The ultimate guide to intake meetings (with questions)

Last updated:
August 19, 2021
June 8, 2022
min read
Brendan McConnell
Intake meetings between hiring managers and recruiters
Table of contents

Clear communication between recruiters and hiring managers is critical to success during the hiring process. This alignment can either make or break your recruitment efforts, meaning that both parties need to come together as soon as possible in the hiring process to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This is where intake meetings come into play.

This article will act as a primer on intake meetings, and offer insights into how to prepare for one, questions to ask, and steps to take after the meetings.

What is an intake meeting?

An intake meeting is, in essence, a kick off or requirements gathering session between the recruiter and hiring manager that occurs at the start of the hiring process. They’re preliminary discussions between both parties that are designed to:

The list above is not comprehensive, and will shift depending on the requirements and complexity of each individual job opening you’re looking to fill.

The overall goal of an intake meeting is to ensure that both the recruiter and hiring manager are as aligned as possible on key elements of the hiring process like:

  • Ideal time to hire
  • Salary budget
  • Interview process
  • Assessment tests
  • Must-haves

By going through this exercise, the recruiter can hit the ground running, without the need to back track and change strategies later in the recruitment process.

Intake meetings are a best practice for virtually any new job opening at any company, but they are particular helpful when:

  • The position being filled is new, unique, or has different requirements than a typical opening
  • The recruiter or hiring manager is new to the company

Think of intake meetings like project kick offs for your hiring process. They’re designed to ensure everyone is on the same page, and that all requirements and targets are clearly communicated out of the gate.

The benefits of intake meetings

As you could guess, there are many benefits to intake meetings that make this extra step worth the effort.

Here’s a list of the primary benefits of intake meetings for recruiters:

  • Early alignment and smoother hiring processes overall
  • Stronger and clearer communication between the recruiter, manager, and hiring team
  • Stronger and more candid relationships between recruiters and hiring managers
  • Avoids surprises in the recruitment process
  • Maximizes time to hire by ensuring that there are no roadblocks on waste points
  • Better candidate experience for applicants

The bottom line is that intake meetings facilitate a closer and more transparent working relationship between recruiters and hiring managers.

For recruiters, this means that they can level set with hiring managers and outline clear expectations on what is possible and when. This is invaluable to ensuring a smooth process and desirable outcome in a timely manner.

For hiring managers, intake meetings provide a chance for them to share their requirements and wish list with the recruiter. It also helps them understand the overall hiring process, the constraints and possibilities, and what is possible within the specified salary range and job profile.

How to prepare for intake meetings

Like with any kick off call, it’s important that recruiters come prepared to intake meetings. This will ensure that the conversation is not bogged down with information that could have been shared via email before the call took place, and instead focuses on tactical considerations and developing a clear plan of attack.

When preparing for an intake meeting, recruiters should ensure they cover the following steps.

1. Ask the hiring manager for the job description

The first step in preparing for an intake meeting is to ask the hiring manager for a job title and job description.

Review the job requirements and start to form a picture of the ideal candidate in your mind. Make notes about which requirements are possible, and which may be a challenge given the market, seniority level, and salary budget.

Note any and all feedback you have on that job description and bring it to the intake meeting.

2. Ask for examples of past hires and resumes that they like

This step helps you form a clearer picture of what type of person the hiring manager is looking to recruit.

By asking for examples of other people or resumes who are close to what the hiring manager is looking for, you can start to move from a list of job requirements to a more complete candidate profile.

Note any and all feedback about these examples and bring that to the intake meeting as well.

3. Review that information and prepare feedback

At this stage, you should be able to start jotting down some recommendations for how to strengthen or tweak the job description.

Note any requirements that may be too aggressive or unrealistic, and offer alternatives for how to present that requirement in the recruitment ad.

You should also prepare some ideas for how to align the job requirements with the ideal candidate profile. This can be fleshed out in more detail at the actual meeting.

4. Research market and salary data

It’s helpful to come to intake meetings with hard data about the talent marketplace. Based on the job requirements and candidate profile, you should pull insights on:

  • Supply and demand data in your areas of operation
  • Probable salary asks
  • Typical skills and qualifications for this role

This data will help to facilitate an objective discussion about how to approach sourcing, whether or not to alter the job requirements, and how much budget approval will be needed.

5. Develop a general hiring framework to present

Like in a project kickoff meeting, it’s helpful to come prepared with a general framework for how the recruitment process will be structured. This can be a standard recruitment framework that you present to the hiring manager, or a more customized one tailored to this specific job opening.

This framework should include ideal sourcing strategies, recommended touch points, and screening activities.

This framework is likely to change depending on the hiring manager’s screening requirements. Be prepared to take feedback and alter your plan accordingly.

