How Salesforce spots arrogance in the interview process

  • Salesforce is adamant about hiring based on its four cultural tenets: trust, innovation, equality, and customer success.
  • The major red flag that a person doesn’t embody those values is arrogance, according to Ana Recio, the company’s former executive vice president of global recruiting.
  • A clear indicator during the interview process is if the person doesn’t mention the team that helped them achieve a goal. Essentially, Recio said, those applicants use the word “I” too much.
  • But it’s not just about the answers. Salesforce also wants to hear questions from candidates that seek to “understand the definition of success from the customer’s lens versus from an engineering lens,” Recio said. 
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Salesforce prides itself on hiring based on the company’s four main cultural tenets: trust, innovation, equality, and customer success. 

The biggest red flag in the recruitment process that indicates someone doesn’t embody those traits is arrogance, according to Ana Recio, who was Salesforce’s executive vice president of global recruiting. 

“The whole Silicon Valley, the whole globe, is full of really talented people. And it’s individuals who think that they’re a little bit more special than the rest. That’s not gonna work,” she told Business Insider. “If you walk into a room, and you have this sense that you’re the smartest one there, you’re probably not going to have a good experience at Salesforce.” 

Instead, Salesforce looks for smart people who “don’t necessarily have to be the star in the room each and every time,” she said. It’s one reason why the company is able to foster a spirit of collaboration and transparency across the enterprise.

It’s pretty easy to suss that out during an interview.

A key gauge is if the person continually responds to questions about their own experiences without referencing the team or the collaboration that helped achieve certain goals or metrics. For potential recruits, that means watching how often they use the word “I” during the interview process. 

“It really comes through if an individual is there to really elevate and to accelerate the goals of the team or to accelerate or elevate their own agenda,” Recio said.

Read more: Salesforce was named one of the best companies to work for in 2020. Here’s how to nail the interviews and land a six-figure job at the software giant.

That’s not to say Salesforce doesn’t want to empower people to act independently. Instead, the company seeks to move quickly on decisions in “a respectful way, in a really clear, communicative way.”

In fall 2019, Salesforce predicted it would hire 10,000 by the end of the year. And with millions of Americans out of work because of the coronavirus recession, those numbers could be trending upward.

These tips can help recruits stand out among the more than 80,000 people the company interviews annually.  

Understanding the ‘definition of success from the customer’s lens’ 

Part of the reason Salesforce is one of the most desired places to work is because of its culture, according to Recio.

To ensure that it’s hiring people that truly align with its values, recruiters ask questions during the interview process that look for the four keys tenets. But it’s also about the questions the candidates ask back.

Among the key questions Recio wants to hear from potential new tech hires are: 

  • Who is the end user for this product?
  • What does success mean for the customer?
  • Who is the team, and what are the resources?
  • Who are the other stakeholders involved? 

Ultimately, it’s about finding candidates that try to understand the “definition of success from the customer’s lens versus from an engineering lens,” Recio said. It’s clear in the communication from top recruits that “they’re trying to build a road map, a framework how to go about solving for a particular technical challenge,” she said.