Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Interview for New Skills

Someone recently asked me to recommend interview questions for a company looking to hire a Salesforce Administrator/Developer.  This question is particularly interesting for small nonprofits and companies that are looking to bring in knowledge and skills that don't already exist in the company.  How do you ask questions and judge the answers if you can't already answer the questions yourself and aren't sure what to ask?
What do your questions look like?

Consider what you stand to gain or lose by asking questions you do not understand.  For example, I was asked once if I had any experience with the "Apex Exchange".  While this sounded unfamiliar at first, I figured out that they were asking about the "AppExchange" and simply not pronouncing it correctly.  The fact that the interviewer would ask this question said a lot about what someone might expect while working there.

Here are some questions that anyone should feel comfortable asking:
  • What most helped the job candidate pass certification exams?  (Hopefully this reveals extensive and varied experience with Salesforce in the real world.)
  •  What challenges have been the most interesting in Salesforce and why?  (This may give insight into what they find challenging technically or collaboratively.)
  • And how did they find their way through that challenge?  (Hopefully they can describe a process of discovery and growth.)
  • What do they like the best and the least about the Salesforce release cycle? ( Hopefully this reveals that they re-engineer as needed to work with new features.)
It is important to hire someone who can demonstrate an ability to learn, grow and problem-solve independently as well as communicate well and understand the needs of others.  My blog post about a video, 'The Expert', shows some examples of what businesses want to avoid.

For interviewers without specific skills, the need for someone who has those skills is coupled with a need for someone who can communicate clearly and make you feel confident with their process.  If no one in-house has the technical experience, then you really have to decide if applicants have the ability to find information and solve problems independently while bringing all the stakeholders along.

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