So, you’re ready to hire a community manager. You’ve already answered these three questions. You want someone who will own the relationships with your users, advocate on their behalf, connect them with each other, increase engagement, and increase retention—yup, that’s a community manager, alright!
You’ve identified what type of community manager you need and you have an idea of what kind of person could authentically represent your community. You’ve even posted the job and have a dozen interviews lined up. But how do you distinguish top talent from the rest?
Honestly, it’s pretty hard to hire for community, particularly given that the right person to represent your community might have no formal experience in community management. That perfect person could have three years of experience in community, or he or she might be fresh out of college, or have 10 years experience in a completely different field. The good thing is that many of the tactical skills of community can be taught. The softer skills, however, are that much harder.
These are the questions that I have found are best at identifying true community management talent during interviews:
1. “How do you define a community?”
“Community” as a term is something tossed around in conversation frequently, but few folks have thought to consider what it actually means. Good community talent will have their own opinions and theories and will be able to provide a succinct definition off-hand. Red flag answers will include vague references to social media and content—and community management is not the same as social media.
2. “In what way are you a community person?”
This question allows the interviewee to tell you about what communities they participate in on a daily basis and why they see themselves being a good fit for your role. This question will also draw clear lines between community folks and interviewees who are simply good on Twitter, can manage a support box like a pro, or can throw a fun party. It’s not that these skills are not important or relevant to being a community manager, but what’s more important is that there are true community skills supporting these efforts.
3. “Tell me about a time that you had to advocate on behalf of someone else.”
A major part of the community manager role is advocating on behalf of users, so this question should be a no brainer for anyone you intend to hire. This is also a good question to ask folks who might be transitioning in from another field, as there should be many transferable situations at top of mind ranging from defending younger siblings from bullies to helping a teammate get a promotion. Pay particularly close attention to how they describe the way that they went about pursuing a good outcome—this can be very telling, particularly in its absence.
Most of all, ensure that the person you hire has a strong sense of empathy. They should have the ability to place themselves in the user’s shoes and see the world (or your product/platform/community, etc.) from their eyes.