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Giving candidates a second chance to make a first impression helps companies simultaneously meet their hiring and DEI objectives
Business and technology leaders frequently ask how they can hire faster AND make progress on critical diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. In fact, they usually talk about these goals as mutually exclusive. But I believe this is a false tradeoff.
At Karat, we’ve found that the redo – offering every candidate the opportunity to redo their interview – has a marked impact on both objectives. Not only is it a very cost-effective way to make more hires by ensuring you never miss a great candidate who’s had a bad day, but it also has a tremendous social impact by helping support underrepresented talent who may be less familiar with the hiring process. In addition, it is an incredible driver of a better candidate experience, reducing stress in the interview and putting candidates at ease.
I’ve spent my career at the intersection of business and social good because it is my firm belief that companies need to have purpose built into the core of their business model – that way, when a company succeeds, its positive social impact scales in lockstep. When my co-founder Mo and I started Karat, we set out to build a company that made good business sense and drove equity in the system. The redo is a prime example of how to do both at the same time.
The traditional interviewing process is based on the notion that a single interview on one particular day should enable candidates to adequately and comprehensively display their skills. But what if you’re not feeling well? Or your children are home because their school unexpectedly closed? Or the wifi refuses to connect? Or you have never experienced a technical interview before?
Life throws all kinds of curveballs, which is why Karat offers every candidate the opportunity to redo their technical interview if they’re not happy with their performance for any reason.
Here’s how it works:
To date, we’ve seen nearly 1,000 candidates hired after going through a redo interview. In the past year alone, our clients have experienced an overall hiring yield increase of 17% due to the redo.
The candidates who actively seek a redo often bring strong grit and determination to the process because they are motivated to work hard, persevere, and bring their best to their dream company.
One company that has seen a particularly significant impact is Wayfair, where the team has made more than 100 hires via redo interviews. According to feedback from one Wayfair candidate, “I had a redo interview because I felt I could do better than I did in the first interview. That was exactly what happened: my second interview was much better, and I felt I was able to demonstrate my skills properly.”
Another benefit of the redo is that it gives candidates the opportunity to get more comfortable interviewing – a setting that many of us don’t experience very often. This is especially important for candidates who haven’t had much prior technical interviewing experience before going after their dream job in tech.
Portia Kibble Smith, Karat’s Director of Global Diversity Partnerships, and I spoke with students at Howard University a few years ago and a common theme that emerged, especially among those who were first-generation college students, was that there was tremendous pressure to succeed in their interviews. Students did not have strong networks into tech and therefore had fewer opportunities to interview. They also felt that they were representing not just themselves, but their entire community. One Black engineer put it simply: “We don’t have the luxury to fail.”
For those who are experiencing such barriers to entry, the redo has been critical to eliminating false negatives and helping boost overall confidence. Our data shows that underrepresented talent requests redo interviews at the highest rates of any demographic group. And the progress made when fear, uncertainty, and doubt are removed is remarkable:
“I love the redo option, it made me feel a lot better. I left my first attempt feeling like I’d absolutely whiffed it, but after my redo I’m feeling good about how I was able to represent myself.” – Karat interview candidate, September 2021
Redos have a direct and positive impact on those interviewing as well. Knowing at the start that there is an opportunity for a redo reduces overall stress and anxiety in the first interview, which often leads to better performance.
Interviewing has long been treated like a transaction – the human experience of it, including how we think, feel, react and learn, is often missing. When the interview ends, so too does the connection with the candidate. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we turn the interview into an asset that lives on and drives value long after the interview ends (more on this in a future post).
In a world where competition for talent is fierce, companies need to build better long-term relationships with candidates by providing actionable interview feedback and offering ongoing reassessment as candidates invest in growing their skills. The redo shows that you care about candidates over the long haul, even if they do not meet your bar on a particular day.
The way you engage with a candidate today will help you meet your hiring goals tomorrow.
Interview innovations like the redo are based on a simple premise – we all deserve a second chance! – yet the opportunity for impact is far greater than we initially imagined. From increasing hiring yields for companies to helping break down systemic barriers to entry for underrepresented talent, the redo holds the key to a more efficient AND equitable tech industry.
The evidence is clear: every company should offer the redo.
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