At hiring meetings, think like a consultant

When new positions open up, HR professionals often meet with hiring managers to gather information about the job and develop hiring strategies. The problem: Too many HR pros take the wrong approach—a passive “order taking” approach—to these intake meetings.

Instead, it’s wiser—for the organization’s success and the HR professional’s reputation—for HR to take a consultative approach to these meetings, says Jeremy M. Eskenazi, founder of HR consulting firm Riviera Advisors in California.

A more consultant-like approach helps HR define the job’s qualifications and improves the chances of hiring the right employee. Plus, it enhances your role as a trusted advisor and boosts your value to management.

Here are ways to make the switch from order-taker to hiring consultant, according to Eskenazi: 

Do research. Prior to the intake meeting, use the information you already know about the job opening to find possible sources for candidates. Search résumés on file for some that may match the opening, which at least gives you and the hiring manager a starting point.

Hiring for Attitude D

During the meeting, discuss the résumés to better understand the experience and qualifications sought by the manager. Suggest potential sources for candidates to solicit feedback from the manager.

Be more than a job order taker. Some HR professionals avoid disagreeing with the hiring manager. Instead, HR should ask questions and politely disagree about issues such as candidate sourcing, says Eskenazi.

Use a template to guide the discussion. Including questions and topics to cover can save time and help focus the meeting. Adapt template questions to specific job openings. Key questions to ask (see a full list below):

  • What are the preferred soft/hard skills, years experience and educational background?
  • Cite examples of the decisions the person will make.
  • What goals must the person accomplish during the first year?
  • What are the most difficult job duties?
  • Which companies do a good job of hiring for similar positions?

Use the information gathered to do two things: Determine the strategy and sources to use for posting job openings and finding top candidates. Create job-specific questions to ask candidates during interviews.

HR’s Intake Meetings With Hiring Managers: 20 Questions to Ask

When HR professionals meet with hiring managers to create recruiting strategies for new job openings, here are sample questions for HR to ask and information to request:

1. Job description and position overview.

2. What are the preferred soft skills and hard skills required?

3. How many years experience are you seeking? Educational background?

4. If this position isn’t new, what kind of background did the previous employee have? Are you looking for the same or different background?

5. What certifications or training does this person need?

6. What kind of company culture do you think this person would come from?

7. What kind of titles would successful candidates have held in the past?

8. Will this person have flexibility in job location or time?

9. If travel is involved, how much?

10. Will this person have supervisory duties?

11. Cite examples of decisions the person will make.

12. What goals must the person accomplish during the first year?

13. Which companies do a good job of hiring for similar positions?

14. What is the expected salary range and bonus opportunities?

15. What growth trajectory do you see for this position in the company?

16. Which industries/companies should be targeted for potential candidates?

17. Are there any companies that should NOT be targeted?

18. What are selling points of the job or department (promotions, resources, managerial style, cultural, travel, etc.)?

19. How would you prefer to receive prospects?

20. What’s the schedule to fill the job opening?

 Adapted from a report by Riviera Advisors, Inc.