Hiring Production Staff – How to Hire and Maintain Ideal Candidates

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Hiring is a complex task that is both time-consuming and risky. Any business is affected by who they employ, but the production and event industry is particularly reliant on effective staffing. Film sets, concerts and events completely rely on workers who can work efficiently together to construct and dismantle many areas in a short amount of time. That’s why successful production companies take hiring seriously.

The hiring process costs resources as well. Employing someone is a symbiotic investment – they rely on you and you rely on them. Don’t waste your investment in them by treating them less than they earn. It may save in the short run, but high turnover is expensive. That’s why successful production companies also train their staff properly so that they’re a) reliable and b) feel invested in.

The following will detail the value of attracting the best candidates, asking questions, maintaining the best employees and what skills will benefit your productions the most.

Attract the Best Candidates

We have a variety of hiring tools at our fingertips, from general networking like LinkedIn to specific employment needs like ProductionHUB. With ease comes a much deeper pool of candidates and weeding out the ideal can be more of a challenge than one would imagine. Online profiles are adept at making themselves look the part, but, in reality, are everything but. To limit your employment pool to only those that are worthy, do the following:

  1. Compile a profile of the ideal candidate
  2. Write an effective advertisement that will attract the right talent

How can you hire the ideal employee if you have yet to identify what that candidate looks like? By creating a comprehensive profile of what skills, characteristics and background the job will require, you can create a detailed job query that attracts more qualified individuals. If a worker isn’t qualified, they will be intimidated by the specificity and requirements you’ve laid out, therefore they won’t waste your time.

Ask the Right Questions

Once the ideal candidate has been found, it’s onto the interview process. Interviewing is a careful balance of discussion and analysis where the interviewer and interviewee are weighing one another. Traditionally, interviewers ask the bulk of questions and candidates provide measured answers. This is still a typical practice, but stiff or confusing questions won’t reveal if this candidate is right for you.

You want to know them on a professional and personal level which means asking direct, yet casual, questions without expecting a “correct” answer. The following are some open-ended questions specifically for production-hiring that will lead to further conversation and, eventually, an employment opportunity:

  1. Describe your event planning experience
  2. What attracted you to this position?
  3. How do you make decisions?

Maintain the Best Employees

To appreciate the importance of employee retention, you need to know the stats:

  • 50% of employees who don’t feel invested in will leave their positions within the first year
  • 76% of employees want the opportunity to grow

What should you glean from these percentages? If you don’t provide some training, or investment, to your employees, then you will lose half of them. If you don’t provide an opportunity to grow, then you will lose a quarter of your employees.

Training will cost time and effort, but the advantages far outweigh the investment. Along with improving employee retention, it improves employee efficiency and output. In production, it’s about seamless operation, and seamless operation is achieved through practice and training. Help them help you.

Best Skills – Teamwork, Attentiveness and Communication

The production/event industry requires top-notch workers. They work under stressful time allotments and have to adapt to new project requirements. Therefore, their skills need to be honed and prepared for the unknown and new. According to industry professionals, teamwork, attentiveness, and communication are the most important characteristics of production staff.

Matt Del Bene, who has worked consistently over the past 3 years on productions such as Turn: Washington’s Spies, MacGyver and Goosebumps 2 shares how important attentiveness can be within a production team:

“Attentiveness. There are many moving parts to the film/tv industry in which staff can get lost but the key is staying alert and prepared when the time calls for it. Even though working freelance, I consistently stay employed because I pay attention. Help the production.” 

Jerusha Cavazos is a veteran in the production industry with an impressive resume. From the New York Theatre, to website commercials, to TV/Film such as Atlanta and Handle with Care, Jerusha understands what’s important to keep production rolling. She notes that communication is a key skill among production workers:

“For me? It’s ideal communication. The sets can be big and there’s a lot of people running around. There are people at base camp, on location, in the soundstage, at craft services etc. but when communication is amazing everything settles nicely. Someone remembering when it’s time for breaks, or you can tell someone you’re taking a 15 min nap and have someone come get you. It makes everything run smooth and stress-free when there’s always a line of strong communication being delivered.”

Attentiveness and communication are primary components of teamwork. When hiring production staff, emphasize the need for teamwork. People who stay attentive through the whole shift and understand how to communicate succinctly and amicably. It’s important that a team respects one another. That is not equivalent to liking one another. Your team does not have to be buddy-buddy, but they do need to have a respectful relationship – or else conflict will arise.

Your production team is the backbone of your production company. Take hiring seriously, invest in them, and nurture skills crucial to your production/event.

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About the Author

Wiley Geren
Wiley Geren
Wiley Geren is a writer and huge fan of the film industry. He has substantial experience in writing about video production, management, health and employee safety, and a vast knowledge of film quotes. His goal is to bring relevant news, management advice and technical knowledge to the production field. His work can be found on his website.

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