In this week’s episode of Talent Hub Talk, Ben Duncombe explains some of the common interview mistakes he hears Salesforce professionals make and how to avoid them!
Are you out of ideas about how to research a company prior to your interview, or unsure whether to refer to what ‘we’ did or ‘I’ did in your last project? We have all of the answers to steer you in the right direction – we hope you enjoy the read!
Welcome back to Talent Hub Talk. Today I am going to go over some of the common mistakes that I hear about Salesforce professionals making in interviews, often through feedback from hiring managers. Some of these aren’t all that specific to the Salesforce industry and they’re quite common across all interviews but some of them are also specific to Salesforce. So, hopefully by listening to this you might assess where some of your interviews may have gone wrong in the past, or kind of review how you prepare and deliver your input into Salesforce interviews. You may learn something here that might be a little tweak you make to how you do things for interviews, even if there’s just one little takeaway from this podcast, hopefully it’ll be useful for you for future interviews.
The first one I am going to mention is not properly researching and preparing for the interview. A lot of people I speak to when they’re just getting ready to go for an interview, I’ll ask them what kind of research they’ve done. And most people will have just looked at the company’s website, and just kind of got familiar with what the business does. I really think it’s important to go a bit deeper. So my advice would be obviously, yes, read the website and look on LinkedIn, look at recent announcements on LinkedIn from the company, look at the different people within the business, the different roles, different responsibilities, how long Salesforce professionals have been in the team, what kind of turnover they’ve had. Have there been Salesforce professionals in the team that have left recently? Is that a common theme? Have they had really good retention? Have they had Salesforce professionals that have been in the company for many years, which is always a good sign. But also looking at different potential use cases of Salesforce for the business. So it’s really important that, as an example, if you’re interviewing with a bank, you don’t just know that they’re a financial services company. You try to understand who their customers are as well. Is it business banking? Is it private banking? Is it a retail bank? Try to look at different ways that they potentially could use Salesforce as a platform internally and are they using it to service their customers? Do they have Experience Cloud? All of these things preparing, that will help with your answers for when you’re asked particular questions in the interview. I think it’s also important that you do build this kind of potential understanding of how they use Salesforce, but then also question that in the interview to make sure that your understanding is correct. But you really do need to know more than just what the business does. You need to have done more than just look at their website. And the worst feedback I get is if anyone ever goes for an interview and they can’t explain what the business does. So often hiring managers will say, “what’s your understanding of our business? What do you think we do? Why do you want to work here?” Things like that. And if someone can’t answer those questions, that’s really not great. I think it’s really difficult to come back in an interview if you can’t answer those kind of questions. So, yeah, really go a bit deeper. Don’t just look at the website. Look at the team. Think about different use cases for Salesforce. Really, really start to build a picture out of that company. And so you can actually really confidently answer why you’d want to work there. The turnover is really low. Great point. You don’t want to work in a team that’s constantly having turnover. Your assessment would be that they’ve invested heavily in Salesforce because of the size of the team, things like that. You can only really know if you do good, thorough research. A lot of this information you can get from the recruiter that you work with, if you do work with a recruiter, but don’t just rely on that information, do your own research as well. So that’s the first one, not properly researching the company. That’s a big error.
The next one is not familiarising yourself or themselves with their own CV. I think people write their CVs when they’re looking for work and they often just write the last job into their CV. They don’t go back over old ground and look at what they’ve said in the past, what they’ve said they’ve done, what they’ve worked on. Because obviously when you are interviewing with someone it’s very likely they’re going to have your CV in front of them. So they’ll be referring to your CV when they’re asking you questions. And if you don’t know your own CV yourself, you can’t point them in the right direction, you know, refer back to old pieces of work you’ve done that are relevant, highlight things that they’re asking you about. So if they’re asking you about your experience with Service Cloud, you can say, “if you look back at my CV, I worked on a government project between 2018 and 2020, which was exclusively Service Cloud. Here I delivered X, Y, Z, and some of my achievements were X.” So it’s really important that you know your CV, you know what you’ve done, where and when you did it, and you can refer back to that and point the hiring manager in the right direction. It’s also really important that you read back through your CV regularly, and not just ahead of interviews. It shouldn’t just be a copy and paste from a job description that you’ve had in the past. It’s really important that you highlight your achievements from each role. And if you are looking for some advice around writing a resume, then go on our website. There’s a blog on there that I often point people in the direction of that I think is really useful.
Another one that comes up quite regularly is that candidates and job seekers sometimes speak in the “we” rather than the “I”. This is a contentious one because I personally believe that hiring managers should maybe give you a bit of a nudge if you are doing this in an interview, and maybe let you know that you’re doing it, and ask that you to be more specific around the tasks that you’ve delivered and the achievements that you have had. I’m not a fan when hiring managers let the whole interview run and then provide feedback that you were doing that throughout the interview because I think sometimes that’s just how people do communicate. But it is something to be aware of. So rather than if you’re asked a question around, “tell me about a Flow that you’ve built.” Some people do answer that in, “well, at, you know, company Y, we worked on migrating Process Builders to Flows and we didn’t use the migration toolkit. We built them from scratch.” And what they should actually be saying is “at company Y, I built several Flows, migrating from Process Builders to Flows and building them from scratch. The way that I did this was xyz and the outcome for the business was”, and then really go into detail around that. Don’t lie, if you didn’t do it, don’t say that you did, but just make sure that you are really being clear on what you did and what your responsibilities and achievements were. Because if you do speak in the “we”, often hiring managers perceive that as you not being the sole person delivering that, or only having a small element of that responsibility and not taking full responsibility for that task. So often they feel that you didn’t do that yourself, it was just part of a team. And even if you did do it yourself, if you speak in the “we”, it sometimes presents as you didn’t. So really be aware of that and try not to do it as best as you can. And that’s something that a lot of hiring managers do look out for.
