7 Keys to Nailing Your Next Salesforce Admin Job Interview
You’ve done the work, built experience, maybe passed a certification, and after applying for countless positions, you finally get that beautiful and elusive message.
“We’d like to set up an interview for you with our hiring manager.”
Great! Now what?
This article provides 7 key tips for crushing your next Salesforce Admin job interview.
1. Know the Company
One important lesson for every young and aspiring Salesforce administrator is to thoroughly understand the business needs of your customer. Our job as admins is to know the capabilities of Salesforce, and to leverage those capabilities to help the business run faster, better, more efficiently, and more easily. This isn’t possible without knowing the business requirements.
Read as much as possible about the company. Look for their mission statement. Study their products and services. You don’t need to be a subject matter expert, but interviewers will naturally evaluate your ability to understand their business concepts and apply your knowledge to help them solve for their use cases.
Lastly, look on social media and news outlets for recent stories related to the company. Perhaps the organization is opening a new location or increasing headcount. The company may have a new product or service. Industry-specific news can be beneficial as well. Come to the interview armed with knowledge about the company and show to the interviewer that this position is important to you.
2. Be Honest
It’s critical during the hiring process that you stay true to yourself, without underselling or overselling your experience and skill. This section focuses on the former, so here let’s look at not overselling. Hiring Managers don’t expect that a candidate will be an expert at every facet of the position. There’s no reason to claim a level of expertise that is not real. The truth will eventually show during the hiring process or once on board, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
It can be just as valuable to demonstrate that you know how to gain that experience. For example, a Salesforce position at a financial institution may list “nCino” as a desired, but not required skill. If you don’t have nCino experience, don’t claim that you do. On the other hand, a flat “no” to nCino experience is not a great answer either. Here’s an alternative approach:
“I did some research on nCino, since I don’t have formal experience in that area. I found that the company has nCino University and a strong knowledge community. From what I read and watched, the system utilizes user-friendly routes and an excellent document manager to make bankers’ jobs easier.”
All of that information is quick and easy to find online in under 15 minutes. Similar info is available for most Salesforce applications and plug-ins. The Hiring Manager will value this type of response as it shows initiative and demonstrates that you can speak the lingo.
Truthfulness is also very important when describing tenure and experience. It’s fine to include time on Trailhead or count time as a Salesforce user as part of your experience, but stay far away from embellishing the amount of time you’ve been in the ecosystem or working on a specific skill. Since it's pretty easy to debunk false claims, this will get you off on the wrong foot at best, or cost you the position at worst.
3. Craft Your Story
The flipside to this is to not sell yourself short. Each of your experiences are valuable – whether they ended with a success or failure. There are very common questions that come up during the interview process.
- Here are just a few:
- What is your long-term plan if you were to be hired for this position?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you handled it
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with the team/majority and how you handled it
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss and how you handled it
- What is the best thing you’ve built/designed in Salesforce?
- Tell me about a team project you worked on (in Salesforce)
This is just a cross-section of the types of questions you can expect to find. These questions give you an opportunity to share your experience and also demonstrate your personality. Remember that managers want the best person for the job, and that also includes someone that they like and want to work with day after day.
As you think through answers to these questions, craft a story that shows your contribution. This translates well into what they can expect if you join the team. Demonstrate your ability to learn and be teachable, as well as taking responsibility and owning mistakes that happen. Make sure you have examples of successes and failures, and importantly what you learned from each situation.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Like anything else in life, more reps will yield better results. Practicing an interview is just as important as baseball practice or piano lessons. The more you do it, the better you get. And the more comfortable you will become.
One technique is to find a friend or mentor who is willing to play the role of interviewer. Ask them to take different approaches with each iteration. It’s not a bad idea to start out with an easy interview, just to get the words out. Then go through the practice interview with different questions, demeanors, and follow-up questions. Be careful that as you rehearse your best answers that they don’t begin to sound rote or scripted!
Another great option to get experience is to do actual interviews. This can be easier said than done since it often takes several applications to get a single interview. However, keep this in mind and avoid declining an interview, even if it’s not your dream job. Real interview situations are incredibly valuable in gaining confidence and experience for when the important interview comes around.
