Planner Smarts: 11 Tips for Hiring Event Planning Team Members

Competency Based Interviewing Training

A range of tools and approaches are now available to significantly improve selection decisions. They are particularly useful for event teams that must deliver highly visible results in tight timeframes.

  1. Identify core competencies for the organization and associated performance (soft) and technical skills for specific positions.
    Resources like Personnel Decision’s Successful Manager’s Handbook Lominger's’s Leadership Architect can help.
  2. Identify which skills are “must haves” (essential) and which are nice-to-have for the position.
  3. Create a structured interview guide with behavior anchored rating scale, behavior based question, and probes for contrary evidence for each skill.
    To ensure that assessment is objective, never just wing interviews.

    Definitions:
    • Behavior-anchored rating scales. Replace number weights with descriptions of behavior that represent exceptional, average and poor performance.
       
    • Behavior-based questions. Open-ended questions giving candidates an opportunity to discuss how they successfully handled specific situations in the past.

      Example: Please describe the specific steps you took to effectively resolve a situation with a disgruntled client during an event.
       
    • Probes for contrary evidence. Open-ended questions about poorly handled past experiences.

      Example: Please tell us about a time when you lost your cool with a client during an event due to extreme provocation.
       
  4. For customer service and front-line hospitality positions, use reverse groups interviews for initial screenings.
    Airlines use them successfully and it's perfect for screening a high volume of candidates at job fairs. Each candidate makes a short presentation for the group. The panel observes the audience and selects those who are paying close attention to the presentations to move on to the next phase in the hiring process.
  5. Use interview panels.
    Competency based behavioral interviews by interview panels have been demonstration to be high predictors of successful job performance. The also ensure a more balanced assessment of the candidate.
  6. Train the interviewers.
    Without training, interviewers will fall back on questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” and “Tell me about yourself.” that yield little data to assess candidates.
  7. Put the finalist through work sample assessments.
    If the position involves creating proposals, have candidates come into the office and prepare a short proposal. If sales presentations are involved, have them make a presentation.
  8. Involve the Team.
    I have an M.S.W. and my first career was in social work. Team interviews were always part of the process. When I made a career transition to business, I was surprised that this was not standard practice. Input from the team is important as the team will have to interact with the successful candidate even more frequently than the manager.
  9. Consider assessment centers for senior positions.
    They have high predictive validity for leadership skills.
  10. Check references.
    Reference checks present some challenges which we won’t explore today but they are an essential part of the hiring process. Contact the immediate manager who has worked with the individual and not an executive who lacks firsthand knowledge of the candidate’s performance.

Bonus: Monitor entry level turnover rates and fine-tune your process and questions based on the success of the candidates hired.

No selection method is foolproof, but a structured, behavior-based approach will definitely yield improve hiring decisions.

Photo Credit: Competency Based Behavioral Interviewing, The Training Oasis, Inc.

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