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Written by Susan ShorSusan Shor

How to ace your customer service job interview

12 min read
How to ace your customer service job interview
So you have been fortunate enough to land a job interview. Here's a list of questions and scenarios you might hear during your interview.

So you have been fortunate enough to land a job interview in the Customer Service arena. Congratulations! Obviously, you passed the first hurdle with an excellent resume. You must have great qualifications and communication skills that led to you getting a customer service  interview in the first place. 

Whether you will be starting out working from home or going into a call center, you need to present yourself professionally, by looking and sounding your best! Remember that as a customer service representative, you need to be calm and responsive—the very same customer service skills you will need in a customer service job. The best way to ace your interview is simple: Be prepared!

Now it's time to take the steps that will have you negotiating your salary and accepting that job offer.

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Preparing for Your Customer Service Interview 

Should you review common questions and answers? 

Of course, but that’s not your first step.

What is?

First, go back to the job description and reread it carefully. Then answer the following:

  1. What are the exact skills listed?
  2. Can I give an example of a time when I used that skill (even if it is not in a customer service role)?
  3. Can I think of a time when I received great customer service that serves as a model for me? What was great about it?
  4. What conflict resolution tactics do I use? Do I have an example of success with them?
  5. Complete this sentence: Great customer service means _____.

Next, research the company’s products and services. You will need to be an expert in them if you get the job, so show that you are already knowledgeable. Also, research the company culture. If your prospective employer values team players, think of a way to show that you are one during your interview. 

Now you’re ready to prepare for the most likely job interview questions you will have to answer.

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Customer Service Representative Interview Questions

It's important to think about the kind of questions the hiring manager might ask you. You don't want to be caught off guard or stumbling on words when you should be impressing them with your readiness. Think through your interview answers beforehand, but remember that you may still be surprised by a question. It’s OK—in fact, it may be a plus—to take a moment to gather your thoughts before you answer. Taking your time before speaking is a step toward good customer service.

Any business looking to hire superior customer service personnel takes the interview process very seriously, as it says something about your ability to communicate and work with people in high-pressure times. After speaking with several hiring managers, we have compiled a list of common interview questions and scenarios you might hear during your interview:

  • Why do you feel that you are best suited to work in the customer service field?
  • Describe a situation where you went above and beyond for a customer.
  • In your past experience, how have you handled a disgruntled or difficult customer?
  • Why do you enjoy working in the customer service field?
  • What qualities do you have that make you well suited for a position in customer service?
  • Tell us about a customer service experience you had, positive or negative, that has impacted the way you approach your work.

You can break these questions into categories: Some will ask details about your work experience or career goals, but others are behavioral interview questions. In other words, the recruiter wants to know how you behave in common customer service interactions and difficult situations. You may even consider asking a friend to roleplay a few situations to give immediacy to your responses. 

How do you pass a customer service interview? There are a few essentials of customer service that should be demonstrated in an interview. You need to be a patient listener and effective communicator. You should display advanced problem solving skills with an ability to find a compromise. You need an energetic personality with an optimistic frame of mind. Most importantly, you need to be able to put yourself in the place of the customer - if they feel empathy from a customer service representative they will accept most resolutions.

Customer service interview answers

While the interviewer would much rather see a customer service professional "live" in front of real customers (or on the phone to them), most interview processes do not include any kind of field test. Talking about your customer service experience is therefore the next best thing.

The answers that you give should center around satisfying their needs. You need to demonstrate that you are able to listen to complicated issues, explore frustrations, empathize with feelings, and find suitable solutions. The journey to resolving a customer's needs is always different, so embracing flexibility is key. There is nothing worse that a customer service professional who doesn't deviate from their set script and is unable to address the nuances of every situation. Putting the customer first means understanding that every case requires a unique approach.

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Make sure that you talk your interviewer through the process of resolving a customer service complaint. Describe the issue, share some detail's about the customer's situation and outline how you came to a resolution. Customer service is about the journey, so take the time to do some of your success stories justice. Don't shy away from talking about how you resolved the most difficult situations - that is the true measure of your customer service success.

Interview questions for call center

Many call center interviews will involve a deep dive into a customer service representative's ability to memorize a script and react to varying situations. This type of situational interview will keep a candidate on their toes as it will often mimic what they will be expected to do in the workplace. 

Think about the type of company that you are interviewing for and the type of customer service issues that you will be resolving. It is certain that you will be asked questions around how you would react to certain situations, so you can definitely prepare your answers in advance. Think about your employer's culture and find the balance between being customer-centric and commercially aware. You can't always give customers everything that they want, after all.

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Remember that the interviewer is looking for the skills mentioned in their job listing. Take every opportunity to exhibit them during your interview. Customer service representative jobs can be stressful because you are tasked with managing all types of customers. Being prepared will help you stay cool during your interview! 

By taking the time to really think about these questions and formulate carefully thought out answers, you are ensuring that your interview process will be considerably easier and increase your chances of a better outcome. How you speak and your level of comfort when interviewing will all be key factors in how well you interview. If you are prepared, you will be more at ease, and that comfortability will be apparent in your overall demeanor and tone. Whether your interview is face-to-face (unlikely in these times) or via phone/video, preparedness will result in a more positive outcome and a better experience for everyone involved. Also, don't forget to sell yourself! The hiring manager is impressed with you, but it's up to you to show them just how great you are. Flaunt your best qualities and show them why hiring you will make all the difference in their company.

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Ask Questions During the Interview

It sounds funny to say this, but also try to remember that your interview isn't all about you. Hiring managers say that they are always impressed by job seekers who listen well and take the time to ask questions about the position and company. Be inquisitive! Especially when considering interviews that take place in the customer service field, friendliness and reciprocity are of immense importance. Most hiring managers say they look for excellent listening skills, the ability to focus, empathy, and confidence. They want someone who communicates well, and communication is a two-way street. So do a little interviewing yourself, and take the time to show interest and commitment to the mission of the company.

Here are some potential questions you may ask your interviewer:

  • How will you measure my job success?
  • What are the opportunities for career growth here?
  • What are some challenges I might face in this job?
  • What are the qualities of a person who did a great job in this customer support role?
  • Who is your top competitor and why?
  • What do you like about working here?

Remember that in addition to being prepared and serious about the job at hand, you should also try your best to enjoy the interview. We know interviews can be nerve-wracking and not the most enjoyable of times, but a hiring manager looking for customer service representatives wants a social person who enjoys people and social situations. Do your best to keep the conversation fluid, talk slowly and clearly, and smile. They want to see how calm and cool you are, so try not to let those interview jitters stand in the way of letting your personality shine.

Finally, remember to follow up with a thank-you email.

Good luck and go get that job!

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