This is Part 2 of my Killer Interview Techniques blog and to access Part 1, please click here. In Part 1, I discussed the importance of PREPARATION before undergoing your interview and in Part 2, I will discuss the art of preparing appropriate answers to some of the typical interview questions that will tend to get asked in “Events” related job interviews. So, let’s get on with it and begin!
Q: Tell me about an event that you have organised that went well?
Here an employer is looking to find out more about what you consider to be, “Went well’. So rather than saying in general terms, “It was a great event. Everybody was really happy and everything went to plan,” how about offering your interviewer some specific facts and figures to prove each point that you make, rather than state an unquantified generality.
A more specific or targeted answer would be:
This event went well, because not only did everything run smoothly, but we increased delegate numbers by 15%; increased revenue by 25% (by introducing some sponsorship packages) and finally, we managed to adhere to the budget. The company received some fantastic testimonials we could use in our marketing materials as a result of this event.
Q : Tell me about an event that didn’t go so well?
Beware of the danger of walking into a trap here! Like the previous question, an employer is interested in what you consider to be, “Not so well” and even more importantly how you dealt with it? So if you talk incessantly about what did not go well and then stop talking at that point, you are not going to make a great impression. How you took action and solved the problem through damage-limitation measures, will be what an interviewer is looking for.
So how about the following:
I was involved in an event last year where a number of things did not go well. We arrived at the venue to find that we could not get power to the AV system, which could have been a disaster. After working with the venue to solve the problem, I realised that we needed outside support. Fortunately, I have good connections with all of our suppliers so I was able to get a generator brought to the venue in time for the event to start and eventually the event was a success and I learned a valuable lesson.
The ability to reflect, analyse and problem-solve to overcome the obstacles which always seem to be sprung on us ‘out-of-the-blue,’ is a real asset for any organisation and illustrating how you managed to remain calm under pressure and take the initiative too – solving problems without upsetting those around you and demonstrating your resourcefulness by contacting a supplier to get a generator delivered and then installed at short notice – illustrates once more, the importance of developing and maintaining, cordial relationships with all your suppliers.
The following tips on how to create a positive impression in an interview are gathered from my long experience of conductingand interviewing many people over the years, as well as being on the receiving end of the process myself, as an interviewee. So here are my top tips to have ready in your ‘Answers Arsenal!
- Personal stories, examples and anecdotes will set you apart!
An interviewer may be seeing a lot of people on the same day, so you want to be memorable for all the right reasons. By using personal stories and data from previous projects you have managed, you are more likely to ‘stick in the mind’ of your interviewer – a bonus when interviewers try to remember the salient points of those they have just interviewed, as well as their appearance – always important for all candidates when interviewers and assessors add up your positive attributes and assess who should be getting the job!
- Be yourself
If you try to be someone you are not in an interview, you might fool your interviewer at the time, but imagine if you actually got the job? How long could you keep up the pretence? What would you do when you are asked for advice about a project that you have lied about in your interview?
- Be positive
Is your cup half full, or half empty? The Events industry is a ‘People’ business which requires a positive ‘can-do’ attitude. There are times when it is right to be sceptical, or cautious, but by and large employers will want people on their team who can energise themselves – and other members of their team – not people who are soaked in negativity and sap other people’s energy like vampires.
- What to do when an Interviewer focuses on your weakness in solving problems
When an interviewer asks questions about your weaknesses, they are really trying to find out how you handle problems. They are not looking to distract you, or test your positive, problem-solving skills! No, on these occasions interviewers have the opportunity to see how you overcome problems – or not – in which case you expose your weaknesses. But whatever you do, (or do not do), don’t be afraid of the Interviewer’s questions; rather be prepared to answer them truthfully.
- Demonstrate you have done your research on the interviewer’s company and use that data in your responses
What is the point of doing a lot of research and setting up Google Alerts to find out all there is to know about your potential employer, if you don’t let them know that you have done this? They might not quiz you on their business directly however, so try to use the knowledge you have acquired in your answers to other questions.
- Know your CV inside out
Some interviews are based around your C.V. If I were you therefore, I would take a copy in with you so that you can refer to it when and where necessary (but make sure it is in a colourful wallet, or folder; whatever you do, don’t pull out a crumpled piece of paper out of your bag and try to decipher its contents – which in your state of anxiety appear to you to be written in code. Whether you have a copy or not with you, you should know your C.V. inside out. That way, if you get asked a specific question you do not have to fumble around working out which part of your C.V. is being referred to.
- Prepare questions
Prepare a couple of good questions at the end of the interview, to show that you’re keen to be offered the job.
Language to avoid
- Saying, ‘I think’ rather than ‘I believe,’ or ‘I know’
Confidence is key in an interview and particularly if you are nervous, as you will have a tendency to answer questions by saying, ‘I think … I would do this or that’. By using the word ‘think’ too often it sounds as if you are not sure what you would do in a similar situation, or that you are imagining the scenario, rather than basing your answer on knowledge and experience. Rather than ‘ think’ use statements with ‘believe’, or ‘know’ which are much stronger, eg, “I believe I would do this,” or “from previous experience, I know that …”
If you don’t know something – say so! If you start bluffing there is a good chance your interviewer will see straight through you. If you do pull it off then you might have to demonstrate skills you do not possess when you are offered the job. Interviewers do not mind clarifying questions if you have not understood something properly, or changing questions if you genuinely do not know the answer. Of course they may push you for an answer at first to see your response, but don’t panic, honesty is always the best policy.
- Do not use words that mean nothing (from CV section)
Please refer to my CV writing blogs here, where there are lots of words that you might be tempted to use, but should avoid. Always try to demonstrate ‘how’ you would approach something and give results rather than just describe a task in your answers. For example, you might say, “I was responsible for increasing revenue in that role”, whereas it would be much better to say, “I increased total revenue by 25% when I was in that role” – be as specific as you can be and use facts, figures and statistics wherever and whenever you can.
- Being late/scruffy
This should be self explanatory, but I do know someone who interviewed a person for a job once, who came straight from the gym for a role in the Events Team. Needless to say, this person did not get the job. Always be professional, always be smart and always be early!