One of the biggest advantages internal recruiters have to agency recruiters is access to the hiring manager, and with that, an ability to conduct a recruitment intake meeting to kick-off every search.

When I was transitioning from agency to in-house recruitment, I was really excited about this easy access to hiring managers because I was used to fighting to get to them to conduct intake meetings as an agency recruiter.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my in-house colleagues didn’t even conduct recruitment intake meetings! By missing the intake meeting, we’re messing up the very first step of a successful recruitment process.

It’s about company culture

As recruiters, to get this crucial first step right however, we have to have an environment that encourages it.

I remember, in my first weeks as an internal corporate recruiter, I had scheduled an intake meeting with a hiring manager. He seemed confused with this new process but amused and curious enough to go along with it.

My manager, on the other hand, was slightly uncomfortable with the idea. She had never heard of a recruitment intake meeting  (she is a HR manager) and thought it was too intrusive on hiring managers’ time.

I realized at that moment that my colleagues didn’t conduct recruitment intake meetings because they were surrounded by a HR culture that frowned upon it. It was a culture that believed that HR shouldn’t interfere and should remain as silent as possible.

This is one of the biggest reasons I think recruitment should be housed in Marketing rather than HR, but I’ll save that for another day.

When I really got into Agile Recruiting, I realized that it’s important to think of each search as a project. You can’t kick off the project without a clear understanding of what the position is about and who you should be recruiting.

You’ll come across debates over whether this should be called an intake meeting, a kick off meeting, a hiring manager intake meeting or something else.

Whatever it’s called however, the consensus in the recruitment community is clear – it is absolutely essential.

A good recruiter won’t even start writing job postings that actually attract candidates before they conduct an intake meeting.

How to conduct a successful recruitment intake meeting

If you came over here from this post about ridiculously easy steps to being an awesome recruiter, you know that I talk quite a bit about tightening your intake. Here are some ways to do that:

1. Keep it short and efficient

Nobody likes unnecessarily long meetings. If your intake meeting is over an hour long, you’re doing something wrong.

A successful recruitment intake meeting shouldn’t be more than an hour long. As a skilled recruiter, you’ll be able to gather all the information you need in that time, but you have to ask the right questions and ensure you’re leading the conversation and guiding it back to the role if the discussion bleeds into something else.

The secret is to go into that meeting prepared!

2. Prepare for the meeting (and ensure the hiring manager is as well)

Download a free recruitment intake meeting template

I’m always astonished at how many recruiters go into an intake meeting with nothing in hand… not even an intake/kick-off form to guide the meeting (download one here).

Do your research ahead of time. Prepare to go into the meeting with a proposed sourcing strategy, maybe even have some profiles from a brief LinkedIn search you’ve done. If the hiring manager tells you that you’re totally off, no problem! Now you know.

Before your meeting, whether by email or in your meeting invite, give the hiring manager a few questions they should be prepared to answer at the recruitment intake meeting. Be careful not to overdo the number of questions. Be clear on what you need to be answered.

3. Do NOT send the recruitment intake/kick-off form to the hiring manager

You may think you’re being efficient by sending your intake sheet/form to the hiring manager to complete before coming to the recruitment intake meeting, but it does the opposite. Sending yet another form for hiring mangers to complete only confirms that this is yet another unpleasant corporate process they have to go through.

A skilled recruiter can get the answers to the questions on the recruitment intake form without drawing attention that there is even a form involved.

The form is to guide you, not the hiring manager. The hiring manager shouldn’t even notice that you’re completing a form during your meeting. To them, the meeting should simply feel like a discussion.

4. Ensure the hiring manager is engaged (schedule interviews now)

This is your chance to set expectations and responsibilities. Remember when we talked about how to implement an Agile Recruiting process? One of the key factors to success is a collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers.

The intake meeting is your chance to build this collaborative approach and ensure you’re both focused on the same goal.

phone screen templateJust like any project, you should be planning dates — target hire date, phone interviews, first interview dates, second interviews, etc. Narrow down a realistic time for the hiring manager to conduct interviews with the candidates.

The very second you get back to your desk, send the hiring manager a placeholder in their calendar as a reminder that they have committed to interviewing at that time. It’s much easier to move this time in their calendar if you’re not quite ready to move to interviews down the road.

Be realistic about how long it will take to get to the candidate interview stage though.

If you are as excited about Agile Recruiting as I am, you’ll have planned your recruiting project in Sprints, so you’ll have an idea of when you can expect the hiring manager to interview.

5. Plan your next touchpoint

One of the reasons Agile Recruiting processes work so well is because recruiters are in regular contact with hiring managers. If you’re not convinced that you need to stay in touch with hiring managers throughout the process, consider this scenario:

You spend considering time sourcing, reaching out to and interviewing candidates for this role. Once you’re sure you have 3 solid candidates, you present them to the hiring manager just to be told that these profiles are not at all what he/she had in mind.

There goes all your hard work.

A better strategy is to share some of the strong profiles you’ve sourced with the hiring manager. Get their feedback before you invest any more time in targeting that kind of profile. Make sure you’re on the right track, especially if this is a new role or new hiring manager.

Download a free recruitment intake meeting template and kick-off your search the right way.

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