>> Does anyone have ideas about the best way to find a moderator?
Personally, I started off with people I knew (online). I guess it could be risky (you could end up with an idiot), but I currently have 5 mods who I only knew online and all have been invaluable to my community over the past few years.
Another option is to simply launch the forum and monitor the top posters for a few weeks / months and see who is likely to hang around and contribute.
You could also post adverts in admin related forums, etc looking for mods (but you really need a fairly active community before you can pique interest).
>> What are the skills to look for?
At least one of the following:
> Industry knowledge
> General web knowledge (web designers and SEOs make decent mods)
> Moderating / Admin experience
>> Can you find volunteers before you develop critical mass?
Sure you can, and although it might be more difficult, they are more likely to stay with you long term.
>> Can you pay someone and still get passionate work?
I guess so. You could certainly ensure that they had a consistant presence on the forums.
Keep in mind, even volunteers could benefit from moderating simply from the publicity and traffic they receive from the forums.
>> Where do you find folks who have a general interest in online community building, rather than a specific interest in one topic?
There are a few dedicated mod / admin communities out there (I'll PM you one I use).
On top of that, if you hang around forums like this long enough you will see the same regular faces popping up in the forum and you will get to know who has a particular interest in each subject area.
Hope this is some help! :)