puzzling. We also have several talented musicians on the team.
For us, work-life balance isn’t just proverbial time in and out of the office, we also believe in engineers having heads-down time during the workday. In fact, engineers block this time on their calendars and are very diligent about respecting it. That said, we also value time together in-person, and regularly have team bonding events and offsites (like ski trips or summer get-togethers) when it’s safe to do so.
Our goal is to continuously have feedback that helps us evolve our practices and approaches.
As a company, open communication and transparency is important. For example, the same decks that are shared with the board are also shared with engineers. Within engineering, we share our JIRA boards with customer support teams, so we can openly discuss bandwidth and prioritize work accordingly. Engineers work on teams with a dedicated product manager and designer, so there’s a high degree of collaboration and open communication around the roadmap and features we’re building.
The engineering org is also designed in a way that ensures managers are not maxed out with direct reports. Many senior engineers choose to mentor more junior engineers. For instance, with the support of a senior engineer, two interns changed the user interface and revamped the script messaging overrides, so companies can easily tweak their interviewing scripts. Elayne, one of our engineering managers, likes to block time on her calendar for anyone to ask questions or seek help exploring a different part of the codebase. There’s also regular (optional) shared working time, where anyone can drop into Zoom to collaborate.
Actively Practices Inclusion
Inclusion means making space for every Karateer.
Building an inclusive environment is top of mind in everything we do because if you don’t have an inclusive environment, you can’t retain a diverse team. We hire from around the world and interview by one of our core values, which is human-centered. For example, when recruiting in Mexico, Edgar often reaches out to potential candidates in Spanish. Being able to connect with people in their native language is just one great way to help foster a more inclusive, diverse team.
We also believe in fighting systemic racism and supporting underrepresented groups. Historically, Black software engineers have been largely kept out of the highest levels of tech and not afforded equal access to career opportunities that interviews create. To support equity from Black Americans, we created Brilliant Black Minds, a program that helps prepare Black software engineers for future interviews. Engineers are also working on projects such as making sure equitable language is used in our U/X and that we’re labeling the right buttons for candidates to use with non-binary pronouns.
We make it a priority to learn from one another and ensure that meetings are inclusive of those who are remote (i.e. figuring out the best angle, tech, or room to use so that everyone can hear each other and participate equally). During all-hands meetings, we often have presenters from the LGBTQ+ community and Brilliant Black Minds, to name a few. Our goal is for every Karateer to feel they have a seat at a table (or multiple tables). While it might not be the highest decision-making table, we always want your voice to be heard. That means you can even go to the CEO with feedback any time, regardless of your role.
Rapidly Growing Team
We’re looking for people who are passionate about the space and making an impact.
When it comes to interviewing, a lot of teams are in a rowboat. There are leaks in their process and they’re plugging the holes with their fingers, which means they can’t steer the boat and remain stagnant. At Karat, we’re working to completely overhaul the interview process for the better by getting at the root issue. To follow the same analogy, we’re not a manual boat, but rather one that built an engine, so even if there are leaks and we’re plugging them, the boat will still move forward. While the global pandemic underscored the need for better virtual hiring, companies are also able to quickly see the value of Karat’s platform. “They may start with a trial pack of interviews or focus on one role, but contracts only tend to grow from there as companies see how our hiring process yields a more diverse, equitable, and efficient process,” says TK.
The code you write will directly impact the hiring and fairness of the industry. As we scale, we’re building out new services such as making the user experience more self-service, creating more customization, and ensuring communications through our platform are tailored to each companies’ voice. We’re looking for folks who are excited about tackling these challenges and share our vision of eliminating inconsistent interviews and restrictive screening processes.
In addition to our full-time engineers building the Karat platform, we also have a separate team of freelance interview engineers (IVEs), who use the platform and Karat questions to conduct the technical interviews. Sometimes we also hire full-time engineers who started as freelance interview engineers (see Promotes From Within below). We’re currently a full-time team of roughly 110 and have hired around 34 employees in the last six months, with a goal of growing to ~300 by 2023. If you’re excited about the long-standing impact we can have if we fulfill our goals, we’d love to hear from you!
