9 July 2020 - Interview tips

Recently TrailheaDX came to our screens to deliver a load of content rich presentations for the Admins, Developers and Architects of the Salesforce world. The day prior, TrailheaDX provided a careers fair for job seekers hoping to enter into this market and to others wanting to grow into new roles. 

I offered my services to help with the career fair. As a previous manager and recruiting employer I have reviewed many CV's and conducted countless interviews with budding candidates. I thought it my duty to offer my advice to those in need. 

I volunteered to conduct interviews to a selection of candidates. While I only had a short space of time with each person I was able to give some top tips to them. I thought I might be able to reach a wider audience if I wrote some of these tips here. 

Many of the candidates that I interviewed on the day had 'real' interviews with prospective employers later, and their session with me helped them to focus on elements to brush up with. The aim of course, was to crush the real interview and nail the job.

Let's share some tips. 

1. Research the role and the company. A few of the candidates I interviewed basically said that they didn't care what role it was, an Admin, a Business Analyst or Project Manager, they just wanted the job. While I can appreciate their openness and flexibility, as an employer, this response can seem a bit vague. As an employer, is it wrong to also want to feel a little bit loved? I want the candidate to want to work at my company and for the specific role advertised. If I ask the candidate what attracts them to this role (and I will), then I would like to hear a more committed response than one implying they would take anything. 

2. Listen carefully to the question asked and answer accordingly. Too many times we think we have heard the question and then start to respond with a 'here's a stock answer I prepared earlier'. While it's good to have 'stories' prepared in advance that can cover different types of scenarios that could answer the question posed, make sure that they fit. It becomes a bit challenging for the interviewer to mentally wade through the ramble to find the point you are trying to make. 

3. Let's go deeper into the stories. Pre-prepared stories are a good thing. Think about different questions you might be asked by an interviewer, such as; describe an achievement, a challenge, a successful project, something you're proud of etc. Have these snippets ready to pluck from your data bank and use to respond. But, to point 2, make sure they fit. When you convey your story make sure it flows well. If it's an achievement example then give the interviewer the context of the scenario. What was the problem? How did you come up with the solution? What was the outcome and benefits? 

4. Read your interviewer and respond. If your interviewer is quite direct in their manner then they may appreciate a succinct and direct answer. If they didn't get information then they may go deeper with questions. I personally am a direct person and do appreciate short snappy answers that do actually answer the question. (That is still important). It sometimes can be a sign of nervousness by the candidate if they ramble their response. See point 2 again!

5. It's ok to talk about yourself, as well as the team. I think most interviewers know that nobody does anything by themselves anymore. Most people will work in a team to achieve a goal. As an interviewer I'd like to know what impact the candidate made on the team's performance to deliver the goal. Be prepared to talk about your personal impact on a project and detailed aspects on your contribution. If you're too vague then you could come across as a light member of the team and potentially loose the job opportunity. It's OK to sing your own praises sometimes.

6. Real world experience is still king. Reality check, if I am presented with 2 CV's, one has Trailhead experience and the other has 'real world' project experience, then I am going to be more drawn to the real world experienced candidate. Someone working with Salesforce has the capacity to change business practices for the better. They also have the ability to make a real mess of the Org if they don't know what they are doing. Real life experience, and dare I say it, pain of implementations, helps to refine solutions to be future proof and scalable. If you are going for a junior role and the employer is prepared to take you under their wing and teach you best practice then grab that opportunity as they are few and far between. If you don't have any real world experience then see if you can volunteer to gain the valued experience or tackle some Super Badges on Trailhead. It really will help with your job search. 

7. Remote interviews. In these complex Covid-19 times we have embraced remote working, which also includes conducting employment processes remotely too. We now are increasing virtual recruitment with many interviews taking place over video conference systems. As a candidate try to prepare in advance on familiarising yourself with the tools used so you don't panic for your interview slot. Think about the space you will use for the interview. Make sure it is comfortable, quiet and with enough light so you can be seen and heard. As for dress code, this can be very dependent on the business you are conversing with and the role you are applying for. The world seems to be embracing a more casual work uniform as we work from home but it might still be appreciated to show your prospective employer that you are serious about the role you are going for and show to be making an effort with a presentable top. As a top tip, wearing clothes on the top as well as the bottom half are considered a win by any person sharing a video call with you. 

For all those out there looking to change careers or to take their next step in the Salesforce ecosystem then I wish you all the luck and hope you get the job you are searching for. 


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