Interview questions for graduate events jobs: how to prepare to answer them

If you’re looking to begin a graduate career in events, here are ten common interview questions and how to make sure you're ready for them.

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Discover the employer's values through its website and social media pages. At interview, talk about how you share these values and priorities and back up with examples.

Whether you’re applying for a role as ‘events coordinator’, ‘event planner’ or ‘events assistant’ – or a place on an event management graduate scheme – certain questions are likely to crop up at interview. In this article, we let you in on how to get ready to give the best possible answers.

Interview question one: why do you want to work in event management?

First and foremost, you need to get across your understanding of, and enthusiasm for, event management. After covering the basics by reading our job description and the one for the position you’re applying for, get an insight into the industry as a whole. Your research could involve looking at industry-specific websites such as the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) website, pages on LinkedIn dedicated to events/event management and any news related to the sector. Once you’re informed about the role and the industry, pinpoint exactly what it is that excites you about it.

You’ll also need to show that this is not just a role that you want to do, but one that you can do – and well. It’s a good idea to include in your answer why you think your education and work experience has demonstrated and/or built up skills that are important for event management. Find these skills listed as part of our event manager job description.

Remember to bring any skills you mention back to the original question of why you want to work in event management. For example, you might talk about your aptitude for creativity and then explain that event management will allow you to continue to use this skill, for example when making events venues aesthetically pleasing. You may even be able to go one step further and link your point to the specific role you're applying for. You could do this if the job description mentions that you would have the chance to design and produce promotional materials, for example – a task that will need creativity.

Interview question two: why do you want to work for this company?

In our response to the previous question, we started to touch on how to talk about why you want to work in this role – and this is an important part of answering a question about why you want to work for this company. When discussing why you want to work for the specific employer, refer back to the job description and reflect on what stood out to you. What made you click apply? Perhaps you liked the sound of the responsibilities listed or other opportunities mentioned in the job advert – such as training and development or travel.

However, you should also think more widely about why the company as a whole appeals. What field(s) does it work in? What type of events does it run? In particular, consider how yours and the company’s values and priorities align. Discover the employer's values through its website and social media pages. At interview, talk about how you share these values and priorities (perhaps choose two or three) and back up with examples. For instance, you could express your enthusiasm for the cause if applying for a role with a homelessness charity, using your voluntary work providing meals for homeless people as evidence.

Interview question three: give an example of a time when you have demonstrated an aptitude for planning, organisation and prioritisation.

Getting things done efficiently and on time is crucial to pulling off a successful event. Furthermore, this is a question that recruiters often think is particularly relevant for graduates as university doesn’t always set you up for the kind of organisation required for a professional environment (eg coordinating your work with other colleagues).

With a question like this, you must make sure you clearly address all three points. So, when were you involved in a) coming up with a plan to achieve an aim; b) organising yourself and/or others to complete the different steps of your plan; and c) prioritising these tasks to ensure the most important and time consuming ones are carried out earlier. If you choose an example in which you worked as part of a team, you can talk about what was done as a group but do emphasise the areas where you contributed.

Interview question four: how would you plan an event?

Below is a list of some of the basic considerations when event planning, but feel free to add to this. If the employer specialises in a specific type of event (eg online events), you can demonstrate your awareness of their work by including any considerations that are specific to this type of event. For example, you may need to identify the most suitable virtual platform for an online event.

  • Decide on the aims – both the immediate objectives and how these fit into the wider goals of the employer.
  • Get the right staff – at first, these might be other members of your events team, but this could end up including performers, waiting staff etc.
  • Train and/or inform these people.
  • Decide on a budget – and make/adapt plans that allow you to keep within that budget.
  • Choose and hire a venue.
  • Choose and buy/hire materials and/or equipment.
  • Market and advertise the event.
  • Execute the event.
  • Gain feedback from attendees, to inform future events.

It’s likely to impress recruiters if you can be specific. Either you could discuss the steps you would take with reference to a time when you planned an event, or you could refer to an event that has been or is likely to be organised by the company.

Interview question five: how would you promote an event?

There’s plenty of overlap between marketing and events, so you may be asked a question to gauge your aptitude for marketing/promoting. Just like the previous question, use a specific example. If you have an example of a time when you promoted an event, that could work well. If you don’t, however, don’t worry: choose a time when you demonstrated the ability to promote and persuade, eg when campaigning for a cause. Or, alternatively, discuss how you might promote one of the employer’s events.

Here are some ideas for promoting an event, but do adapt to suit the employer and your answer:

  • Decide or remind yourself of the target audience for the event, based on its aims.
  • Choose the channels and/or materials best suited to the audience. For instance, adverts on the radio might be best for music lovers (eg if you’re promoting a festival).
  • Decide on the message and how to put it across (eg using a tone and design that’s appropriate to the audience and event).
  • Buy what’s needed (eg materials or advertising space). You might also need to hire people, such as actors to talk on the radio.

