We liked interviewing Shannon so much forthe last con, we couldn’t get her back quick enough. And it was, as always, a pleasure. Fresh from a recent round of funding that gaveKarat unicorn status，转向思维，多样性和包容的冠军分享了对炼油和优化招聘流程，制定数据驱动的决策的见解，以及她将如何继续对抗未来的良好斗争。
We’re so pleased to have you back in the hot seat, Shannon! What have you – and Karat – been up to in the last year?
Amazing! Since the last time we spoke, we’re growing so quickly; my team alone has quadrupled. We’ve also just completed a huge round of funding so Karat is officially a unicorn – all pretty cool! I’m just so excited. We’ve also worked with organisations likejopwell.与哈佛大学建立我们的倡议：The Interview Access Gap for Black Engineers, so we’ve been doing a whole lot of work there and dedicating a lot of time and resources to underrepresented communities in tech which is great.
The last time we caught up, we were in the middle of lockdown. Now, both here and across the pond where you are, things are opening up a bit more. 2021 for many people and businesses, was often simply about putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the year rather than a long-term outlook. That’s shifting now, especially for those companies that have gone through very speedy transformations. How is your focus shifting going forward into 2022?
A lot of the best practices that we’ve been introducing with our clients are continuing. The biggest shift we’re seeing with clients that have grown really quickly over the last year is that they’re suddenly distributing the hiring work. We call it: going from centralisation to decentralisation. And that can be very tricky because with centralisation you have complete control; you know exactly what your hiring bar is, you know your CTO could say I want to hire for X and quantify that with Y. All of a sudden you’ve hit your numbers, and now you have to relinquish a little bit of control and move to a more decentralised environment. With less control over the bar, you start to see biases injected and so it becomes ever more important to continue to track your hiring practices around the world. As you start to expand into different regions, for example, making certain adjustments may be necessary but the core of those practices should still be there, as we talked about last year.
Karat is growing exponentially and your focus as a leader will be changing. In the last 18 months, we’ve seen more people bringing their ‘whole selves’ to work, not just because they want to, but due to the pandemic situation, they have no choice but to. With that in mind and being more aware of people’s personal needs and how they impact their professional needs, what do you think your team will need most from you as a leader?
信任。它是当你是一个最重要的事manager; you have to trust people and trust that they know when they need a break and believe that they’re doing the best they can. You have to know that they’re coming to work with their best intentions and that sometimes things are stressful. I’ve had to have a few conversations recently with folks that have worked constantly because they’re working from home and they’re feeling the pressure because they feel like it’s the only thing within their control. I’ve asked them how they are feeling and say I’ve noticed a bit of a shift – things like their responses are a bit shorter or their anxiety a bit higher. But it’s difficult as a manager, you can’t just tell them to take time off because they might not be able to or say they are fine. So I find it more helpful to start the conversation and eventually they will come to you and ask for that time – don’t force it.
Having said that, also give your staff extra time off when they really need it. We’ve just increased our paternity leave to 16 weeks now, which is incredible. Your job as a leader is to put all of the pieces in place to enable people to take that space away from work and that includes hiring. When you’re a smaller company growing into a much larger one, often you’re used to working on a shoestring budget: the bare minimum amount of staff doing a huge amount of work. And that’s not setting up your team for success. Those who have the power and influence should go back and advocate for the resources they need and set realistic expectations so that when it comes down to it, people can take some time with their families or get outdoors or whatever they want/need to do. Because那refresh,那能量你休息得多beneficial to your business than the negative impact of somebody who’s burnt out, or hasn’t been out of their house because they’re working 24/7 and feel nervous that if they don’t, they’ll be fired. As a leader, your job is to make sure they feel safe and trusted.
Talking of hiring specifically, what are the most effective changes you’ve made to your process since the pandemic began?
For us it’s that we continue to be remote-first. Because we’re an interviewing company, we do really well on that rubric i.e. when somebody is doing their first tech screen. But what I’ve learned personally – especially when working with new recruiters – is that I need to have a rubric for that recruiter screen as well.
I regularly hire solutions and sales engineers and sometimes it’s a difficult role to explain to someone not familiar with the roles; you have to have the right balance of working with clients and technical skill. And so what I’ve done recently is put together a working document, where we have a baseline rubric including questions. As candidates came through the process and were more successful over time, we adjusted the questions according to what we were looking for. Levelling based on that and on the recruiter screen, saved us a tonne of time.
