Interviews for Customer Service Positions: Three Common Questions

When interviewing a candidate for your customer service role, be thoughtful of the questions you are asking them. You should also listen carefully to their answers to make sure they have the right skills and abilities to be successful at your business. Paying attention to their demeanor and body language can also help learn more about how they could interact with customers. 


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An introduction to ‘what is good customer service’

Before interviewing someone for a customer service job, it’s important to establish what good customer service is. This will help you gauge if a candidate would be a good fit for the position.

Here are a few key elements to good customer service:

  • Making customers feel welcome
  • Answering customers’ questions effectively
  • Being available for customers
  • Anticipating customers’ needs


Making customers feel welcome

Warmly greeting a customer is a key element of good customer service. Most customers like to feel acknowledged and welcome to ask for assistance. The person providing customer service can shape the patron’s impression of your business, so you want someone who is pleasant in this role. 


Answering customers’ questions effectively

To provide quality service, employees should be knowledgeable about the products and services the company offers. Employees should be able to answer most questions customers have and troubleshoot things they are less familiar with. You want an employee with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. They should be eager to learn as much as possible about the business’s offerings. 


Being available for customers

Though a quality employee will keep themselves busy, they should still be available to provide assistance to the customer. For instance, if you have an open retail role, the employee should regularly check to see if people are waiting to get into the dressing room. If it is a telecommunications role, they should be cognizant of how long a customer has been on hold.


Anticipating customers’ needs

Whether a customer walks into a store or calls on the phone, the employee should be able to tell how the customer is feeling based on their body language or tone. It is the employee’s responsibility to respond in an appropriate way and be as helpful as possible in all situations. 


Three questions to ask when interviewing

When interviewing a candidate for a customer service role, ask them questions that will help you get a better idea of their knowledge of customer service, their problem-solving skills and their goals for the position. 

Here are three important interview questions to ask: 

  1. What does good customer service look like to you?
  2. Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult customer. What steps did you take the handle the situation?
  3. Why are you interested in a customer service role?


1. What does good customer service look like to you?

You want to make sure the candidate’s idea of good customer services aligns with your company’s. A qualified candidate will provide an answer that is up to your company’s standards. 

What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of customer service
  • Real-life examples 
  • Critical-thinking skills

Example: “Good customer service is being available to help the customer with whatever they need and having a positive attitude while doing it. For example, if a customer needs to return something, I would make it a pleasant and easy experience for the customer so they want to come to the store again.”

Related: Best Interview Questions to ask Candidates


2. Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult customer. What steps did you take the handle the situation?

This question will help you anticipate how the candidate handles conflicts as they arise. A candidate who can stay calm and keep the customer happy would be a good fit for a customer service position.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • A willingness to take on a challenge

Example: “One time while working as a store manager, a customer was upset that we didn’t have their size. They saw the item online and wanted to get it as soon as possible for an upcoming event. I kindly explained to them that the item was out of stock because that particular size was so popular. I offered to rush order the item for an in-store pickup and told them I would make a note to order more of that size in the future.”


3. Why are you interested in a customer service role?

A qualified candidate is someone who genuinely enjoys working with customers. They should have great interpersonal skills and aim to please. This question helps you determine if the candidate is just looking for any job or has a true interest in a customer service role. 

What to look for in an answer:

  • Excitement for the job
  • Interest in working with customers
  • Helpfulness

Example: “I am interested in this role because I have enjoyed my previous customer service roles, and I think this role will help me grow in the field. Helping a customer and having them go home happy gives me such a good feeling. I love working with people and finding solutions for problems as they arise.”

Related: Phone Interview Questions to Ask Candidates


Customer service interview FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about customer service interviews:


What skills does a qualified candidate for a customer service role have?

People working with customers need to have a certain set of skills in order to provide quality service. Here are a few skills to look for in a candidate:

  • Cooperation
  • Critical-thinking
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Empathy
  • Helpfulness
  • Problem-solving
  • Resourcefulness
  • Respect
  • Tact


What information should I share about the position in the interview?

Use the interview to explain what the average day for someone in this position looks like. Share what their duties will be and what kind of customers they will be helping. Be realistic about some of the common problems that may occur while also being upbeat about the position. You want candidates to feel excited about the role but also have realistic expectations of what they will be doing.


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