Hiring for a Salesforce Role? Here’s What Not To Do

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Hiring a Salesforce professional can be a long process for both the hiring manager and the candidate. Specialists will hold a critical role in the organization, holding the keys to your Salesforce org, and unlocking its incredible potential for the business.

While it’s often a long process, finding the right fit is worth the time investment. Candidates with Salesforce skills are in demand, which means they expect a positive organizational culture, fair employment conditions, and above all, respect. Respect can take the form of transparency and diversity, as well as whether or not wellbeing is on the organization’s agenda.

There are a number of ‘rookie’ mistakes organizations make during the interview process that can be huge turn-offs for candidates; avoiding these will mean you won’t have to keep starting from ‘square one’.

This article was inspired by a Twitter thread that became the source of the anecdotes featured below – the worse the anecdote, the more red flags it received!

A Disorganized Interview Process

Let’s start with an issue that’s relatively easy to fix. As a Salesforce role often spans multiple departments, it’s common for Salesforce professionals to go through more interviews – both up the org chart, and horizontally across it.

Having multiple interview stages is a safe way to ensure the person you’re hiring is a good fit.
But why can’t some businesses structure their interviews in a way that avoids repeating questions (and wasting everyone’s time)? Get organized and communicate internally to share what was learned about the candidate from one interview to the next.

“When the second set of questions from an interviewer was the same as the first set of questions from someone else who had interviewed me”.

Lack of Communication

Related to disorganization, keeping candidates in the dark is simply not okay. Professionals can be in the interview process for months (one respondent said they’d not heard back in seven months!).

Then make communication more personal. Automated rejection emails only add insult to injury.

Be respectful – you’re essentially stringing candidates along.

Misleading Job Descriptions

This is a hot topic within the Salesforce community. Many Salesforce roles are misinterpreted, and mislabelled job descriptions don’t reflect the roles and responsibilities of the person you actually need to hire.

Salesforce professionals are expected to wear ‘many hats’ and have a range of skills – this has seen the rise of hybrid roles, for example, admin-elopers, admin-ops, marketing technologists, etc.

However, you should expect these ‘hats’ to be within reason. Some skills don’t gel well, or the salary offered for additional responsibilities is grossly underpaid.

Do they feel they can get away with paying one person for the work of three people?

“When you get a sense they want admin-dev-ba and maybe marketing guru on one salary.”

Or, even sneakier, are they tempting someone in with a job description, then revealing the true nature of the role later?

“I was applying for a marketing ops position and they wanted me to spend the first year just sending email blasts every day. No thanks!”

Significant Interview Assignments

Assignments are a sound tactic to validate the candidate can actually work with Salesforce practically – and not just memorize the answers to interview questions.

There needs to be a limit on what you’re actually asking of candidates.

“When I was asked to do a project and prepare an extensive presentation to deliver (which would have taken me 8+ hours). I don’t mind a small assignment that takes ~2 hours as part of a defined and communicated process – if it takes longer than that, you should get paid for it.”

Hints of Overtime

Work hard, play hard – it’s a pretty outdated attitude to have. With such a crucial role, Salesforce professionals may need to work longer hours from time to time, for example, to oversee deployments during quieter hours, or to troubleshoot and fix bugs. Salesforce professionals take great pride in their work, and almost all would hate to leave their colleagues in the lurch with a dysfunctional CRM.

Overtime should be an exception, not the expectation. Burnout is scarily common in technology roles, and there’s been plenty of awareness raised on the topic over the past few years. Individuals are standing up for their work/life balance more than ever, especially as Salesforce themselves advocate wellbeing among their own employees, and encourage that to filter down to their partner network and customers.

Wording such as “above and beyond as standard” will raise red flags!

“Sensing that your prospective employer loves the fact that you have a weakness for working stupidly long hours. I’m just glad I recognized that at the interview stage!”

Poor Morale/Atmosphere

I’ve mentioned the Salesforce community a couple of times so far. This network of Salesforce professionals is unique – everyone is invested in the success of others, and it’s a collaborative, inspiring world to be a part of. Salesforce professionals are excited to do the work they do, so to go from being ‘on a high’ to ‘doom and gloom’ is glaringly obvious.

“My prospective manager did not seem happy. It seemed like they begrudgingly do work they hate for the money. Work isn’t always fun, but jeez.”

Another mission of the community is promoting authenticity (we’ll come to diversity in the next point). Salesforce professionals stand up for what they believe is right – it was only recently that Salesforce made a move to let employees break NDAs to report harassment and discrimination.

A toxic work culture is a major turn-off for Salesforce professionals – so don’t expect to hire one if your culture is in the gutter.

“Being labeled a troublemaker after knowing I call out BS, bullying, and bias instead of being a bystander.”

First impressions are everything.

Lack of Diversity

Equality is one of Salesforce’s core values, which has led them to pioneer multiple initiatives for diversity and inclusion. Representation is so important (i.e. seeing others like you in the workforce):

“Zero women in leadership or on the team.”

“I had been through three rounds of interviews and looked at the folks I was meeting. It looked to be all men. I was told I would be the first female hire in IT, ever (this was not a small company)!”

Inappropriate Personal Questions

This is a fundamental interview no-no, regardless of the industry. However, would you believe that it still happens?

Continuing on the topic of diversity, the Women in Tech movement has encouraged women to pursue careers in technology. Traditionally underrepresented, it was sometimes the result of work burdens that would encroach on other life commitments. Now more than ever, these can easily be accommodated thanks to flexible working, telecommuting, and more.

One Salesforce professional was asked whether a) she had kids, b) if she was planning to have kids, and c) what my career would look like over time if I had kids. I abruptly stopped them, thanked them for their time, told them my reasoning for withdrawing, and hung up.

Let’s all wish that company zero success!

Lack of Transparency

Another of Salesforce’s core values is trust. As a business, Salesforce shares fiscal data – granted, they are a public company.

Salesforce professionals want to know that they’re placing their career bets on a company that is going to succeed. Even though they love a challenge, they don’t want to be pulled down with a sinking ship – which is the impression you’ll give if you’re withholding information:

“The interviewer (COO) wouldn’t disclose the previous FY turnover”.

Problematic Operations and Practices

On the topic of ‘sinking ships’, no one wants to sleepwalk into an endless pit of stress. As I said, Salesforce professionals love a challenge, but not to the extent that they’d feel unsupported, or end up having to unpick a huge mess someone else created.

“I was applying for a marketing ops position. They admitted their data was a mess. They were hoping that one day I could help them do incredible things with Pardot – but not until I sorted out the data.”

If your organization does have problematic practices, of course you should be transparent about that, but ensure that the prospective employee will be sufficiently supported, compensated, and still able to pursue the work that they are passionate about:

“They revealed really problematic practices within their team (building only in production)”.

Summary

Remember that Salesforce professionals are the cornerstone of your organization – without them, your Salesforce org will lie stagnant and become a burden on your evolving business.

The Salesforce community, and the core values of Salesforce themselves, mean that these professionals feel strongly about topics that other professionals may just consider ‘nice to have’.

Some of the ‘rookie’ mistakes that cause individuals to withdraw from the interview process are easy to fix, whereas others will require an intense change in your organizational culture. The investment will pay off when you find the perfect fit for your team.

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