Essential questions to ask when interviewing a Salesforce Administrator

If you’re recruiting for a Salesforce Administrator then you know just how vital the position is, even if you can’t necessarily put your finger on what it is you’re looking for in a candidate.

A typical Administrator will find themselves carrying out a huge variety of tasks that require a very versatile skill set. Yes, they need to know how the technology works, but simply hiring a tech wizard isn’t enough. Their day-to-day role could involve anything from archiving reports to dealing with end-user login issues.

So what exactly should you be looking for when interviewing for a Salesforce Administrator?

Knowledge

Example questions

1. Can you tell me the different portals available?

2. Can you tell me how to create a report?

It goes without saying that you need a candidate who knows the product. As someone at the forefront of your CRM team, they need to exude confidence due to the varied nature of this role. Ask what Salesforce Admin certifications they hold to get a clear idea of where the candidate is most skilled.

Questions that relate directly to the role are essential of course but can be tailored to what you need within your organization. If the candidate is unable to answer the question, then you need them to be proactive in wanting to plug those knowledge gaps.


Technical interview questions from ‘The Everyday Admin’, Christine Marshall

Christine Marshall is a Certified Salesforce Administrator at Expleo Group, and dedicates her free time to writing about Salesforce on her blog The Everyday Admin. Here she details the type of answers candidates should be giving, and what to look for in their reasoning.

– In what order would you migrate Leads, Contacts, Accounts and Opportunities?
The correct order is Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities then Leads. Both Contacts and Opportunities are related to Accounts, so Accounts must be loaded first. Leads should be loaded last to avoid duplicates with Contacts. As well as demonstrating an understanding of data migration, this question requires knowledge of the relationships between objects.

Christine Marshall

Christine Marshall

Salesforce Admin / editor at The Everyday Admin

– We would like to import 10,000 Opportunities. What tool should we use?
In this example, we need to use Data Loader. Although the Data Import Wizard can load up to 50,000 records, it does not support Opportunities. This question tests their knowledge of different data loading tools and their limitations.


Communication

Example questions:

3. How do you handle conflict?

4. You’ve given instructions to someone more senior to you but they clearly aren’t understanding you. How would you handle the situation?

At its heart, the role will involve talking to people, and you need to know your candidate can do this confidently and professionally. Whether it’s picking up the phone to speak to someone above them, or dealing with an employee who is trying to resist or change the way your company uses Salesforce, the role requires excellent people skills.

Good communication is vital. No matter how big or small an issue may be, those looking to the administrator for help will be looking for a quick, clear answer that addresses any concerns raised.

Consider the candidate’s answers during the interview and how they may interact with people within your organization. If they’re confusing you with responses loaded with jargon, then there’s a good chance they’ll be doing that with their colleagues. That’s fine within their CRM team, but this role requires more than that.

If you don’t understand an answer they provide, ask the candidate to explain a little more clearly. You’ll get a good idea of whether they can articulate themselves in a way you need them to.


How to ask technical Salesforce Admin interview questions

“What I would expect most in terms of “technical” questions would be scenario questions. Outline a specific requirement or use case and see how the interviewee responds.

“It provides insight into how quickly they can think on their feet, how well they know the tools available to them, how they approach gathering requirements—if they dig in to learn more, and what they think is important, if they can at least articulate a first-level solution based on what was provided, etc.

Michelle Hansen

Michelle Hansen

Salesforce Admin at NISC

“For a ‘basic admin’ I’d be expected to answer questions like, “Can you explain the difference between a role, a profile and a permission set?” The answer would be something along the lines of: A profile controls what you can do with records of an object – Sales profile can see Accounts, create & edit Opportunities, etc.

“A permission set can extend those permissions for a specific user or subset of users to reduce the need for many profiles with only slightly different permissions – Giving only Sales Managers create & edit access to accounts, not the whole Sales Profile).

“Meanwhile, Roles control access to specific records if you have a Private sharing model. So Susie Salesrep may be able to edit Opportunities as a sales rep, but only ones that she owns–she can’t see or edit Dan Dealcloser’s opportunities. But Molly Manager, who is over both Susie and Dan in the role hierarchy, and has the Sales profile can see and edit all of their opportunities.”


Passion

Example questions

5. Why do you want to work in a Salesforce-based role?

6. How have you increased your Salesforce knowledge?

You want to hire someone who understands the product and how it will drive your business forward, but having someone on board who’s constantly trying to improve their knowledge is just as important.

If your candidate has a lot of Trailhead badges on their resume, that’s a big indicator that they are pushing themselves in the right direction. Keep your questions here open to gauge how they’ve gone about their learning path.

Strategy

Example questions

7. Have you ever worked with a small budget?

8. Have you ever suffered any data loss problems? How did you overcome them?

It’s invaluable to have an employee who’s able to think long-term and implement changes that will become noticeable further down the line. You want somebody who is thinking ahead before problems escalate out of control.

Finding out if they’ve worked within small financial constraints will also give you a good idea of whether you have someone who can think their way out of a problem rather than spend. It isn’t necessarily a weakness if they’ve had to invest to resolve the issue, but how they approached that resolution is key to finding out how the candidate deals with a situation.

Getting a practical example of the candidate’s experience in a crisis will give you a good idea of how they handle problems, regardless of your knowledge of the answer. Do they seem like someone thinking logically to come to a resolution, and can they articulate themselves during the problem-solving process?


Zach Banks Salesforce

Zachary Banks

Salesforce Admin at Kabam

How to test a candidate’s strategy

“To demonstrate how I approached strategy, my current boss had me whiteboard a solution to a vague problem.

“This was about me probing for more information to test my soft skills, and to see if I knew the correct declarative tool to solve the problem. It was something along the lines of:

X department is looking to implement a time off approval system in Salesforce. Please whiteboard a solution to this request.

“There isn’t enough context to the question, so it tests the candidate if they can think to probe for more info, or if they just go in. However, there’s enough context to know you’ll need to use approval processes, custom objects, and maybe a process builder, so still gauges their knowledge a little bit.”


Additional resources

We’ve put together a more detailed list of Salesforce Administrator interview questions that you may wish to ask during a job interview, so you can make sure you are targeting the right candidate. You should also check out the following resources from across the Salesforce community:

Good luck with your recruitment! Remember to get in touch if you need a hand with anything along the way—we even offer a free technical exam you can use to test your candidate’s Salesforce proficiency.