Interviews can be so stressful at times — for all involved. Waking up early and getting dressed nicely to go meet a stranger about a job. The candidate desperately needed a check two weeks ago and the company needed a manager a month ago. But what are some of the common social media manager interview questions and answers, and how can we make this less routine?
It doesn’t have to be boring or a song that plays on repeat — this is social media and it should be a little fun.
Preparing for a social media job interview is key to everyone having a good experience. We’ve laid out ten long-form questions and ten short ice-breakers to get the conversation going. Split them up, change them, skip them entirely and do as you need to make them the most relevant to your job posting. But whatever you do, don’t skip over being prepared for this meeting.
Remember, this is a chance for a candidate to get to know you and the company as well. The sword cuts both ways. If you want them to prepare, give them that same courtesy.
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10 Common Social Media Manager Interview Questions & Answers
In this section, we’ll be going over some common social media manager interview questions and answers and how you can use them to find the perfect candidate for the job. The questions can be changed up as needed and for the most part, the order doesn’t matter.
1. Looking at our recent social media campaigns, what do you feel is effective and what could be improved?
A few things to keep in mind when asking this question. First, this is an important question because they should have looked at your social media before the interview. Most of the time, social media managers will check out what they’re getting into before bothering to apply. They’ll either think they can continue to do what’s being done, or they’ll tell you they can do it better.
This is pretty standard practice and they’ll probably tell you themselves they’re just nosey. In this instance — good. As a side note — this is why it’s important to know your company’s content when selecting interview questions for a social media manager otherwise you won’t have a clue how valid their answer is and you’re wasting everybody’s time asking.
If they maintain that they didn’t look at your existing accounts, it might come down to how you feel about preparedness. Do you believe them? Is it important to you to have someone who thinks ahead like that? It should be because social networks demand a lot of planning.
Second, unless they’re doing an audition-type interview where the candidate actually sets up a campaign and it’s decided upon beforehand that the company will own the result — don’t use someone’s marketing campaign idea. It’s just poor taste and makes the company look cheap and devious.
A solid answer here will be to explain at least one campaign and the things they noticed about it and why they thought it was effective. They may also go over the finer points of more than one campaign.
The main point being there should be something. Your prospective social media specialist may be a bit nervous to point out things they disagree with because, after all, you are the prospective employer and they don’t want to insult anyone — so give them credit for pointing out the right answers as to why something did work well.
They won’t know the ins and outs of the company and why certain decisions were made to post something one way or another. So what they may think is a mistake may have been intentional. Also, this is a good opportunity to note how the public sees your content. It may have been intentional, but to the world it looks erroneous.
2. Which do you feel is more important for social media marketing, engagement or impressions?
The second of our social media manager questions is to determine what the candidate thinks is the more important metric. This isn’t so much a trick question because either answer could be right but there is an answer that’s the better of the two. It’s still a good look into their mindset.
Both are, of course, important to social media metrics, but of the two, impressions are a number you want to be really high. Engagement is great because people are interacting with your content, but impressions can be subconscious and still effective.
As an example, outside of social media, when you drive home from work and see a billboard, there isn’t some big "like" button to click. But you saw it and now the product is in the back of your mind. Later on, you might grab that brand of beer or call up that pizza place instead of another. All because you had an impression of that ad, even though you didn’t engage. The same idea works when translated into the digital world.
3. When looking at our social media platforms, what would you do differently that would make a noticeable difference?
This question might have been answered by some in question number one (depending on how confident they are in their interview), but if not, this is a follow-up question: "based on the company campaigns across the accounts now — if you took over the work, what would you do that would make a noticeable difference?"
This is a really tough question, especially for ones that didn’t prepare. There’s a lot that goes into a campaign and even the best of the best can flop here and there (no amount of hashtags can help that). Some stuff just goes viral for unknown reasons.
Look for answers that are either just flat out really good (and again, don’t go stealing them; karma is quick) or look for people who at least showed some preparedness. There are too many variables that go into campaign designs for them to get it spot on but you want to find someone who’s on the right track. They won’t know what you tried that got the most negative comments or what your marketing strategy looks like, but they should have some idea of what your voice or tone is on these platforms.
4. At your last position, what were some of the statistics and metrics you were expected to meet or exceed? Did you have trouble meeting any of those?
We’ve recommended this question because it gives insight into the difference between what they’ve been told is important and what they personally and professionally feel is important to a company. What they tell you here will be an indicator of what they know and what they’ll need to work on or what needs to be done to get them to your company’s standards.
Most people feel weird about answering the second half of that because it requires you to admit when something went wrong. You have a chance to put them at ease and let them know you’re asking in order to better determine the experience they come with.
