Creative Questions: Hiring Manager Intake

I always know when an HR Tech vendor has no experience in the HR and recruiting industry. There’s always this air of confidence and over-simplification about fixing broken systems. “Just click this,” or “overhaul your system,” they say as if any of that is easy or our choice. What bothers me isn’t the lack of experience but rather the lack of questions they ask. They make assumptions that recruiting is broken and they’ll fix it.

In fairness, I know this because I was one of them. At 24, I left my tutoring job to join a recruiting tech startup called VisualCV. I had 0 industry experience or connections. I knew nothing about recruiting, and here I was working at a startup that was going to replace the resume. 

I’m shaking my head and laughing just typing that tagline again.

Back then, I plastered it on t-shirts and bumper stickers. Now, I’m a little embarrassed. Realistically, there’s no way in the world we’re replacing resumes anytime soon. It most surely wasn’t going to happen because a bright-eyed 24-year-old called you. 

But I didn’t know that because I didn’t ask questions.

My Favorite Hiring Manager Intake Questions

Most recruiters haven’t done the job they recruit for before either.

I haven’t met a retired scientist that is a recruiter. I don’t know a ton of talented software developers who ditch code for hiring. With that said, much like those HR Tech sales reps, we don’t always ask the right questions to be successful before we start recruiting. 

Instead of assuming, recruiters need to do better hiring manager intake. No, I’m not talking about an email or a survey. I mean a real intake where you sit down and talk through what the role entails instead of copying and pasting some crappy job posting from a competitor. 

Showing up won’t create a better job posting or deliver better hires. You have to ask the right questions. Questions that prompt experiences, not skills. Questions that help your hiring manager imagine the person they’re trying to hire so you can find them. 

Here are a few of my favorite hiring manager intake questions: 

What’s happening in 6 months? 

This question makes impact clear. We want to attract people who want to work toward a mutual mission. 

What can the company not do if we don’t hire? 

Knowing the answer will help you show this person how they have an impact outside of their laptop and office. Your job posting should make the candidate the hero.

They get up in the morning and put on their pants. Now what?

Use this question to understand a day in the life. Understand exactly what tasks they are doing every day. We have to be able to imagine the work to explain it to candidates. 

You can get a copy of all of my favorite hiring manager intake questions here for free.

The other bonus of great hiring manager intake is this: hiring managers start to trust you.

Admitting you don’t know everything is vulnerable, but it builds relationships, too. Relationships that elevate you and your team as the experts in hiring. 

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Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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