Karat raises $110M on a $1.1B valuation to grow its technical interviewing-as-a-service platform

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In the global race for technical talent, companies are looking for ways to speed up and enhance the recruitment process to pick the best candidates before they reach out to their competitors. Today, a company that has built a solution to help with one aspect of this — the interview process — is announcing a major round of funding that will underpin that demand.

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Kharat, which has called it the “Interview Cloud”—essentially, an “interview as a service” platform that provides a way for clients to funnel candidates to a team of trained online interviewers, themselves engineers who develop skills and problem-solving skills. Solutions that screens applicants for capabilities has closed a $110 million round — as part of an online appraisal, a Series C that values ​​the Seattle startup at $1.1 billion.

The round is led by Tiger Global, which led the company’s $28 million Series B in 2019. Norwest Venture Partners, 8VC, Axor, Base Partners, and Sempervirens Fund — all previous backers — also participated.

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Karat plans to use the funds to continue to build more technology and data science into its process – both to train and guide interviewees, and to analyze the interview process to improve it in the future. . In the longer term, it may also consider bringing in interviewers, skills and data to move beyond technical recruiting. However, technical hiring remains a huge market for startups. Working with companies like Roblox, American Express, Intuit, Compass, and Wayfair, Karat co-founder and CEO Mohit Bhinde said there could be 500 interviews on the platform in a typical day (not all for one company). .

Last time we checked in with Karat, COVID-19 wasn’t even on the horizon – it was May 2019 – and so it was good to focus on providing the tools to work virtually rather than being needed in a large mix .

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Meanwhile, Karat’s position that live, technical interviews were far better than giving actual tests still seemed to be debatable.

Fast forward seven months and the world has completely changed, and with it the world of work. Karat’s tools have suddenly come into their own as an important way for companies to continue their recruitment activities, and perhaps even better them.

The company began sourcing people to conduct interviews by offering it as a side-gig for working engineers. Now, Bhende says the number of interviews is such that the people who run him on stage now use it as their primary source of income, many of whom earn $250,000 a year through Karat. (This is not to say that they are Karat’s full-time employees: Bhinde confirms that they are all contractors, and are all operating in compliance with their local employment laws.)

This change in the people driving the interview process is a major challenge, pushing people to conduct in-house technical interviews, and in general to recruit more engineers. As Bhinde describes it, it’s nobody’s job, not formally at least partly because engineers are too busy.

“One company doesn’t have enough engineers to interview engineers,” he said.

Typically, one of the ways to narrow down the interview process is to rely on tests, which Karat believes are intended to determine a candidate’s real-world problem-solving skills and ability to collaborate with others. There isn’t a precise enough method. Furthermore, especially now, “people crave and want human-to-human contact,” he said.

In fact, while the human aspect of the service runs reliably across the platform, it seems that how Karat scales is the technology that underpins the platform. Bhinde notes that the company trains people based on data from past interviews, which in theory gives it a strong strike rate for identifying strong candidates. This can be a tricky area, as Karat essentially centers on how companies build new strategies and products: Recruitment advertising is, in fact, often one way that information is leaked that the company is secretly. What are you trying to do?

“We have a team of interview scientists trying to identify the right candidate interviewees,” said Jeffrey Spector, Karat’s president and other co-founder. “We are a competency-driven company and therefore we are looking for underlying skills and questions that map to the right candidate.” He says these are represented as modules, which Karat can then map to what a specific company is looking for. It is also a way that an interviewer – who is not employed by the company he or she is interviewing for – is able to put up a wall around the company’s confidential or proprietary information, while still determining whether someone Whether the candidate is or will not be suitable for the role. “That means we’re not learning everything.”

“We believe Karat’s Human + Technology Interweaving Cloud is the way most companies will hire engineers,” said Scott Schleifer, partner at Tiger Global, in a statement. “We know the gap between supply and demand for engineering talent will continue to widen and are excited to deepen our investment in the category maker and leader.”

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