LinkedIn’s Head of Recruiting Shares the Checklist His Team Uses to Get the Most Out of Every Intake Meeting

July 18, 2019

You already know intake meetings are important — it’s your chance to get clear on the role you are hiring for and set yourself up for success. But, according to LinkedIn’s head of recruiting, Brendan Browne, not getting the most out of intake meetings is a common mistake.

“Doing a really great intake meeting is one of the most important and often missed opportunities to gain credibility quickly with the business [and] with hiring managers,” he says. 

These meetings are the perfect opportunity to not only gain more insight ahead of your search, but also to assert yourself as a leader that can offer guidance and expertise. In order to do just that, Brendan has every member of his team go into intake meetings with a detailed checklist in hand. In the latest episode of Talent on Tap, Brendan walks us through this list and how his team gets the most out of these meetings:

While it’s not set in stone, the checklist provides a valuable framework to guide the conversation in intake meetings. You can view and download the exact checklist the LinkedIn recruiting team uses here and keep reading below for some key takeaways. 

1. Ensure everyone fully understands what the role is and why it’s critical to fill it

It may come as no surprise that a large chunk of Brendan’s checklist is dedicated to understanding the role itself. But this goes beyond gaining familiarity with the basic tasks and challenges that come with it. Brendan likes to spend time diving deeper into the core business need for the role. 

  • Questions you might want to ask right off the bat include:
  • What is the background and business need for this role?
  • How is this aligning with the growth of your team?
  • Do you have example profiles of people who would be a good fit? What are sample career opportunities/trajectories?

These kinds of questions can prompt the hiring manager to think more critically about the fundamental needs of the role, helping ensure you’re all on the same page. 

As part of the discussion, Brendan also wants to find out whether the hiring manager’s coworkers and other stakeholders are fully aware of what’s going on with the role. If they’re not, you may experience friction later on, like messy office politics or people unhappy that the role is being opened up in the first place. 

2. Get aligned on the preferred and must-have qualifications for the role

Next, Brendan emphasizes the importance of distinguishing what qualifications are needed. The goal is to separate the must-have requirements for doing the role well from the things that the hiring manager would simply prefer to see in an ideal candidate. 

“The line between must-haves and nice-to-haves, in my experience, gets blurred when you don’t drive clarity and you don’t ensure that everyone who’s helping interview is clear on what the must-haves are,” Brendan says.

Take the time to go through the hiring manager’s entire wish list. Be sure to cover education and experience levels, technical certificates, and other on-paper necessities, and question whether each requirement could possibly be substituted for other qualifications or experience. This should provide you with a definitive list of essentials. Anything a candidate possesses outside of that list — like additional skills or experience the job doesn’t hinge upon — will just be the cherry on top. 

Brendan points out that drawing that line from the start and communicating it to everyone involved in the process is paramount to a successful search. If you don’t take this initial step, you open up more opportunities for subjectivity and bias to creep in later on. 

3. Understand the team’s interviewing capabilities and recommend training if needed

Another section on Brendan’s checklist covers the capabilities of the team that will be involved in interviewing candidates. This starts with a simple question: Does the team know how to interview?

“If people haven’t been through interviewing training,” Brendan says, “they sure as heck should go through it.”

Asking about the team’s capabilities as soon as you kick off your search leaves you more time to fit in training if it’s needed. Depending on your company’s circumstances and training offerings, you may want to confirm whether every interviewer has undergone coaching in areas like compliance, unconscious bias and inclusive hiring, and GDPR regulations. If team members aren’t familiar with interviewing, they may not leave candidates with the best impression of the company.

“Make sure you’re being the gatekeeper in terms of who is going to be put in front of candidates,” Brendan recommends. 

4. Set expectations for your partnership with the hiring manager and interviewing team as a whole

One of the most important goals of an intake meeting is to establish immediate trust with the hiring manager, says Brendan. Having an open and honest discussion about priorities, communication, feedback, and expectations will help you build that trust must faster. Consider asking detailed questions like:

  • What is the level of priority on this hire?
  • What is your target date for receiving the first round of candidates to review? What about for decision-round interviews?
  • What is the preferred method for delivering status updates?
  • What is your preferred interviewing approach, e.g. batch day vs. one-off interviews? 

You may also want to spend some time going over what the hiring manager should expect from you, and what you need from them to be successful. Confirming whether they have any vacations or other time off planned during the recruiting timeline will help you avoid potential complications and delays down the line. 

“As a hiring manager,” Brendan says, “when a recruiter works with me in this capacity, I feel confident, I feel trust in that person, I know they have my best interests and the company’s best interests in mind.”

5. Discuss next steps and establish time for follow-up meetings

Finally, Brendan’s team thinks about the next steps. As part of this, you may want to send the hiring manager an email outlining the key points you’ve covered, and put time on their calendar for a follow-up one week after the initial intake meeting. You can use this time to hone your sourcing strategy, discuss what’s working and what isn’t, and ensure the hiring manager has a firm grasp compliance issues, like what to do if a member of their team knows one of your prospects. 

From there, you can establish weekly or bi-weekly sessions to discuss progress. This will help the hiring manager stay in the loop and feel confident throughout the process. As you move into the interviewing stage, this is also an opportunity to follow up with the hiring manager and gather their feedback about each candidate. 

With these bases covered, everyone should be ready and raring to go — and the rest of the process should go much smoother. 

Embrace your unique leadership style 

Using a checklist like this in all your intake meetings does more than just provide basic information. It also allows you to establish how seriously you take the hiring process — helping you come across as an inspiring and knowledgeable leader. 

“This is when we need to slow down to go fast and assert ourselves as leaders,” Brendan says. “Be clear: you are an expert in talent. You understand these processes. Not everybody does — not every hiring manager does, not every interviewer does — and they want and crave advice and guidance. Let’s give it to them.”

You don’t have to be a hardliner to come across as assertive, but you can’t be too soft, either. Brendan recommends that you just be yourself and find your unique voice to manage the recruiter-hiring manager partnership more successfully and make better hires together. 

“Make no mistake, you have a powerful voice,” he says, “and you need to use it in a way that you see fit.”

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