8 Conversations Every Recruiter Must Have with Hiring Teams

At its core, recruiting is all about relationships. Period. As tech recruiters, we’re constantly discussing the importance of our candidate relationships. But how often are you thinking about the relationship with your hiring team?

Without your hiring manager’s input, your recruiting efforts are likely to go nowhere fast. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to engage candidates who might not fit the bill, focus on getting on the same page from the start with the hiring team.

Yep, we’re talking intake meetings. When done right, an intake meeting can benefit the recruiter, the hiring team and the candidate by making the process as smooth and transparent as possible. Consider the following conversations to make your next intake meeting more strategic (and more productive):

Understand the Big Hiring Picture

Employees with “highly meaningful” jobs are 69 percent less likely to plan on quitting their jobs within the next six months, and they tend to have longer tenures, according to a study by Harvard Business Review. The idea of meaningful work is one that weighs heavily on the hearts of today’s tech professionals. And it’s especially important to communicate that meaning to candidates, considering the amount of power they hold in the modern job market.

With all that in mind, the first step to a successful intake meeting is to understand exactly how the role will fit into the company’s mission. Think of an open req as a solution to a problem. If you and your hiring manager can identify that context early on, the time investment can be mutually beneficial. You’ll have an easier time “selling” the job to potential candidates, and the employer will have an easier time retaining a highly motivated team.

Questions to ask:

  • How does this role contribute to the company’s mission?
  • What impact does this role have on the products/services provided to the company’s clients?

To supplement this conversation, don’t forget to talk logistics:

  • Is this a new role or a backfill of an existing position?
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • What are the top responsibilities for this role?
  • Which teams will the candidate work with?

Discuss the Skill Requirements Needed to Succeed

The endless list of tech skills, tools and languages can be daunting for a recruiter to make sense of; and because tech candidates can come with a variety of skill sets, one size does not fit all.

To narrow your search, take the time to learn which skills are absolutely critical for the role you’re recruiting for. Challenge the hiring manager to specifically define six to eight core competencies that represent “must-have” technical and soft skills. These are very different from “nice-to-have” characteristics. You could even seek input from top performers in similar tech roles. If you’re new to the tech space, or unfamiliar with certain requirements, always ask for more details.

Questions to ask:

  • Which skills are must-haves?
  • What projects demonstrate mastery of these skills?
  • Which skills are preferred but not required?
  • What additional technologies and trends matter (e.g., Mobile, A.I., Cloud, Social, Design, etc.)?
  • What non-technical skills are needed?

Weigh the Concept of Experience

Given the speed of innovation, it can be challenging to put a fine point on experience when it comes to tech talent. These days, many seasoned recruiters are finding that the traditional “years of experience” is a dated concept that doesn’t always indicate one’s capability. Instead, when meeting with the hiring manager, discuss the concept of experience from a few different angles.

Besides numbers on a résumé, what types of experience actually translate to success on the job? Previous achievements? Significant roles in completed projects? Managerial experience? Contributions to the tech community? During this step of the intake meeting, encourage the hiring manager to broaden their vision, because it will truly broaden your talent pool.

Questions to ask:

  • Are we requiring a specific number of years of experience in certain areas of expertise?
  • Should the candidate contribute to tech sites such as GitHub?
  • Is industry experience critical for this role?
  • Is any prior managerial experience required?
  • If we’re unable to find a candidate with these specific requirements, are we willing to look at someone with transferrable skills (or fewer years of experience) who could be trained up?

Identify the Importance of Education

Until recently, a college degree seemed like a prerequisite for most tech jobs. But this tide is turning, with many tech giants dropping the education requirement, indicating that pedigree doesn’t necessarily predict success. Instead, they’re expanding their criteria to more non-traditional educational backgrounds, such as boot camps, vocational programs or self-taught skills.

Sure, in some cases, the role could absolutely require specific coursework or certifications. But in other cases, those cookie-cutter degrees and experiences are just a traditionalist paradigm to maintain the norm… and this mindset is not doing any favors for you, your hiring manager or your talent pool.

Either way, take the time to collectively determine whether you should place more weight on pedigree vs. experience before you make hyper-focused graduate studies an absolute must-have.

Questions to ask:

  • Are specific certifications needed for this role?
  • Bachelor’s degree required? If so, in what field?
  • Graduate degree required? If yes, which one?

Address Culture and Personality

Once you have the technical requirements all figured out, it’s time to think about the other desirable attributes or characteristics. As companies are increasingly emphasizing cultural inclusion over cultural fit across the workforce, personality becomes a significant factor in tech hiring. While we often talk about these factors at an organizational level, they are equally as important to the team your candidate will work with.

Ideally, you’ll want to look for candidates who will complement their coworkers’ energies and can get up to speed easily, while also bringing diverse perspectives and ideas to the team’s challenges.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the ideal personality for someone in this role?
  • What should candidates be excited about in terms of our mission?
  • What is the current culture on the team?
  • Any target companies we should source from?
  • What is your departmental goal for diverse hires? And is the expected time-to-hire realistic to meet this goal?

Figure Out the Total (Compensation) Package

“Show me the money” isn’t just a cute “Jerry Maguire” reference; it’s an important aspect of your recruiting strategy. Although salary isn’t the be-all, end-all for every tech candidate’s decision, it is a determining factor for many. In fact, Dice’s 2019 Tech Salary Report found that, of the tech pros who anticipate changing employers this year, some 68 percent said they would do so to secure higher compensation.

Before your candidates start asking, it’s important to know your hiring manager’s budget for the roles you’re recruiting for. Don’t forget to ask about bonuses and additional forms of compensation, so you have the full story.

To make this conversation even more balanced, study up on industry compensation trends and benchmarks ahead of time. Now’s your opportunity to provide insight around the available candidate pool and competitive marketplace… so you’re not left chasing after tech talent that’s unavailable.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the budget for salary?
  • Any additional bonuses?
  • Any non-monetary perks to mention?

Pick a Location

Dice’s Tech Salary Report also shows that, while 98 percent of surveyed tech pros would like to work remotely at least some of the time, only 62 percent are currently given this opportunity by their employer. Ask your hiring manager whether the position is strictly in-office, remote, or a combination of the two.

Keep your eye on those tech hubs too. Some areas attract a higher volume of qualified candidates; outside those hubs, the tech talent pool becomes even more limited. Offering some flexibility in terms of remote work can support both recruiting and hiring efforts.

Questions to ask:

  • Where will this position be located?
  • Are we open to this position being located elsewhere?
  • Could this be a remote position?
  • Can we pay for relocation?

Get in Formation

Once you’ve walked through the necessary details of the intake process, it’s time to talk about the actual process expectations (think deliverables, timelines and milestones). Because you’ve taken the time to collectively determine the ideal candidate you’re looking for, you can move forward confidently. Doing so will also allow you to establish an achievable timeline and understand the hiring manager’s expectations throughout the process.

Questions to ask:

  • When do you expect to see the first slate of candidate résumés?
  • What is your ideal timeline for completing the hire?
  • When are critical milestones for getting this role filled?
  • What trade-offs are you willing to make?

Start improving your intake conversations—and your recruiting outcomes—by downloading Dice’s Intake Meeting Template.

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drive RecruitingDaily. He’s RecruitingDaily’s in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industry’s top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran of the online community and a partner at RecruitingDaily.