Customer Service Interview Questions

Ask customer service candidates the right qualification questions with this guide.

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Customer Service Interview Questions

Most advice about the interview process assumes that the person needing advice is the interviewee. While it’s true that job seekers who prep for interviews perform better than their ill-prepared counterparts, this is also the case for employers looking for customer service employees. The interview is your chance to figure out not only if the candidate has the right qualifications for the job, but also whether their attitude mirrors that of the company’s, if they’re likely to stick around over the long haul, and if they have advancement potential.

When interviewing, break up customer service interview questions to ask into several categories, each based on what you specifically hope to learn about the person. Include a general or get-to-know-you category where you warm up and unearth their basic background, then move on to more specific questions that will lead to revealing customer service interview answers. Potential question sets include those based on behavior, call center expertise or customer service management potential.

Feel free to view the helpful resource we’ve provided above if you need more inspiration. Remember that the most important aspect of any interview is ensuring you actually get to know the person who might soon become a member of your company. With that in mind, here are some of the best interview questions you can ask, organized by category.

General, Get-to-Know-You Questions

Your primary goal in conducting an interview is to make sure you don’t accidentally hire a serial killer. Okay, so that’s not very likely. But seriously, you want to make sure that this person can fit the ethic of your team, follow the rules, and become an active and engaged part of your work community.

Start with some tried-and-true queries, even if they seem a little boring. Ask about the candidate’s work and educational background, how they ended up in this field, why they want to work for your company. Invite them to expand on job experiences or school subjects that might tell you more about their ability to efficiently fulfill the role you’re hiring for.

From there, move on to lighter subjects, such as what they like to do on the weekend, their favorite place to eat out or where they vacation. The goal is not so much to learn these facts but to figure out whether you’ll be able to work well with this person in a close-quartered and serious work environment. If you won’t be working directly with this person, bring someone into the room who will, or plan for a follow-up interview, so that you can make sure to match personalities and reduce the chance of turnover.

Behavioral Interview Questions

When you ask customer service behavioral interview questions, you are trying to figure out how well a candidate would interact with superiors, underlings, colleagues and especially customers. Because a candidate is on their best behavior during an interview, it is hard to get a good read on what their actual interactions with another person might be, so asking the right questions is crucial.

Start with easier ones, like how they might persuade a superior to take an untraditional course of action, or how they achieve the goals they set for themselves both inside and outside the work environment. Move on to harder topics such as their preferred approach to escalating conflict without losing a customer or alienating a colleague, or how they’ve moved on from failure. You can also ask point-blank about how they deal with emotion such as stress, anger, frustration or even joy. Their assessment of their own abilities will be helpful to you, and their responses will shed light on how they’ll mix with the rest of your workers.

And remember not to focus solely on the negative. You also want to find out about the candidate’s ability to influence peers, motivate team members, soothe customers and add to a positive work environment, so focus on those highlights.

Call Center Interview Questions

A call center is sometimes a tough place to work. It is fast-paced, can be stressful, and may require a significant tolerance of monotony. Your customer service call center interview questions here should be designed to suss out how likely your candidate is to be able to handle this type of environment.

Cover the basic call center interview questions first, such as their ability to deal with the technology your company uses and the likelihood that they would handle a negative customer interaction well. Then ask about their goals, where they see themselves in ten years, and so on.

Especially give them time to expand on all customer service phone interview questions. The way they choose to fill the silence will tell you a lot about their character. If they babble, you know they may not be a good fit for a call center, where most conversation should be targeted to the matter at hand. If they are stone silent when done talking, they may not have the right “bedside manner” to set customers and clients at ease. On the other hand, a candidate who finishes with “I think that’s it, am I missing anything?” or waits politely when they’re done could fit in nicely.

Customer Service Manager Interview Questions

You have one goal when asking customer service manager interview questions: to figure out whether this person will be able to manage others in a way that adds value to your company and keeps your customers satisfied. Some people are obviously unsuitable, such as those with tempers or those who cannot delegate. Anyone who clearly lacks these strengths is out.

However, some people are harder to read, which is where asking carefully targeted customer service manager questions comes in. These questions should focus on their past experience rather than dwelling in the hazy realm of hypothesis. Just as you wouldn’t want a sales manager telling you that things are going “pretty good” rather than handing you a metrics-based research report, you don’t want to hire a customer service manager on the basis of their assessment that they “enjoy managing” rather than on specific, measurable, detailed stories of how they deal with the common stressors of the job.

One of the reasons there are whole libraries devoted to hiring and firing is that it is difficult to determine how someone will perform before they start their job. With managers specifically, you rarely get to see them interacting with anyone but the HR department before they begin, but don’t let that fact get you down. Instead, consider some of these carefully targeted questions meant to mimic real interactions. They’re bound to prove illuminating.