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Why We're Not Using The Phrase 'Intake Form' Anymore

Intake form. It’s a term I’m embarrassed to say I used for many years. You know, the form you take into a hiring manager meeting, to scope out a new req? There are so many things wrong with “intake form.”

First, calling it a form. Who likes forms? I know hiring managers hate ‘em. And outside of a small portion of recruiters — usually newer to our profession — we all hate ‘em, too. Forms suck. And the term form is just … ugh. It has bureaucratic, order-taker written all over it.

Second, calling it an intake form. Intake. Think about that word. Intake suggests that I’m here to take notes. Not to lead a conversation, not to come with research and background info … but to take notes. Or take an order.

Would you like fries with that?

Clearly, a tool to help you focus on the right things can help. In our sourcing and talent advisor training, we always recommend that you go into that initial strategy meeting (we like calling it a strategy meeting over an intake meeting) with a set of recommendations, a plan, and focused questions.
That doc might include a list of things you don’t know that you need to know. But, ideally, we go into that conversation with research and recommendations and clarifying questions, not just a blank form with a list of fill-in-the-blank questions that suggest we’re starting from scratch. We (should) already know typical source of hire info (channel, source, companies, schools), typical time to fill info, typical target candidate profile info (ideally, we have detailed persona info — I talked about personas back at SourceCon in 2013), etc. for this specific job or job category.

Asking a hiring manager, “where do you think we’d find this talent?” without doing your research ahead of time, without first making recommendations based on historical data or current talent market insights — is so, well … it’s so 2003.

Does it really matter what you call that tool, that document? Will what you call it make it easier to find top talent? If you call it a strategy or kickoff doc and not an intake form, will you suddenly become a talent advisor?

Of course not. But…

Sometimes, it’s little “re-framings” — calling something a strategy doc versus an intake form — that can help us think about our role differently.

P.S. I had a colleague who led a team of corporate recruiters that completed an internal process efficiency exercise and decided they could cut 20-30 minutes from their hour-long “intake meetings” if they just emailed their “intake forms” to the hiring manager ahead of the live meeting, and ask them to complete the form ahead of time. They setup an SLA of two business days for the hiring manager to email the form back to the recruiter. They were psyched. This — to them — was the key to speeding up the process.

Were their intentions good? Of course. Was their idea good? Nope. Really bad, in fact. How do you think the hiring managers described the recruiters after getting a “please fill out this form” request?

John Vlastelica leads Recruiting Toolbox, a consulting and training firm that partners with talent acquisition teams that seek to raise the bar on talent, enable recruiters to be talent advisors, create a recruiting culture, and invest in hiring manager capabilities.  He’s worked with leading companies around the globe – from startups to global leaders like PepsiCo, SAP, Google, Bloomberg, Booking, Nike, Disney, Starbucks, and Nestle.  He’s a former recruiting director with Amazon and Expedia, who has trained thousands of recruiters, recruiting managers, interviewers and hiring managers in real-world best practices.  He’s been a top rated speaker at many conferences, a judge for recruiting excellence awards, an instructor for Recruiting Leadership Labs, and producer of Talent42, the tech recruiting conference.

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