How To Find, Interview, and Retain Exceptional Event Coordinators
Staffing shortages are hitting just about every industry today and affecting every type of role. That includes event coordinators. If your organization hosts meetings and events and has been affected, you know how badly the lack of qualified coordinators can disrupt your operations.
However, making snap decisions and hiring the wrong events professionals can be equally problematic. So, what should you do? We provide some recommendations below, based on our interactions with scheduling departments all around the U.S.
What To Look for in an Event Coordinator
It takes a special type of person to be an effective event coordinator. They’ve got to be understanding of every client's wants and needs while also being able to say “No” when appropriate. They must be able to work quickly and efficiently but have the wherewithal to pause and focus on the details when necessary. And the list goes on and on.
We blogged previously on the top customer service skills for event coordinators, but in summary, they include:
- Problem-solving skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Accountability and humility
- Good time management
- Commitment to continual improvement
If a candidate doesn’t have these personality traits, they can still fill the open position, but you want to do more than simply check the box on the hiring task. People who meet the criteria above will be a much better fit for your organization and a better resource for your customers.
Finding and Interviewing Event Coordinator Candidates
Multiple factors will influence your candidate search, including the urgency of your need, the size of the talent pool in your area, and others. But there are several ways to publicize your job opening and identify event coordinators. They include online services like ZipRecruiter, Indeed, etc.
You may also be able to post your job internally on a “job board” at your organization. Then, there are personal referrals from current employees, industry peers, and your friends and family.
In an “applicant’s job market,” like we’re experiencing today, you may have to leverage the options above and others to find a large enough group of candidates. But once you have them, you should conduct initial interviews to whittle the list down to a manageable number for second interviews. “Manageable” will vary by organization, but often that means between 5 and 10 candidates.
Some of the most important questions to ask in interviews (first round, second round, or both) include:
- Why do you want to work for our organization?
- What skills, experience, and personality traits do you think are essential to success as an event coordinator?
- What’s your measure of whether an event went well?
- What types and sizes of events have you previously managed?
- What aspects of event coordination have you handled in past positions (marketing, scheduling, customer meetings, budgeting, etc.)?
- Have you ever managed multiple event planning projects simultaneously?
- How do you handle situations where you must deny a client’s event-related request?
- Have you ever had a significant problem affect an event? If so, how do you handle it?
- How do you stay current on event coordination practices, technology, etc.?
- What do you do to manage your work stress?
There will likely be several additional questions specific to your organization that you’ll want to ask. But answers to the questions above will tell you a lot about the person’s qualifications for your job opening.
Retaining Great Employees When Facing Pay Restrictions
For all the work they do, event coordinators typically aren’t typically compensated especially well. So, how do you keep someone from leaving after you’ve invested time, energy, and money in finding, hiring, and training them?
The key is to think about what motivates people beyond financial compensation. For many, incentives for staying with an organization include:
- Professional development opportunities. Today’s employees tend to be long-term thinkers. If you can demonstrate to them that working for your organization will benefit them now and prepare them for the future, you have a much better chance of retaining them. And all it costs is a little bit of your time to provide the professional development assistance they crave. For example, during lulls in event volumes, you can spend some time teaching them about your department's financial workings, budgeting, etc.
- Flexible work arrangements. The COVID-19 pandemic opened the eyes of employers and employees alike to the fact that people can be productive away from the office and at different times of day. Being flexible about how, when, and where your people work—to whatever degree is possible—makes it easier to attract and retain top talent.
- A positive and diverse workplace. Candidates with plenty of options available to them will always favor positive, open, inclusive environments where they know they’ll look forward to going to work.
- A dynamic employee recognition program. Today’s employees want to know their work is appreciated and has a positive impact. The old “Employee of the Month” announcement made via email or tacked to a bulletin board doesn’t cut it anymore. You’ve got to be more enthusiastic in how you recognize employees. Rewards like time off or a gift card to a favorite merchant are appreciated. And a more heartfelt announcement, perhaps as part of a large employee gathering, can make a person feel valued and respected.
- Attentive employee support. It’s good for employees and the organization to have a process for ensuring nobody is overworked and stressed out. Regular confidential “check-ins” between managers and event coordinators about their workload, challenges they’re facing, etc., are a great way to catch minor issues early and address them before they grow into major problems.
- The right technology tools for their job. No event coordinator wants to work on a computer that’s nearly as old as they are or with an outdated scheduling system that makes their job harder. Keeping your technology up-to-date makes your organization much more appealing to candidates, not to mention empowering current employees to get more work done faster!
It’s also vital to publicize the positive characteristics of your organization and work environment—even when you’re not actively hiring. You want to cultivate awareness and develop a reputation for being a great place to work. That way, when you need to find a new event coordinator or other employee, candidates already have a favorable opinion of your organization and look forward to the opportunity to become a team member.