Project Management / Career

23 Salesforce Project Manager Interview Questions

By Lucy Mazalon

A Salesforce Project Manager oversees Salesforce implementation projects (end to end) on a variety of Salesforce “clouds” and levels of complexity. Their priority is to ensure the project is successful – delivered on time and within budget.

Project managers wear many hats and have a wide breadth of Salesforce knowledge, and this needs to be demonstrated in an interview.

What’s Involved?

Salesforce Project Manager interview questions will be designed for you to:

  1. Share real-life experience: Experience is the primary way a hiring manager will assess how you fit the role. Salesforce Project Managers work closely with different stakeholders through the client organization to coordinate the consultancy-side implementation team (management, subject matter experts, consultants, and developers) accordingly. Scenarios where you’ve had a difficult conversation with a customer are valuable – it takes tact to tell a client that what they’re doing isn’t going to meet the project’s objective, and should their project run over time, they will have to dig deeper into their budget.
  2. Demonstrate your organizational skills: You have to show that you’re organized. Sprint plans, RAID logs, and documentation are examples of organized project management.
  3. Prove your Salesforce awareness: You need to know what you’re talking about to some degree. Project team members will vary according to which Salesforce platform products are involved, for example, a Marketing Cloud project will require specialists in that niche. Considerations are related to the products themselves, for example, a CPQ deployment requires a different process to a typical Salesforce deployment. Finally, understanding dependencies in multi-cloud projects will enable you to sequence tasks appropriately to avoid unwanted outcomes.
READ MORE: What Does a Salesforce Project Manager Do?

Section 1: Real-Life Experience

Project management is an art. It’s a profession that is part technical knowledge and part emotional intelligence. Experience on projects will trump any other factors, and it’s the only way to properly earn your seniority.

1. Explain the role of a Project Manager in a Salesforce project-context.

Describe what you do at each stage of the project lifecycle – from identifying stakeholders, discovery/requirements gathering, to sprint planning and delivery. As this may be an opening question, you should put across your enthusiasm for the role.

2. How many projects have you managed? Can you describe some of the projects most relevant to Project Manager responsibilities?

This is to demonstrate what you’ve successfully achieved, as well as how you measured success. Providing examples, or walkthroughs, is essential in this answer.

You can also mention your agile, or waterfall, project management experience (we’ll mention this again).

While Project Managers aren’t always hired based on their industry-specific experience, you could score extra points with the interviewer, when perhaps:

  • The company’s industry requires additional security consideration or has sets of stakeholders that are very different from other industries.
  • You are interviewing for a role at a larger consultancy, where you’re likely to be aligned with an industry.

Even if you don’t have experience working on projects specific to the focal industry, you can still demonstrate that you are capable of pivoting in your answer.

3. In your experience, what are the key components of a successful project?

This is an opportunity to move away from the theory and prove how you’ve supported a successful project. Take the points listed below, as well as others that come to mind, and support these components with examples from projects you’ve worked on:

  • Alignment was established from the outset with relevant stakeholders. Proper discovery, requirements gathering, and project scope/sprint planning all happened and were signed off by stakeholders.
  • Collaboration between team members was smooth – particularly important as remote development teams are more common than not.
  • Project risks were reduced, and undesirable outcomes were brought to “the table”.
  • Prioritization was a key activity, narrowing down the focal requirements (relative to all that organization wanted to achieve, all at once). The project team were consulted on dependencies (particularly to establish the non-negotiables), and as the Project Manager, you worked with the project team to construct a realistic roadmap for taking ongoing project phases into consideration.
  • User acceptance testing took place, with the correct stakeholders involved and resulted in minimal errors.

4. What was the most difficult project you have been involved in?

Projects can be classified as complex for a number of reasons, including (but not restricted to) integrations with other platforms (external to Salesforce), multiple business units (a cross-departmental client project), or play a significant part in the client’s digital transformation (high stakes!).

Once you learn to spot a STAR question (Situation-Task-Actions-Results), they’re easy to answer. Describe the Situation (to set the scene), the purpose of the Task, the Actions you took, and the Results.

This is an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills and competence. Don’t use an example where a project went wrong unless it was something you fixed!

Don’t discount participation, such as listening in on meetings. This shows you are on the path to one day leading projects at scale and scope. When observing, give examples of when you questioned the choices senior Project Managers made to understand why they took a specific action in certain scenarios; this will prove you’ve taken steps to develop your own independent thinking.

Section 2: Requirements and Sprint Planning

5. How is a project team structured?

In order to organize technology and process, understanding the people involved is essential. You should be aware of:

  • The differences between Functional Salesforce Consultants and Technical Salesforce Consultants.
  • Which requirements developers should take on, where the solution cannot be delivered with declarative (point-and-click) functionality.
  • Which specialists should sign off on requirements, and at which stage in the project.

