How to Hire a Community Manager by CMX

If you stumbled across this post, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about or planning to hire a community manager soon.

Whether you’re launching a brand new community or expanding your community team, it’s crucial to find the right fit. You’ve likely spent time building your community. But it only takes minutes to lose the goodwill and reputation that you’ve built. So, you want to make sure the right community professionals join your team.

Community manager is a catch-all title that can mean very different things depending on the company and industry. So it’s essential to get clear up front on what you actually need, and then thoroughly assess your candidates.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • How to craft the actual community manager role you need
  • The top skills you should look for, and how to assess them in an interview
  • Tips for vetting candidates with skills-based tasks

Let’s dive in!

1. How to craft your community manager role 

This might sound obvious, but before you can write an epic community manager job post and start interviewing candidates, you need to get clear on the role.

  • What will this person be responsible for?
  • What are the tasks they will need to do each week?
  • Why does this position matter to your organization? Who does it matter to?
  • What does a successful candidate look like?
  • What’s your budget?

To go deeper on each of these questions, check out 5 Questions to Ask Before you Hire a Community Manager.

One option that many community teams should work through—especially those without a large budget—is whether to hire a full-time community manager, a part-time role, or a freelancer.

If the role is heavy on moderating your customer support forum and social media channels, it might make sense to hire a freelancer or even an agency. On the other hand, if you’re building a new community from scratch, having an experienced community professional in-house makes a lot of sense.

2. The skills should you look for when hiring — and how to assess them

The role of a community manager at most companies is to help connect the community to the brand. They act as an ambassador, foster trust, and build the community’s personality. Most importantly, they need to be a role model for the actions and behaviors you want the community to take.

This means you can’t just hire anyone who’s interested in your brand to lead your community. You need someone that has a specific skill set.

Here are 5 important skills to look for in applicants when hiring your next community manager, plus interview questions to help you assess them.

1. Growth mindset

Ever heard of the “10x Mindset”? It’s a way to subtly change your mindset to think bigger and prioritize initiatives with growth and scale potential. If you only settle for 2x or 3x growth, you’ll typically reach that goal and not push yourself any further.

A good community manager will have a growth-oriented mindset and ideally adopt the 10x Mindset. You want someone that thinks big in terms of goals and progress, not someone that’s satisfied with small wins. Good community managers focus on growth and the big wins that help you scale your community’s impact.

While the questions you ask will vary depending on the specifics of the community role you are hiring for, here are a couple of questions that you can ask your applicants in the interview to assess if they have a growth or fixed mindset:

  • What would you like to achieve in this role within a year?
  • What motivates you to do your job well?
  • What type of work environment do you thrive in?

2. Data-driven

The ideal community manager candidate should be data-driven. The ability to measure engagement and results within your community helps determine what’s working. Even if your community manager will be working with an analytics team, they should be comfortable interpreting data and using it to make decisions.

While any good community manager understands how important it is to listen to your community, sometimes the raw data is more telling than someone’s opinion. This is especially true if you are trying to get additional tools or headcount to scale the community.

The key to identify if the candidate is data-driven is if they include results and metrics in the examples they share during the interview. You can also ask them to share an example of a key project they managed and how they measured its outcome.

3. Empathy

As crucial as it is to understand the data, community managers must also remember that they’re working with real people. Empathy is a quality that goes a long way in managing brand communities. Communities can be made up of many types of personalities, and the community manager will need to understand and effectively communicate with them. They’ll need to see the brand from the audience’s perspective.

Here are some questions that can help you see how empathetic candidates are:

  • Describe the skill(s) and qualities that make you a good fit for this role.
  • What would your current or past colleagues say about working with you?

4. Leadership

A community manager that demonstrates good leadership isn’t just barking orders to their team. A good leader shows integrity, accountability, and focus. They’re willing to work side-by-side with their teammates and effectively manage assigned tasks. They make themselves available for questions and assistance when needed. A true leader is a team player.

Here are some questions that can help you gauge their leadership skills:

  • What are three things you would change about our current community?
  • How would you respond to a negative comment about the product in the community? (You might want to frame this as a role-playing exercise)
  • What would you do if the community wants one thing and your boss wants something else that directly goes against this?

5. Communication

Last but certainly not least, a good community manager is an excellent communicator with strong people skills. Essentially, the community manager is the face of your brand. You need someone that can effectively communicate the brand message to your audience. They need to have strong writing skills and feel comfortable interacting with followers. A good community manager is a natural networker.

In addition, one of the best ways to gauge their communication style and skills is through follow-up questions. When they reply to a question, ask them for examples or stories.

3. Tests or tasks for your community manager applicants 

There are a variety of assessment tests you can give your candidates, from personality tests to cognitive ability and emotional intelligence tests. These types of tests can be given to all candidates, or just your top contenders.

However, a better alternative is to give your top candidates a paid test project. This will allow you to see not only how they think but also what it might be like to work with them. Not to mention, paying for the test project shows candidates that you value their time.

One helpful test you can administer is to have the final 3 candidates each do a mini-audit of your existing community. This will reveal the candidate’s strategic thinking and management skills. It’ll also give you an idea of what they would be tackling first to improve your community if they got the role.

For community moderators or more junior roles, an alternative shorter test project is to have them read and write sample replies to threads in your community. You can cherry-pick older discussions, add them into a Google doc, and see how candidates respond. This allows you to evaluate both their critical thinking and writing skills.

Ready to hire a community manager? Reach our network of community professionals with the CMX Job Board!

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