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3 Ways You May Have Blown Your Event Job Interview

Do you ever walk away from a job interview feeling really confident about your chances only to find out you didn’t get the job?

Happens to everyone.

And the harsh reality is that most of the time you will never know the reason.

It can be extremely frustrating.

But don’t lose heart. Very often there are factors involved that are out of your control.

All you can do is keep a positive outlook and carefully and honestly review everything that IS in your control.

First and foremost, you know your resume is working for you. It got you in the door for an interview. Well done!

So that just leaves the interview itself.

Anything you could change or improve?

Having interviewed many event professionals at all levels, I'm happy share a few issues that can take even the best candidate out of the running.

These could impact a hiring decision for many jobs. They are however particularly important in the events industry.

Here's why and how to fix.

Think honestly if you might have unknowingly made any one of these blunders. (The good news is they are rarely done intentionally and easy to correct once you are aware.)


1. You sounded like a know-it-all

Common advice for an interview is to exude confidence while sharing your accomplishments and experience.

It’s good advice. But it can be taken too far.

Often times a candidate gets so caught up in conveying their great depth and breadth of experience and so anxious to come across as confident and knowledgeable that they leave the interviewer wondering…will they take the time to understand and learn about our particular needs?

Every hiring manager wants to hear what you have done. And they want to feel confident that you have the right experience.

But…they also need to know that you are open and eager to connect with THEIR particular challenges and opportunities.

Because every role in events is different. Every event faces a unique set of challenges.

Even with very similar events, factors such as the industry, the history of the event, the audience, and the geographic location can make a big difference.

So while all your past experience is extremely valuable, so too is what you WILL do for this new employer. And THAT is what they care about most.

Keep these ideas in mind to let your interviewer know you are open to learning and adapting:

  • As you talk about your past experience, interject what you learned along the way.
    • This can easily be done especially when talking about moving from one position to the next. Example: When I moved from company A to the role at Company B it put me in a position to learn more about sponsorship and how to effectively execute sponsorship plans which I’ve found to be very valuable. Or…When I went to work with Company B it was my first time managing an assistant so I had lots to learn regarding mentoring and delegation but I really enjoyed it. Or you can talk about how you adapted when you faced a particular emergency and what you learned from it. You get the idea.
    • If you acknowledge you had learning to do along the way it signals to your interviewer that you will be willing to learn what it takes to bring them success.
  • Ask questions.
    • Directly ask about challenges and opportunities if they don’t bring it up. Example. What do you see as the greatest opportunity facing your event in the next cycle?
    • Ask questions along the way when discussing the challenges or opportunities to show you have an interest in helping. Digging deeper into the issues signals your intent to learn.
  • Show interest in the work, not just in getting hired. Eagerness to show you are the right person to be hired is great. Letting your interviewer know this is genuinely the work you want to do is even better! Don’t be afraid to let them know what you like about this opportunity. Perhaps it is the industry the event serves or key responsibilities that are right up your alley.

The fact is that when it comes to events there is always plenty to learn and new circumstances around every corner. Share your interest in new challenges.


2. You reflected low energy

It is no secret that working in the events industry requires a lot of energy.

Long hours and hectic schedules are more the rule than the exception even before the event takes place. Physical demands on site are even greater with lots of walking, standing and endless interaction with people.

While your interviewer won’t have the opportunity to actually see you in action they can and will draw conclusions during your time together.

They need to feel your energy. (Don’t worry I’m not going to suggest you start doing chin-ups on their door frame or dancing around their office.) But you do need to give them the confidence that you are a do-whatever-it-takes kinda person.

Here are a few things that reflect your energy.

  • A firm handshake. No need to squeeze their hand til it hurts but a firm handshake reads as confident and energetic.
  • Speak in positive terms. Negativity has the effect of lowering the energy of a conversation.
  • Your interviewer may ask during the interview if you are committed to long hours during event set-up or weekend work. Be sure to have examples ready of how you had to put in extra time during past experiences and let them know that you recognize this is part of the job. Better still..let them know if this is part of the reason you love working in events. A do-what it takes mentality and non-standard hours are among the many factors that many event professionals love.
  • Sit up straight and lean slightly forward. Even without your body moving it can signal energy by showing you are present and engaged.
  • Don’t be afraid to demonstrate enthusiasm for past experiences or the new opportunity at hand. Enthusiasm is infectious.
  • Keep good energy in mind throughout the interview - not just the start.

Before you head into an interview, consciously think about being open and positive and letting your interviewer feel your energy.


3. You didn't engage with your interviewer

It is easy to slip into a matter-of-fact demeanor especially if you have been doing a lot of interviews or if you are not certain that this is the position for you. This is a sure-fire way to take yourself out of the running.

Engage with your interviewer. Let them know this opportunity matters to you. Even if you are not sure, the only way to find out is to be fully present.

Keep in mind they will be imagining you dealing with clients, suppliers and other staff. They will be looking for an open and engaged communication style.

  • When you meet the interviewer, smile as you shake hands and look them right in the eye. A smile is welcoming and signals you are happy to be there.
  • Be sure to make good eye contact throughout the conversation. Not in a creepy way. Just make sure that you are not looking off somewhere else when answering a question or avoiding eye contact altogether. Avoiding eye contact can create doubt and even signal lack of confidence.
  • Just as mentioned in demonstrating energy, sit up straight and lean in a bit to the conversation. Don’t sit slumped or too relaxed in your chair. This can signal disinterest or over confidence.
  • Ask questions of your interviewer particularly when they ask if you have any.
    • Consider not only asking questions about the job but ask questions of them -  things like how long have they worked there and what do they like best about the company or their job. Make a human connection.
    • Don’t feel obliged to leave all your questions until the end when you are asked. Show you are focused and engaged by asking questions along the way.
  • Don’t be afraid to laugh or smile throughout the interview. It’s easy to become so uptight that you come across as robotic. Not a good impression for someone in events.

Making a connection and engaging with your interviewer is as important as your resume.

Let them picture you in the position at hand.

Work as hard at the impression you leave with your interviewer as you do with answering questions about your experience.

Start full of energy, be present and engaged and demonstrate that you are the right person to support the challenges and opportunities ahead.

It may not guarantee you the job.

But you can feel confident knowing you did everything possible to make yourself a memorable candidate…for all the right reasons.


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Post by Margaret Johnston,

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.


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