Most companies looking to hire a community manager are doing so because they don’t have the in-house talent to run their social media program. My recommendation is to hire an experienced recruiter to source 3 – 5 skilled candidates for you to interview. That’s my preference, but I’m biased from working in the staffing industry for the last 17 years. 🙂 If you’re not in a position to work with a recruiter, creating a solid job description – including all the performance metrics that will be in place for the new recruit – will help you write an effective ad and solid interview questions.
Work history – Look for a background in sales, marketing or PR. It doesn’t have to be formally recognized as such, but they should have 3 years or more of getting messages across that are audience focused and lead to some kind of action on the part of a prospect. The resume should be full of live links to their LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Google+, and blog. Social media mavens will insist that you find them online and will want to friend, join, follow, or circle you. If those terms are unfamiliar or scary to you — don’t worry. They’re good things.
Online presence – Do an in-depth search on the candidates that look like possibilities. You should be able to find their online profiles easily by entering their name in a Google search.
- Positive signs of social media engagement – Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter – All current and active. Look at the frequency of tweets or LinkedIn status updates. Are they engaging with their community? Their LinkedIn profile should be complete, with 300+ contacts. You’re looking for a professional connector, right?
- Not so positive signs of social media engagement – Hidden profiles could signal either a lack of understanding of the benefit of being socially present, which is a problem if you’re seeking work as a social media community manager, or it could signal that the candidate has made their profiles private due to inappropriate online activity — also a problem. You should be able to see basic information at the very least. Note: this is only a red flag because of the specific nature of the position they’ve applied for (social media community manager). This would not be a bona fide job requirement for any other position.
- Inactive blog(s) – Run, don’t walk. Any community manager worth their salt knows that an inactive blog left on the ‘net is the professional equivalent of having an expired license on the office wall in a broken frame. Caked in dust. Hanging off kilter.
- Program focus – Ask to see examples of successful social media programs they’ve worked on. You want the candidate to show you material that built the corporate brand, not their personal brand. Ask them to talk to you about the objectives of the campaign. How did they measure results? Did they achieve what they set out to do? Did they have to make any course corrections?
- Social listening – Ask candidates to show you how they would set up a social listening post for your brand. If you can put them in front of a computer, so much the better. This will allow your candidates to demonstrate their understanding of this important skill. Just as your best sales people are superb listeners, the same holds true with community managers. They should spend at least 25% of their time keeping up with audience concerns and chatter.
- Accountability – Do they have a history of delivering on assigned objectives? What are their coping strategies for overwhelm or lack of clarity?
You may also want to pick a few questions from this interview document I prepared.
Have fun recruiting. I hope you get to meet some great new people and enjoy the process.
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