Customer service interview questions

Important customer service interview coming up? We’ve got this…

Let’s face it, interview questions are never easy. But a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring that you impress. For a customer service interview, that means learning how to place precedence on your personality – no matter which combination of questions happen to come up.

We’ve already covered the best jobs in the customer service industry, but if you’ve been invited to interview – here are five commonly asked customer service interview questions, and how to answer them:

 

Tell me about a time you worked well in a team

Translation: there’s no ‘I’ in customer support…

The most important thing to remember here is that the interviewer doesn’t just want to know that you can work well in team, they want you to be able to prove it.

To make your answer memorable, refer to a specific event that happened in a previous role. Then, focus on giving credit to your colleagues, whilst illustrating the individual components that make you a good team player. If you don’t have much employment experience, try using examples from school, University, or even your hobbies and interests.

Just avoid the temptation to rely on clichés and buzzwords. The last thing you want is to be lost in a sea of ‘I’m a great communicator’ answers.

Right answer: ‘Last Christmas was especially busy for the company I’m currently working for. We had a lot of sale stock to put out on the shop floor, and double the amount of customers to serve – so all of the colleagues really had their hands full. To make sure all the stock got put out on time, we all agreed to stay an hour after the shop closed. Not only did we get all the work done, I actually feel like the experience helped us get closer as a team ‘

Wrong answer: ‘I work best in a team when I’m in charge, and so does everyone around me. I’m basically like a team leader. But, you know, just without the actual title’

Competency-based interviews: What you need to know

 

Tell me about a time you were faced with a difficult customer issue and describe how you solved it

In other words, do you have the ability to diffuse a tough situation, or will you just crack under pressure?

Although it might seem tempting to go into the intricate details of what the customer’s issue was, this isn’t really want the interviewer wants to hear. Instead, focus on exemplifying the skills and attributes you used to address and understand the issue, keep the customer calm, and ultimately solve the problem.

It’s important to make sure your answer isn’t too generic, but don’t go overboard with the embellishments. Over-exaggeration is never a good look.

Right answer: ‘I recently had to deal with an angry customer that called the helpdesk to complain about a faulty product. First, I made sure I listened to the whole story (and understood it), and apologised and empathised with their situation. Then, I offered two possible solutions (a refund or a replacement), and made sure the customer was happy with these options. Whilst still on the phone to the customer, I was able to put their refund through there and then. I also asked if they needed help with anything else, and gave them my name so they’d be able to get back in touch directly with any other issues.’

Wrong answer: ’I once had a customer who was so unhappy that they threatened me with physical violence. Luckily, I’m trained in the art of Kung Fu. That’s when it got really interesting…’

Interview question: Tell me about a time you’ve dealt with a difficult person

 

Describe a time when you provided excellent customer service

This one is all about showing you can go ‘above and beyond’ in the call of duty.

Your ability to serve customers politely and efficiently should be a given at this stage, but the interviewer wants to know if you’re passionate enough about helping people to do more than is expected.

To represent your skills accurately, prepare an answer that describes a genuine example of your exceptional customer service.

Reference a time where you really impressed a customer, and describe the exact lengths you went to to make them happy – it’s all about putting extra work in, taking responsibility, and making the customer feel valued.

Top tip: refer to a situation where the customer didn’t need to ask for help in order to receive it.

Right answer: I recently met with a client to sell an event package. Prior to their visit, I explored previous activities that similar groups had found helpful in the past. This meant I could tailor the meeting accordingly, and could ensure they’d get everything they wanted out of the experience. Afterwards, I sent an information pack to send to all the attendees, with a brief recap of the visit. The company appreciated the personal touch, and went on to book six events with us.

Wrong answer: ‘I take clients out for drinks all the time. This position does come with an expense card, right?’

Five key competency questions: Revealed 

 

How do you normally respond if you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question?

Not only will this question decipher whether you can handle a difficult situation professionally, it’ll also test whether you’ll admit to a potential weakness – and overcome it.

To make sure your answer impresses, explain that even if you’re unsure of how to answer a customer’s query, you always ensure they get the help and advice they need.

Make it clear to the interviewer that you’d find the answer using a reliable source (e.g. a colleague, manager, or official company documentation), and if you’re not qualified to handle their request, you’d politely direct them to another member of the team.

Remember: guessing is never an option…

Right answer: If I absolutely can’t answer their question, I’ll usually respond with ‘I’m not 100% sure on that, but let me check with one of my colleagues and get back to you straight away.’

Wrong answer: ‘I just make up the answer. They almost never work it out…’  

Behavioural interview questions

Types of interview questions 

 

Think of a company that has delivered excellent customer service, and explain why it was so good

Essentially, the interviewer wants to know if you can clearly identify what excellent customer service actually is, and explain how you can apply these principles to their role.

Although you could drop in that you’re (obviously) a fan of the way the company you’re interviewing with does things, your main answer should refer to a positive experience you’ve had using a different product or service.

Explain the extraordinary lengths a company went to for you, how they did it, and what was good about the specific interaction(s).

Just make sure you think of the company before your interview. Because it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ this question comes up, it’s a matter of ‘when’.

Right answer: ‘I was recently shopping at *company name*, and a member of staff noticed me looking confused around the dog collar section. He was very helpful, and talked me through the different materials, durability, and even suggested the size that might work best after asking what breed my dog was. Not only was he polite and accommodating, he also showed a genuine interest in my individual situation and offered tailored advice.’

Wrong answer: ‘You’re the best company I’ve ever had any interaction with. I ordered something off your site and it was delivered within the specified time. Genius.’

 Interview types: What you need to know 

 

Need more interview questions?

Not sure any of these questions will come up? Don’t panic. We’ve got plenty more…

Buy James Reed’s new book: Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again and start loving Mondays now.

 

The worst thing you can do at an interview? 

OK, so out of all the classic interview nightmares, which are the ones that really worry jobseekers the most?

We spoke to a group of university students to find out – and see if recruiters actually agree…

 

 

If you’re still searching for your ideal customer service role, read our list of the best jobs in the customer service industry, along with five jobs in retail you could be doing right now. 

 

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