Attending an interview for that dream job can be a pressured environment and a daunting task. I’m sure everyone has heard the age old saying – ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ so I thought it necessary to write up a short post on how to maximise your chances of securing the position you desire.
1. Print off your CV and learn it inside out
This may sound simple and obvious, yet it is one area whereby a lot of my candidates have fell down in the past. Clients will quiz you on the dates of your employment and job responsibilities. As a hiring manager myself, I have interviewed hundreds of potential recruits who couldn’t tell me in detail their most important job functions at a position they worked in two years ago!
2. Research the Interviewers & Company
Whilst I do not encourage you to stalk through their Facebook page and ‘poke’ them, as it were, I would suggest looking on professional social media and networking accounts such as Linkedin, Xing, Viadeo etc and learning their job function, time of employment at the company, mutual connections and also common interests. Who knows, you may have a mutual Salesforce friend in common and they could be someone to help further endorse your skillset and abilities.
Following the company on Linkedin and looking at their latest blog posts and updates is a useful tool for small talk. You want to have a small amount of small talk in your locker to avoid those awkward moments of silence in the lift!
3. Ask Questions & Listen
Whatever you do, if you ask a question, do not talk over the person giving you the answer. Let them finish speaking, show an interest and ask relevant, corresponding questions following on from their response, this way they know you are actively listening.
4. Brush up on Salesforce study material
You may be an expert Salesforce Administrator with 3 years’ advanced experience however many interviewers are not always Salesforce experts themselves so they will revert to basic salesforce questions from ADM201 study material. Don’t get caught out by not knowing the basics! It’s happened multiple times… Think about it, if you have been driving for a few years, how confident would you be on passing your driving test or theory test again? The correct procedure, correct name of a road sign, distance between the car in front etc.
Interviewers remember details, not generalities. For technical focussed interviews the interviewer will want to know the process followed to achieve the technical results, not just the answer to the question.
5. Know your Strengths & Weaknesses
Be honest but try and differentiate yourself. Whatever you do, do not say that you are too organised or you work too hard as one of your weaknesses! Be natural and don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. Interviewers like to see confidence without the bullsh*t. If you are unable to conjure up a weakness then there are various personality tests you can take which may open up your eyes to some home truths. Try out the humanmetrics example.
6. Cross references your CV to the Job spec
There is no such thing as the perfect candidate, so somewhere on the job spec you will find responsibilities or required skills that you haven’t come up against before. An employer can and will pick up on the elements of the job which you may find challenging. Preparing answers as to why you do not have that experience and what you can do to get exposure as quick as possible is key.
Before the interview, put together a list of both your personal and professional achievements and accomplishments. This may include; single handedly managing the technical integration, implementation, customisation and configuring of a Global SFDC implementation (As realistic as this may be) or even climbing Kilimanjaro, running the marathon in under four hours or anything else that is a personal/professional accomplishment to you. Remember, interviewers also want to know who you are as a person, not just as someone who can ‘do the job’.
8. Current/Previous Employers
It is very important that you do not talk about previous/current employers or employees in a bad light. The employer prefers to see you have a professional and respectable outlook on the business/employees as it will give them an insight, albeit it briefly into your personality traits. You can of course have valid reasons for moving on; lack of career development, limited management structure, projects coming to an end etc. Your potential new boss doesn’t need to know that you hate your current boss.
9. Project Information & Questions
Should you be interviewing for a more technical or management focussed role you will be required to give examples of the projects you have worked on/led.
Make sure you refresh your memory around; size of project, duration, technologies included, difficulties (and how you overcame them), objective, your responsibilities etc.
I have also listed a handful of both project and general questions below which tend to come up.
Example questions –
- “Tell me about a difficult Salesforce project you worked on”
- “How does your past experiences make you a suitable candidate for this vacancy?”
- “Tell me about the budgets and duration for the projects that you have worked on”
- “What systems/products do you particularly like to work on?”
- “What applications do you least like to work with, and why?”
- “What do you do to keep up with the latest Salesforce news, releases and updates?”
- “Why don’t you have the Administrator or Developer certifications?”
- “Why should we hire you?”
To summarise, interviewing can be stressful yet the more you prepare the more confident you will feel. The answers will come more naturally as opposed to constantly searching your brain for an answer to a question you know but can’t remember.
On average, Salesforce positions attract between 8 – 12 interviewees through both direct and agency applications, some candidates will be better prepared than others so make sure you do all of the above and more to help secure the position you want.
Bio – Lee Clark is one of Europe’s most experienced specialised Salesforce.com recruiters with five years’ experience placing candidates across Europe in both the End user and Salesforce Partner network.