What we’re also seeing in the industry – with the way the job market is changing – is that people have less patience to endure lengthy hiring processes, as well as candidates receiving multiple job offers. In this scenario, what do you recommend companies do to avoid losing top talent?
I think you actually touched on the core of what’s happening – it’s that people really feel as though they had to jump through the hoops and they’re over it. When you have a recruiter screen, then a manager screen, then maybe a take-home test and then, if the candidate is a tech lead, meeting several different engineers as well as someone in leadership. The coordination of that alone takes a huge amount of time and as you say, we’re seeing over and over again, if you do not make your funnel as short as possible, you will see a drop-off.
So we’ve done a few things to navigate this; first is as I mentioned above, optimising our screener process. As soon as the recruiter meets somebody that fits the hiring criteria, we have pre-determined slots that they can schedule for that person to get in and meet someone internal for the initial engineering screen (which is somebody like myself or my leads), within 24-to-48 hours. After that, we have a work sample that candidates go through which for us, is essentially like a technical presentation, but we make sure it doesn’t take more than an hour.
A key point is, if we know that we need to have one of our senior leadership or one of our co-founders meet a candidate i.e. if they’re a certain level, we have already locked in that time before they’ve even met the team. It can be hard to get time with C-level team members, so we schedule everything as quickly as possible – and if it doesn’t happen, they’re always happy to get 30 minutes of their time back!
We also refined and removed folks from the process; we actually only have four teams of people meet with a prospective employee. So we have the hiring manager and one of their peers, someone from a third party team e.g. commercial or marketing, and then if they continue to move forward, senior leadership. This means we can get through our process on average, within four-to-six days now and we’ve had a lot of success. But you need to make sure you are evaluating every single data point along the way in order to optimise the process.
Lastly, we had to get a little bit more competitive with our offers. Going from a small startup to getting funding, luckily for us, we could get closer to market. One thing we’ve come to understand – and I’ve been learning in the process – is make sure that when you’re recruiting, you understand what a candidate’s needs are from a pay perspectiveearly on.这是你可以去提倡他们或什么e looking for as quickly as possible. If I have a candidate who’s fitting within our band and they need X,Y,Z, and we need to make adjustments, I will start working with finance immediately. This is before we even do everything else, just to ensure that if we love this candidate and want to hire them, we have the offer ready as soon as they’re done with their interviews.
We just have to be really strict with our process, because that’s the only way we’ll get through it. We were struggling for a little bit and then we sat back and realised that:
- We had too much time in between interviews
and we just had to get everyone in the organisation to commit to the timelines that we put in place. It does mean that with my team in particular, we may have to adjust the expectations of our other team members and clients when we’re in the middle of hiring, because we need to dedicate ourselves to the process. It’s about prioritisation and yes, the fact is I lose a little bit of productivity now, but it’s for the longer-term gains because it will get incrementally better over time.
You have to be able to make that commitment as a company and to me, hiring is the most important thing that you can do. When you’re hiring and interviewing, you’re setting the tone for who you are as a business. You have to be able to go to your leadership team and say look, we need to hire and that will mean that we’re going to shift the work a little bit but it’s going to be worth it because in six months time, we’ll be hitting the numbers you’re looking for. And in the meantime, we are building a fair, predictive, enjoyable and equitable process.
It can be hard though; trying to do quality work and get things out the door all while growing. And while it’s often an exciting time for many startups, it’s also challenging. One of the things that can suffer during high growth, is culture. The pandemic has greatly improved remote and flexible working options, but it’s also increased loneliness and isolated many of us from each other. Obviously, there are numerous things companies can do to encourage connection but when hiring during a growth phase, do you think it’s better to hire for culture fit or culture add?
I always hire for culture add. Because you can add and fit at the same time, so why not overcorrect towards culture. It’s really interesting because a woman I know from Flatiron Health, called Kat – we’ve done several talks together – went through this as an engineering leader. Her company had to hire hundreds and hundreds of engineers in a very short period of time, and she always talks about the balance between getting ‘butts in seats’, and making sure that they still met their hiring for diversity goals. What she learned over time is to focus on hiring and recruiting the diverse candidates, because the rest of the candidates will automatically come. And it’s true.
