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50 Customer Service Interview Questions to Hire for Talent
The global health crisis had a heavy transformative hand on customer support services, upping the ante for big and small businesses alike. As everybody migrated online, support teams had to adapt, re-adjust their approaches, and learn at light speed how to interact with growing numbers of customers, all with different requests and needs. The times when our customer service interview questions revolved around a person’s 5-years career plan are gone. We now hire for hard skills, personality, behavior, and cognitive abilities, among others.
Recruiting Customer Service Candidates for a New Business Landscape: The Challenge
Just as we require candidates to be adaptable and proactive in their jobs, so should be us as recruiters. For a long time, we have known that customer service has one of the highest turnover rates across all industries.
Stress, frustration, disengagement, burnout, low wages, etc., are all problems that plague call centers and support teams worldwide. The pandemic raised the bar. Now we need people who can handle customer service’s inherent pressure, the steep learning curves enforced by emerging technologies, remote working, and more.
As recruiters, we know that customer service jobs will become more difficult and challenging even for the most seasoned candidates. Looking at the data, we learn that nowadays, customer support is an integral part of an enterprise’s branding efforts, marketing strategy, customer retention, sales funnel, and so on. Ecommerce and service providers have become synonymous with customer service, a crucial business feature that today trumps even the smartest marketing strategies.
More than 50% of clients say they are more likely to return to companies that delivered outstanding customer service. In this context, recruiting the best people for this job proves to be a challenge for human resources departments.
What Are We Looking for When We Hire People for Customer Service Jobs?
This year, hiring for talent should be more than just a buzzword. It is crucial to choose the right pre-hiring assessment tools for the suitable candidates and customer service jobs’ description. Moreover, asking well-crafted customer service interview questions that tie to skills, behavior, and personality is a model of good practices all recruiters should adopt.
One may wonder whether we still need to invest our best efforts into finding the best people for this industry. After all, recent reports show that customer service trends focus on the use of technology. On the one hand, most companies plan to reduce their teams’ size because of the economic downturn. On the other, we now have machine learning and chatbots that behave almost like humans. Things do not look comfortable, especially for young job applicants with little work experience.
However, Skynet will not take over any time soon. Chatbots are becoming smarter by the minute, but they still lack that messy amalgam of wit, humor, empathy, people-reading skills, innovative thinking, and instinct humans have.
On the contrary, we need competent people now more than ever in this industry, as customers’ expectations rise exponentially. As we said on a previous occasion, hiring candidates with an exceptional blend of high emotional competency, logical abilities, customer service skills, computer literacy, and proactive attitudes should be the objective of every recruitment manager.
In other words, hiring now for customer services jobs should start with tailored customer service interview questions and a plethora of pre-employment assessment tools to get intelligent candidates that learn fast and love their jobs. Therefore, it is time for us to offer some of the best interview questions for customer service candidates, split into several categories.
I. Traditional Customer Service Interview Questions Related to Job Performance
As we said, the customer service industry changed. More often than not, companies want people to work remotely from home with little supervision. You will also have to recruit applicants that know a few things about customer service and meet that enterprise’s core organizational values.
When you prepare for the easy part of the interview, as you try to know candidates better, make sure you do not make the mistake of asking any illegal interview questions. You risk tapping into sensitive areas such as disability, marital status, age, pregnancy, household situation, military service, etc., especially when you interview for remote jobs.
So let’s see a few examples!
1. What is customer service from your point of view?
2. What does excellent customer service mean to you as a beneficiary of such service?
3. What does fantastic customer service mean to you as a provider of such service?
4. What is the best customer service you have ever received from a company and why?
5. What was for you a bad customer service experience and why?
6. Can you tell me whether there is a difference between customer service and customer support?
7. What previous experience do you have with customer service programs/CRM software, etc.?
8. What is your familiarity/use level with basic software/multi-line phone systems, online communication software, live chat, etc.?
9. What do you like/dislike the most about customer service as a profession?
10. (For remote work) What do you think are the crucial skills and qualities of a person who works in customer service from home without supervision? What can you tell me about yours?
11. What type of organizational structure best meets your needs, skills, and preferences?
12. What type of schedule best suits you?
What Is the Purpose of Such Questions?
This line of inquiry help you discover more about an applicant’s work experience, knowledge, technical skills, and customer service approach in general, etc.
Remember that you also need to tailor your approach depending on the role you hire for in the company. Prepare different sets of customer service representative interview questions for the experienced ones and junior/beginner customized inquiries for the ones just starting their careers.
The candidates who are serious about getting this type of job will come with their homework done. They have plenty of resources to learn how to answer customer service interview questions, so it is useful to go even more in-depth when preparing for this part of this discussion.
When you assess for work experience, learning curve, tech skills, etc., you might want to do your homework on customer service interview questions and answers, so you can sift through candidates who recite pre-learned lessons and speeches.
II. Interview Questions Related to the Candidate’s Motivation and Career Goals
Customer service jobs are demanding and become more challenging from one month to the next. From difficult customers to tickets piling up endlessly, a customer service agent has to deal with anything and everything simultaneously. The next set of questions will help you better understand your applicant’s motivation and career goals.
