The event industry is unique in that many creative professionals start as solopreneurs when building their businesses. From branding to client experience, everything falls on the same plate: yours. Or, perhaps you’re blessed with a great partner or a small team to support you in the early stages.
Either way, there comes a time where you need to expand your team to scale your business effectively. You will reach your team’s capacity at some point, and the natural flow of your company’s growth will call for more hands-on deck.
Hiring is an exciting and empowering experience, but it’s also one that can be risky if not done strategically. Remember: Who you hire will be responsible for supporting your business goals and helping your team move the business forward. Simply put, it’s not a decision to take lightly.
Is it time to hire?
Many factors go into a hiring decision, but your biggest pain points will point you in the right direction. Too many entrepreneurs make financial-based choices as if extra money in the bank means it’s time to bring on a new employee. Instead, the decision should focus on sustainably growing your business—not just because a big paycheck came in with nowhere to go.
Start looking at the areas in your business in which you excel (and love to do), as well as those that constantly cause challenges and headaches. What are the spaces that only you can control? Outside of those, what can be delegated to someone else?
If you’re always busy with mundane day-to-day tasks, you don’t have the freedom to get out there and network. You sacrifice time that could be spent selling—and growing. It’s also easy to lose sight of the strategic big-picture when you’re stuck in the weeds so much.
If you can create a list of things you’re not good at (or simply don’t want to do), it’s a good indicator that you’d do well hiring somebody for those tasks.
How do I know what I’m looking for?
Deciding to hire is only one step of the process. Next is the heavy lifting—searching for someone who is the right fit for your brand and your business needs. Before posting any job listings, start with yourself. What kind of manager are you, or will you be? Some people are micro-managers, while others prefer a hands-off approach. There is no right or wrong answer, but your management style will impact the qualities you need from an applicant.
At the end of the day, personality is everything when staffing your company. You may need a self-starter who can hold themself accountable and solve problems on their own. Or, you might look for someone who is detail-oriented and can follow your carefully outlined process to a T. Some people need to be micromanaged to succeed, and others need more freedom and flexibility. Consider the personality that best aligns with your management style.
Where do I find the best candidates?
The first step is, of course, creating a job description that is as transparent as it is robust. The more details, the better! Be clear about the hours needed, expectations for working on a deadline, physical aspects (if applicable), and other key details a candidate would need to know before deciding it’s a good fit.
Interviewing takes time, so you don’t want to waste your energy attracting the wrong people simply because your job description wasn’t detailed enough. At the same time, you don’t want to invite applicants who feel like you sold them a false bill of goods. A thorough job description will save time for everyone involved.
Posting a job opening is different in the creative industry, as we tend to shy away from traditional employment sites like Indeed and Monster. Instead, you’ll find that your network is the best way to find great candidates. That means sharing your job posting on social media, speaking to other vendors, reviewing internship programs at local colleges, and inquiring around your industry associations like NACE, WIPA, and ILEA.
What should I ask in the interview?
Once you’ve sifted through all the resumes and hand-selected the few that rose to the top, it’s time to put your interviewer’s hat on. Interviews are your opportunity to learn everything you need to know to determine if someone will be the right fit for your company.
While interview questions will vary based on your business’ offerings, your market, and the position you’re feeling, here are a few creative strategies that can tell you a lot about a person:
Run a personality test
Personality tests aren’t set in stone, and they shouldn’t be a make-it-or-break-it factor for hiring. However, it can reveal a lot of insight into how a person operates and whether they’re a fit. While the MBTI is a common test to use, consider using the Enneagram instead or in addition. The MBTI focuses on traits related to “nature,” whereas the Enneagram is connected to the “nurture” aspect, which can speak heavily to an office environment.
Ask about their hobbies
It’s important to know who a candidate is outside of a professional setting to determine their type of work ethic and energy levels. For example, someone who goes mountain biking on the weekend will offer different qualities than someone who prefers to tear through a novel in a matter of hours, so it’s important to know whether their style matches your business.
Go beyond the generic questions
Everyone goes into an interview prepared to discuss their qualifications and skills. But, in the event industry, you need employees that can think on their feet. So, asking questions that go deeper than what’s on their resume will help you learn more about their experience and interpersonal skills while also gauging their ability to think and respond in the hot seat. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Tell me about a difficult office dynamic you’ve experienced. How did you solve that?
- What is your typical stress response? What do you do to destress?
- How do you expect to interact in a high-pressure environment?
- What are your client-facing skills, and how will that support our business?
Immerse them in the business
When you’ve narrowed your applicants down to a couple of great choices, ask them to join you for a workday and have them shadow you. Let them run through a sales call with you or give you a sales tour of the venue. See which one best suits the role. If it’s still a tricky decision, invite them to a social situation with the team to see how they jive with the office staff. A dinner table is a much different environment than an interview table!
The hiring process takes a significant amount of time and effort (and money, in some cases). However, investing in the front end to make sure you get the right hire will pay dividends in the long run. Ultimately, there’s nothing more expensive than having the wrong person and needing to go through the process all over again. So do it once, and do it right!