5 Things You Really Need to Know for Your Technical Interview From a Lead Engineer

From interviewee to interviewer and career conversation coach, Software Engineering Lead Member of Technical Staff (LMTS) at Salesforce Eleanor Ainy has experience with technical interviews. In this blog, she’ll share the five most important things to keep in mind as you prepare for your next interview.

But first, let’s learn a little about her journey to Salesforce and the impact she has in her role.

Intrigued by Innovation

Eleanor was happy in her prior tech role when a friend referred her to Salesforce. After a little research, she discovered that in addition to being the #1 best workplace according to Fortune, we’re doing some really interesting work. “I think the Datorama acquisition in Tel Aviv is a great example of Salesforce’s commitment to being a pioneer in the industry. The Israel office is an innovation hub.” Datorama is a leading cloud-based, AI-powered marketing intelligence and analytics platform that helps companies make faster data-driven decisions.

Eleanor was persuaded to make the leap. Today, in her LMTS role, she supports Einstein — which embeds the Salesforce platform with artificial intelligence and gives customers instant access to smart insights. Her team develops AI solutions that benefit sales and marketing — like lead scoring (more on that later!).

She hasn’t been bored a day of her three years with us. “We are always evolving and getting familiar with other technologies, frameworks, and coding languages. I love learning new things and acquiring new expertise.”

Delivering Impact in Every Line of Code

“As a developer, I have a direct connection to the customer. Every line of code impacts the customer experience,” Eleanor shared. “We put extra effort into reviewing and testing to ensure we’re not just delivering features — but creating a great experience, too.”

Recently Eleanor has been working on the Einstein lead scoring feature. “With this functionality, Einstein collects data, runs algorithms on top of that data, and ultimately assigns scores to help sales teams prioritize the leads that are most likely to convert to deals,” she explained. “I love that the customers using our products can get insights that make their day-to-day easier. As developers, we contribute to that.”

To achieve results like this, Salesforce engineers work in small teams, each focused on a key project or feature. Individual team members are in charge of different components of the code. “I feel like I’m working for a startup inside of a big company. We’re able to deliver code very fast in an innovative atmosphere. But we still have all the support and benefits of working for a big company,” Eleanor reflected.

Part of that environment includes access to engineering professionals around the globe. “We help one another. It’s a very supportive environment where people share knowledge, collaborate, and ask questions. And not just on my team — I can connect with others from our many offices worldwide.”

Promoting a Workforce That Reflects Society

Eleanor’s enthusiasm for Salesforce doesn’t end with the bullet points on her job description. Salesforce encourages employees to give back to their communities, wherever their passions lie. Each employee receives seven days of Volunteer Time Off (VTO) annually. For Eleanor, VTO is often an opportunity to help students enter the high tech industry.

These opportunities take many forms, such as regularly supporting middle and high school students with math and english skills. She’s also talks with students about the essentials of AI, how we innovate at scale, and the work Salesforce does.

One time she helped women studying computer science prepare for interviews. “The tech industry can be intimidating for students — sometimes you’re the only woman in the room. When I started my career, I felt pressure to prove myself and show others that I’m smart and capable. I don’t want these young women to have the same experience. I want them to feel confident.”

So Eleanor, along with a few colleagues from Salesforce, volunteered to help female students prepare for interviews. There were one-to-one practice interviews and also a Q&A panel.

And Eleanor reassured us — “I’m no longer the only woman in the room. Every day I see more inclusion in the tech industry, especially at Salesforce. I’m excited to see that continue to evolve.”

5 Tips to Prepare for Your Interview and Technical Assessment

Given Eleanor’s knowledge of tech interviews, we were curious to see what advice she would offer others. If you’re exploring the next step in your career, consider these five interview tips from Eleanor:

1. Spend Time Preparing
Interview prep isn’t just for students. Prospective employers want to see you at your best so they understand the potential you can bring. “Practice answering coding questions, sharing your story, and discussing features or products you’ve worked on. And when discussing those projects, be ready to explain the whole system — the architecture, the components, and how your feature is integrated in it. Don’t just focus on what you developed. This shows how thorough and collaborative you are.”

Not sure where to start? Salesforce created a learning module to help candidates prepare for their interviews. Take the Navigate the Salesforce Hiring Process trail, with a module on Strategies for Successful Software Engineer Interviews. Dig in to discover what recruiters are really looking for on your application and during your interviews.

2. Check Your Work and Check Your Edge Cases
Sure, working fast is great. But what’s even better is delivering code with quality. At Salesforce, this translates to maintaining customer trust — our most important value. “When completing a coding assessment during the interview, you can demonstrate your ability to write thorough and high quality code by considering edge cases and testing your code,” Eleanor says. “And if you get stuck, try to reflect and share your thought process. It will help you concentrate and show the interviewer how you unravel a challenge.”

3. Demonstrate How You Collaborate

“We collaborate a lot. Either with customers to gain their feedback, or with colleagues when rolling out new features,” Eleanor shares. “A good developer needs to be able to work with people. And be approachable to others who want to collaborate with them.” Be ready to share examples of how you’ve partnered with others in the past to achieve something better, or faster, than you could have alone.

4. Market Yourself Genuinely
“Be confident in your strengths and highlight expertise that you know well. But do this with grace. We all have areas of opportunity — acknowledge these by demonstrating that you want to keep learning and growing.” Eleanor reminds us that it all starts with an accurate and concise resume that emphasizes recent work and new skills you’ve gained.

5. Show Your Curiosity
“If you’re interested in Salesforce, ask yourself: ‘Am I incessantly curious? Does the idea of learning new things every day excite or unnerve me?’ Working with the latest technology requires a drive to continually learn.” If that’s you, Eleanor goes on, “Engage. Ask questions about the team, features, and technologies. This shows the interviewer how you think and that you’re serious.”