Community Services Manager Interview Questions
Community services managers act as the director of social service programs and coordinate access to social workers, counselors, and probation officers. A community services manager will also coordinate community outreach and events.
The budget for all community services is distributed by the community services manager. As a result, it’s their responsibility to make sure each program uses their funds correctly. Managing fundraising and public relations also fall under the purview of the community services manager.
The community services manager’s responsibilities include:
- Directing fundraising and public outreach
- Overseeing proper use of both public funds and donations
- Overseeing the proper operation of all social services provided by local government
- Coordinating community outreach and events
- Managing recordkeeping
- Training and evaluating paid employees and volunteers in different roles
- Researching and evaluating community needs and implementing plans to meet them
Skills required to be a community services manager include:
- Good interpersonal skills to work closely with employees, volunteers, and the public
- Ability to delegate tasks effectively across multiple departments
- Good recordkeeping skills and fiscal responsibility
- Writing skills for funding proposals
- Ability to analyze the performance of a social program and gauge its effectiveness
Typically, a bachelor’s degree in social work or public administration is required for most positions. Applicants with experience working in social programs at an entry-level position have an advantage over applicants who apply right out of school. In smaller communities, a bachelor’s degree is all that’s required, but in larger organizations, a master’s degree in a social work-related field may be expected.
Salaries for community services managers range between $53K tand $73K with the median being $93K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a community services manager include:
- Degrees (associate's, bachelor's, master's)
- Size and Type of the Organization
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the administrator or supervisor you report to, the size and type of the organization, and number of staff you manage)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Community Services Manager Interview Questions
Question: What is your definition of a community?
Explanation: This is an opening question the interviewer will use to start the conversation, learn more about you, and collect information they can use during the interview.
Example: ”I believe a community is a collection of people with a common cause. They may be grouped together in the same geography, dispersed across the world, made up of a diverse group of people, or not even know each other. The key element is that their interests are the same, and the services I provide will help the entire community.”
Question: Can you discuss your teamwork skills and how they help you as a community services manager?
Explanation: Community services managers must be skilled at leading teams who provide the services the community needs. Effective teamwork and leadership skills are two things the interviewer will be looking for. You should be able to describe how you go about motivating team members and leveraging them to accomplish your goals within the community.
Example: “A community manager is only as good as the team they lead. I believe my ability to communicate our organization’s vision, motivate a team to accomplish it, provide them with the resources they need, and manage the process is critical to our success. I depend on clear and consistent communication, timely evaluation of our progress, and soliciting input from both the team and the community are essential to the success of the projects or programs we implement.”
Question: What measures do you take to manage your personal development as a community services manager?
Explanation: In virtually any profession, continuous improvement and self-development are critical. You should have an ongoing continuing education and development program and be able to discuss it with the interviewer.
Example: ”The field of community services is evolving, and the needs of the community are constantly changing. To stay ahead of this, I make sure I am always learning, and professional development is a consistent part of my work week. I accomplish this through reading appropriate materials and information, meeting with other community services managers, creating development programs for myself and my team, and always soliciting input from the community as to how we could be doing our jobs better.”
Question: How do you measure the success you have achieved in improving a community?
Explanation: When providing community services, it is critical that you track the effectiveness and success of the programs. You should have a methodology for accomplishing this and be able to explain it in detail to the interviewer. You can anticipate follow-up questions since this is an important topic for this role.
Example: ”As a community services manager, I am evaluated on the success of the programs my team and I implement. The organization supplying our funding requires this, and I need to be able to discuss our progress and success in detail. The reports I provide to the stakeholders include detailed statistics of the effectiveness of our programs, anecdotal input from the team and the community, and comparisons to similar programs in other communities.”
Question: As a community manager, how do you deal with challenging issues among your community members?
Explanation: Challenges and conflicts are part of any job. Your response to this question should demonstrate how you effectively deal with conflicts and resolve issues with the community leaders, your team, and, most importantly, the members of the community.
Example: “As a community manager, I constantly encounter conflicts and disagreements with some or all of the stakeholders of our programs. The most effective way to deal with these is to rely on the rules and guidelines which define our organization and the services we provide. These are the bedrock of what we do and can be used to resolve most conflicts when they occur. If we run into an exception, I seek to develop a consensus so that everybody agrees with the resolution we reach.”