You should look for a complete answer that talks about metrics that are relevant to the work they’ve done. You can spot people that have less experience because they’ll tend to use less of the industry lingo. Social media is pretty consistent across the board in terms of names and acronyms for things (CTA, CTR, CPC, B2B, KPI and more). There are a few proprietary or company-specific names for metrics and whatnot but this should be a good way to spot people with less experience than they claim.
The second question should be answered honestly, but it’s nice when they get creative to try to answer. Don’t discount people who don’t tell you about a total defeat and instead have a more creative answer. It takes a lot of courage to admit mistakes, but it takes strength to fix the mistake and if they did so, give them credit.
5. Of all of the platforms available, which do you have the least or weakest experience with?
You may wish to clarify that you’re asking about their work experience with platforms, or they might go on about their personal Ryan Reynolds Pinterest account. What social platforms and the type of content they’re familiar with. What gets posted on Twitter is going to (hopefully) be pretty different than Instagram or TikTok. Digital marketing has many far-reaching corners, so it’s important to see if their experience matches up to your social media strategy or if they can be trained to do it as it pertains to your company’s job description for that position.
Look for answers specific to social media profiles on popular platforms and apps or sites used to schedule posts. Strategists typically rely on apps like these to help schedule, use templates, track social media trends, investigate demographic information, etc. Things like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer and the like are what you’ll want to hear. But you may also get a few things like Canva or some other visual media processing app or site.
6. Tell us an example of your most successful campaign and your least successful campaign. What went right and what could have been done differently?
At this point in the interview, you’ve really opened the taps on questions and the conversation should be flowing nicely. This will be a pretty in-depth answer as it requires discussing campaigns that went right and wrong and what they got out of it.
Because this is a two-pronged question, there’s one small thing you can do as a simple test; measure their ability to multitask and prioritize information. They can ask for the prompt as many times as they’d like (within reason) but don’t openly remind them of the second half of the question.
Can they answer a long-form question and still remember there’s a second half? Can they remember to do tasks on the job and still get other things done without having to be prompted? Do they have trouble accepting assignments or getting information all at once? How do they overcome receiving detailed or complicated instructions and to get everything done properly? This is necessary to know because customers don’t always ask one thing at a time and when there’s more than one customer, your candidate needs to be able to juggle it all at once.
Plus, the very obvious — they are, in fact, telling you about good and bad campaigns and how they did them and what they learned. Lots to look out for on this one.
7. Social media complaints scenario
Here’s the situation. Customers on Twitter are reporting several technical issues with the site or app. People on Facebook are reporting billing issues. And on Instagram, you are getting negative feedback about the overall site or app. How do you tackle all of this at once in the most efficient way to satisfy the largest number of customers?
Sometimes a social media crisis strikes seemingly out of nowhere. The company’s brand is on the line with every social media channel known to man. Algorithms working overtime and your target audience waiting for your expert hand to bring world peace while bearing in mind company culture. So how do you save your social media presence from damnation, continue to bring brand awareness, keep the influencers happy and keep your social media manager job?
Oh, man… Just wait until you hear the answers you’ll get to this question. You can change it up however you like as long as there are at least three issues/platforms and it’s realistic. Even wrong answers will be very insightful. Most people go into frantic answers that keep them busier than a one-armed monkey with two bananas.
You may have guessed — yes, this is a bit of a trick question. The answers you may get are often some head-scratching followed by a heroic story of how they’d tackle each task and their reasoning for solving them in that order. You might get complete chaos. You might get people to answer each item in the order they were asked. But the truth is, in this situation — you ask for help. Yep. That’s it. Ask for help.
Even if only one person does the job, you need to ask for help if things go this far south. Once you reveal the answer to your candidate, they may feel a little silly for trying to play the hero and solve everything but it does show a lot about their thought process and level of independence. That’s wonderful. But if it goes this badly, the best course of action is to ask for assistance. As things are resolved, the person running the accounts can contact the customers to maintain the brand’s "voice" but the task of resolving multiple issues gets broken up.
The takeaway for them is that they don’t have to be perfect and that asking for help isn’t weak. The takeaway for you as a hiring manager is knowing what their problem-solving skills look like. Did they stay calm? Did they get stressed out? Did they get the answer well? Maybe they’ve heard this before. Take note of their answer because it speaks volumes about the candidate and their experience.
8. Which company’s social media accounts do you admire and why?
From a personal and business mindset, this is a great way to gather information about your candidate and what they find interesting. They may have a more professional take on business social media, but like a little chaos and silliness in their personal lives.
There are an endless number of answers to give here but it’s always a treat to rummage through the mind of the person you’re interviewing to see what they think is successful. Is it the number of followers or how much engagement a company gets? The number of famous people that follow? The content itself?