Another mistake is not taking notes. I think if you go to a meeting with someone, not a job interview, but just a meeting, you typically would take a notepad and make notes around what’s being said. And I think a lot of hiring managers do like it when you do that in interviews. It shows that you’re interested. It shows that you’ve got things to refer back to in the future. And I think it’s just a good practice, it’s professional. They’re going to make notes about what you say. And I think it’s good for you to make notes about what they say and the answers they provide to the questions that you have. I just think it’s a good, professional thing to do. And in the past, when people haven’t done that, I have had hiring managers comment on the fact that you didn’t come with a notepad or pen even for a video interview, didn’t look like you were interested, didn’t make any notes, so definitely something to consider if you’re not doing that.
This one is specific to the Salesforce ecosystem and I see quite a lot of Salesforce Administrators falling for this one and it’s a question that comes up regularly in Salesforce interviews and like I said, probably most specifically in the Admin interview. But I see a lot of hiring managers asking people about the most recent Salesforce release notes. So the question can sometimes be, you know, “what was your favorite thing from the most recent Salesforce release notes? What was your take on the most recent release notes? How far through the release notes are you?” Things like that, just to see if you actually read them. Now, it’s not for me to say whether or not you should read them. I think you can make your own call on that. But it’s something that I have seen hiring managers feel that people aren’t up to date if they’re not reading them. Just make sure if you are interviewing at the moment, you are across the most recent release notes and make some notes that you can maybe take into an interview in case that comes up. So that you’re just able to talk about what you took from them and what you’ll be maybe looking to implement in your next role or your current role, just to have a discussion around release notes because that often does come up. And if you haven’t read them, sometimes that’s looked upon unfavourably.
The next one is not giving enough detail to answers. So this is again, quite common. People are asked a question. I’ll give the example of “talk me through a Flow that you’ve built”, and some people just don’t give enough detail. So they might say “in my last company, I built a screen flow” and that’s it. That might sound like quite a shocking example, but believe me, it does happen. That’s just not enough detail. You really need to explain what the requirement was, what you built, how you built it, why you built it that way, what the outcome was, what that achieved for the business. There’s lots of different frameworks for answering questions. There’s the STAR technique, which I think you should research if you don’t have any kind of structure to the way that you answer interview questions. That’s definitely something to look into. But just make sure you’re putting enough meat on the bone for the person to be able to really make an assessment of what you did, how you did it, why you did it, to make sure that you can articulate what the different options were and why you went down that route. And just really talk about the achievements, make sure that you’re being really clear with not just what you did, but the outcome and the business achievement that resulted in, because really that’s what hiring managers are often looking for. So it’s really important to give plenty of detail.
But the next point is going too broad, talking for too long, not being specific enough, and so it’s really important that you make sure you are answering the question that you’re being asked. And in a lot of cases, I get feedback that someone’s gone off on a tangent, they haven’t answered the question, but they’ve given a long answer to something completely off-grid, not that was asked. And yeah, really that doesn’t come across well to the hiring manager. So make sure you are answering the question, make sure your answer is detailed, but don’t talk for too long on one topic. Make sure it’s in line with what the person is asking and don’t waffle on for too long. Just, you know, an interview is an opportunity to show and showcase and talk about what you know, but it’s also an opportunity to show that you can listen. So make sure you are listening, make sure that it is a two-way conversation and not just you saying everything. And make sure you’re on point and giving accurate detailed answers to what was asked and not just what you want to say.
The next one is not highlighting achievements. And I’ve kind of touched on this throughout, but it really is important that you can articulate what you’ve achieved, not just what you did day to day, but what you actually achieved in your previous roles. So it might be worth when you are preparing for an interview next to each job on your CV, although achievement should be in your CV as well, but make sure you are kind of noting down a couple of things that you would want to talk about from that role so that when there are questions come up, you can refer back to that and give some really insightful achievements and some real plus points for what you’ve done, some real selling points, I think, because ultimately you are trying to sell your experience and what you’ve done in the past to the hiring manager. So, make sure that you can confidently articulate what you’ve achieved in a couple of different roles, and be confident around that delivery.
And then the final one is not preparing questions, which I recently released a podcast on for anyone that struggles with asking questions in an interview. Go back and listen to that one because, that’s often at the end of the interview, you’re given a chance to ask interview questions and direct them to the different people involved. And unfortunately, some people don’t prepare any questions or don’t think of any questions through the interview. and that can come across really poorly at the end of an interview if you’ve got nothing to say. So preparing questions is really important. Make sure they’re detailed, they’re specific to this company. They’re not just fluffy questions that everyone kind of asks at the end of interviews, that they’re going to give you some real good insight on that business, that hiring manager, the role, the future of the role, the future opportunities, things like that. So if you’re struggling with questions for interviews, make sure you go back and listen to that previous episode.
So these are just some of the mistakes which come up. You may be making one of them as a mistake, you may be making multiple, but just a couple of things to think about so that when you are preparing for an interview and in an interview, you can put your best foot forward and kind of have the best opportunity to secure that role.
If you have any further questions please do reach out, happy to answer them, happy to help in any way I can and good luck with future interviews!