1) Philosophy. I know you’re thinking that meeting planning skills should be at the top of this list, but that’s the least of your worries. Hiring someone with your same philosophy is key. Does the candidate share your definition of what you feel the role of a meeting planner is? Thinking event planning means organizing fun parties with unlimited budgets when your clients are all non-profits who have strict budgets and are holding their events at the local middle-of-the-road hotel may cause some disappointment down the line…for both of you. Where does your meeting planning candidate stand on this and is it in line with your thinking (and clientele)?
2) Work Ethic. Do you want a meeting planner who won’t work a minute past 5pm? Or do you want someone who will take ownership of their work and do whatever it takes to get the job done focusing on flawless events and client satisfaction? Ask for examples of times your prospective employee has gone above and beyond what was expected of them and watch for non-verbal cues and body language to show whether they were excited or annoyed by the interruption to their lives.
3) Values. Are you fair and ethical? If so, then you’ll want a meeting planner who shares your value system. When your new meeting planner is faced with a challenge and you’re not there, you want someone who will conduct themselves in a similar manner to you. Do you want someone who’ll be stuffing cans of soda in their bag and sneaking them out without you knowing? Or do you want someone who will count the sodas and make sure your client is charged accurately? Ask your potential future team member to describe a time they were asked to do something that made them feel uncomfortable and how they handled it?
4) Involvement. Do they just talk the talk or do they walk the walk? Being a member of meeting planning organizations and attending industry-related events demonstrates enthusiasm for the event planning career. And taking classes to sharpen their skills shows a willingness to learn and an eagerness to improve. Have the candidate demonstrate ways in which they have been self-motivated and ask what involvement they plan to continue once they land a job.
5) Meeting Planning Skills. Yes, this is the least important because if you find a candidate you like, then training them is easy. If the meeting planner comes with some experience, ask them to illustrate examples of steps they took to plan certain parts of their events. Watch for overstated skills. Would your new employee be open to learning? Do you want everything done a certain way (your way)? Or are you open to new ideas? Someone with little experience may be worth the risk and easier to mold into your ways, but will take more of your time to train. Ask them what aspects of meeting planning they find most intriguing and why and help them to achieve those goals.
Finding the right person to work with you under such close quarters can be hard. Take the time to find the right fit for both of you. Your reputation is at stake so don’t be in a hurry to select the wrong person. There are many qualified candidates out there and hopefully you’ll find the right candidate who will help you take your business to the next level.