Along the way, someone will inevitably answer with Wendy’s Twitter. Just be ready. Anyone in the industry knows they have a huge following because "Wendy" doesn’t take nothin’ from nobody on Twitter. She’s the roastmaster of fresh-never-frozen Tweets. The comeback queen. It’s become a thing and people are crazy about it. She’s a gal who says what she thinks and having built a massive audience in the process even has other blue checked companies begging for her to roast them.
Note from the author: Can you tell my favorite account to follow…
9. What makes you want to manage social media for our company?
This one’s pretty straightforward and is a great way to find out what brought them to you in the first place. Since every company runs its accounts differently and the company itself has its own pros and cons, the answer could go anywhere.
They may have a general love for social media work but your company has certain benefits they really want. Or, you may have a pretty standard benefits package but your social media accounts might produce a lot of informal-style interactions with customers, which feels more organic and less uptight. An irreverent style that’s really attractive to your candidate because it does the job but isn’t so stiff and unapproachable. Or something else entirely.
The answer you want should actually pertain to your company and its accounts. Obvious standalone answers about pay (at an inopportune moment) or making no mention of something specific about what you’re offering gives off a vibe that they don’t actually care that it’s your accounts they’d be running. Just that it’s someone’s accounts and there’s a paycheck at the end.
10. How does social media affect SEO?
This is a bit of a debate in the social media game and isn’t intended to be a trick question — it just happens to go both ways. The question is, does social media have any effect on SEO and if it does, how so?
The overall answer is that social media doesn’t really affect SEO all that much. The debated part is where it may have some sort of effect and where we get into backlinks/dofollow links etc. Search engines don’t consider social media for backlinks, but they do have an effect on domain authority.
Facebook, for example, uses nofollow links (and thus not helpful to SEO), but it’s an important website and it’s lousy with organic traffic from direct links, which is taken into consideration. Customers using URLs direct from a post can amp up how important pages seem to search engines. So in a very indirect way, it has a role in SEO. But this should never be your first or only choice for SEO efforts.
This will either be a topic they’re familiar with and can tell you as much as we’ve said here, or they won’t know much about it other than if it does or doesn’t help SEO. We’ve listed it as number ten because if asked, it can show the level of experience they have with a more follow-up-type question. This shouldn’t be the first thing you sit down and ask or they might feel like they just walked into the worst interview of their life.
Breaking the ice: warmup interview questions to ask a social media manager.
In this section, we’ve got some rather simple questions to ask when hiring a social media manager to get the ball rolling. These can be asked in any order, of course, and you may choose to ask them upfront before the long-form questions. You can also do some before and some after — it can be nice to have some not-so-serious topics to start off on and some easy questions to end things on.
- What led or prompted you to work in social media management?
- How long have you worked in the Industry?
- What’s your favorite thing about this line of work?
- What’s your least favorite thing about this line of work?
- What metrics, if any, are most important to you in social media?
- How do you keep up-to-date with trends on so many different account platforms?
- Who’s your favorite influencer and why?
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of work?
- Is there such a thing as too much scrolling on social media?
- What’s the average weight of a panda bear?
Why it’s important to prep social media coordinator interview questions upfront
During your planning process, selecting the right interview questions for social media coordinators is extremely important. Not everyone should be asking the same questions to candidates.
A library network’s accounts are going to be vastly different from a nightclub’s social media, but they have similarities in some spaces. It’s important to prepare these questions ahead of time so you can get the most out of each interview and not waste time on topics that may not matter to every field. Also, if you’re touting a job where time management is key, you probably shouldn’t be wasting yours or the candidates.
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Our conclusion on social media interview questions
When thinking of questions to ask social media manager applicants, the list can go on for days and days. Think about what your company aims to do with its social media accounts and what target audience it aims to serve. Who would be the best person for that job? Once you determine what those needs are and what kind of previous experience may be required, it becomes clear what questions should be asked. Even one’s not on this list.
This list is a great place to start for most hiring managers to build from and make their own.
What skills are required to be a social media manager?
Being a social media manager, like being a bartender or hairstylist, requires many different skills. Time management, creativity, problem-solving, being self-driven, independent thinking and a desire to stand out. Working with customers is only part of the job and people expect you to get it right 100% of the time.
What is the most important thing a social media manager should be doing?
Arguably the most important thing a social media manager should be doing is creating and planning content. Without this happening constantly, there's nothing for the audience to engage or connect with. The manager will be responsible for a lot of things but content creation never quits.
What do you need to get a job in social media?
Getting a social media job will depend on the company. Most companies require the skills listed in the two questions above, such as good time management, independent thinking and creativity, with a drive to constantly create original content. Some employers may require a degree or some sort of professional experience.