Intake Meetings: The Ticket to Top Talent Is Under Your Nose

This part of the recruitment process can make or break hiring efficiency. I'm talking about the intake meeting you have with your recruiter that starts you both on the same page and, if done well, leads to better and faster hires.

As a hiring manager, you’ll want to establish a cadence for regular communication and set expectations for the role you are hiring for.

I'll take you through the structure of a successful meeting, including the preparations and guideposts that will help you know if your approach is working.

What's an Intake Meeting?

An intake meeting is when the hiring manager and the recruiter initially discuss the position's requirements, candidate profile, and job title. Recruiters will take this as an opportunity to get solid face time with hiring managers.

The main benefits of a properly executed intake meeting include:

  • Less miscommunication between hiring team members
  • Stronger recruiter/hiring manager relations
  • Faster hires

By the end of the intake meeting, everyone should understand who will do what going forward. 

How to Prepare for a Productive Intake Meeting

Woman prepares notes for intake meeting

Hiring managers should have the finger on the pulse with required technical and soft skills and the nice-to-haves for a harmonious team setting.

Here are few things that would help define those criteria:

  • Examples of past hires for similar roles or sample resumes you've seen and liked
  • A breakdown of the role and daily responsibilities the new hire will be responsible for
  • A candidate profile or persona that details a fictionalized "ideal candidate." It doesn't have to be extensive, but it does need to be researched and relevant.
  • A frank list about any budget restrictions or other potential concerns for the hiring process

The recruiter is responsible for consulting on the salary and timeframe to complete the hire, based on the job description, the recruiter should come prepared to the meeting with:

  • Stats that represent market availability for the ideal candidate profile
  • Suggestions for strengthening the job description
  • An estimated timeframe to source for the new role
  • A list of questions to better understand hiring priorities

Questions to Expect From Your Recruiter

Since every recruiter has their own style, these sample questions are merely meant to serve as a guide. Reflecting on these questions should mean smoother sailing and less room for miscommunication in your intake meeting:

  • Why is this role open?
  • Who will the new hire report to?
  • What major contributions do you expect this candidate to make in their first 30, 60, and 90 days?
  • What are the must-haves (technical skills, soft skills)?
  • What are the nice-to-haves (worked for a major competitor, comes with a deep network)?
  • What are your non-negotiables? Why?
  • What's the budgeted salary? Is there wiggle room?
  • What makes this an attractive position for potential candidates?
  • When is your ideal start date?
  • Are there any tests or tasks to be administered to potential candidates during the recruitment process?
  • What is the ideal number of interviews during the hiring process? 

Next Steps for Success

I always aim to walk away from the intake meeting feeling confident about the game plan. Yet it's just the first step on a long road to uncovering that new hire. Here are some additional ways I keep on top of the process.

Consider Your Interview Strategy

Recruiters will perform the initial phone screen and maybe even the first interview, but it will be up to you to uncover the information that you need to make the best possible hiring decision. It's worth considering the types of interview questions you will ask:

Competency-based questions: These questions focus on linking questions with specific skills deemed useful for success in the role.

Behavioral interview questions: These types of questions require the candidate to demonstrate a process that is meant as an objective predictor for future behavior and results.

Brain teaser questions: Many companies are famous for asking questions that are intended to illuminate how a candidate approaches problem-solving.

You might end up asking one of each type or focusing on one exclusively. The most important part is maintaining consistency in the questions you ask candidates so you can more easily compare the interviews.

Align Your Interview Questions With the Skills You Are Looking For

To build on top of what you started with the intake process, you want to make sure the interview questions align with the traits you defined during the intake process.

If your team requires someone who knows how to handle livid customers, make sure you include a behavioral question that would illuminate that. 

If your team requires someone who excels at a cross-functional project management, it would make sense to ensure that a question highlights that. 

Without this critical step, you may end up frustrated as to why you don’t have the information you need on a candidate that matches what you started with in the intake process. 

Sync Applicant Tracking System and Other Platforms

Make sure both the hiring manager and recruiter can access whatever platform you use to track candidates. If you use Searchlight to do the bulk of your referencing, take a few extra minutes to test technology access in the meeting so that everyone can see the dashboard from the get-go. This step will ramp up your hiring process efficiency.

Buffer Your Start Date

There is nothing worse than being under pressure to get a candidate in the seat. You want this process to benefit your team by getting the right person for the job. Whatever start date you have in mind, buffer it by at least two weeks to give yourself the space to make the best decision (not just the quickest).

Maintain the Guideposts to a Good Meeting

If something is off from the start, you had better name it now. You'll want to get any glitches or hiccups out of the way with your recruiter in this intake meeting.

An effective meeting should:

  • Start and end on time.
  • Involve the right parties (if your recruiter is sick or unexpectedly out of the office, it could be worth delaying the meeting).
  • Provide everyone an accurate sense of what they are responsible for.
  • End with a firm date and time for the next follow up conversation.

Intake Meetings Boost Hiring Efficiency

Intake meeting: Wooden blocks with image of person on them in a staircase pattern

If you and your recruiter are on the same page from the first meeting, it will ensure a more cohesive candidate experience and hiring process. By outlining what makes a good hiring process, both parties will have a decent idea of how to prepare and make the most of the meeting time.

A fantastic intake meeting comes down to your ability to communicate, to set expectations, and follow up – everything else is a nice-to-have. Follow these tips and watch your talent hunt get bumped up to the next level.

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