14 Questions I Ask Managers in Intake Meetings

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Oct 10, 2017

When it comes to intake meetings, I never rely on job descriptions because they’re often outdated or inaccurate wish lists. I don’t even read job descriptions until after I complete the meeting, so that I don’t have any pre-conceived ideas or thought-bias about the role. As well as gaining a strong understanding of the role, I’ll also gather information to include in my elevator pitch for passive candidates.

My meetings usually last 30 minutes and generally follow the flow of questions below:

Q: In a nutshell, could you please describe the role to me in layman’s terms?

It’s the first question I always ask. Many of the roles that I recruit are highly technical and niche in nature. This question helps me to conceptualize and shape a high-level picture of the role in my mind. Even if I feel that I already I understand the role, I’ll play dumb and always ask this question because I discover interesting and/or helpful information every time.

Q: What problems are you aiming to solve by hiring this role? What opportunities are you aiming to capitalize on?

I usually ask these questions together, as problems are also opportunities in disguise. This gives me a good understanding of the purpose of the role and why it’s important, and I usually add this information into the role elevator pitch.

Q: How does this role contribute toward the organization’s strategic goals?

This question will build on the previous question and will add more “purpose” to the role. It will give you additional high-level context of the role, which can also be rolled into the elevator pitch.

Q: Describe the structure of your team, and how this position fits into it.

This is a common question that candidates will ask me during the initial phone screen. Have this information already on hand.

Q: What makes this role sexy/spicy?

You can use your own adjective, but I’m essentially asking the hiring manager to sell me the role. This is my favorite question to ask as you get so much valuable information from it. Nowadays most roles require some form of sourcing and headhunting, so have a good hook to gain interest from passive candidates to initiate conversation.

Q: What does the career path for this role look like?

Another question that candidates commonly ask me during the phone screen. This can also be rolled into the elevator pitch.

Q: Describe the team culture. What type of personality will fit in?

Broader company culture aside, teams will also have their own micro-culture. Understand this so that you can assess the best long-term personality fit.

Q: What are the minimum technical requirements of this role and why?

Job descriptions will often have a wish list of requirements. Cut through the noise to narrow down the actual core requirements. Asking “why” will help you gain more useful context of the role from a technical perspective.

Q: Would you consider a candidate who has potential to grow into this role vs. someone who comes with out-of-the-box experience?

Finding someone who can immediately hit the ground running will often be a lengthy and expensive process. Explore if the hiring manager would be open to grooming a candidate with potential into the role. Sometimes hiring managers haven’t considered this as an option and are thankful that you brought it up.

Q: What are three key questions I need to ask candidates during the initial phone screen?

These are questions specific to the role that will help me gauge whether the candidate will be qualified to move to the next round of interviews.

Q: What will the interview process look like for this role?

This helps me understand what I need to do to support the interview process. It’s also great information to give the candidate to improve the candidate experience.

Q: Who do you know?

Surprisingly, this is a question you always need to ask. Often hiring managers will know people in their network but haven’t considered approaching them. I’ll offer to reach out to those leads on their behalf to initiate the conversation if they prefer.

Q: What other companies/competitors will have talent with the skill set/experience that you’re targeting?

Hiring managers should know their market and who’s using the same technology, etc. This question will give you a list of companies that you can source passive talent from.

Q: Why do you choose to work here?

This question helps you build a relationship with the manager on a more personal level by giving you insight into their individual interests and motivations. This information can also be used in the elevator pitch to candidates.


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