4 Customer Service Job Interview Questions Employers Need to Ask
Forget “what’s your greatest weakness?” Focus on these instead.
Before we get into today’s post, a quick announcement: We’re hiring a customer support agent to help our customers. We want the absolute best; someone with all of the critical customer service skills, who understands the key techniques, and who has superhuman levels of empathy.
Is that you or someone you know? Check out the job posting right here.
We’re a completely remote team, so the perfect candidate can be absolutely anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
There’s no shortage of customer service job interview questions on the internet.
“Why do you want to work here?”
“What’s your greatest weakness?”
“Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult customer.”
Don’t get me wrong; those are fine to ask, and can certainly give you a glimpse into a candidate’s preparation for the interview.
But they don’t tell you a whole lot about how they think on their feet, how they perform under fire, and how they’ll behave when face-to-face with your customers.
That’s why, if you really want to spot the absolute best talent and fit, you need to role-play.
There are many different situations that you can call on for role-play in an interview, and a lot of them will be unique to your company.
But these four are tested scenarios that will give you a valuable understanding of how your candidate stacks up:
1) A rude customer
- “I want a refund, and I want it right now.”
- Get angry/raise your voice
- Make unreasonable requests/demands
What you’re looking for: Staying cool is an important skill, especially when customers are angry. Look for empathetic responses (remember, you can be sorry for how a customer feels, even if it’s not your fault) and a calm, level demeanor. Bonus points for employing customer service recovery techniques.
Tip: You’re not trying to be a real jerk (the kind of customer you would fire). This is about recreating those more common situations where an otherwise good customer is simply having a bad day.
2) A server outage or other crisis
“You get 50 customers emails alerting you to an outage. What steps do you take to manage the situation?”
What you’re looking for: You can’t expect the candidate to know your processes yet, so you’re looking mostly for a glimpse into their thought process for how they would handle a crisis situation.
Do they alert you? Do they reach out to every customer to ensure that customers know that the issue is being worked on? Do they mention maintaining ongoing contact throughout the day/ordeal?
3) Making a customer’s day
Go through any totally routine customer support interaction, and then ask: “How would you make this customer’s day?”
What you’re looking for: You want people who understand the value of taking that extra step to surprise customers. Anything from small touches like handwritten notes or personal “thank you” emails to larger gestures for a bigger wow.
Empowering your customer support team to wow your customers is one thing; you need employees who are willing to take advantage of that.
4) A request for a discount
Ask for a discount. Note that this only works if your business doesn’t offer discounts. Alternatively, make a feature request with the caveat that there’s no way that feature will ever get built.
What you’re looking for: A big part of the correct approach to this question is empathy (the agent should be grateful for the question and acknowledge that the customer’s concerns are valid), but an equally big part—and an undervalued component of customer service—is sales. If your product is a great fit for the customer, the agent should be able to help the customer understand why your product is worth paying the price you’re asking.
The Value of Role-Play In Customer Service Interviews
Your product can be taught.
Your processes can be taught.
Advanced customer service techniques can be taught.
But skills like empathy, positivity and clarity in communication?
Those are much harder to teach, and critically important to look for in new support hires.
By adding role-playing to your customer service interviews, you can get a much deeper understanding of how a candidate thinks on their feet, and a much better picture of if—and how—they’ll help you build great relationships with your customers.