By Andy Mason
Finding the perfect Salesforce Developer for your business can be a real challenge if you don’t have a background in the technology.
Not only do you need to find candidates with all the necessary skills to slip seamlessly into your organization, but the interview process itself can also be time-consuming, especially if you don’t know what you should be asking the candidate.
To help you land that ideal professional, we’ve worked with experts to put together the key questions to ask when hiring a Salesforce Developer, so you can determine their technical proficiency, their project and development experience, and their cultural fit. Let’s get started.
Establishing a candidate’s technical skills in a job interview situation might seem a little trivial, as most technical proficiencies are covered by the experience, qualifications, or certifications they listed on the initial job application.
However, given that some candidates have a habit of being ‘creative’ on their resume or cover letter, you should really question them on their experience during the interview itself.
If you’re an experienced developer or have worked with Salesforce technology for a long time, you may have a few of your own ideas in mind of what you would like to learn about a candidate’s technical skills, particularly if you’re using a specific product or custom build.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to hear a candidate’s response to questions associated with the broader areas of technical Salesforce development. Here are a few questions you could ask your candidates.
1. What is a Sandbox? What are the different types of Sandbox and which would be more appropriate for X?
In the context of development, a Sandbox is a testing ground for code before it is implemented into production. There are several different types of Sandbox, with the distinction being how much data the Sandbox can store, and the type of data it can copy from production. A good way to frame this question would be to ask which Sandbox environment would be best suited to one of your projects.
2. Do you use an IDE and if you do, what is your preferred IDE?
This gives me a good understanding of the person’s willingness to adapt, and to adopt productivity tools. I’ve been surprised when a few developers said they don’t use IDE, but claim to have developed Lightning components (Aura and LWC). P.S. – I use VS Code with Salesforce Extension Pack for my development.
3. Batch chaining is an interesting feature in Salesforce that allows another batch job to be started from an existing batch job. What are the places where one cannot start another batch job?
The most common answer is batch execute method. While this is correct, one should also know that a batch job cannot be started from batch start, batch execute or future methods.
4. What is a workflow? How could a workflow improve X?
A workflow helps to automate the creation of a new task, sending an outbound message, sending an email alert, or updating a field. This is pretty surface-level knowledge, and so you would expect the candidate to know this.
However, a good way to frame this question is to either suggest a way you feel your business processes could be more efficient, or use an example of where you’ve utilized a workflow in the past, and ask the candidate to suggest an appropriate workflow in that scenario.
5. What is the distinction between Trigger and Process Builder?
Trigger is a code-based evaluation of criteria in Apex, used to set a chain of events. Process Builder evaluates criteria and performs actions when criteria has been met. Ask the candidate if and when they have used these in the past, using examples from their development experience.
If you aren’t an expert on the Salesforce platform yourself, it may be worth speaking to someone inside your organization who is, in order to iron out a list of questions relevant to the job role. If that’s not possible, why not take instruction from a Salesforce specialist from the community?
6. What are some limitations when working with WhoId and WhatId in Salesforce? How can you work around those?
A junior developer may not have had to customize around objects that use these specific relationship fields before. Knowing how they handle this situation speaks to their experience.
7. When would you recommend Apex over a workflow or process builder?
This question spans two areas. First, it speaks to the technical understanding of declarative vs. code capabilities in Salesforce. Second, it helps to understand the consultative approach a person might take. Their capability to speak to the recommendation is important.
The following resources also contain a huge number of interview questions that you could ask the candidate:
SF99: Common interview questions for Salesforce Developers—a list of 37 interview questions specifically for Salesforce Developers. You may also benefit from checking out their coding challenges page if you are thinking of putting together a technical assessment for the candidate to take during an interview.
Trekbin: Salesforce technical and customization questions—while this resource is quite old, being published in 2010, a lot of the questions are still very relevant for determining a candidate’s understanding of Salesforce architecture.
Anup Kabra: Frequently asked Salesforce interview questions—this resource contains suitable questions for a number of job roles in Salesforce but, given their technical nature, a lot of them are very relevant to developers. There are also some detailed answers given, which will help give you an idea of what the candidate should be covering if you don’t understand this yourself.
Knowledge is valuable, but application is power. While you can spend a lot of time asking a candidate about their technical expertise, qualifications and certifications, it’s their experience that will determine whether they’re equipped to cope with the scale and scope of the work.
Take the opportunity to learn about the candidate’s professional history, covering everything from how they first learned Salesforce to the type of projects they have worked on with previous employers.
Salesforce is a relatively diverse technology, but something from the candidate’s experience may pique your interest—you might feel more comfortable placing your hope in a professional if you learn they have worked in a similar-sized organization, in a similar industry, or on the same product/build as yours in the past.
Here are some interview questions that will help you get a measure for the candidate’s experience:
8. How would you rate yourself in various Salesforce skills?
Asking this can be a good way to gauge not only the candidate’s experience, but their self-awareness and attitude towards learning. If you can get them to provide a 1-10 score on what they consider to be the key components of Salesforce, you’ll also learn where the candidate may not be as strong and may require training in the future.
9. Have you ever worked on a Classic to Lightning migration? What did it involve?
10. Which ISVs/Salesforce add-ons have you used before and are there any you consider essential?
11. Have you ever had to deal with data loss? What are some of the causes and workarounds?
12. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on
This is a good way to gauge multiple things. It shows what a candidate finds interesting, whether that is customization, complexity, uniqueness, etc. It also speaks to the type of projects they have worked on. While this isn’t a heavily technical question, I usually start with it to better understand a candidate and where they may flourish.
A strong candidate will have their portfolio organized and be able to give you specifics of all the different Salesforce builds, products, and projects they’ve worked on in the past, so don’t shy away from asking detailed questions. After all, a developer who you know can come into your business and get started on day one, based on the work they’ve done in the past, is exactly the type of candidate you should be searching for.
In an ideal world you’ll link up with a candidate who has all the technical knowledge to develop robust solutions on the Salesforce platform, and has the experience to get their teeth sunk into your organization from day one. But this isn’t everything. Remember that you’ll need to find a person your team will enjoy working with, so securing a candidate who’ll be a good cultural fit is just as important.
Most workplaces see their colleagues spend at least 40 hours together per week, which can be a long and unproductive time if there are negative influences. This is why finding a good cultural fit is essential; a positive member of staff will not only perform well, but they will elevate the performance of the people around them too. By contrast, a poor hire will do the opposite.
While it can be difficult to get a proper measure of someone’s personality until you’ve worked with them for a while, the following questions will help you determine where their ambitions lie and how they see themselves in a team environment.
13. How does your career fit into your lifestyle?
14. What’s the best/worst part of your working day?
15. Have you ever struggled to meet a deadline? What happened?
16. Who has had the biggest professional influence on you and which traits made them exceptional?
17. How do you see yourself as part of a team environment and what kind of people do you enjoy working with?
18. What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
With questions like these, the way a candidate answers the question is almost as important as what they say. Common resume and interview buzzwords include ‘team player,’ ‘ambitious,’ ‘independent’ and ‘good communicator,’ but you’ll know if a candidate is simply going through the motions by their enthusiasm. While they might be nervous given the context, a genuine person will always shine through, and you can trust your instincts.
With Salesforce development, there’ll be a lot of drill down independent working, but there’ll also be a lot of collaboration and discussion, so you need to find a candidate who is just as valuable as part of a team as they are working independently. They don’t have to be a natural leader or the most charismatic person in the room, but rather a strong team player who’s capable of putting the needs of the many in front of their own priorities when required.
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