Interview question six: how would you make sure an event delivered on client expectations?

Once again, giving specific examples from your own experiences or what you would do for the employer’s events is a good idea. Also, tailoring your response so it meets points that might be important for the client should impress. You could, for example, talk about how you would ask parents/teachers and children about their expectations if the employer holds events for children.

It will help you to answer this question if you know what delivering on client expectations involves. This is typically:

  • Choosing the most suitable channel(s) or method(s) of finding out client’s expectations, and then doing so.
  • Producing a plan to meet the expectations and informing colleagues of this.
  • Referring to/reminding people of the expectations throughout the organisation and hosting of the event to keep up a strong sense of direction.
  • Assessing whether you have delivered on expectations by asking the client after the event to show that you care and give you an idea of how to improve for the next event.

Customer service skills are also part and parcel of delivering on client expectations, as all clients are going to expect friendly and effective service. If you plan to talk about this at interview, take a look at our article on building customer service skills.

Interview question seven: give an example of a time when you overcame a problem or challenging situation.

The ‘CAR’ method is an effective one for this question. To follow this, you provide context by explaining what the situation and challenge was. Then, you discuss the actions that you took to overcome the challenge. Finally, you give an overview of the results – what were the outcomes and did you learn anything/demonstrate anything that should help you to overcome problems in the events role?

Choose a problem that you overcame effectively (although a few minor bumps along the road to this result can be presented as learning curves for you). Furthermore, even if you need to mention things that you did as part of a team, choose an example in which you were integral to resolving the issue, and emphasise the actions you took.

This question is closely related to the tricky interview question ’Do you have an example of a time when you handled a major crisis?’, so perhaps move onto this article after reading the advice here.

Interview question eight: how would you manage event stress?

Firstly, discover exactly what it is about event management that can be stressful, and think about the points that apply specifically to the kinds of events the employer hosts. Our event management job description is a good place to start, before moving onto the employer’s website and the specific job description for the role. In your answer, make sure you acknowledge the kinds of things that might cause stress in the role.

Then, talk about how you manage stress, backed up with examples of times when you have successfully used these methods. Perhaps you make sure you get up one hour earlier than usual when something stressful is coming up that day, to give you time to organise yourself and your thoughts.

Try not to give the impression that you avoid stressful situations. Taking breaks, for instance, is a legitimate method, but you don’t want to suggest that you’re likely to get overwhelmed and remove yourself from a situation rather than getting ‘stuck in’. Instead, you could focus on what you’d do during a specific break (eg listening to music to unwind during a lunch break).

Try not to give the impression that you avoid stressful situations.

Interview question nine: what do you do in your spare time?

For your answer to this question, it’s important to be authentic: what do you actually enjoy doing? It can also be a good idea, however, to make some kind of link to the company or role. So, choose between two and five examples to mention and if there’s one thing you do that fits one of the below descriptions, mention it and make the link to the employer/position clear.

  • Does the company you’re applying to specialise in particular types of events – such as music? If so, it’s important to mention your interest in this somewhere in the interview and this question might provide the perfect opportunity. Perhaps you regularly attend live music events or watch livestreams of them when you can’t attend in person?
  • You might take a skill or quality specified or hinted at on the job description/employer’s website and choose an activity that reveals this. For instance, if the company has been putting on virtual events during the pandemic, you could talk about an activity that reveals how computer-savvy you are (perhaps you’ve been learning a programming language).
  • Working in events will often require you to be friendly, approachable and capable of working well with others. So, if you do something that requires collaboration, you could mention it. One example might be a sports club that involves regular training sessions and collaboration.

Interview question ten: are you happy to work late nights and weekends?

For many roles in events, your hours will not follow a consistent nine to five pattern. It’s likely that you will be expected to work later hours and weekends during busier periods, and to see events right through from setting up to clearing up. The kinds of hours and flexibility required will change across different employers and roles.

So, if you are asked this question, you should let the recruiter know that you’re willing to work late nights and weekends. Prove this by giving an example of a time when you worked flexible hours or shifts that were particularly early/late. A part-time bar job in which you undertook late shifts could be a strong example.

Although the question asks you whether you’re happy to work outside ‘normal’ working hours, you don’t have to give the impression that you’re over-enthusiastic about the prospect. Interviewers will know that such work can be a challenge, and suggesting that you don’t could indicate an unrealistic interpretation of what the job actually entails. Rather than talking about your love for working late nights, then, it’s a good idea to pick out a specific benefit to working outside of a nine to five schedule. Perhaps, for instance, you could say that you find seeing a project – such as an event – right through from beginning to end to be rewarding, with an example of a time you worked long hours or different hours than usual to do so.

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