In coaching, first impressions are everything. These initial encounters set the stage for the ongoing relationship between coach and client. Imagine this scenario:
Julianna logs into the first video call session exactly on time, but her coach has not shown up yet. Finally, six minutes late, her wellness coach Horatio enters the call, breathing heavily and reaching for a glass of water. After gulping down a huge chug and making a goofy joke about hydrating, he apologizes for being late and initiates the conversation. He halfheartedly asks a few banal questions like “How are you?” and “How did you find my services?” as he shuffles papers on his desk and looks away from the camera to dig for digital files. After Julianna awkwardly responds to a few of these queries, Horatio seems to find his stride and launches into a hard-hitting, inquisition-style interview that makes Julianna feel a bit defensive about her past mistakes and current state of life.
She white-knuckles her way through the first session, but never follows up to make the second appointment. She feels zero connection to Horatio and distrusts that he has the answer to her problems. Horatio, meanwhile, complains to his group of coaching peers that “Clients just don’t want to commit to the process!”
In this imagined coaching scenario, there’s one easy-to-implement tool Horatio could have integrated into his onboarding process to make Julianna’s first session much more comfortable and himself far more prepared — the coaching intake form.
Keep reading or jump right to the freebies by getting access to the free Coach Factory intake form templates. These seven niche-specific templates can be used as-is or help you create your own intake forms.
What Is a Coaching Intake Form and Why Is it Important?
Firstly, a thoughtfully drafted intake form streamlines the onboarding process. Instead of taking numerous sessions to gather basic information, intake forms help coaches identify needs from the very beginning, especially if they are given to clients to submit before the first session. Clients can work through the questions on their own without being on the spot in real time, forced to come up with a clever answer. They can mull over their responses and decide how much private information to disclose.
Even if intake forms are done in real time on the first client call, they are more efficient than a free flowing conversation. And as long as you take good notes, an intake form provides a reliable reference of facts about your client.
Secondly, intake forms are instrumental in setting expectations and boundaries. They give clients a hint of the upcoming journey, the methodologies used, and the limits of the coach-client relationship. This clarity can prevent potential misunderstandings.
Next, a comprehensive and well-organized intake form shows professionalism. Meticulous attention to detail establishes trust — the bedrock of any beneficial coaching engagement.
Lastly, from your perspective, an intake form, used with all of your clients during the onboarding process, will standardize your process, giving you the same basic background on each client. You will show up to that first call fully prepared to either go over the client’s answers or work through the form in real time as you take detailed notes. In other words, you won’t show up like Horatio did.
Seven Niche-Specific Coaching Intake Forms
Although general coaching intake forms are available, the most effective ones will reflect your particular niche. Here are example intake questions from seven fields that you can further hone for your specialty or coaching style. Get many more questions by downloading the Coach Factory intake form template collection — totally free when you sign up as a VIP member.
1. Life Coaching Intake Form Questions
Life coaching is about helping individuals realize their potential and navigate life transitions. The intake form should address the client’s personal vision, personal development goals, and key life transitions or changes.
- When you imagine your ideal life five years from now, what does it look like and how do you feel?
- What specific areas of personal growth or self-improvement do you want to focus on during our coaching sessions?
- How do you usually cope with or navigate significant changes in your life?
2. Health & Wellness Coaching Intake Form Questions
Health and wellness coaching focuses on promoting overall well-being and helping clients make informed health choices. This form focuses on health goals, medical history, and lifestyle habits.
- What are the top three health goals you’d like to achieve in the next six months to a year?
- Are you currently taking any medications or supplements? If so, please list them.
- How would you describe your current dietary habits? Are there any specific dietary patterns or restrictions you follow?
3. Academic Coaching Intake Form Questions
This coaching niche aims to improve students’ academic performance and develop skills necessary for academic success. The academic coaching form should include space to discuss academic aspirations and long-term goals, current study habits and challenges, and preferred learning styles.
- What are your primary academic goals for this year? Are there particular universities or courses where you’re seeking admission?
- Describe your typical study routine. How many hours do you study each day, and do you have any set routines or patterns?
- Which learning format do you find most effective: listening (auditory), seeing (visual), or doing (kinesthetic/tactile)?