6. What is your preferred approach to project management?

Talking about how you’ve worked in an agile or waterfall way will give color to your experience – how you can operate a project, day to day.

Agile, especially, is an interesting topic. Holding daily scrums – to discuss what you did yesterday, what you’re doing today, and what’s blocking your work – naturally showcases your ability to lead a development team in the right direction (in a “high-touch”, communicative way). The same can be said for ceremonies, where you plan sprints and have backlog refinement – go through the backlog and estimate how long tasks will take.

Retrospectives (meetings to ask “what can we improve on?”, “what can we learn?”) can reveal positive traits. After all, it takes a mature person to admit that there’s something that they could have done better, or admit that they didn’t take the right approach. No one likes to admit they were wrong, but “falling forward” (i.e. framing it a positive learning experience) is key to running a successful, transparent team.

This also reflects the “client change request” process (related questions coming later). Adapting to the situation is highly “agile”.

7. What’s a user story, and how would you structure them?

A user story is a statement that’s structured “as a [role], I want to [action], so that I can [outcome]”, outlining the work you need to complete to meet the overall business requirement. The user story is the cornerstone of application development.

A clear analysis process before changes are made ensures that what’s delivered meet the users’ needs, not what you thought they wanted.

READ MORE: How to Write User Stories for Salesforce: What We Learned From Writing 1000

8. Give some examples for how you would enable the project team?

Confirming the technical team has all the technical tools required to start work (sandboxes, licenses, etc.) will mitigate hold-ups in the project timeline.

9. What’s your involvement in sprint planning?

Managing scrum/agile ceremonies, including huddles, backlog grooming, increment planning, retrospectives and sprint demos (when applicable to the consultancy’s delivery methodology). You should be able to describe what all these concepts are.

Section 3: Stakeholder Communication

10. When presenting a proposed project plan to management, what would you present in order to seek their alignment?

Get comfortable with leading client-facing interactions, such as project kick-off meetings. When leading meetings, be prepared to steer the discussion (keeping it on track) and allow the consultants attending to have a voice (in case clients try to hijack the meeting agenda!).

You will want to reframe the “what” and “why” of the project before moving on to the main body of the presentation. Management, especially executives, are busy people, so can often forget the project details.

Stripping back the conversation to facts and presenting something visual are both good approaches, for example, Gantt charts, RAID logs, and project team names, roles, and photos.

Also be aware of which executives/managers you are addressing. Some topics could be considered too contentious or political to be put in a presentation.

11. What’s a ‘power user’ and how would you identify who they are?

‘Power users’ work with Salesforce every day – they are passionate about the tool and their job. Their understanding of Salesforce is more advanced than the average end user, but their main job responsibility is not related to Salesforce administration.

Power users will champion the project, and are great to interview as they will tell you exactly what they need. They can also be the people who take part in user acceptance testing.

12. Which project milestones should you seek stakeholder approval?

Ensure sign-off by the client of the different project phases – following the build (proof of concept demo), quality assurance (QA)/user acceptance testing (UAT), deployment.

13. Have you ever worked with stakeholders who are resistant to change, perhaps protective over a way of working they’re used to? How did you overcome that initial resistance?

You should use your “people” skills to be personable and approachable. Open the conversation with curiosity, and with the help of a consultant/business analyst, ask non-threatening questions to find out why the business functions the way that it does. Never criticize, only listen. Following these conversations (and once you’ve built trust), set up a separate meeting for you to gradually explain your alternative approach, having been fully informed of their business context and objectives, of course.

14. How would you handle an additional requirement that is raised towards the end of the project lifecycle?

While you may be tempted to push back on the curveball requirement at this late in the project, saying no isn’t necessarily the project manager’s job. Assess the request’s priority, and limitations against completing the request. 

Will not actioning the request significantly curb user productivity? Does the request come with any dependencies that would result in even more requirements?

Set up a meeting with the project sponsor (executive sponsor) and development team to assess the impact.

The conclusion could be one of several. Either the requirement isn’t technically feasible right now, or ever. You could suggest postponing to address it as part of a future project. The executive stakeholder could have pushed back, especially if fulfilling the request would have pushed up the time (and/or budget). The requirement may not have been necessary all along.

Section 4: Risk Management

15. Describe what proactive risk management looks like.

Proactive risk management involves putting measures in place to mitigate risk – in other words, to prevent the risks from happening before they’ve even happened.

This future-looking view will come with experience, a senior PM will be able to call upon their own past experience (and others) to make these risk predictions. In addition, they have a comprehensive risk management strategy, and understand what to prioritize when a project heads ‘into the red’. Overall, they are aware of when and matters should be escalated, and how (who should be notified).

When starting out as a PM, there will be plenty of risks you would not have encountered previously, especially when you start working on projects that involve a greater number of Salesforce products. If you’re at this stage in your journey as a Salesforce project manager, you can still talk about proactive risk management!

