With the right events team by your side, no challenge is too big to tackle. Whether rain is threatening your event the day before or ticket sales have slumped two months out, an all-star events team is your secret weapon.
But the hiring the wrong candidate (or not finding a good one) can lead to missing paperwork, lost ticket sales, and angry partners. So how can you make sure you’re hiring event staff that will get the job done?
To help ensure you get the right people on your team, here are eight questions you should be asking in every interview.
1. What’s an example of a time you handled a big change at work?
A vendor cancels. Your venue floods. Your main act missed her flight.
As an event creator, things can shift at the drop of a hat.
Look for individuals who don’t get frazzled when you have to make changes. You want to know that your staff can be flexible and pivot at the drop of a dime.
If your candidates can share a story of how they created structure out of chaos, you’ve found a good match.
2. When were you part of a project that required you to work both independently and as a team?
Communication is critical for a successful events team. What happens if someone is in charge of your swag, but that person didn’t connect with the person in charge of sponsorship? Next thing you know, your swag is missing important sponsor logos — and those sponsors aren’t pleased.
With so many moving pieces, you need to know that your team will follow through on their tasks — and keep each other in the loop so nothing falls between the cracks.
Look for an answer that demonstrates how the candidate carried a project through from start to finish — and updated teammates along the way.
3. Why are you interested in the events industry?
There’s no denying it: working in events is grueling.
You didn’t get to where you are without putting in hours (and years) of blood, sweat, and tears. Your staff should be just as dedicated as you are.
“There’s no degree or college path for events management,” says Tommy Goodwin. Director of Field Services at Eventbrite. “Often, people start this industry as a volunteer or produce events in college. Whoever you hire should have a genuine interest in events.”
Does your candidate get a twinkle in their eye when talking about working in events? That’s a good sign.
Bonus if they have a certification in the essentials for event marketing.
4. Do you have experience with event technology or task management software?
Whether your candidate is familiar with your event technology or is a tech novice, look for people who are willing to learn new tools and technology.
“A lot of the technology is easy to learn, so it shouldn’t be a deal breaker if candidates aren’t familiar with it. But if you find someone who is familiar, it’s a bonus,” says Joel Strycharz, Senior Field Operations Manager at Eventbrite.
With so many moving pieces, your event tech is important to keep everyone on the same page.
If your candidate isn’t familiar with the tech you use, ask them about a time they learned a new software on the job.
5. Tell me about a past event when you worked on a project that failed. How would you have done it differently?
With failure comes great learning. You don’t want a new team member who cracks under pressure. So how does your candidate handle stress?
This question will help you suss out their level of self-awareness, how they handle conflict, and whether they can remain calm when things don’t go according to plan.
6. Have you ever gone over budget? How did you deal with it?
Event budgets are one of the more frustrating parts of being an event planner — and they can make or break your event.
You might not need an accounting major, but you do need someone who can keep on top of your spending, negotiate with vendors, and take their budget seriously.
7. How do you measure the success of your events?
Event success can mean different things to different people. For you, it might mean hitting an attendance or revenue goal. To your sponsors or partners, success might mean a tangible return on their spend. And to your attendees, success means a great experience.
Your candidate needs to be able to understand the high-level goals of your event, and to work towards success as you define it.
8. When kicking off a new event, what are the first steps you take?
When you’re an event creator, there are never enough hours in the day. A question about time management like this one will help you understand how the candidate approaches their workload and prioritizes tasks. Make sure that approach fits in with your team’s, or there may be friction down the road.
Ready to hire your all-star events team?
One of the hardest and most important elements of leadership is hiring event staff that you can trust. Discover how to get started, including where to find great candidates, in Event Staffing: How to Build an All-Star Events Team.