When you hit the snooze button over and over, you’ve used up your sick days, and the mere idea of going to work gives you a migraine – it might just be time to hit up Seek and shop around for what else is on the market.
Social media is a broad industry – covering customer care, community management, marketing and more. What curly questions are recruiters and interviewers are going to ask when you go for a new social media role?
Let’s break down some of the things you should keep in mind if you’re hitting the interview scene and going for a new social media gig this year.
Before The Interview
“Send me your resume.”
The first thing you need to do is update your resume regarding your social media experience: Consider the skills you’ve acquired in your most recent job – can you add content creation, community management, crisis management, campaign execution, campaign planning, Facebook ad management, social media listening?
It’s useful to look back over your recent job and think about every project you worked on that wasn’t ‘business as usual’ – what where the special events or campaigns you worked on? Make a list of them, because they will be useful to think about in terms of the skills you’ve acquired. Add them to your resume, or keep them in mind for examples to interview questions.
“Show me a sample of your work.”
On top of your resume, you need to consider your portfolio. It might seem strange to have a portfolio of social media posts, but employers will want to proof that you know how to create content for social media from the perspective of a brand, not just your personal accounts.
Take screengrabs of great posts you’ve made, especially those with high interactions. If you have samples where you’ve created content using different tones of voice, it is great to add those, too.
Some employers are even keen to see examples of things like content plans. You could even consider creating a sample content plan or promotional plan to show that you know how to plan strategically.
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“Tell me about yourself…”
The essentials for any job interview are your classic ‘tell me about yourself’, ‘what are your strengths’ and ‘what are your weaknesses’ questions. There are plenty of places across the internet which cover these doozies – so don’t overlook them.
Practice saying them out loud to get used to feeling comfortable speaking about yourself where you show off your strengths.
“What social network do you use in your spare time?”
This question can be used as a get-to-know-you question so the interviewer can see the kind of person you are – are you into Tumblr, Reddit or Instagram? This can be a tricky one because you want to seem like you know how to use a variety of social networks for work, but also represent yourself as someone with a personality.
One way to tackle this one is to ask how you use the social networks differently in your work and private life. Perhaps your answer in the interview could state that you enjoy using x, y, z for work, but on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll unwind with z.
“By how much did your social media channels grow when you managed the account?”
New employers want to know that they are hiring someone who knows that they’re doing, and one of the easiest ways to see this is to look at data: did an account grow when you were running it? By how much?
This question is a tricky one to find out after you leave your job and can’t access your analytics, so look into it before you leave. It’s also a good one to list on your resume.
“What was the most successful campaign you worked on in your last role?”
Think about the list of projects you worked on which is outside of the realm of ‘business as usual’ – how did you contribute to making them a success? Your campaign might be a launch of a product, a competition, and live Q and A – or maybe a series of posts to promote engagement over Christmas.
Think about what the campaign was, and reflect on what you did to help contribute to its success. Did you plan the campaign, did you target particular groups for outreach, did you manage the budget for ads?
The easiest way to show success is to relay tangible results: it might be the number or new followers, or whether you met your goals set before running the campaign.
In the interview, your interviewers will want to know what was one key takeaway of the campaign. Even if it wasn’t ‘a success’ in terms of metrics – what did you learn from the campaign?
“What was your biggest achievement when running those accounts?”
You might get asked some of the classic go-to interview questions like ‘what has been your greatest achievement’ – but framed in terms of your previous job’s social media accounts.
Think about ‘what was your greatest achievement when running those social media accounts?’ Thinking about your channel growth and campaigns you executed can be a good way to frame your thinking for this question.
“What was your biggest challenge when running those accounts?”
Similarly, this classic interview question can be tweaked to focus on your social media experience.
This question could be an excellent opportunity to show off how you managed a social media crisis – keeping the nitty gritty details discreet if needed.
Otherwise, it’s a great way to talk about a successful campaign you ran, amidst time or financial pressures.
“How would you launch our new campaign with no money just using social media?”
Everyone is looking for someone who can pull a rabbit out of a hat and can make a campaign “go viral” without spending any money.
Be prepared for a question like this and highlight how you’ve run campaigns like this in the past – touching on things like leveraging partnerships, community outreach and what tactics you used across your owned promotional channels. (If you’re after a refresher, here’s my blog with 12 tactics for running a campaign for free.)
“What’s been your favourite social media campaign this year?”
If you’re going for an interview in social media marketing role rather than a community management role, it’s important to keep this in mind that your future employers will want to see that you’re mindful of other campaigns – researching them, critiquing them and thinking how they could be improved.
It’s worth regularly keeping your head across sites like Campaign Brief to see what social media campaigns have been run creatively and effectively over the past few years to keep these top of mind.
“How would you manage a social media crisis?”
If your role is a more community management focused role, you should show that you’re cool-headed and logical in a crisis if this question comes up. This question is really about filtering out the cowboys.
To answer this one, reassure your interviewees that you don’t go all rage-keyboard when the pressure is on. Let them know that you would refer to their issue escalation procedure, pass it on to their manager, prepare a statement, have it workshopped with whichever parties are involved before posting promptly. You could point out the things you would not do: you wouldn’t delete or block the posts, and you wouldn’t respond immediately if it’s a red-flag issue without looping the relevant parties.
“What’s the next big social media network?”
This is a question that isn’t exactly a trick question – but it is one which is used to gauge how much you know about the social media industry.
To answer this question, you don’t explicitly need to name ‘the next big social network’ – but you do need to show that you understand the social media industry in it’s current state.
It can be useful to check out blogs looking at social media trends or predictions for the year to get some ideas of what the key trends are – which networks are growing for which specific demographics. To be even more impressive, consider if these trends would relate to the company you’re interviewing at.
A final word…
In the interview, not everyone will be a social media specialist. It might be HR, or marketing or sales, who may be kickass at their role, but not a social media specialist (which is why they are interviewing you, right?).
In these cases, it might be useful to be mindful of jargon and emphasize how you think. Frame your responses with objectives, approaches and results, like “our campaign goals were x, I did y to achieve this, and the result was z.”
It’s important to show that you are a social media specialist but don’t fall into the “IT Guy” stereotype of being such a specialist that you can’t communicate with those outside your specialty – because, in the end, much of social media is communicating with other departments.
Remember that interviews are a two-way street – you’re finding out if it’s the kind of place that reflects your desired working environment.
In the interview, use the opportunity to get to know your interviewers, see if you like them and the culture of the organization. And don’t forget to be yourself – after all, people are looking for a new colleague (not a robot!)
Good luck, and happy job hunting!
About Rachel Beaney
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.