If you really like to do things the hard way, try taking on an entire event by yourself. As for us, we like to live by the old adage: “Many hands make light work.”
In truth, no matter your crew size, running an event is going to be a challenge (if it’s a good event). But all the same, you can seriously lighten your workload with a little help from your friends. Or your workers, more likely.
Here’s the bottom line though: Oftentimes, hiring event staff is categorically essential.
Now, we’d like to say that there’s no wrong way to staff an event, but…
You’re better off going about this thoughtfully and with just a hint of caution. Use this guide as you go about hiring your event staff, and you’ll be on your way to a lively gathering.
1. What are the main event staff roles?
It’s not always as simple as filling general event staff positions. The employee’s intended role will influence pretty much everything about the hiring process. So before we talk about the how-to of hiring event staff, here are some of the roles you might need filled.
1. Field jobs
These are your basic event staff positions. Your field employees can do some of the following:
- Scan or sell tickets at the door
- Provide basic event info to attendees
- Run childcare
- Help the vendors
- Take care of setting up / tearing down
- Clean up after the event
You don’t have to go full-on private security company here. However, a little help in keeping things level-headed can go a long way.
Vendors are often third-party groups that you invite to your event. However, you can also hire your own vendors to man specific booths or similar attractions.
One does not simply walk into the world of marketing! You may want to hire a professional to manage your event’s campaign.
5. Logistics & planning
What actually happens on the day of the event, hour by hour? What’s the floor plan? What happens if a guest speaker drops out last-second? The bigger the event, the more planning staff you’ll want to hire.
Tip: It doesn’t hurt to look for first aid skills in your potential staff. Alternatively, some groups supply events with trained medical personnel.
6. Food & entertainment
Whether it’s a food event or an event with food, you’ll need to fill some of the following roles. And while they’re eating, why not treat attendees to a little entertainment?
- Cook: Unless you’re going the full catering route, well, the food isn’t going to prepare itself!
- Wait staff: Depending on the event, it might be appropriate to include serving staff of some kind. Especially if retrieving or obtaining the food could be disruptive to the guests’ experience.
- Greeting & seating: If you’d like that extra ounce of welcome, or you’ve got an assigned seating chart, a host or hostess can be a really nice touch.
- Announcer: For structured events, debates, or performance-focused events, a good announcer or moderator lends that professional “oompf” to your gathering. Otherwise, guest speakers and performers will be awkwardly showing themselves into the spotlight.
2. Where to find event staff?
If taking out an ad in the local paper was good enough for Gramps, it’s good enough for you!
Just kidding. You can use the local paper if you really want, but as you go about hiring event staff, it’s probably in your best interest to try some dedicated online methods.
There are two basic paths that we recommend:
1. The DIY method
Online search portals allow you to get down and dirty, so to speak. This way, you’ll be doing your searching manually using a digital platform.
Effectively, you are putting out a “help wanted” ad on a website. That website simplifies the process by attracting users who are on the lookout for whatever work you’re giving. Here are a few such sites to get you started:
If you’re dedicated to running through all of the hiring process by yourself, this is the way to go.
Tip: This article offers has a longer list of sites where you can look for event staff.
You’re running an event. You have so much on your plate that just the thought of traditional DIY hiring makes you woozy.
Outsourcing to event staff agencies is totally normal. This way, you leave the interview process to certified professionals.
Here’s a brief list of event staffing companies:
Groups that specialise in the event sector can help recruit event staff with time-honoured interviewing strategies designed to pick out the best workers for the job.
Tip: There are certain event staff agencies that keep a roster of experienced workers. You describe your needs, they have just the right candidates.
3. How to recruit event staff?
If you plan on doing the recruiting yourself, it’s not too different from general hiring practice. But in the case of an event, your positions are likely temporary. Additionally, event staff may require specific skills like operating a vendor booth or running event security.
Here’s a quick rundown of how to proceed when you’re hiring event staff.
1. Get descriptive
You’ll probably have to write up an event staff job description, no matter how you do your hiring. There is an art to this, and it’s pretty important.
Tip: Here’s a template of an event staff job description to give you an idea of how it might look like.
Time to separate the wheat from the chaff!
Interviewing is a nuanced process even for the simplest of jobs. It all comes down to the questions. Here are some helpful interview questions for event staff:
- Can you describe your event experience?
- What attracted you to this event staffing position?
- What are your strengths and how do you use them in the event management sphere?
- How do you make time-sensitive decisions?
- How do you handle surprises during events?
- Describe a time when you were asked to do something you hadn’t been trained to do. How did you handle it?
- What area(s) of event planning do you need more improvement or training in?
- As an attendee, what do you find makes an event enjoyable?
- What makes you love working with event organisers in particular?
- Is there anything stopping you from working long hours, weekends, evenings, or last minute?
Tip: Found a candidate you like? Event positions are unique, but keep these universal basics in mind as you extend the job offer.
Ready your staff
The right workers can really make or break the event. This is one part of event building that will always need your attention.
Experienced organisers, what’s your personal event staffing process? Share your methods below!