6. Set time to hire estimates

Based on the framework above, you should also come to the meeting with a ballpark time to hire estimate. This will help to manage expectations, and make it clear what commitments will be required from the hiring team and when.

Going through these six steps before an intake meeting will help make the conversation more fruitful and forward thinking. Your prepared plan is likely to change, but you’ll be coming at that change from a position of knowledge, rather than scrambling to familiarize yourself with the requirements on the fly.

Questions to ask the hiring manager during intake meetings

The goal of the intake meeting is to learn more about the hiring manager’s requirements, goals, and expectations. This means that you need to ask probing questions about all of the above.

To keep your line of questioning organized, it’s helpful to break them up as follows:

  • Introductory questions
  • Responsibility and outcomes questions
  • Skills and competencies questions
  • Budget questions
  • Time frame and process questions

Here are some examples of each.

Introductory questions

These are questions to ask at the start of the meeting, and help you understand baseline information about the desired candidate and motivations behind the hire.

Examples include:

  • Why do you need to hire for this role?
  • Who will the new hire report to?
  • What is your department’s role within the company?
  • Will the new hire have direct reports?
  • How would you describe your ideal candidate?
  • Describe your best employee. What traits do they have?

Responsibility and outcomes questions

These are questions about the desired business impact the candidate will bring to the table in the short and long term.

Examples include:

  • What are the five main responsibilities the new hire will have?
  • What do you expect the new hire to accomplish in their first 30, 60, 90 days?
  • Who are the key stakeholders at the company who will work with the new hire?
  • What business outcomes will the new hire own?

Skills and competencies questions

These are questions that probe more deeply into what skills and competencies the candidate must have to be successful in the role. This should get to the bottom of what is a must-have versus a  nice-to-have.

Examples include:

  • What qualifications must the candidate have? Why?
  • What skills must the candidate have? Why?
  • What are some nice-to-have skills? Why?
  • What are the non-negotiables? Why?

Budget questions

These are questions designed to get a clear picture of target and potential salary. Depending on the role, you’ll also want to make sure you get a clear idea of all potential bonuses, commissions, and so on that will form the candidate’s total compensation package.

Examples include:

  • What is the salary range for this position?
  • Is there room to move up in your salary range if required?
  • Is there any additional compensation that will be added to the salary (i.e. commission)?

Time frame and process questions

Lastly, this line of questioning is designed to get an idea of the hiring manager’s target hiring time frame, as well as their availability for screening and assessing candidates.

Examples include:

  • When do you want the new hire to start, ideally?
  • When can you and your team start screening candidates?
  • How do you plan to assess candidates for the required skills and competencies?
  • Who will be involved in the interview and assessment phases?

Each of the questions mentioned above is likely to spark a deeper conversation around each area of the recruitment process. That’s a good thing. The goal here is to probe as deeply as possible to ensure that both parties are thinking of the hiring process from multiple different angles.

Once this questioning is complete, the recruiter and hiring manager should be more or less on the same page about what is expected and possible.

Steps to take after an intake meeting

Once the intake meeting is completed, you can then start to put your recruitment strategy into practice. The next steps in this process will be a combination of maintaining communication with the hiring manager, and actioning the agreed upon next steps.

This will typically include:

  • Sending a summary email. Summarize the key outcomes of the intake meeting, and outline next steps.
  • Building your sourcing strategy. This includes preparing job ads, selecting sourcing channels, identifying qualified candidates in your talent pipeline, and engaging in active outreach with your contacts.
  • Preparing your interview strategy. Outline the stages of the interview process, and who will be involved. Prepare competency-based and behavioural questions and a structured interview scorecard for evaluating candidates.
  • Add the hiring manager to your ATS and other tech platforms. Make sure that everyone involved in the hiring process has access to the required tools and platforms.
  • Maintain close contact with the hiring manager. Check in at each major stage of the process: as qualified candidates come in, as you screen applicants, to schedule interviews, and to inform about new developments in the hiring process.
  • Provide interview assistance if needed. Offer to coach the hiring manager and other team members in interview best practices if needed. Give them an overview of what information they can and should provide to the candidate.
  • Connect with the hiring manager after each major interview. Hold a debrief call to discuss each interviewed candidate. Are the candidates being interviewed qualified? Do they fit the ideal candidate profile? If they don’t then you may need to discuss changes to the sourcing strategy.
  • Keep an eye on the time. Always keep the target time to hire in the back of your head. Processes that drag on too long may indicate that something is wrong with your strategy, expectations, or initial forecast.

It’s critical that the recruiter and hiring manager keep the lines of communication open after the intake meeting. This is a partnership that requires active participation from both parties.

When done correctly, intake meetings can have an incredibly positive impact on the quality of the candidate you ultimately select, that person’s fit within the organization, and the efficiency of your overall hiring process.

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