13. Why do you want to work in customer service?
14. What do you think you will enjoy about working in customer service?
15. Why do you think you are the right candidate for such a job?
16. What is your preferred method of communication/interaction/correspondence?
17. What do you think of our company’s products and services?
18. What do you think our customers need help with when it comes to our products and services?
19. What skills should a great customer service representative have? What can you tell me about yours?
20. What would be some good incentives/motivating factors for you to grow professionally in the customer service department?
21. What did success look like in your previous position? How would you describe it at this company after one year into the job?
22. At your previous job, did you have to work in a team? How was that experience for you?
23. What was the last thing you learned and how would it help you be better at your job?
What Is the Purpose of Such Questions?
In truth, for most applicants, customer service is just the beginning. Nevertheless, you need to make sure that you find people willing to give their 100% to the job until the last second. even if they plan to move up and land a position in sales, marketing, management, development, etc., they still need to perform flawlessly.
III. Behavioral Customer Support Interview Questions
We finally reached the tricky part of the discussion with a candidate when it comes to customer service. As we mentioned before, behavioral interview questions do not grill the applicants but invite them to tell stories. From these narratives, proficient recruiters extract valuable information. You gain insight into a candidate’s problem-solving skills, decision-making, emotional intelligence, proactivity, confidence, teamwork, adaptation, personality traits, and so on.
The behavioral & personality pre-employment assessment is crucial to any successful interview for any job. However, when you hire for customer service, you need to go in-depth and prompt candidates to give verifiable information to make predictions about their future job performance and personality.
24. Tell me of a situation when you had to deal with an angry/rude/unreasonable/disgruntled customer. How did you handle things? What was the outcome, and what would you change about the approach now?
25. Describe a moment when you assisted a customer who worked with multiple agents but did not get the help needed. What did you do differently?
26. Can you give me an example of when you were proud of the service quality level you offered a customer? How did it make you feel?
27. Have you ever received negative feedback from a client? How did you feel? What did you do about it?
28. What would you do if a customer were challenging to understand or have poor communication skills? How would you solve this situation?
29. What is the best way to refuse a customer’s request without upsetting/alienating them?
30. How would you help a customer with visible low frustration tolerance/agitation/impatience?
31. Tell me about a situation when you had to solve an issue, but you didn’t know how/the answer to it. What was your approach? How would you handle things now?
32. Did you ever have to deal with a customer’s situation where you had no clear policy to use, and you needed to make a quick decision? How did you approach your judgment call? What was the outcome?
33. Describe a situation when your products/services had some significant issues, and you had to solve clients’ requests while not having all the solutions yet. What did you do? How did things turn out?
34. What would be your approach if a customer reproached you take too long to answer/solve a request/problem?
35. Describe the process you use to de-escalate a conflict/argument with a customer/teammate.
36. How would you improve a dissatisfied customer’s experience with our company/website?
37. What role does – if any – teamwork and collaboration play in customer support? Describe a situation when your team had to solve a challenging problem. What was the outcome?
38. What was the biggest challenge you faced as a customer service agent in the past, and how did you handle it?
39. Describe a time when you gave over 100% of your job description to make a customer happy. Why did you choose that approach? What was the outcome?
40. Tell me about a time you were under a lot of stress at work. How did you handle it?
41. Describe a situation when you made a mistake at work. How did you approach things? What would you do differently now?
42. How do you keep your motivation when your customers are rude/aggressive/hard to please?
43. What methods do you employ to keep your motivation and engagement with the tasks when they become repetitive and dull?
44. What do you do when you feel stressed or overwhelmed?
45. You have to solve some problems without receiving enough information, resources, solutions, or feedback from your employer. What do you do?
46. One or more of your colleagues performs poorly or seems disengaged from the job/tasks, and it poorly reflects on the whole team’s performance. What do you do?
47. Your company is about to release a new product/service. How do you prepare for the upcoming interactions with the customers’ questions, requests, or complaints?
48. Describe a successful work interaction with a client/peer/manager. What are the elements that made the outcome so satisfactory?
49. Your company receives negative feedback and reviews from customers related to a product/service you provide, but everybody goes about their business as if nothing happens. What do you do?
50. Your customer service platforms, software, programs, etc., fail to work one day, but you still have to complete your tasks. How would you approach this situation?
What is the Purpose of Such Questions?
Customer experience is the new currency of all businesses who want to stay relevant in our times’ confusing economic landscape. To provide outstanding CX, however, companies need to hire the best people for the job who will not quit at the earliest feeling of frustration.
As we all know, candidates often come with prepared answers, even to behavioral customer service interview questions. For this reason, it is mandatory to accompany the interview process with skills assessment testing and cognitive & aptitude testing.
As experts eloquently put it, customer service agents are the new faces, voices, and sales force of a company. Now, more than ever, people want empathy, personalized services, witty and fast solutions to their problems, patience, proactivity, structured approaches, and more.
Just as candidates have to up their game, so do recruiters. Finding the best people for the job lowers turnover, increases employee engagement, loyalty, and retaining. Moreover, exceptional customer service translates into a successful business and high rates of return. Finding customer service experts to rise to the expectations is a tremendous responsibility for HR managers, so use all the tools possible to hire for veritable talent!
What other customer service interview questions do you ask? What tools and assessments do you use in the recruiting process?
We’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on this!
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