How to source top talent: Questions to ask hiring managers

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3 mins, 30 secs read time

Hiring great talent is a critical task for any organization, and it usually begins with aligning with the hiring manager on what to look for in a candidate. In order to source the right talent, it’s important to know which questions to ask hiring managers before you begin your search. These questions can help you determine whether a candidate is right for the job.

Before kicking off the search process, it’s essential to know the company culture, the job description and the ideal candidate profile. Having a clear understanding of these will help you know what skills and experiences to look for, the targeted questions to ask and how to evaluate the candidate's responses.

That’s why we’re sharing expert tips and the most insightful questions to ask hiring managers from Greenhouse’s Senior Talent Acquisition Manager Mason Calaiaro and Technical Talent Sourcing Manager Jessica Cronk.

Before the kickoff meeting

To ensure you have a successful kickoff meeting with the hiring manager, it’s helpful to have them complete a pre-kickoff assignment ahead of time. Jessica recommends using the questions from the Pre-Kickoff Meeting Homework in the Talent Makers book. These questions can help you and the hiring manager align on a strategy for finding great candidates and determine what criteria to look for.

Define the person who can achieve these goals

  • What non-negotiable skills and experiences do they need to have?
  • What skills are coachable or nice to have?
  • What personality traits would enable someone to be successful in this role

Would other companies/teams describe the role differently? If so, how?

  • Are there other titles that could describe the same role?
  • Could our title mean something else in other companies?

What is the sourcing plan?
Provide a sample ideal profile, preferably a link to a LinkedIn profile.

  • Is there a target list of companies to prospect from?
  • How important is industry experience for this position (tech, SaaS, HR, etc.)?
  • Is there a specific set of experiences that’s crucial for success (for example, startup, high-growth, or public company experience)?
  • What are resume non-starters?
  • What are the preferred education and certifications, if any?

What is the diversity sourcing plan?
The recruiting team will prioritize the diversity sourcing efforts while prospecting candidates. During the kickoff meeting, let’s discuss what diversity looks like for your team.

How to sell this role?

  • Why would anyone leave their current company to come work for us in this role?
  • What is the career ladder or anticipated progression for this position?

In addition to these questions, Mason recommends considering others, such as:

  • What keywords would someone have in their LinkedIn profile?
  • Are there relevant tools they should have experience using?

Calibration exercise for senior role and niche candidate searches

When the search is for a more senior role or niche candidates, Mason likes to set expectations with the hiring manager by doing a calibration exercise after the kickoff meeting, either asynchronously or on a video call.

During the exercise, Mason pulls 10 profiles, with three to five people that she thinks are spot on and a few that stretch in different directions. She’ll then add these prospective candidates into a spreadsheet and share why she included them, what stood out to her and other reasons why she thought they would be great for the role. Mason adds “From there, the hiring manager can let me know if I’m on the right track before I do a larger sourcing push.” This is a great way to share different types of candidates with the hiring manager and determine which profiles to focus on during the candidate search.

Preparing for a candidate search may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it can ultimately save you and the hiring manager time in the long run. A well-planned kickoff meeting sets the tone for a successful recruiting process and requires both buy-in from the hiring manager and a company culture that supports a collaborative partnership. By preparing insightful and relevant questions to ask hiring managers beforehand, you can gain a deeper understanding of the company’s hiring needs and the experience required for the position.

Learn more about Greenhouse Recruiting and Greenhouse Sourcing Automation by connecting with a member of our team today.

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