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Increasing the Likelihood of High-Performing Content Moderation Teams at the Hiring Stage

By April 30, 2024No Comments


In Trust and Safety content moderation, it is imperative that we are hiring the best candidates for the role. The role of a Content Moderator is both technically and psychologically challenging. Moderators employ several higher cognitive functions including concept acquisition, evaluative thinking, systematic decision making, and rule usage, as well as operating technical systems and tools to successfully navigate their role responsibilities. Ensuring high-performance amongst moderation teams starts at the hiring stage, so we need to deeply consider how we can ensure we are not only finding the right candidates, but also setting them up for future success from the start of their career journey. 

Job Specifications 

Sourcing the right candidates for a role in content moderation relies on job specifications that are sufficiently detailed for applicants to make an informed decision about entering a role that places them at higher risk of psychological harm. Advertisements should be equally transparent about the nature of the role and exposure to potentially harmful materials, as well as attractive to potential applicants. A strong profile for a Content Moderator is often tied to their language skills, knowledge of a specific region or market, their ability to cope with viewing potentially harmful content, team-working and independent working skills, and their higher cognitive abilities. However, many of these skills are often missed in job specifications. 

Additionally, the imperative for engagement in wellbeing services as part of their role responsibilities is often unacknowledged in job specifications. While many companies highlight that there are wellbeing supports available as part of the role, there is often a lack of detail in how exposure to egregious content necessitates engaging in these supports regularly to be successful as a Content Moderator. Making this clear in a job specification will not only ensure potential candidates understand their responsibility to take care of their psychological health and wellbeing – it can also highlight to candidates that the company takes wellbeing seriously and that they can rely on their potential new employer to safeguard them from any harm.  

Finally, job specifications should be attractive to applicants – as with any other role in the market. Helping applicants understand the real-world impact they can have in this role by keeping online users safe from harms is key to finding candidates with the right motivations for entering this career and retaining them longer-term. A strong moderation team will drive the success of the business but, more importantly, it is a necessary job to keep online spaces safe and friendly for users globally. 

Your recruiters are your best asset at this stage. They can have a conversation with potential candidates to determine if they have the right language skills, technical knowledge, or motivation for the role. They can also reiterate the need to engage in wellbeing supports as part of the role and screen out any applicants who clearly dismiss these supports as unnecessary. 

Resiliency Skills and Higher Cognitive Abilities 

In the Trust and Safety industry, candidate screening can be more complex because we are not only looking for a specific skillset, but we are also looking for candidates that are less susceptible to psychological harm. No company is seeking candidates for Content Moderator roles without considering how the job will impact their psychological health and wellbeing. Screening for resiliency is standard nowadays however, whether we are screening for the right ability and asking the right screening questions is the real question. 

One can argue that since a large part of Content Moderators’ success depends on their ability to cope with viewing potentially harmful materials online, it would be logical to screen for resilience – or the ability to adapt and bounce back after stressful events. Resilience skills however, can be learned therefore, we should be screening for the potential and the motivation to learn resiliency skills throughout the career journey, rather than focusing on current level of resiliency. 

As previously discussed, strong profiles of Content Moderators are also individuals that can operate higher cognitive functions. These are skills that can be tested. Whether you design an automated system that can bring candidates through a testing model, or you outsource an organization to do this for you, ensuring potential candidates have these skills at their disposal will ensure their success and performance. 

Interviewing Candidates 

When interviewing candidates who have been appropriately screened for a Trust and Safety role, asking the right questions is imperative. Hiring managers should be equipped with a question set that covers all competencies required for such a role and be prepared to respond to questions about the specific responsibilities of the job and the wellbeing supports available. 

Just as a job specification should be transparent, clear, and attractive, the interview process should echo the same sentiments. Questions should allow potential candidates to understand what skillsets they can bring to the table that will benefit the organization. In Trust and Safety, certain attributes can be gleaned from how a candidate responds. Are potential candidates sufficiently self-aware? This is a good indicator of their ability to adapt and learn resiliency skills. Are potential candidates excited about the opportunity to contribute to a global effort to make the internet a safer place? This would indicate a strong motivational fit.  

From a technical standpoint: have they worked in a similar role before, where they can outline how they have used higher cognitive skills like concept acquisition and rule usage in their decision-making processes? These will be necessary when reviewing content violations against platform policies. If not, what other transferable skills can they highlight in their responses? 

The interview stage is also a great time to reiterate the importance of engaging in wellbeing supports as part of the Content Moderator role. Are there questions you can design that test whether someone is likely to engage in support-seeking behaviors? That they understand the complex and ambiguous nature of the job – and that wellbeing supports are in place to help them succeed? 


There are many parts of a recruitment and screening process for Content Moderators that require careful consideration, starting with the job specification. Each Trust and Safety team will naturally be sourcing candidates with certain strengths and skills that match the specific role they are hiring for. In general, though, a content moderation role is complex and often ambiguous which requires the use of higher cognitive functions to succeed.  

Should your organization require guidance on your recruitment process, do not hesitate to reach out to Zevo Health and organize a call with our Trust and Safety Solutions Directors. We offer recruitment consultancy services that include assessment of your current strategy, tailored recommendations based on your organizations’ needs, workshops with hiring teams, and resource booklets that can be reviewed time and again. 


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