16. How would you assess risk in a project?

You will need to talk about, and give mitigations for, the following:

  • Timeframe: Expect the unexpected. Mention that there will be known unknowns that can affect the project schedule. To mitigate, get the whole team (+ client-side team) involved in the planning and scoping phases, resulting in early and constant feedback that you can address in discussions with stakeholders.
  • Scope creep: Requirements appear that aren’t part of the agreed-upon project scope, becoming a never-ending shopping list. Carefully read the Statement of Work (SOW) to ensure all requirements are accounted for and the delivery timeline is reasonable. To mitigate, discuss how you can maintain focus by keeping stakeholders, users, and the development team close to the project, for example, via regular stand-ups or double-checking requirements with the stakeholders.
  • Employee Turnover: When people leave the organization, valuable context about the project and business operations often leaves with them. To mitigate, focus on generating documentation frequently throughout the project – often, a little documentation is better than waiting for the final “hurrah” and potentially losing a knowledgeable individual before you reach that point. Documentation is no one’s favorite job; collaboration tools, such as Slack, can help you collate key snippets to inform your documentation.

17. How would you record and present risks in a project?

Projects will have risk logs where PMs will record risks they’ve identified and review them with the consultancy-side team, and the client-side stakeholders regularly. The difference in risk management between an entry-level PM and a more experienced one is a) at what point they are able to identify the risk, and b) how to reach a resolution.

18. How could you support a project team member who is underperforming?

A project is only successful based on its inputs and how they glue together. If a member of the team fails to show up for meetings, update tickets, or deliver work on their own timescales it can impact the whole project.

Your role is to ensure that the project is feasible – i.e. can be delivered on time and to budget. The team members might feel overwhelmed by the project if the deliverables have been underestimated vs the allocated timeline. If this is the case you may need to revise the plan.

19. Describe data-related risks and how to mitigate them

Data is one of the most misjudged elements of a project. Thorough reviews of what data is captured during a customer journey (and why!) plus the quality of the input demands allocated time.

When timelines get squeezed, it is tempting to push legacy data into the new system but poor data management behaviors will be replicated in the new system. This can result in adoption issues, customers irritated by incorrect data, or breaching compliance regulations.

Mitigate these data risks by:

  • Spending time defining the new data strategy and process – what data is required at each stage of the customer journey currently, and in the new system.
  • Reviewing all legacy data to assess what migrates, and what should be archived.
  • Cleaning data to improve its quality (completeness, uniqueness, timeliness, validity, accuracy, consistency).
  • Defining business process and system rules to preserve data quality going forward.
READ MORE: The 1-Hour Salesforce Data Quality Assessment Exercise

20. Describe what successful user acceptance testing (UAT) looks like.

Ensure the dates for UAT lands on days that the stakeholders can dedicate the time required. Remember, testers are performing UAT in addition to their day job – you can’t expect them to spend 4 hours a day testing, every day, for 2 weeks. Understand their schedule, and ensure that they understand the commitment required.

Ask users to test for intent during UAT, in this context, we mean the business goals. It’s common for code, including data migrations, to meet the technical specified requirements, but completely miss the ball with regard to business intent.

If the tests are not successful, find out which phase caused the errors. If errors were a result of the preparation phase, you will need to iterate the whole process. Unfortunately, defects are a time-consuming process. Once logged, they are likely to require a meeting to confirm the issue is real, and what should be done about it. Therefore, you should plan for users to have enough time to thoroughly test the data.

21. What types of reports is a project manager responsible for preparing and updating?

Project managers prepare and manage project schedules, burn reports, status reports, and change orders.

22. How would you structure a project debrief?

Project debriefs give the opportunity for project team members to reflect on what went well (and what did not) when a project completes. Take note of tensions you perhaps didn’t hear about when the project was in full-swing.

Risks and how the risks were managed is one part. Demonstrate your interest in career progression by mentioning that debriefs are a great opportunity to learn from the consultants “on the ground”.

Analyze past project logs and pull reports from your project management tool to see what went well in other projects – think of it like learning case law!

23. How can an organization (internal or external) maintain a healthy system post-project?

The reality of implementing projects successfully and then maintaining a healthy system can be rather misjudged. Some may budget for the license purchase and initial implementation but then forget about ongoing enhancement costs. Suggest the following:

  • Their system should be seen as a long-term investment.
  • Establish a center of excellence to define a product team, development team and key stakeholders who will continue to shape the solution as business processes change.
  • Build the solution in iterations, starting with simple outcomes and adding complexity as budget allows and as the business engages with the system.

Summary

These Salesforce Project Manager interview questions are just some that may be asked in an interview. Every interviewer is different and will likely have a differing set of questions and their own style of interviewing, so it’s best to always go in with an open mind and be prepared to show off your knowledge. Good luck!

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.

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