Social media managers (SMMs) play a pivotal role for any modern brand; they are responsible for much of the business’s external communication and engagement with existing and potential customers.

When it’s time to hire a social media manager, a solid job description and asking the right questions can help you hire a qualified professional who will take your social strategy to the next level.

The following list of social media manager interview questions is a great place to start. We broke it down based on the most important skills and capabilities needed to excel. We also share our thoughts on what to look for in candidates’ answers.

Plus, if you’re a social media manager in search of your next gig, this list can help you prepare for upcoming interviews.

Table of contents

General experience and social media knowledge questions

The first step in most interviews is to understand the candidate’s basic social media knowledge and their general professional experience.

1. What social media accounts have you managed in the past?

This will inform which social platforms the candidate has experience with, what industries they’ve worked in and if they’re used to working with large or small follower bases. Ideally, you want to know that the interviewee has experience in the platforms you use.

While appropriate experience is certainly something to look for in a candidate, depending on the level of the role, it might not be the most critical. Balance the answer to this question with the ones below to achieve a deeper understanding of the individual’s training, drive and critical thinking skills.

2. When given a task you’ve never performed before, what steps do you take to ensure it gets done?

Look for concrete examples of situations where the candidate has actually had to learn something new and avoided letting any major balls drop. Also look for evidence of the candidate’s willingness to ask for help or be self-sufficient—both are good signs they will thoughtfully approach a difficult task.

3. How would you describe our brand?

The answer to this question may give insight into how well the candidate prepared for the interview. Research and a solid understanding of the brand are two critical competencies for good social media managers; if candidates haven’t taken the time to get to know your brand, it could signal a lack of due diligence.

4. What are the defining characteristics of our voice?

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous question. Drill down to see if the candidate has a grasp on how the business’s brand persona speaks. As the person who will be crafting much of this messaging, it is helpful for any applicant to have a cursory knowledge of what that might sound like.

Organization and time management questions

Let’s face it: being a social media manager is way more than crafting witty captions or creating the perfect images. It also requires a healthy dose of project management to stay on top of various contributors, influencers, platforms and accounts. The following questions get to the heart of interviewees’ penchant for organization.

5. This social media role wears a lot of hats. How do you stay organized and prioritize daily tasks?

An ideal answer to this question would include concrete examples of systems and tools the candidate has put in place, and real-world examples of how they come into play in their daily work.

6. Do you currently use any project management tools? Which one(s) and how?

The absolute best answer would be they have deep experience using the tool your department is currently using. But keep in mind that most popular project management tools function fairly similarly. If the candidate shows a strong working knowledge of project management principles—and a history of using these types of tools effectively—you can definitely give them a pass on this question.

7. How do you handle your schedule being interrupted?

This question gets into the nitty gritty of your social media manager candidate’s personality. Many SMMs are detailed, task-oriented individuals who like working with a to-do list or on a set schedule. But, as we all know, things happen. And it’s important to know that any prospective SMM can roll with the punches, when needed.

8. Describe a project or task where you needed to involve other teams. How did you organize and collaborate with your colleagues to complete that project?

Collaborating with stakeholders is a major component of most marketing roles so the ability to work cross-functionally is paramount. Look for a specific, real-world example of a time when the interviewee had to work with people outside their typical team. Especially relevant would be any stories about working with entirely different departments, senior leaders or external collaborators.

Social media content and strategy questions

The following questions seek to uncover whether candidates can go beyond surface-level social media management to support strategy and produce content that drives results.

9. How do you stay on top of the latest trends, innovations and new platforms in social media? Do you have a go-to news outlet or trade publication?

While it might be nice to hear a candidate mention a news outlet or trade publication you also enjoy or follow, the real point of this question is to understand whether they regularly stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry. The social media landscape changes rapidly, and without an up-to-date knowledge of the latest algorithm changes or platform updates, your social strategy could suffer.

10. Based on our current social presence, what content would you recommend developing more of and why?

Here’s an opportunity to take a look under the hood at the kind of social media manager your candidate might be. How much of a risk taker are they? Do they LOVE video? Are they fans of one platform over another? Think about their answers through the lens of what you know to be true to your brand and what has worked well in the past. But also keep in mind that candidates will not be privy to your inside information, so their thought process and reasoning is especially important to consider.

11. Do you have experience working with brand ambassadors or influencers? How have you or would you find and manage those people?

In a creator’s economy, most brands are finding they benefit from partnerships with influencers or brand ambassadors. Experience working with these collaborators is a good sign. If the candidate hasn’t managed these relationships before, see if they know best practices and if they can think of particular influencers who might be a good fit for your brand.

12. Talk about a campaign you managed from start to finish that you’re most proud of. What did you achieve and how?

This is another opportunity to get a taste of how your candidate thinks and how they like to work. You’ll also see how they approach assessing and impacting goals. Are they a planner? Do they regularly look at data and course correct as needed? Are they capable of relating a specific campaign to the larger social and marketing strategies?

13. What are your favorite brands on social? Why?

A candidate’s answer to this question will give insight into a couple of different things: 1) How plugged in they are to the social media landscape, such as whether they know the major players and keep track of them; and 2) What kind of content they are drawn to. If their answers seem far from your social brand, ask probing questions to go deeper into their reasoning and ensure they understand the distinction between these brands’ personas.

