Become an Exceptional Interviewer of Event Interns

How does Professor X spot a superhero in the making?  How does he ensure that he/she will one day make a great asset to the X-Men team, with the right training and support in place? What about the manager of a football team?

How does he predict which players to bring on-board?

photo credit: abigail keenan

photo credit: abigail keenan

answer: preparation + intuition

Today, I’m going to share my five very best insider secrets on how to be like Professor X and become an exceptional interviewer of event interns, ensuring you’re bringing the RIGHT people on to your team, right from the start.

Because you don’t have any time to waste…you deserve to work with only the very best people.  And your clients expect nothing but the BEST from your firm.

Let’s dive in… 

 Tip 1 – Do Your Homework.

Know what you want and clearly map it out prior to conducting your interviews.  This breaks down into three areas:

  • what are the intern’s specific roles and responsibilities?

    You have to have a strong internship write-up, really outlining what their major tasks will be, what they will own and what qualifications they need as a foundation to build upon and be successful with your firm.  This is step one in helping you truly crystallize the role and how it fits into the existing team, setting everyone up for success.

  • what type of person best fits this role?

    Next, figure out what type of personality traits would deliver results in that role.  Who would flourish here?  Are you looking for someone who’s more left-brain, analytical and dreams in Excel formulas?  Are you looking for someone who’s got a great sense of style and would have a natural talent in event design?  Are you looking for a quiet thinker or a bubbly conversation starter?  Are you looking for someone who could teach you a thing or two and fill a few of the team’s skill gaps?  I say, all of the above.  Hire at least 3 or 5 interns per semester and bring on a mix of personalities and skill-sets that would work well together.  But I’m jumping ahead…I’ll tell you why 3 or 5, a little later.

  • and how do they fit into your company’s culture?

    This one is super-important.  Visualize this person in your company’s eco-system.  Do they take direction?  Does their personality compliment yours and your team’s?  IDEA: have your entire team (and you!) take a Myers-Briggs personality assessment and then review the data prior to interviewing.  Are you a team of all extroverts?  Would adding an introvert to the mix only cause conflict or would it be helpful to have someone completely different on the team?  There is no right/wrong answer here…you know best.  And that’s the beauty of having new apprentices every semester.  They breathe new life into your company, new ideas and fresh perspectives.  It’s all pretty exciting, huh?

 Tip 2 – Prep Them For Success.

Let’s get real for a second…most Millennials in America have “helicopter parents”.  It’s just the reality, but that doesn’t have to be a detriment to the workplace.  Here’s what you need to know as their future boss:

  • give them concise details that explain the WHY –

    Tell them how long the interview will be, if it’s a 1-on-1 interview or group interview setting, what the business attire is and what you hope to accomplish at each stage of the interviewing process. Friends, this is no time for a long monologue…they aren’t reading it, you’re wasting your time.  Remember, bullet points are best.

  • give them just enough direction to fly on their own

    Is your office tricky to find?  Give them a quick hint on where to park, maybe the major cross-streets nearby and then let them sort it out on Google Maps…HINT: those who show up late, saying they got lost are maybe not the best candidates for you, in the first place.

Tip 3 – Google Search is your Friend.

Before someone walks in the door, you should know at least five things about them as a person, so you can spark an engaging conversation during the interview.

  • when you type their name into Google, what comes up?  Have they won a scholarship?  Are they volunteering at a local non-profit?  For everyone’s sake, let’s hope nothing bad pops up.
  • check out their Linkedin page…who has endorsed their work in previous jobs or internships?
  • …and yes, go check out their Facebook page.  No, I’m not encouraging you to be a creeper and I definitely do NOT encourage you to EVER ‘friend’ your interviewees, hired interns and/or employees.  There always needs to be a professional boundary, IMO…but a lot can be learned by their profile pictures and personal interests section.  Maybe you both love scuba diving or travelling?  This will help paint the picture of this person and build a case for if they are the right fit or not.

All of this helps the interview feel less like an examination and more like a conversation.  

While you should have a list of 10 questions (psst, see below!) to ask every candidate you interview, it’s in those moments where you go off script that you’ll help put them at ease, make them feel more confident and really get insights into their personalities and strengths.

 Tip 4 – Ask Loads of Questions.

Your job is to ask great questions, then keep quiet and listen.  

One of my very favorite questions to kick-off a a great interview is: What is the most interesting thing you have ever done?  No one ever expects me to ask this.  Most times, it catches them a bit off guard and helps them open up about their personal interests.  Some people talk about a big adventure they recently took, others talk about a big accomplishment they’re proud of.  One person told me about their trek across Thailand.  Take a guess who I hired…

When you’ve got a list of great questions to ask, follow this formula, each and every time:

Make eye contact.  Listen to their initial answer.  Pause.  Go deeper.  Ask them how, why, when.  Ask them: What would you do differently?”  What was learned from that failure/success?  What made that project difficult/fun/easy?

Take notes.  Always maintain eye contact and focus on them.  Shut your phone off.  They’ll appreciate you care about them and how personable you are.


If you’d like a FREE copy of the “Top Ten Interview Questions” that The Simplifiers use when interviewing event intern candidates, give us a jingle below:

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 Tip 5 – Trust your Gut.

Within the first three minutes of the interview, you should know if you’re going to hire them or not.

Did they show up 5-10 minutes early?  Are they polished and dressed appropriately?  Did they have a firm handshake or was it a floppy fish?  Are they excited to be there?  Have they done their own homework on you and your firm?  Are they sitting up straight, making eye contact and asking you lots of engaging questions?  Are they someone that you could mold, shape and mentor?  Can you envision them one day being an event planner on your team?

If you answered NO to any of the questions above…you know the answer.

Your gut NEVER lies…listen to your intuition and only accept those who give you the best vibes.  Because let’s face it…they know too, if it’s a good fit or not.

And what an honor it is that they are considering to intern with your firm! 

They are about to donate their free-time, their nights/weekends and their brainpower to your team this semester.  Make sure they are just as excited about this opportunity as you are to work with them.


Remember, we all took a pinky-swear promise that we aren’t taking on interns who fetch coffee and push paper around.  This internship is an EPIC opportunity for them to truly learn the ins-and-outs of event planning and apprentice with your firm.

Follow these steps above and you’ll manifest the right people for your team.

Trust me, it works.

QUESTION: what other interviewing tips have worked for your company?




your Undercover Superhero


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