4 Fantastic Interview Questions for Customer Service Positions

High turnover? Culture problems? Negative reviews? The problem may be in your hiring practices. Here are four interview questions for customer service positions that I use and how they’ve helped me reduce turnover, improve teamwork, and increase customer satisfaction. You’ll probably find that they can be helpful in more than just customer service interviews.

Interview Questions for Customer Service Positions

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Why
It doesn’t get any more open-ended than this. It’s a warm-up question for both sides. Candidates can use it to make a personal connection or explain why they would be a good fit. They can also address elephant-in-the-room resume issues. Examples might be gaps in work, moving around, seemingly random job history, etc.

What I’m Looking For
Enthusiasm – if the candidate isn’t enthusiastic about themselves in an interview, they probably won’t be enthusiastic about their work.
Communication – A little bit of interview nervousness is normal, but candidates should be able to speak easily on a subject they know well (themselves).
Authenticity – Authenticity is hard to define, but we can generally tell if someone is being open and honest vs just telling us what they think we want to hear.

Answer Example
(Medical Office Receptionist) “My husband and I moved here two years ago with his work. He’s in the military and we plan on living here for at least 3 years. I’ve always enjoyed helping patients. I spent two years in nursing school before we moved. I didn’t graduate, but it helped me understand a lot more about patient care and the importance of accurate documentation and friendly service.”

2. Tell me about a time when you delivered excellent customer service.

Why
Everyone is in customer service, and excellent customer service means something different to everyone. Since this is a behavioral interview question, I always insist on a specific example. I give the candidate all the time they need to think of an example.

What I’m Looking For
High Standards: I love hearing examples of going above and beyond for clients.
Helpful or Memorable: Excellent customer service can be helpful or it can be memorable – often both. A helpful example would be staying a few minutes late to make sure a client something they needed. Memorable customer service is anything that makes a customer smile.

Answer Example
(Medical Office Receptionist) “One day, a patient came into our office and I noticed it was her birthday. I didn’t say anything at the time, but I printed out a free card template online and had our care team sign it. As she was leaving we gave her the card. She was floored and told us that, “this made coming to the doctor on my birthday so much better!’”

 

3. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an upset customer. How did you handle it and what was the result?

Why
Working with upset customers can be a daily occurrence in most business. Knowing how to empathize and keep calm is a necessity for customer service positions.

What I’m Looking For
Empathy: Bringing a sense of understanding to the situation is paramount. This normally involves listening and communicating back what you understand the problem to be. Our natural reaction is to be defensive. Taking the time to empathize can mean the difference between a favorable or unfavorable outcome.
High Road: When a customer is being blatantly unreasonable, we sometimes feel justified acting a certain way. But then, we wouldn’t be taking the high road. Acting in a calm, professional manner when it’s most difficult is taking the high road.

Answer Example
(Medical Office Receptionist) “I had a patient arrive an hour after her appointment time. She was loud, cursing, and demanding to be seen by the doctor. I figured her attitude was in part due to some pain caused by her condition. I told her I was sorry for any miscommunication and asked her to accompany me into an exam room while I worked on a solution. The care team figured out a way to work her in. After I let the patient know, she starting crying happy tears that she would be seen. She was so grateful and admitted she had messed up.”

 

Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a co-worker or supervisor. What were the circumstances and what was the outcome?

Why
Culture, to me, really means teamwork. Working well with co-workers and managers is a must. Our ability to manage conflict on a team is can be very telling.

What I’m Looking For
Cooperation & Courtesy: How well does the candidate work with others when the pressure is on.
Type of Disagreement: If a candidate cites a petty example of a disagreement, it could spell trouble. “Sandy accused me of eating her sandwich” isn’t going to curry much favor with the interviewer.

Answer Example
“I was tasked with overhauling our referral management process. When I asked for more information from a colleague, he was very defensive about my questions. I think he was upset that he wasn’t selected for the task. I let him know that he has a lot more knowledge than me in this area, and the project would only be successful if he played an important role in the process. After that, he took an interest in the project and admitted a lot of the things he was doing didn’t make sense. The new process we developed was a huge success.”

 

Summary

Too many managers simply ‘go with their gut’ when hiring and hope for the best. Using these behavioral interview questions for customer service positions will give you several good reasons (or not) to hire someone.

2018-07-23T19:01:59+00:00