Interviewing as a Community Manager: Could “Culture” mean “Age?”

Posted on 12 November 2012

As many of you know I left HP a while ago and have been consulting while I look for CM position, hopefully in the gaming industry.  I’m certainly also interviewing for roles outside of the gaming industry, but I’m best if working on projects I find interesting.  My preference is generally to be in a role that interacts with end users.

In regards to job searches and interviewing, things sure have changed over the years.  Gone are the, “come in for an interview” days.  Now it’s 2 or 3 phone screenings…so impersonal, and not the ideal way for a CM to sell themselves.

I’ll share some of my interview experiences here in an attempt to understand the process of hiring a community manager.

Just recently I was invited (after 3 phone screenings) to come into the office for a formal interview, and I was excited because it was for a cool company, doing cool things.  Included in the invitation was a schedule of the people I would be meeting with and a clearly printed sentence that read, “Prepare for the interview to last 7 hours.”

Seven hours seemed a bit extreme, but as I stated earlier it was a cool company so I went with it.  Please comment with your story if you’ve been through a similar, lengthy interview process!

For something so involved I decided to make a dossier which included bio’s of the people interviewing me, position requirements with my notes and questions, company information, and the companies policies with FAQ.  Homework was being done and I was determined to be as prepared as I could be for this running of the gauntlet.  I even took a dry run ride to their offices during rush hour to make sure I could find it and to measure the mileage.

Needless to say, I arrived early was prepared.  The day was progressed quickly, with no gaffes or gremlins that sometimes pop up during interviews.  My notes had served me well so far, we were down four interviews by lunch time.  About 5 minutes into my water and granola bar one of the admin assistants came in and told me that I wasn’t right for the role and I wouldn’t be needed for further interviews.

She escorted me out of the building and I was on my way home.  I was disappointed, but also oddly relieved.
One of the things that kept coming up during the interview was the “culture” of the place and how important “chemistry” was to the group’s process.  It didn’t strike me until I was leaving that my interviewers were in the 25-30 year age range.  Upon reflection the words, “Culture” and “Chemistry,” could have been code words for, “You’re too old.”

It’s not the first time I’ve felt a generational gap with an interviewer and the truth is some interviewers are willing to forgo experience for perceived “chemistry,” to which age could play some factor.  It’s important to note that it usually costs less to hire less experienced people and the potential PR price to pay for that inexperience isn’t as costly as it once was.

Ultimately, I wasn’t hired because the positional expectations of the interviewer weren’t met and I accept that.  If I were amazingly amazing and community spouted from every post I’ve ever made then age wouldn’t be a factor, I get it.

It just makes me think.

As an interviewer, does age play a factor in terms of determining chemistry in your group?

As an interviewee, have you ever felt a generational gap or cultural gap during the interview process?

Oh, and if you’re looking for an experienced community manager let me know…I’m a value!



1 Response to Interviewing as a Community Manager: Could “Culture” mean “Age?”

  • Tera Kristen says:

    I do not think you’re wrong if you felt that. I have worked for many startups as their community manager and I have noticed the same thing. Despite age not being listed on resumes, the dates of schooling and work experience give a good idea. Older people are discriminated against because they are viewed as not being able to make the same time commitment, more risk averse and less comfortable with ambiguity (all things that the younger generation are viewed as more comfortable with).

    I have also heard younger professionals talking about how older people are set in their ways – the things that they learned years ago when they were starting out. Particularly in the marketing industry – things are changing very quickly and old rules and best practices are not as relevent as before.

    I do not agree with age discrimination – our brains are flexible and infinite – anyone who believes that someone 10 or 20 years older can’t do a job as well as someone younger must not have much hope for their future.

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