Creative Questions: Hiring Manager Intake That Works

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.


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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Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for,, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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