All About Intake Sessions

Steve Lowisz
Intake sessions are held before the candidate search begins to give recruiters the opportunity to discuss all aspects of a position with their client. It’s an important part of the process that vastly improves your chances of finding the perfect candidate.

Can you believe that there are recruiters out there who DON’T do intake sessions!? They believe they simply don’t need them for several reasons.

Excuses Recruiters Give for Skipping Intake:
“I’ve worked with this company for years; I already know all of the managers and what they’re looking for.”
• “My specialty is within this specific industry; I know what should be required for any given role”
• “The client’s job description tells me everything I need to know!”

Skipping Intake is a Mistake!

Sure, you may be familiar with a client or their industry, but this only gives you limited insight.
Many pieces are constantly shifting within an organization. As new employees join the team and others leave, dynamics change, relationships change, responsibilities change.
Companies that share the same industry have vast differences in the way they operate. A single company could be looking to fill the same role but at two different locations, and even they will have unique needs!

Why Are Job Descriptions Not Enough?
In the end, job descriptions are just words on paper. You’ve got to understand WHY your client is looking for someone with the specific skills they’re asking for. During intake you’re able to dissect if the hiring manager really needs everything listed.
Job descriptions are often written by someone in HR who has never been in the role they’re writing about. You could have twenty requirements in a description but learn after speaking with the manager that only two of those things truly matter. Job descriptions almost never align perfectly with the intake.

Here's Why Intake Sessions Are So Important:
Intake is like the first domino in a line. If that one falls, everything else that comes after will fall too. It is absolutely necessary to have an in-depth discussion with the hiring manager to understand what their team needs. Frequently managers themselves don’t know all of the pieces they’re looking for until they talk through it with the recruiter. Without intake, a recruiter won’t be fully equipped to efficiently communicate the position to potential candidates.

Keys to a Successful Intake: 
Dedicate at least one hour for your intake sessions to give yourself enough time to discuss everything. You don’t want to feel rushed.
• Ask questions that paint an image of company culture like “why is this position open?” A lot is revealed when you know if someone quit, if someone got fired, or when a company is just expanding their business.
• Learn what the KPIs (key performance indicators) will be for the role. What measurable things will this person be held accountable for? What will their first 90 days look like?
• Keep in mind that you’re trying to properly define the role as much as possible during the intake session to benefit both the hiring manager and the future hire. Gather any information that a candidate needs to know so you can make a placement that lasts. 

Intake sessions should not be considered optional. They are vital to be successful as a recruiter. Recruiting without intake is like throwing random placements against the wall, hoping something will stick.