Hiring manager kickoff playbook

Published on Dec 14, 2020

Hiring manager kickoff playbook
Job Description Prep & Phone Screener Script

You’ve got an open job position to fill, but how do you write an accurate job description or start to screen applicants? This document will walk you through preparation for defining an ideal job candidate’s skills and experience, determining companies and industries from which to recruit, and which top-selling points and questions will score you the best applicants. Then we’ll outline which questions to ask applicants to quickly understand if they might be a good fit.

This resource is part of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide chapter on hiring plans and launching a recruiting process. You can sign up here to get our next chapter and more guides for startups.

PART 1: Recruiter → Hiring Manager initial communication

Recruiters: You can copy and paste this into an email or a working document to share with your hiring manager. If you’re a smaller team, the leadership, hiring manager, recruiter, and HR roles may overlap, and you might just be filling this out yourself.

[JOB TITLE] Details – link to Job Description

Let’s start preparing for the kick-off! I am getting things prepped and ready to post the [JOB TITLE] role. [LEADERSHIP] mentioned you will be the hiring manager for this role and to sync up with you accordingly.

I have created a preliminary doc that helps outline the specifics of the role. This is an information-gathering doc that will help me both in the candidate-sourcing phase and the recruiter phone interview phase.

Please spend 30 minutes to 1 hour adding details about this role. Please fill out the sections that I designated with [HIRING MANAGER], as I would like you to think about and define this before we meet. This is a template version so I have added ideas to get you started. Anywhere you see a “?” or “…” is somewhere to fill in the information.

We can figure out the rest of the details ad hoc. If you would like me to share this template with anyone or ask anyone else to participate, please let me know. I will also set aside an hour for us to review the info and discuss logistics.

The more info you can provide, the better!

Link to Ideal Candidate Profiles [HIRING MANAGER: please add at least 5 LinkedIn profiles]:

Companies to Target [HIRING MANAGER, please add]:

  • Are there companies that are known for having strong teams around this position?
  • Domain?
  • Companies using a similar tech stack?

Profile Search Keywords [HIRING MANAGER, please add] –

If I were to search on LinkedIn, what keywords would represent the skills you want to see?:

  • Current companies?
  • Past companies?
  • Technologies/languages/frameworks?
  • Skills?
  • School?
  • Degree type?
  • Similar job titles?

Ideal Candidate (Work Experience) [HIRING MANAGER, please add]:

  • Compensation maximum: …
  • …years experience in…
  • Any need for X years (total) in a …-facing role in a … related industry or field?
  • Experience working with…
  • Strong understanding of…
  • Has experience taking a company from X size to Y size?
  • Has launched a …-type of product?

Ideal Candidate Traits (Who are they/Culture) [HIRING MANAGER, please add]:

  • Ability to work in a fast-paced, diverse, and rapidly changing environment.
  • Someone that can…
  • Attention to…
  • Soft skills/attributes such as: Energetic, no ego, willingness to take full ownership, wear multiple hats, doesn’t fold under pressure, cross-functional communication skills, someone that feels like they have to be a part of a startup (this is part of their goals/dream)

Red Flag examples:

  • Contractor/Consultant
  • Large gaps in experience
  • Job hopper
  • Anything else?

Top 5 Selling points for this role? Why is it compelling? Why join this team instead of another? [HIRING MANAGER, please add]:

Please don’t mirror what is already listed on the job description. If you were trying to sell a candidate on the opportunity, what are the major reasons why this role is HOT?

  • You will establish yourself as a…
  • You will have the ability to…
  • You will build…
  • You will contribute…
  • You will lead…
  • You will learn…

Team structure [HIRING MANAGER, please add]:

  • Who does this hire report to?
  • Who is on their team?
  • Who is on their pod?
  • Who do they work with cross-functionally?
  • Team dynamics?
  • Growth opportunity?

