candidates at a job fair
A community manager is someone who is 50 percent hustle, 40 percent operations maven, 10 percent enthusiastic creative PHOTO: COD Newsroom

Community managers are a highly sought out bunch these days. 

Over the last two years, I’ve worked with hundreds of hiring managers going through the process of hiring their first community manager. 

What I hear from them again and again is that almost all of them feel like this is an impossible task. 

They don’t get enough qualified candidates. Most candidates don’t understand community building (they equate it with content creation or social media marketing). They say that it’s hard to distill their company’s passion for the community they’re trying to foster in one short job posting. 

Hiring a community manager is like finding a unicorn: You’re looking for someone who is 50 percent hustle, 40 percent operations maven, 10 percent enthusiastic creative. 

And you need this person to understand how community works inside of a business, which is a relatively new discipline in and of itself. 

10 Tips for Hiring an Amazing Community Manager

To get the most amazing community managers to apply and to pick the right one to run your community, you have to do your due diligence. These 10 tips will help your hiring process move smoothly: 

1. Establish goals before you hire

Your community manager should not be the one to help you decide goals. If you need that, hire a consultant, then have them help you hire a community manager down the line. 

2. Envision who you want to work with every day

Begin with the end in mind. Before you write up the job description, sit down and think through the following questions: What would this person’s attitude be like? How much trust would they need to give to others? Do they need to be an evangelist out in the field, well-spoken and exuding excitement for your brand? Or can they be more operations-focused and great with written communication? Will they be self-driven builders or someone who keeps things moving along smoothly as they are right now? 

Then write down the bullet points your ideal candidate should match.

3. Write a clear job description

Write up a job description that includes title, the company’s mission and vision, responsibilities and reporting structure. 

Save yourself a lot of time in unanswered questions by getting these details out in the beginning.  

4. Ask for visual proof

Community is all about the passion. Without the passion, no one can succeed in this role. 

Ask applicants to do something that showcases their enthusiasm: create a video of themselves, make art, put together a portfolio of their past work.

5. Ask, 'What project makes you most proud?'

According to HubSpot’s Linsday Kolowitch: “Lou Adler, author of 'The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired' and 'Hire With Your Head,' spent 10 years searching for the single, best interview question that will reveal whether to hire or not hire a candidate — and this was the one.” Look for passion, humility, giving away credit to others (what community is all about) and organization skills. 

6. Ask them to solve a problem

Tell your candidates your goal and ask them to tell you what they would do in the next 30 days to achieve that goal. 

Yes, you’re putting the candidate on the spot. You’re seeing how they work under pressure and also seeing how they think about solving complex problems. It’s likely you don’t want to have to micromanage this person, so they will need to be able to boil big programs into actionable steps. 

7. Look for enthusiasm 

If you can’t feel it in their voice or words, none of your members will either. 

8. Interview at least five candidates 

You’ll want to be able to compare their energy, project management abilities and hustle. 

9. Don’t hire a clone 

A lot of times people look for someone exactly like themselves. The best way to grow is to get new ideas in the room, and you can’t do that if you hire a You 2.0. 

10.  Look within

The best community managers often come from your own community or even internal organization. They have buy-in, understanding of common language and institutional knowledge. 

Bonus Tip: Always be scouting 

Because you’re going to follow tips one through 10 and you’ll do a great job hiring your community manager, they’ll be able to grow your brand community exponentially from this point forward. 

In no time, you’ll need to hire for more roles because they’re demonstrating their success. Don’t start from scratch when you do. File away the great candidates you’ve spoke to this time who just weren’t the right fit for this particular role to see how else they can contribute, keep your community manager evangelizing your organization in their community circles and look toward a bright community future in your organization.