Goal-setting questions

Really any position is going to need to be adept at goal setting. But social media, in particular, moves so quickly that it is especially important for SMMs to have a clear line of sight to their goals and how they are progressing against them.

14. Can you describe the process you use to set and track social media goals?

Listen for clues that the individual understands the importance of goal setting and reviewing analytics regularly to keep track of progress. Also see if they understand how those goals impact larger business objectives.

15. In the middle of a campaign, you notice that you’re not pacing to meet your goal. Describe how you’d readjust and the recommendations you’d make to get back on track.

Flexibility can be difficult to identify in a brief interview, but it is one of the most important traits of successful social media managers. Agility based on hard data is an even more critical competency. Take note of how the applicant used data to identify where things went awry and also the plans they put in place to get things back on track.

16. Describe a time when you didn’t achieve a goal. What did you learn from that and how did you apply that lesson moving forward?

The answer to this question can measure professional maturity. How many of us have experienced a career setback or barrier we had to overcome? Even if the applicant is a bit green, this question can help to bring forward how they think and perform when the going gets tough.

Reporting and analytics questions

A major component of social media management is robust reporting and analytics. With so many tools available to aid rich analysis, well-developed data-driven skills like social listening are a hallmark of experienced, well-trained SMMs.

17. Do you have any analytics certifications or experience using analytics tools?

Keep in mind that knowledge of specific tools is less important than a general understanding of how social analytics work. What’s most important is how they use data to optimize campaigns and strategies in the short and long term.

18. What is your approach to social media data analysis?

Here, you should be listening for evidence of a strong blend of critical thinking, data governance and execution skills. Leaning too heavily on only one or two of these pillars can be a sign of an unbalanced social data strategy.

19. How do you translate data into actionable recommendations?

You’re looking for candidates to tell you how they work with social analytics to go beyond just reporting on data trends. Ideally, you want them to demonstrate a data-driven approach to improvement—for example, using social listening to determine key topics to cover or using post performance to decide which days and times to post on social media.

20. What do you think are the most important metrics for measuring ROI on social media?

More than the specific metrics applicants mention, listen for the reasoning behind each of their answers. This can show how well they understand what each metric can tell them about their campaigns and how to use that data to make adjustments.

Communication and collaboration questions

Even if they’re a team of one, social media managers have to communicate with the rest of the company and, more importantly, your customers, so communication skills are super important.

21. Describe your communication and learning styles.

The answer to this prompt can help interviewers determine if the interviewee is a good cultural fit for the team. Listen for clues that the applicant’s working styles would mesh well with the existing team’s practices. Do they use Slack or prefer a lot of meetings? The Meyers-Briggs and DiSC models can provide detailed insight.

22. What do you think is the most important communication skill or quality to have when responding to people on social media?

A major portion of any SMM’s work involves engaging with and responding to a brand’s audience, which requires different skills than the strategy development or content creation aspects of the role. A good answer should address the audience’s needs, include language that jives with the brand’s larger external communications strategy and feels appropriate for the type of customer service you want to be known for.

23. Tell us about a situation where you failed to communicate appropriately. In hindsight, what would you have done differently?

This question seeks to get to the heart of a learning experience born out of failure. We’ve all had them, but the best of us will use those difficult situations to build our professional skill sets and learn how to do things better in the future. Probe for evidence that the applicant has evaluated the event critically and objectively to use it as an opportunity for professional growth.

Questions about challenging situations

As we discussed in the previous question, in the best circumstances, challenging situations can be parlayed into learning experiences that enable growth.

24. Can you talk about a time when you dealt with an upset or angry follower? How did you manage the situation?

These types of situations are some of the most difficult a social media manager will have to deal with. It can feel like a personal attack when a follower sounds off or makes accusations against a brand you manage. A seasoned SMM should be able to look past their own personal feelings to find a response that will make the follower feel heard while upholding the brand’s values.

25. How do you combat burnout/task fatigue?

Burnout is a real risk for many of us in modern workplaces, but social media managers may be especially prone to this malady due to the fast-paced, public-facing nature of their roles. It is important for candidates to have a clear method of self care and resilience that allows them to do their jobs without it affecting their mental health in the long term. Listen for an appreciation of the presence of burnout in today’s workplace and proof they’ve spent time thinking about a plan to sidestep it.

26. Describe a situation in which you changed your approach in the middle of a project. How did you work to implement this change smoothly?

Another question that seeks to uncover an SMM candidate’s ability to be flexible. A good answer will include details about how the candidate identified the problem, used hard data to support their findings and then collaborated with the appropriate team members to adjust the execution successfully.

27. If you receive negative feedback from an employer, colleague or client, how do you manage that feedback and factor it into your work moving forward?

The ability to accept constructive feedback and use it to fuel personal growth is a skill that most of us spend years perfecting. A candidate’s answer to this question can help interviewers get an idea of how they work with other people, how they think about their skills and the ambitions they have for their career future.

Next steps

Now that you have reviewed all of our suggested social media manager interview questions and answers, you’re ready to take your hiring game to the next level.

At Sprout, we want to help companies hire the best social media managers in the business and provide them with the right tools to be successful. If hiring is on your to-do list, download our Build Your Social Media Team [Free Hiring Manager Toolkit] to get our best advice on how to attract, recruit and retain the best talent.