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How to Vet a Potential Salesforce Hire

Adding a member to your team can be a high-stakes operation. You need to be able to locate, interview, and onboard the right person at the right time, all while controlling for mitigating factors that are often out of your control.

A Salesforce team, when properly assembled, is a versatile tool for improving your business’s timetables and bottom line… unless you have the wrong person in the wrong role. Then you’re opening yourself up to catastrophic errors and longstanding tech debt! Not only that, but your best Salesforce resources are constantly fielding job offers from hungry recruiters, and if your team doesn’t run smoothly, you’re likely to lose them to less frustrating environments.

When it comes to vetting a new Salesforce hire, here are the “best practices” you should implement to ensure you’re getting the candidate you need:

1. Start with a Screening Interview

These very straightforward “temperature check” interviews shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes, and they’ll help you efficiently narrow down your pool of applicants. For this interview, your focus should be on the big-picture dealbreakers.

Cover topics like:

  • Timing: If you have a specific timetable for when this person needs to be hired and fully onboarded, you need to ensure that this works for your applicant. Are they ready to leave their current job, relocate, or whatever else is necessary to meet your needs?

  • Salary: Some consider it rude to talk about money up front, but that’s the kind of thinking that’s going to waste everyone’s time. You need to be sure that the kind of compensation your applicant is seeking fits both the role and your company’s budget before spending any more time getting to know them.

  • Professionalism: Every company has its own culture, so don’t take “professionalism” to mean anything other than what you define it to be. The interviewer should be someone with a strong connection to the company culture who is capable of determining the presence (or lack) of personality traits and work styles needed to become a part of your business.

The screening interview saves you both time and disappointment by helping you quickly rule out applicants who may have some of what you’re looking for, but possess big-picture disqualifying traits or circumstances. It’s vetting 101!

2. Take a Quick Survey of Applicant's Online Presence

It’s up to you if you feel the need to run a full legal background check on your applicants, but this kind of investigation is often overly invasive and time-consuming. Still, for HR purposes, if a candidate passes the screening interview, it’s a good idea to spend 15 minutes scraping the internet to find out if they’re inviting public controversy or participating in something fundamentally antithetical to your company culture.

People make mistakes, and they have a right to their own lives outside of your company, but it’s still in your best interests to double-check that your incoming hire has an online voice that echoes a similar voice to your company’s values.

3. Conduct Robust, Visual Technical Review

With the basics out of the way, now it’s time to see what your applicant can really do. This is probably the most crucial, nuanced portion of the hiring process and it’s also the place where managers can make their biggest blunders.

Let’s start with some big DON’T tips for Salesforce technical interviews:

  • Don’t Merge the Screening Call and Technical Interview: Unless you yourself are an expert Salesforce Architect, you’re going to want these interviews conducted by different people. If your potential hire is high-level and you’re worried you don’t have a technical resource with the qualifications to properly vet them, we can help with that.

  • Don’t Restrict the Tools and Behaviors at Your Applicant’s Disposal: Notes, Google, Stack Overflow… these are tools in your applicants repertoire, and if you’re conducting an honest technical interview, you have no reason to manufacture unrealistic conditions in which to test their skills. Want to see how your potential hire actually works and problem solves? Let them work their way, and evaluate the results. The results are what matter, anyway.

  • Don’t Assign Projects to be Turned in Later: Some companies, in lieu of a technical interview, will assign a project for applicants to complete. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make at this stage… just wrong on every level. Firstly, you won’t get a sense of how your potential hire does their job. In fact, you can’t even tell if they’re actually the person who completed the work! Secondly, assigning a project to be completed independently can be insulting to higher-level applicants, who you’re essentially asking to work for free. Desirable candidates are likely to drop out of your interview process if you demand this!

The best way to run a robust technical interview is to:

  • Have a Salesforce Architect (either internal or hired from a consultancy) set aside 1-1.5 hours of their time to conduct the full interview.

  • Create a screen-share between the Architect and the candidate.

  • Assign the candidate a suitably complex and position-relevant task that can be completed in the allotted time, under the direct observation of the Architect.

Technical interviews conducted in this way are the best (and some would say: only) way to properly vet the skills of your potential Salesforce hire. There are many factors that matter when selecting a new employee from a pool of candidates, but none is more vital than their ability to execute the required skills. It’s not wise to bring someone on without first getting a nuanced sense of how they operate on a very practical, keystroke-and-click level.

Some applicants will even surprise you at this stage! There are Salesforce candidates who stack certification after certification, and they look like a dream on paper, but they lack the practical experience to make full use of those certifications. On the other side of the spectrum, there are highly capable professionals who aren’t Salesforce certified for skills they possess on an expert level - simply because they’ve been too busy working their stable Salesforce job to worry about taking the certification tests.

The robust, visual technical interview cuts through the B.S. and shows you what your candidate is capable of doing (and how they do it) in a very immediate way, which makes it critical to the vetting process for potential hires.

4. Conduct a "Culture Fit" Interview (Optional)

For smaller companies, you can merge this step into your screening interview, but for larger companies, you need to acknowledge that while your company has its overarching culture… the individual teams within your company also have their own micro-cultures. Your new hire needs to be compatible with the team they’re poised to join.

Unlike the technical interview, this step is very simple to execute. Once your applicant has passed the screening and technical interviews, set aside 30 minutes for the team they’ll be working with to join a group call. Instruct your team to come prepared with questions they want to ask of your candidate, and do your best to simply facilitate conversation amongst everyone on the call.

This step is optional because the knowledge gained from it likely isn’t practical, but the more intangible insights from conducting this kind of interview can end up being the deciding factors between multiple qualified candidates.

Team chemistry matters, particularly under pressure. Get your relevant team’s various personalities together to see how they mix with your applicant, and you’ll get a more complete picture of that candidate’s communication style, interpersonal skills, adaptability, and their ability to build necessary co-worker and client relationships.

5. Start off with Contract-to-Hire, Or a Trial Period for W-2 Hires

No matter how robust an interview process, the reality is that you never really know what kind of employee a candidate will be until you’ve worked with them for a while. How much throughput can they consistently handle? Do they have good time management skills? Do they communicate well, and often?

Anyone driven to get hired represents themselves as the model employee during the interview process, but really working together has a way of re-focusing the rose-colored picture painted during those initial interactions. This is why, especially early on, you want to give your business as much latitude as possible when it comes to quickly cutting ties with a bad fit.

One of the best ways to do this is Contract-to-Hire, where you first bring on your vetted candidate as an independent contractor, then evaluate their performance after an agreed-upon period of time. If you find that your contractor isn’t performing to your standards, there are no legal ramifications to ending the relationship, or even scaling down their role to better fit their skill set (for example, you could scale down a contractor from a Developer to an Admin if you still want to use them, but aren’t impressed by their coding abilities).

However, depending on where your candidate is based, Contract-to-Hire may not be an option with their local government. In situations like these, it’s vital that you include in their contract a 1-3 month trial period where they can be released without issue.

This trial period, even though it technically takes place after hiring, is the final step in your Salesforce vetting process.

Not 100% confident about executing this process alone? You don’t have to! We’re here to help every step of the way, even up to conducting those robust technical interviews for you. If you’re hiring a new Salesforce employee, let’s start a conversation about how Cloud Pacific can leverage our team’s experience and expansive network to locate the best fit for your business.

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