Team is Diverse
We’re proud to work with people who have different backgrounds and life experiences.
Engineers on the team come from small startups and large publicly traded tech companies; some started here as interns; some are new parents. Thirty percent of the engineering team identifies as not white, and 20% as not male. We also have folks who are more extroverted and love to pair program, while others are introverted and prefer to have more heads-down time. Several of our summer interns this year came from the Brilliant Black Minds project and have decided to stay on part-time. We rely on different perspectives to challenge bias and help us build the best product possible.
High Employee Retention
If you ask team members why they love working at Karat, you’ll likely hear it’s because of the people.
Everyone here is working for one common goal and leaves their ego at the door. “I’ve never worked with a group of more motivated, mission-driven people,” says Jason. Despite onboarding and working remotely, the team is proactive about maintaining a sense of closeness and building a cohesive culture, says Cynthia. For those who are interested, the engineering team holds regular social hours (think playing different board games), Zoom lunches 2-3 days a week, as well as a weekly book club discussion (about different articles or books) on Fridays.
It’s this extremely collaborative, supportive environment that Elayne credits for helping her decide whether to move into a people management role. “I don’t think I would have taken a management position at any other company. It’s because I have such a high degree of trust in everyone on the team [at Karat] that I decided to become a manager.” The opportunity to learn and grow is abundant as we tackle real-world problems, so it’s an exciting time to join the team!
Fosters Psychological Safety
It’s important that team members feel confident asking questions and taking risks.
We’re in a very unique space since no one else does what we do. In order to transform the technical interviewing and hiring process, we have to build a team that is willing to take risks, ask questions, and challenge the norm. Leadership sets a good example during weekly We Connect meetings by being open and vulnerable – not just about company goals – but also about real world issues that affect Karateers.
Creating a place where people feel safe to share ideas and ask for help when needed is crucial for our success. As Kyle says, “I always feel like I have someone I can reach out to for support on a project or a piece of information. We’re encouraged to experiment and it’s ok if something doesn’t 100% work out, because it’s a safe space to share an idea or try something new.”
Postmortems are always blameless and we view failures as learning opportunities. For instance, we recently invested a lot of resources into integrating our video calling product with our coding environment. We thought it was really cool, but when we actually released it to the people using the product, most of them didn’t like the change at all. Instead of dwelling on the outcome, we viewed it as a good learning experience where we were able to gain more information and in the future we might release something that has both options. Taking risks is part of the process and engineers should never feel afraid to try something new and fail.
Promotes from Within
We care about the career trajectory of everyone on the team.
We believe people are the most precious and valuable asset to any company, so it’s no surprise we’re deeply invested in the career growth of all Karateers. In fact, our name underscores this. A “caret” is a symbol (^) used to express exponents. In our case, the caret symbol represents the potential exponential growth of the people we hire and reminds us to walk the walk as a human-centered company. We want to create opportunities for people to grow, and when they do, create roles that can match that growth. During every review cycle we have an active dialogue about who on our team has demonstrated the skills necessary to move to the next level, and what special projects or initiatives we can give to folks to help them achieve their potential. There’s also a strong internal pipeline since many of our staff engineers, like Jason, started as contract interview engineers. Several senior engineers have been promoted from within and we have a path for ICs to develop who don’t want to manage people, while others started as software engineers and have transitioned to management.
The reason we have our candidates go through a technical interview is for two reasons: 1) there is no way for us to gauge the candidate’s technical abilities without seeing it in real time or through an interview and 2) it’s also an opportunity for candidates to experience the Karat product and what the interview environment would be like once they onboard and get started themselves.
3. Final Interview with members of Engineering, Product, and Leadership