Skip navigation
Special Events Blog
Meghan Ely 2018 Photo by Melanie Smith Portrait

Tips for Event Pros: How to Hire After Major Staff Changes

Hiring staff is a lot like getting married--make sure you pick the right person, Meghan Ely says.

Earlier this month, we tackled the dreaded task of letting someone go when they’re not meeting expectations. Now, we’re looking at the flip side, as we break down tips from event pros on filling those open positions and ensuring that your new hire is the right fit for your company.

While firing someone is often filled with trepidation, many would say that the hiring process is arguably just as unenjoyable. Just ask anyone sitting in back-to-back interviews with less-than-exciting applicants. Hiring a new employee is time-consuming and stressful and, when all is said and done, you can only hope that your chosen candidate will fit the bill.

A major challenge of the hiring process is that it’s full of pressure because you want to fill the role as soon as possible so your team can get back to “business as usual." However, you only want to fill it with the right person. You don’t want to onboard someone who doesn’t have the experience or, worse, someone who will only commit for a few months before looking elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself right back at square one, searching for new candidates.

The first step in hiring the right person is finding someone who truly aligns with your brand values. Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros explains: “I’m very careful about hiring for our company’s core values. I want to make sure that the people that come work with me embody the same ideals. I can teach someone almost any skill on the planet, but I can’t teach them how to be kind.”

Amber Anderson of Refine for Wedding Planners agrees that skills take a back burner to personality, saying: “I find that vetting candidates for emotional intelligence has drastically increased my success rate in finding the right fits. Google has list after list of questions for this style of interviewing. I can generally teach the skills I’m looking for in a person, but I can’t teach emotional intelligence.”

Knowing how time-consuming the interview process can be, consider taking efforts to pre-qualify candidates first. This helps to weed out the applicants that are not a fit, so you will need to interview only those that you are seriously considering.

“We have an initial phone call as a pre-screening, which allows us to usually tell if they are on track to be the right fit,” explains Heather Rouffe of Atlas Event Rental. “From there, we schedule a face-to-face to get a better feel and test for other things, like follow-up skills, personality, in-person traits, and appropriateness for the position.”

Shannon Tarrant of Wedding Venue Map also encourages event pros to request references from the start, instead of waiting to contact them as a final confirmation measure. “I ask for references before I schedule an interview,” she explains. “When I call them, I ask about why I should interview the candidate and what makes them unique. It helps weed out those people before I've taken too much time with them.”

For serious candidates, it can be worth it to make them go through the motions of their proposed responsibilities before extending an offer. Not only does this show you how experienced they are (in comparison to what their resume might say), but it also gives them a better idea of whether the position is right for them. After all, job interviews are for both parties to determine if a partnership is mutually beneficial.

Tarrant does just this: “Depending upon the position, I make them actually audition. If they are working in marketing, I pay them a small fee to design an ad, draft social media posts, and write a blog. By auditioning them in the actual position, you can see their true skillset--not just what they say they can do.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t hire someone just because you’re in a bind and need someone right away. You must allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to fill the position. You’re better off readjusting priorities or outsourcing to a contractor than bringing the wrong person onto your team.

If time is of the essence, consider how much effort you’re willing to invest in training a new hire. Depending on how open you are to the onboarding process, it may make sense to hire based on personality (as mentioned by several event pros above) and ramp up the new employee in an immersive manner. This can be especially effective if you have other experienced team members who can take on the training process.

When all is said and done, your priority in hiring a new employee should be finding a long-term investment. If going through the hiring process once is a pain, imagine having to do it every year! Stick to your job description and your company’s values, and don’t settle for anything less than what you (and the rest of your team) deserve.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.