Your company is expanding and you're in the process of hiring new customer service agents. Congratulations! When it comes to interviewing, it’s crucial to know what to ask, as the answers to these questions can reveal a lot more useful information than your candidate’s beautiful resume and properly ironed shirt. Of course, there’s no exact formula to determining if someone is the right fit for your customer service department, but there are definitely a number of key questions you can ask to find those diamonds in the rough.
Customer service representatives are the first line of contact for your clients. Acting as the face of your company and fostering customer retention, it would only make sense to look for representatives who have great people skills, empathy and a passion for helping others, among other traits. In this article, we will explain how you as a manager can best prepare for an interview by breaking down different questions into categories, based on the type of skills you want to check. Not only will practicing and understanding the logic behind these questions make you a better interviewer but in the long run, will morph you into an even better manager as you refine what you can expect from your future team.
Customer service skills
Reviewing your candidate’s approach to customer service will give you an idea whether the person you are interviewing has the same underlying beliefs about the role customer service plays in an organization. Based on a person’s answers, you will be able to quickly identify whether this individual is service-oriented and has your customers’ interest at heart.
What particularly appeals to you in this role?
What defines great customer service in your opinion?
Give us an example of outstanding service you received in the past. What made it memorable? Or, a time you received poor customer service and what can be learned from that experience.
What would be the most gratifying part of your job?
Problem solving is an invaluable skill. When hiring potential representatives, it’s important to find people who can think outside of the box and will be challenged - not defeated - by unexpected curveballs that might arise on the job. This will also give you an idea whether this person is comfortable being independent, and whether they work well under pressure.
Was there a time where you didn’t know how to answer a customer’s question? What did you do in such a scenario?
Tell us about your training period in your previous workplaces. Was training easy or difficult? What kind of feedback do you have for yourself during training?
How do you feel about working under pressure? What do you like and dislike?
Emotional intelligence and people skills
In this part of the interview, have your candidate share actual events and past service experience which can demonstrate empathy and compassion. Being able to empathize and relate to your customers is the key to keeping them satisfied, as well as keeping a healthy team dynamic. Based on one’s answers, you will be able to get a better understanding of the level of this person’s interpersonal skills and whether they are easy to work with, or not.
Have you ever gone out of your way to help a customer? If so, why and what was the outcome?
How did you deal with professional challenges at work? Who did you lean on or consult with in a time of need?
What kind of feedback would your coworkers and customers share about you?
There is no greater skill for customer service representatives than the ability to communicate clearly, with patience and empathy. Being able to interpret a customer’s needs and modify one’s language for different audiences will show that your agent can be versatile based on the situation.
Tell us about a tough customer you dealt with in the past. What made the situation challenging?
What would you do if a customer was wrong? How would you handle such a situation?
Have you ever assisted in resolving a dispute between others? Once you have your basics covered, here are some bonus topics that you might want to raise on the way:
Set expectations about responsibilities and career path
Watch out for people who knowingly or unknowingly want a different role, and might see customer service as the easiest way to get a foot in the door. They’ll be less likely to have thought through what great customer service means to a business or stick around for the long run.
Where do you see yourself in two to three years?
If you had total creative freedom in your everyday routine at work, what would you like to focus on?
Why did you choose to apply for this position over others?
Do you know who we are?
Candidates should do their homework before coming to an interview with you, read about your company and know who you are. This is the perfect opportunity to test the person's understanding of your business' identity and needs.
Tell us - how did you hear about our company? Can you mention any news or achievements you’ve heard about us?
What in the position description intrigued you the most?
Why did you choose to apply for this position in our company?
At the end of the day, interviewing in a way is kind of like going on a blind date. You’re not quite sure what to expect but still optimistic that it’ll be a good match. The best interviews are more conversational rather than sticking to a strict question-and-answer pattern, so don’t be afraid to improvise. It will encourage your candidates to feel comfortable and, most importantly, to be themselves.
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