4. Business Coaching Intake Form Questions
Business coaches work with entrepreneurs and businesses to enhance performance and achieve goals. A good business intake form will highlight business objectives and vision, current business challenges, team dynamics, and leadership style.
- Where do you envision your business in the next 3-5 years? What are the key milestones you hope to achieve along the way?
- What are the most pressing challenges your business currently faces?
- How would you describe the current dynamics within your team? Are there any evident strengths or weaknesses?
5. Career Coaching Intake Form Questions
Career coaching helps professionals navigate the complexities of their work roles. The intake form should include insights on career aspirations, current job role and responsibilities, and areas for development.
- Where do you envision yourself professionally in the next 3-5 years?
- Can you describe your current job role, including your primary responsibilities and tasks?
- List down the skills you believe are your strongest assets in your current role or career path.
6. Executive Coaching Intake Form Questions
Targeted at top-level managers and leaders, this type of coaching aims to refine leadership skills and drive organizational success. The executive coaching intake form covers leadership vision and challenges, peer feedback, and leadership style.
- How do you envision your ideal leadership style, and what impact would you like to have on your organization in the next 2-5 years?
- Have you recently received feedback from your peers, team members, or other stakeholders? If so, what were the main takeaways?
- How would you describe your current leadership style (e.g., democratic, autocratic, transformational, etc.)?
7. Financial Coaching Intake Form Questions
This coaching niche aids individuals in managing their finances, making informed financial decisions, and achieving financial goals. Most financial coaching intake forms include information on a client’s current financial situation, financial behaviors, and challenges in managing their finances.
- What are your primary financial goals for the next 1-5 years? Are there milestones such as purchasing a home, traveling, or funding a child’s education that you’re aiming for?
- Can you provide a rough breakdown of your monthly income, expenses, and any recurring financial obligations?
- How would you describe your spending habits? Do you consider yourself an impulsive spender, a saver, or somewhere in between?
How to Use Intake Forms With Your Coaching Clients
How and when you administer the intake form influences the trajectory of the coaching relationship.
Submitting the intake form before the actual coaching session offers several advantages. Firstly, it allows coaches to prepare for their sessions adequately by reviewing the answers and brainstorming further lines of conversation. On the client’s side, having this window provides them an opportunity for introspection. By contemplating and responding to the questions beforehand, they can arrive at the session with a clearer understanding of their objectives and a readiness to engage in meaningful dialogue.
If you choose to have your clients orally answer your intake form questions in real-time during the session, you get the chance for an immediate deep dive into coaching topics. Right off the bat, you can offer clarity on doubts, probe further, or answer questions. This method promotes active participation and demonstrates the coach’s commitment to understanding the client’s perspective.
You may want to ask your client their own preferences. Do they prefer to fill it out in writing beforehand or discuss it in real time? For clients who are more talkers than writers but would still like to work on the intake before the first session, they could submit audio or video answers which you can then have transcribed into text form for easy reference.
Regardless of when and in what format you administer it, the effectiveness of an intake form largely hinges on its design and use. Here are some best practices to consider.
Coaching tools and techniques evolve with time. It’s essential to periodically review and update your intake forms, ensuring they remain relevant and aligned with your current coaching practices.
The wording should be straightforward. Avoid industry jargon that may confuse clients. The goal is to create a form that anyone can easily comprehend and respond to, regardless of their familiarity with coaching.
3. Tech Integration
Online, digital forms are convenient for clients and can integrate with databases, allowing coaches to store and analyze data efficiently. Of course, it’s important to use platforms that prioritize data security to safeguard client information.
4. Respect and Discretion
Intake forms sometimes touch on personal or sensitive topics. Coaches should always handle this information with the utmost respect to ensure confidentiality and client safety. Give clients the choice to opt out of a specific question if it’s too emotionally painful.
Free Templates: Coaching Intake Forms
More than just mindless paperwork, life coaching intake forms serve as a tool to help shape the coaching journey. They signal to your clients your coaching professionalism, your attention to detail, and your sincere commitment to understanding their needs and aspirations.
There’s no need to start from scratch with your intake form, though. Leverage these pre-made coaching intake form templates — free for any Coach Factory VIP member. Use them as-is, or modify them with your own business name, branding, and specialized wording.