I began to have awful stage fright in the 8th grade. See, I recently moved from Georgia to upstate New York. To get out of math class, I took a spelling bee test. I did well and was one of the top 15 spellers in the school. That meant I would stand on stage with others and spell in front of the entire school and the parents of the 15 kids, my own included.
I studied my words and practiced out loud in the days approaching the big moment. I would wake up each day with words racing through my head. While I was never great at math, spelling was my strong suit. I didn’t just want to compete. I wanted to win. When I sat on the stage that day, I could feel my nervousness building up. After the practice round, I went up ready for my first word.
“Jepity,” he said with a thick New York accent, or at least that’s what it sounded like. “Umm…” I thought. What came out of my mouth? A deep breath that made my lips tremble just enough to make a giant fart noise in the auditorium in front of an army of middle schoolers. You can imagine the rumbling laughter (pun intended). Once everyone settled down, I proceeded to misspell the word jeopardy after years of watching the show. I was so disappointed with myself. I swore that I’d never get on stage again. (Funny now that I am booked as a speaker regularly.)
Spell It Out
Misunderstanding will have your managers cursing you. You can prevent that by spelling out what we’re looking for in the intake meeting. If you even have one.
So to answer question #1 that I get all the time: yes, you have to hold this meeting. Skipping this step is one of the top reasons time to fill keeps rising in organizations. I know why it happens. The person leading the hiring charge assumes that because they filled a similar role before, they know what to look for. It’s not that easy.
It’s just like that accent story – while it is spelled the same on paper, you have to take some time to decipher the “accent,” aka what it really takes to be successful at this company. There’s no one set of skills that aligns with most job titles at most companies.
Replacing this important meeting for an online form doesn’t work. If you’ve ever said “I don’t want to be treated like an order taker,” this is the moment to change. Don’t create an order submission process if you don’t want to be treated like an order delivery person.
3 Tips For Your Hiring Manager Intake
Just hosting the meeting isn’t enough. There are a few things you have to do so you don’t put the hire in “jepity”:
1. Explain how recruiting works at your company. Each hiring manager may have a different impression of how hiring works based on their experiences – which range from using an agency to doing it all themselves. Offer timelines for check ins and set expectations on how long you think it will take before this person is hired and sitting at a desk.
2. Ask contrasting questions. Ask questions that create contrast so you understand the experiences you’re looking for. For example, “What does a collaborative person do that others who are less collaborative don’t?” Contrast creates context and will help you have the “aha” moment when you meet the right candidate. (For more sample questions, get a copy of our hiring manager intake.)
3. Make mandatory requirements clear. Requirements should not be a laundry list. Don’t even ask for a list. Start by repeating back what you already know. For example, “I hear that you need someone who can present to executives, can write code, and they have led a team of 5 or more. What else?” Don’t ask “What are your minimum requirements?” because it’s the easiest way to take a conversation about understanding into the order taker mentality.
I have a few more ideas about how to turn those orders into less biased requirements in my new presentation called How To Turn Manager Wish Lists Into Unbiased Job Requirements. I’m offering this as a team training and event session for HR and recruiting teams who want to improve their intake skills to speed up hiring, stop being treated like order takers, and stop hiring the wrong people by better understanding the real requirements. You can book a time to talk about your event or team here.
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, Care.com, 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.