Trenton Miller is a senior manager in recruiting operations at Karat^, the first dedicated technical interview marketplace. With over a decade of experience in technical recruiting at companies like Amazon, Google, and Remitly, Trenton is passionate about equipping diverse professionals with opportunities to strategically grow in their careers.
We sat down with Trenton to learn more about the work Karat is doing, what types of candidates they’re looking for, and how you can stand out in the interview process. Read on for his answers!
Why did you join Karat?
I wanted to help build a company and a product that was making a difference. One that is providing an opportunity to close the Interview Access Gap, and one that isn’t afraid to be vocal about it.
Can you tell us more about the Interview Access Gap and how it relates to Karat’s mission?
We know that the best products are innovated by diverse teams. We thrive when underrepresented groups have a seat at the table, and Karat's purpose is to unlock opportunities for folks of all identities, backgrounds, and perspectives.
Karat's unique business model focuses on unlocking opportunities for both companies and job seekers. We believe the interview status quo hinders the potential for individuals and companies to thrive. Many organizations cannot conduct the number of interviews with the quality and consistency needed to hire great team members, creating an Interview Gap. Inconsistent interviews and restrictive screening processes inject bias and remove companies from robust, diverse talent pipelines, creating an Access Gap. These artificial barriers contribute to the growing inequality in the world by locking talented candidates from many backgrounds out of life-changing jobs.
Karat's Interviewing Cloud increases access to fair and predictive live technical interviews while rigorously measuring and optimizing the impact on underrepresented candidates. Our team identifies strategies for building diverse talent pipelines and leveling the playing field throughout the entire hiring process, well beyond the technical interview.
How does your work in recruiting contribute to that overall mission?
Within Karat itself, my work is centered around ensuring the recruiting team can be as productive in their hiring as possible — from building reporting and dashboard tools to ensuring our tools and integrations are working well. I [think about] how we can make sure we can hit [our target] numbers as quickly and easily as possible, while still focusing on diversity and bringing in strong talent in general.
What is the interview process at Karat like?
Our interview process is pretty direct and universal across organization.So no matter what role — technical or non-technical — our first step is a quick screen to ensure the fundamentals of the role are there. For software engineers, this includes going through an interview using the Karat platform. And for others it would be a 1:1 conversation with a member of the team.
After the phone screen, candidates will have a virtual onsite interview. This targeted interview is done with a small handful of team members. Pending the role, there may be a panel case study or brainstorming session with a few members of the interviewing team.
What’s one thing you look for in each applicant, regardless of role?
I think passion fits well here. This can be pretty variable by role, but ultimately it is hearing or even seeing the excitement you have in the work you have done. I love you being excited about building things, being excited about what you've done, and it could be a side project internally that has nothing to do with your role, even. It helps me know what makes you tick, and sometimes that specific role we are discussing may not be that right fit, but it will help us find that right fit internally.
What’s something you see on a resume that makes you stop and want to learn more about the applicant?
I want to see what a candidate’s built. Knowing what you built, how you impacted a product, what processes you implemented, no matter if you owned the entire project or were a part of a team, would lead me to following up on your application. When you say ‘I participated in something,’ that’s still not telling me [what you contributed to that project].
As a recruiter, what’s one thing you wish candidates did more often during the interview process?
Simply put: I wish candidates would ask us more questions when preparing for the interview, especially the final stage. I think a lot of individuals assume they know what to expect in interviews. But I think no matter what, you should sit down with a recruiter and just ask some candid questions. Take some one-on-one time, come prepared with questions, and ask what success has looked like in some of the interviews.
What are a few of Karat’s core values? How can an applicant show that they’re aligned with them?
I’ll pick three: celebrate, own it, and create the future. We celebrate one another and learn from our failures, we move quickly to solve the problem, and we operate first from principles and value innovation.
To show alignment with these values you just need to know your work and some of the nuances of projects you’ve worked on. Try to remember that 2 minute moment where you raised your hand to ask a question at the start of development which pivoted a project that had a 6 month long development cycle. Let my team ask the questions to pull you to those values, and knowing your work really well will enable them direct the follow up questions toward any of [those values].
Last but not least, what’s some of the work at Karat you’re most excited about?
Brilliant Black Minds is a new initiative by Karat dedicated to helping Black professionals enter the tech industry. It’s its own business line and entity itself. Anthony D. Mays left Google to become the program’s senior advisor, and Serena Williams has actually come on board to help grow the program, so it’s really exciting to be a part of!
With Brilliant Black Minds, Karat is using their Interviewing Cloud to help aspiring Black engineers gain interview experience. We’re working directly with universities to expand Brilliant Black Minds [to all groups underrepresented in tech]. I don't know what that will ultimately look like, but its goal is to remove the access gap for everyone.