People often think that the only questions asked in customer service interviews are about dealing with demanding customers. However, there is a range of questions that can be asked.
Customer service is a field where you get to help people every day. Although it can be challenging at times, it’s also enriching. Recruiters want to ensure that you’re passionate about customer service and assisting others. To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve compiled a list of the most common customer service interview questions.
Why Are You Passionate About Customer Service?
That’s essentially the question that recruiters are trying to determine. The variety of customer service roles is vast, with various perks and schedules. From retail to food and beverage to travel and hospitality, every industry requires empathetic and caring employees. You can have a range of duties, from answering a chat helpline to fielding phone calls for reservations to in-person customer support roles.
And yes, there are nuances between the different fields. However, the fundamental skills are the same. Ideally, you’ll need to show the recruiter you can problem-solve, you have a passion for helping people, you’re able to stay calm under pressure, and you have excellent communication skills.
Recruiters will often determine this through a variety of story-based questions, also known as the STAR method. STAR stands for situation (what was happening), task (what you needed to do), action (how you responded), and result (the outcome).
Start Brainstorming Your Answers
To help you start compiling your stories and answers, we’ve got some questions you might hear during your interview. These questions might be worded differently, but if you practice answers that speak to the intention of the question, you should find it easier to adjust on the spot.
Why are you interested in working in customer service?
This question is usually asked to determine whether you are genuinely interested in a career in customer service or just looking for a job. The employer wants someone who will be engaged and enthusiastic about their work.
“I have always been passionate about helping others, so I would say that I care deeply about providing excellent customer service. In fact, as part of my education, I spent a year working as an administrative assistant at an accounting firm, where I took on many different roles within the office. I learned how important it was to provide good customer service by assisting clients with their problems quickly and efficiently in that position. It was gratifying to resolve challenges that made someone’s day easier, rather than having to direct them to someone else.”
What do you think makes a great customer service representative?
The interviewer wants someone who has sound knowledge of what is required for this type of work and demonstrates the following qualities: empathy, patience, and comfort speaking with different kinds of people. Since many companies provide customer service over the phone, it’s vital to have excellent communication skills (both verbal and written). Also, because customers can be agitated at times, it’s essential to remain calm and helpful.
“I think the most important quality for a good customer service representative is empathy. I know that when I was completing my internship at [XYZ company], I learned how valuable it can be just being able to listen. Often, when a customer was unhappy, they really wanted someone to listen to their frustrations first.”
What were you most excited about in your previous role?
Through this question, the interviewer is trying to determine if your interests are a great fit for the organization and the role or if you’d get bored.
“I think one of the main things I was excited about in my last job was being able to problem-solve with customers who were having issues with their products. Some problems are easier to solve than others, but I often resolved the issue with persistence. It was like a puzzle trying to find a solution sometimes, which I thrive on.”
Describe a time you were faced with a challenging customer service situation.
This question provides the interviewer with valuable information to determine what you might consider overwhelming.
“I remember one situation when a customer called us on the phone. She was distraught because her dress hadn’t arrived yet, even though it was supposed to be here on Monday. She wouldn’t be able to wear it for an important event she had planned on attending that weekend. Ultimately, she was overwhelmed with the need to find a different dress before the event. While we couldn’t get her dress in time, I was able to provide her with a dress from the showroom and work with the alterations department to prioritize her fittings, so she was ready to go by the weekend.”
What motivates you to go above and beyond for customers?
The interviewer wants to find out what drives you to do good work. They want employees to go above and beyond for customers because they care about their organization, not just another paycheck.
“I think one of the main things that motivates me to go above and beyond for customers is knowing that I’m helping make a difference in their lives. Even when we can’t fully resolve an issue, we’ve done everything possible, and I always hope they leave feeling valued.”
For more tips on how to answer this question, see How to Answer “What Motivates You?” In a Job Interview.
What is the best customer service you’ve ever received?
Employers want to know if you empathize with customers and provide excellent customer service because you understand how important that is.
“I think one of the best customer service experiences I’ve ever received was at bed and breakfast we were booked at. They had accidentally overbooked the rooms due to an error in the online system. They worked hard to find us alternate accommodations and even called to check on us the next morning to ensure that the new hotel worked out great. They invited us to breakfast at the house, despite staying elsewhere. We ended up booking there at a later date because they worked so hard to ensure we were well-cared for.”
Tell me about a time you received a customer service complaint. How did you resolve it?
Though this question seems to open up the opportunity to recount a negative experience, giving an example here is beneficial. This question gives you the chance to demonstrate how you approach problem-solving and emphasizes your communication skills.
When describing your answer, be sure to discuss what happened leading up to the complaint (including what was directed explicitly to the customer’s discontent), how you responded, and how that response led to a positive outcome that met or exceeded expectations (if possible).
“I once had a customer call because she was disappointed with how long it took for one of her shipments to arrive. I apologized profusely and immediately looked into the order’s status. Upon realizing that it was my error and I had failed to submit it correctly, I shipped out a replacement order, so her items arrived overnight. I let her know that it was my error and how I was resolving it. I called to ensure the order had arrived and met her needs the next day. The customer was very pleased, and afterward, even sent a handwritten thank-you note.”
Preparation Is Key
You never know going into any interview precisely what the questions will be. Some questions will be determined by the specific role and whether the manager is trying to target a particular trait that will round out their team better.
However, as with every other aspect of job hunting, the more you research common questions and prepare your answers, the better your chance of success. Don’t leave the interview and think of a better story later. Instead, spend time brainstorming on past experiences and consider the different ways those stories support you as the best job fit.
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