Question: Looking back, what would you do differently to improve the communities you developed?
Explanation: This question asks you to reflect on past experiences and make recommendations as to what you would do differently. This is a critical characteristic of anybody in a leadership position. Nobody is perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. Additionally, this demonstrates that you learn from your mistakes and failures, which is a trait an employer appreciates.
Example: “I recognize that in my career, despite my success and achievements, there are things I could’ve done differently and better. Fortunately, I learned from my mistakes and failures and turned them into lessons. An example of this is when we created a website for the community and funded it through advertisements and sponsorships. The members of the committee resented this and felt that to access the services they needed, they had to review the ads. Based on their feedback, we removed the promotions and found a different way to fund the website.”
Question: What have you found to be effective in ensuring community management programs are of appropriate quality and resources are used effectively?
Explanation: This is an operational question with which the interviewer is seeking to understand how you go about performing your job. Operational questions are best answered briefly and directly. The interviewer will ask you additional questions if they need more information or want additional details.
Example: “I have found that the best way to ensure the programs my team and I create and implement for the community are successful is to start with the end. Before doing anything, we solicit the input of the community to determine the greatest needs and what programs would benefit them the most. Once we understand this, we then look at what has already been done in other communities and see if it would apply to ours. If we can’t find something that will work, we create it, based on our experience, what we have learned through our research, and, most importantly, the input of the community.”
Question: How do you go about determining that a community development program’s directions and objectives are appropriate for the goal you are trying to achieve?
Explanation: This is a follow-up to the previous question. Interviewers will often ask follow-up questions to collect more information, dig deeper into the topic you are discussing, or ensure your answers are consistent. You should anticipate follow-up questions every time you provide an answer. Keeping your answers brief and to the point will enable the interviewer to ask follow-up questions.
Example: “Again, the most important factor in determining our programs are effective and meeting the needs of the committee is to solicit input from all the stakeholders. These include the organizations which provide our funding and the members of our team, but most importantly, the community itself. I have found that the community understands its needs and can contribute to the solutions. People who live within the community know the issues they are encountering and have some ideas about how to fix them. Our job then becomes creating programs using their suggestions.”
Question: How do you manage the relationships with civic organizations in your community to improve your ability to meet community needs while avoiding conflicts of interest?
Explanation: This is another operational question in which the interviewer is seeking to determine how you collaborate with other organizations. Collaboration is another key skill of effective leaders. You should be able to discuss your experience doing this or the plans you have going forward to accomplish this goal.
Example: “A community development organization is only as good as the partnerships it creates and the other organizations it collaborates with. I go to great lengths to develop relationships with the leaders of other organizations who contribute to the welfare of the community. I then leverage these relationships to pool our resources for a common goal. This also helps us ensure there is no duplication of programs or services and the resources we have are being used effectively.”
Question: Can you describe an experience in which your ability to work well with others and reconcile differences helped you manage a community development project to successful completion?
Explanation: This is a behavioral question. Behavioral questions seek to understand how you would react to a specific situation you are likely to encounter in this role. Behavioral questions are best answered using the STAR framework. You state the Situation, describe the Task you are trying to accomplish, talk about the Actions you took or will take, and then discuss the Results.
Example: “An example of how I’ve been able to work with others to manage a community program occurred recently. Our team had developed a plan for an after-school program to assist families whose children were alone between when school ended and when their parents came home from work. Our goal was to create a program that was effective, affordable, and inclusive. We started by meeting with the parents and school officials to determine the need and discuss several options to address it. We then used this information to develop a program that we piloted at one school. We made a few adjustments and then expanded the program throughout the community. This helped working parents feel comfortable about where their kids were after school got out.”
Additional Community Services Manager Interview Questions
What social programs have you worked with or volunteered for? What was your experience?
What are the first steps you take when starting a proposal for extra funding?
What factors do you consider when evaluating a program for its effectiveness and efficiency?
What bookkeeping methods do you use to track the use of public funds and donations?
How do you approach organizing community meetings? How do you approach organizing fundraisers?
How do you quantify community engagement?
Have you ever found budgeting for social programs difficult? If so, in what ways?
How do you go about hiring new employees? How do you encourage members of the public to volunteer?
How would you utilize technology and social media in your community engagement efforts?
How do you handle members of the public who have complaints about programs you oversee?
A word of warning when using question lists.
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