In the fast-moving world of social media, hiring the right Social Media Intern can bring in much needed new talent who is up-to-date with the latest industry trends. It’s a brilliant way to move the needle on your social media presence to full throttle.

The key to hiring the right person can be a difficult task though. Once the word is out that you are looking for a social media intern, you’ll receive resumes ranging from degreed professionals looking for an opportunity to prove their worth, all the way to people who have logged a lot of hours hanging out on Facebook.

So how do you weed out the qualified hopefuls from the multitudes of social savvy hacks? The secret lies in two primary areas, knowing what you expect from your social media intern and asking the right interview questions to secure them.

We’ve hired more than our share of Social Media Interns (some great ones and some not so great ones). Over the years we have refined our list of criteria and interview questions to net exactly who we are looking for in an intern.

Know Their Role

Before you put the word out that you are hiring, you have to be very clear about what you want your Social Media Intern to do. Are you looking for a Social Media Manager, an Engagement Specialist, a Sales Analyst, or something completely different than any of those? Because the term “Social Media Intern” can mean so many things, here are some basic roles your new hire may fill.

  1. Create Fresh Content
    Adding someone new to your team means adding a fresh perspective and fresh new ideas. Count on your social media intern to have a big hand in creating new content to add to your editorial calendar. This means you’ll want an intern who has some experience producing content.
  1. Manage Your Channels
    Given their title, your Social Media Intern is very likely to keep a close eye on your social channels, interacting with your audience and representing your brand. This means they need a strong understanding of all the different channels available to them to digitally market your business.
  1. Research
    Analytics tell you exactly how you are doing. They tell you what articles are generating traffic, which pics are increasing engagement, and what posts are getting the most shares, all of which are important for different reasons. Having someone who is keeping an eye on these details can be a strong asset to your business.
  1. Customer Service
    This may seem like a no brainer, but if your Social Media Manager is going to be actively engaging with your audience online, they have to have great customer service and communication skills.

Asking the Right Questions

You want to make sure your potential new Social Media Intern has the chops to perform the duties you’ve decided you need from them. That means you’ve got to ask the right questions to get to the right person for the job.

  1. Describe the four main social channels. This is a great first question because it gives you an understanding of what the potential intern thinks are the primary social channels (because there are way more than four). This will tell you a lot about their understanding of social media and more importantly, how it relates to your business. This segues nicely into the next question.
  2. What channels do you think are the most relevant to our business and how would you use them to grow our business? Asking this question lets you know that the candidate has a solid grasp on the different platforms and can communicate a strategy as to how he or she will develop each one for you. Obviously, the “correct” answer depends totally upon your goals, but the right hire should be able to rattle off some good information, giving you a great sense of how well they know the major social media channels.
  3. What’s the most impactful piece of content you have written? If you’re asking your social media intern to produce content for you, it’s great to know what they have written (be sure to ask for samples of their writing), and it’s also great to know what they view as “great” content. A great follow up would be for them to explain what makes a piece of social media content great.
  4. Do you have any experience looking at data and analytics? If you’re looking for someone who can research your data, it makes sense that you want someone who has experience in this area. If your Social Media Intern is going to have a learning curve, you don’t want it to be in this area.
  5. Who is your favorite brand/celebrity/product on social media and why? If they say the name of your business (bonus points for kissing up, right?), be sure to ask them to explain why, how long they’ve followed you, etc. What you’re hoping to hear is how familiar they are with the social landscape.

Real world communication skills cannot be underestimated from someone who may represent a big part of the voice of your brand. As you walk through these interview questions, the time you spend with your potential hire will help you determine if they are a right fit for your business and your team. Make the right decision, and you might just have hired your next great marketing employee.