Phases of the interview and times for each: [Hiring Manager, please coordinate]:

  • Recruiter Phone Screen (Name – 30 minutes)
  • Hiring Manager Phone Screen (Name – 30 minutes)
  • Video Call / Onsite 1: meet with [TEAM NAME] team member (NAME – 45 minutes) – Optional person to rotate in if not available (NAME – 45 minutes)
  • Video Call / Onsite 1: meet with [TEAM NAME] team member (NAME – 45 minutes) – Optional person to rotate in if not available (NAME – 45 minutes)
  • Video Call / Onsite 1: meet with cross-functional team member (NAME – 45 minutes) – Optional person to rotate in if not available (NAME – 45 minutes)
  • Video Call / Onsite 2: HW presentation (60 minutes total)
    • Required to meet: (1 hour total)
      • Name(s)
      • Optional to meet: ?
  • Video Call / Onsite 2: (Other 1:1’s)

PART 2: Guidelines for initial phone screen

Here we’ll go over major question topics to discuss in your first phone call or video conference with a job candidate.

Note that we’ve omitted topics regarding citizenship, family status, and compensation history. These are regulated by laws that protect candidates from discrimination and compensation suppression. Please be sure to comply with these laws and consult an expert before asking about these topics.

Employers can still gauge the applicant’s pay expectations without asking for their salary history by including a range in a job description. You can use this compensation calculator to get a ballpark range. Even with a salary history ban, an employer can ask what an applicant hopes to earn. And nothing prevents highly paid job applicants from volunteering their current salary to set employer expectations.

Recruiter Intake – Questions for candidates:

  • Pain (motivators for looking):
    • Why are you leaving/looking outside of your current role?
    • What are you looking for in your next role that is lacking in your current role?
  • Career: What are your top 3 motivators to take a job?
    • 1.
    • 2.
    • 3.
  • Location:
    • Where do you commute from?
    • Are you able to make that commute to [OFFICE LOCATION]? (Do you commute via car, train, bike etc.)
    • Are they moving? If needed, do they expect to be reimbursed for or given a relocation bonus?
  • Company:
    • What is your ideal team size? (team and company)
    • What is your main interest in joining an [early-stage / late-stage / public] company?
    • If coming out of something large, would you be able to transition well to a company of [COMPANY SIZE] because your level of contribution is going to be different? Are you ready for that challenge?
  • Compensation Expectations:
    • Base
    • Bonus
    • Equity
    • Total
  • Timing:
    • If we decide to move forward, what is your availability for this week? Get two days/times of availability for followup interviews.
    • If we decide to move forward, how quickly would you be willing to accept an offer and start working?
    • Do you have any upcoming vacations or projects at work that might obstruct this timeline?
  • Competition:
    • What companies are you currently interviewing with & what stage are you at?
    • Do you currently have any offers in hand? When do they expire?
  • Experience: [HIRING MANAGER, please add]: What about their past or present experience would qualify them for the role? Please edit these questions and create your own.
    • Tell me about your experience working on a [TEAM NAME] team:
      • How was the [DEPARTMENT] function organized and where did you fit in?
      • What were your responsibilities?
      • Who did you report to and what is their title?
      • Did you have any direct or in-direct reports?
    • Tell me about your day-to-day/specific project/experience you worked on
      • What was the purpose of the project?
      • What did you solely contribute?
      • Who else did you work with on the project?
      • What was their role?
      • Did you face any issues?
      • What did you learn?
      • Did the project get implemented?
      • Did this help [increase productivity / boost metrics / lower metrics, etc]?

About SignaFire’s Talent Program

Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most poachable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to ensure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor. Want to start working with SignalFire’s Talent team? Contact this article’s author, our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero: crystal@signalfire.com

Subscribe to SignalFire's newsletter for guides to startup trends, fundraising, and recruiting

*Portfolio company founders listed above have not received any compensation for this feedback and did not invest in a SignalFire fund. Please refer to our disclosures page for additional disclosures.

Related posts

Startup back-office accounting guide: Paying bills and bookkeeping
July 22, 2024

Startup back-office accounting guide: Paying bills and bookkeeping

We’ve earmarked $50M for the SignalFire AI Lab to provide the resources, capital, and credibility to help tomorrow’s AI leaders today.
How to train and measure your startup’s early sales hires
July 11, 2024

How to train and measure your startup’s early sales hires

We’ve earmarked $50M for the SignalFire AI Lab to provide the resources, capital, and credibility to help tomorrow’s AI leaders today.
Startup back-office HR guide: Payroll, compliance, and benefits
June 3, 2024

Startup back-office HR guide: Payroll, compliance, and benefits

We’ve earmarked $50M for the SignalFire AI Lab to provide the resources, capital, and credibility to help tomorrow’s AI leaders today.
No items found.