Diversity and inclusion is clearly a passion point for both of us. Tell me about your latest initiatives and all the great stuff you’ve been doing on this front.
我很高兴和你谈谈这个！如上所述，我们刚刚发布The Interview Access Gap, where we partnered with Jopwell andDr. Legend L Burge IIIfrom Howard University, and we did some huge studies with students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to figure out exactly what’s going on in the industry when it comes to hiring more diverse candidates and Black candidates in particular. We wanted to understand the lack of access to internships and interviews, and we really are learning just how heavy an impact it is for these students, that are in college, or qualified with a great education, or in these great programs and yet still not getting access to internships or opportunities. What we’re learning is that there’s a huge discrepancy in their network, and not having connections with experience in technology or white-collar jobs. And because they don’t have that access to people that have trodden the path before them, they don’t have that level of confidence or anyone to practice with. So it’s even more important to have practice programs for candidates so that they feel comfortable and can build their confidence.
If you read through all of the findings, it’s enlightening, especially in areas like compensation negotiation. One of the really interesting pieces to come to light was because of the lack of practice or awareness, only 40% of Black technologists negotiate compensation. It’s not just about performance in interviews and having access to internships, it’s evenafterthey get access, you’re still seeing evidence of that imposter syndrome when they’re working with companies. To me, this is a huge loss for the industry – these people are coming into tech and they’re changing their lives and their families lives for generations – and yet despite being in that same seat as their white counterparts, they are not confident enough to advocate for their worth to be reflected in their pay, which is why they’re there.
We did a few studies around ensuring that your job descriptions aren’t filtering people out before you have candidates come to you. Last year, we talked a little bit about using less masculine verbiage but we’ve since found that it’s not just women, but also underrepresented communities that don’t respond well to that over-the-top ‘TEDx-style’ language.
我写了一些关于科技的女性的出版物的碎片，即人们缺乏机会和人们对你的方式，我在明年期待着对我的故事来获得更加个性化的人，并具有姿态。我真的希望能够为技术人士做更多，并倡导女性，因为还有很多工作要做。但我也很兴奋，因为我觉得我们有很多机会通过像这样做的事情CTO工艺Con, where I can share data and help people understand the importance of diversity in tech. I do see a positive shift and that makes me really happy.
For some, the pandemic has levelled the playing field a little bit more from an accessibility viewpoint, in tech as well as some other industries. This idea that we’re all a bit more even when we’re working behind a desk from home. Has that been your experience?
Totally. Remember those old school biases you hear about like: ‘tall men with light eyes do better at business’ and so on and so forth? If we can start to eliminate things like that because we’re no longer sitting next to people, it has an impact. It may sound ridiculous but it’s really true.
If we can give people the opportunity to showcase how important that culture add is, they will see the dividends. We’re already seeing the results of having access to more diverse candidates because we’re hiring remotely and advocating for data-driven decisions. It’s invaluable and there are no words to describe just how happy it makes me that we are seeing change and those conversations are happening.
这是关于承认不同的需求 - 有些人需要进入办公室，但有许多没有，不应该需要。Tech Tech的神经大学周围的谈话现在是巨大的，特别是在美国。当我们发现这么多方法在过去几年中，我们发现当我们发现这么多的方式时，我们似乎有点不需要参加人们去做工作。由于大流行，我们已经看到了这种在工具和流程中的重要演变，我没有看到那些离开的过程。我相信那些战斗最后一个大型堡垒的人再也不会吸引了伟大的人才。
最有效的一个我听- listen to my books as you know! – is Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life by Patty Azzarello. She’s an exceptional leader in technology, who talks about hiring people smarter than you. It’s more about leadership than hiring but undoubtedly has an impact on the process.
它谈到了人们倾向于雇用那样经验丰富的候选人，这可能是非常限制的。这是不安全感，Azzarello帮助您了解您不必知道一切或者更了解您的团队。事实上，你的工作是雇用更多关于某些事情的人而不是你的人。那个转变可能很难，但她对如何做到这一点非常重要的逐步计划。她还讨论了不仅仅是更老的导师，而且20多岁的导师在20多岁时，我认为令人着迷，非常重要。I’m a technologist, but there’s so much new technology out there that I don’t have exposure to on a day-to-day basis and so to me, it’s exciting to think about having a younger mentor alongside those mentors that are more senior.
Thank you, Shannon!
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