In brief: How to take a job brief

Moving into an internal Talent Acquisition role can be daunting having so much exposure to the business, creating and maintaining relationships, and having the responsibility to build your very own dream team. You need to understand the business, people and culture in addition to trying to immediately attract talent.

My experience: Imposter Syndrome

Like me, you may have incurred a dose of imposter syndrome and felt compelled to act like you already know everything. Hot tip — Don’t! As a Talent Acquisition Manager, you are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to ask the right questions to make sure you can share your company’s vision and mission with a candidate. You need to be able to tell them about the team for which they are interviewing and what will be expected of them in the role. This is so important so you can do your job effectively, save time for you, the candidate, hiring team and move good candidates through the process quickly. Feel the need for speed.

First step: Taking the brief

As soon as you get a requirement from your hiring manager, you should book in 30 minutes to take your job brief. Don’t be daft and attempt to start sourcing for the role without having this crucial conversation. Ideally, they will have a job description for you already. It is important to set key outcomes going into the briefing meeting, so your hiring manager knows what to expect and can get thinking beforehand. Make sure you are not looking for a candidate that doesn’t exist…like a dabbing unicorn!

Here are the key outcomes I look for:

  • Team. Fully understand the current team — the makeup, level of seniority, what they are working on and the technologies they use
  • Role. Understand what the candidate will be doing — What problems they are solving, where they will have an impact, the autonomy they will have and their key stakeholders, skills we may need in the next 6–12 months that we need to hire for now
  • Candidate. The experience the candidate will need to have — Their level of experience, core technologies/software they need to have worked with, personal traits and attributes
  • Growth. Understand the career progression and growth opportunities
  • The market. Get an understanding of the market and how realistic this person is to find
  • Pitch. Be able to pitch the role and the team to the candidate effectively

I do my best brainstorming sessions on a whiteboard so would suggest trying this. That way you and your hiring manager can easily get a clear vision of what you are looking for at the end of the session — don’t forget to take a picture when you are done!

Some questions to help you get started

This may seem like a lot and it is when you are starting off, but will only get easier the more experience you have with your company. Ideally, you will get to a stage where your hiring manager says “We need another Sarah” and you know exactly what they are looking for.

Below is a list of questions that will help get you started and learn about the team. I would also recommend spending time with the team — attend some of their stand-ups or other meetings, as well as getting to know some of the team members individually, go for a coffee or a short walk. The more you can share with a candidate, the better buy in you will get and the quicker the process moves. If you don’t screen a candidate correctly, you will waste the hiring manager’s time and she can get very frustrated.



  1. What is the mission of the team?
  2. What problem does the team solve for our customers?
  3. Who is currently in the team? Level, diversity, tenure
  4. What are their strengths/weaknesses?
  5. Where is the team based? Remote, local?
  6. Will there be anyone else doing the same role as this person in the team? If so, who? What level are they at? Will they provide technical mentorship? Will this new person have the opportunity to mentor anyone?
  7. How would you rate your existing teams' performance?
  8. What are you like as a leader? What would your team say you are like as a leader?

The Role

  1. Why is this role open?
  2. What will this person do specifically — list of bullet points and then ensure all of these are in the job description
  3. What type of environment will they work in?
  4. What does success look like?
  5. What will they do in their first 30–60–90 days?
  6. Who will they work with mostly?

The Candidate

  1. What skills must they have?
  2. What skills are nice to have? What can they learn on the job?
  3. What soft skills are required?
  4. What companies have done this well that you would like them to come from?
  5. Do you know anyone who could do this role? Have you spoken to them about it?


  1. What does career progression look like for this person?
  2. How are you going to invest in their career?
  3. What will happen if this person does not start in the next 12 weeks?
  4. What is the salary? Level needed?

Now it’s time to act

From all of this information, you should be able to get a pitch together for the candidate, so you can easily explain the role they will be doing, the team in which they are working and what they can expect. Having all of this information up front will make it easy to assess a candidate’s suitability as well as getting them pumped for the job. The interview process is also extremely important so you can effectively assess the candidate. The brief is a good time to check with the hiring manager who is best to get involved in the interview process. As you get to know the team and business better you will get to know interviewers strengths and who needs some growth and will get to a stage where you will suggest the interview process. Ensure you also have a consistent interview process so you can collect data, check for points of failure and make sure it’s scalable.

Do you have any tips on how you take an awesome job brief? I’d love to hear from you as we love to continue to improve and iterate how we do things at SafetyCulture.