5. Understand the Interview Process
Companies have a wide variety of different processes for hiring new candidates. It is important to understand how these work so you know what to expect.
- Organizations typically use some or all of the components below.
- HR Screener Call – this is completed with a recruiter or other HR specialist. They are typically looking to make sure they have accurate resume and background data, and ensure that mandatory requirements are met (for example, they may require a Salesforce Admin Certification – on this call they will confirm that you have it). There are sometimes “company culture” discussions to make sure that you are a good fit for the company in general before passing to a hiring manager.
- Hiring Manager Call – this is often completed in a one-on-one environment. In modern times, this is also frequently done via Zoom or phone call. All of the interview steps are important, but there is no question that this one weighs very heavily. First impressions on this call will impact the entire rest of the process. Keep in mind that the hiring manager may not be an expert on Salesforce himself/herself. They might be an IT Manager or Director who is responsible for multiple applications. They may manage a full Salesforce team. It could also be a non-technical leader in a Sales or Marketing team, where a Salesforce Admin is the direct report. It’s not a bad idea to ask them their Salesforce background so you can tailor your answers appropriately.
- Hiring Manager’s Supervisor Call – many times, the hiring manager’s direct supervisor will also be involved as a second interview. This may be conducted with the hiring manager involved, or in a one-on-one setting. The Hiring Manager will definitely give his/her feedback based on the initial interview, so doing well there will go a long way to setting up the second call for success. Keep in mind that leadership at different levels may have differing factors that they find most important. A hiring manager may be very interested in an employee who is knowledgeable, trainable, and reliable. Their boss might value those things, but they may be more focused on cost management and efficiency. Make sure to gain understanding of their hot button issues independently from previous interviews.
- Group/Panel Call – aside from the direct chain of command, Salesforce admins may be involved in a group or panel call. The group will often consist of the hiring manager and other key individuals that will be frequent collaborators if hired. This might include a Project Manager or Business Owner. The Project Manager might be involved in several different areas, and Salesforce is just one of them. The Business Owner often comes from departments like Sales, Marketing, Operations, or Customer Service, and they will represent these parts of the business on any Salesforce-related project. Make sure that you intently answer each person’s questions and avoid being fixated on one individual over another.
- Peer Call – for teams that include multiple Salesforce team members (admins, developers, business analysts, managers), it’s not uncommon to have an interview with another non-managerial team member. This is a good way to get a feel for the team and culture in the department. Keep in mind that individuals selected for Peer Interviews are often highly trusted team members, so their input will likely weigh heavily in the Hiring Manager’s decision.
- Practical Exercise / Scenario / Test – companies want to know that you can walk the walk. A practical exercise is a common way to test this out. It may be conducted in your own free time or presented as a Scenario-based interview question. In both cases, take your time, think it through, and give well thought out answers and solutions. For scenario-based questions, your thought process may be just as important as your conclusion.
6. Ask Great Questions
The interview is a chance for you to evaluate the company just as they evaluate you. Come prepared with thoughtful questions. The questions should demonstrate your understanding of the organization and how you can contribute.
- Here are a few example questions specifically for Salesforce Admins.
- How many users are in the organization right now?
- Is the company looking to add to that/grow that number?
- What applications does Salesforce integrate with?
- What types of licenses does the organization use?
- What are the biggest Salesforce-related challenges the company faces right now?
- How can I help to solve those?
After researching the company, you should generate additional questions that pertain to the company. Also, throughout the course of the interview, new questions will naturally arise. Steer clear of money-related questions on the first interview. The compensation conversation will typically come later in the process, and keep in mind that you can always accept, decline, or counter if an offer is made.
7. Dress to Impress . . . and Wear Pants
As a general rule of thumb, always dress for the position you want, not the position you have. Even if the interviewer is wearing jeans and a Star Wars t-shirt, represent yourself as a professional. This means business dress in line with the company and role you are applying for. Oftentimes this means dress shirts and pants, work-appropriate dress or suit.
Even though many of these interviews will take place via Zoom, wear the full outfit. There is something about dressing professionally that puts you on your A-Game. Stay away from pairing your sport coat or blouse with your favorite sweatpants. They may not be able to see it, but deep down you will know you’re wearing an elastic waistband!