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Customer Service Interview Questions

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Receiving poor service at a restaurant will cause most people to take their business elsewhere.

Customer retention is an important component to the success of every organization. A solid customer support organization is a critical function that can determine if a customer stays or goes elsewhere the next time they are interested in purchasing. Losing clients to the competition because of poor Customer service is the last thing an organization wants, especially in these tough times.

Traditionally, Customer Service representative Positions are entry level jobs that many companies use as a base level to bring in new talent. Once the employee has proven themselves, the company can provide opportunities to other positions within the company.

Profile of a Customer Service Professional -

Customer Service positions are highly competitive, but also can be lead in to a better position within the company. If you are considering a position in customer service, you are likely to have the following Character Traits:

* Great Listener
* Stellar Phone Presence
* Desire to Help People
* Dedicated Problem Solver
* High Degree of Patience
* Communicate solutions to Customers

If you are interested in a Customer Support Position, these top ten interview tips will help:

1. Be on time - Do not be late for the interview. Arrive 15 minutes ahead to show initiative
2. Be Friendly - Show them early on that you are cordial and appreciative of their time
3. Be Prepared: Have the Job description, your resume, and references available at a moments notice
4. I Like to Help People - is the message you want to deliver. The desire to help others is a key trait many hiring managers look for.
5. Listen, Listen, Listen - Your ability to listen without interrupting shows that you respect others and focus on them.
6. Be A Problem Solver - Key on your strengths that show your ability to solve problems
7. Speak clearly - Communicating back to a hiring manager allows you to showcase your ability to convey information and be articulate with your audience.
8. Be Professional - always present yourself as a professional in your demeanor and thought process. Remember, if you are hired, you will be a company representative to the customer.
9. Pause Before Answering - When being asked questions during the interview, do not be too eager to answer. Pausing before answering, shows you think before you speak.
10. Show Interest - Do not be afraid to ask questions about the Customer Support procedures and policies.
11. Check out the Company - Before the interview, research the company website as you were a customer. Make note of how the company presents themselves and their service message.
12. Be Positive - An honest positive can do attitude shows your personality will be a great fit on the team
13. Close - Once the interview begins to wind down, summarize key points the hiring manager conveyed during the interview.

Sincerity goes a long way if you are truly interested in the position. Show you are a mature listener that can align your skills to their needs which is what the manager is looking for.

Tips for customer service interview

How many parties have you been to where the topic of conversation turns to customer service and, usually, some horror story about a bad customer service experience? If you are like me, it happens all of the time. Imagine, if you will, if you were responsible for a customer service organization and the topic of conversation turned to a bad experience with your customer service department. Now what do you do? My guess is you start to examine your customer service department.

Generally, the best place to begin your examination is at the beginning. How are you recruiting and interviewing your customer service representatives? Is there a structured interview process? Is it willy-nilly? Do your hiring managers really know how to interview?

I'm going to share a three step approach to interviewing customer service representatives that will lead you to better results. All employees' success is based on three critical success factors: The first is Skill Fit. Skill fit is the most natural piece of information for us to evaluate from a resume. It includes education, training and experience. The second is Company Fit. Company Fit includes values, attitudes and appearance. The third, and often most overlooked, is Job Match. Job Match includes personality, interests, and abilities. By bringing together all three, you can raise the bar of your customer service team.

Now, how to do it.

First, you've got to make sure that your hiring managers know how to interview. Good solid interviewing skills are critical. Using the tried and true behavioral interviewing approach will always provide better results than an "off the cuff" methodology or an interviewing style that relies on anecdotal responses to hypothetical questions. The crux of behavioral interviewing is this philosophy: Past Performance Predicts Future Behavior When interviewing, generally, you can create behaviorally based interviewing questions by formulating your questions as follows:

  • Tell me about a time when...
  • Give me an example of...
  • Walk me thorough an experience where you...
Some customer service interview questions might include:
  • "Tell me about a time where you had to go around company policy to get something done for a customer?"
  • "Can you give me an example of a time when a customer was being unreasonable? Tell me exactly what the situation was and how you handled it." And, as a follow-up you can ask, "What did you learn from that situation?"
  • "Oftentimes we are asked to be a part of a project team. Can you tell me about a time in your last job when you were a part of a project team? What was the team asked to do and what role did you play?"

Of course these are just examples. You'll want to create your own specific questions that you'll ask every single candidate. In general, you'll need to push for a story but that is exactly what you want the interview to be...a series of stories where the candidate tells you about the way they handled specific situations in the past. You can bet that they will be good indicators of how they will handle similar situations in the future. Once you have the basic interview questions structured, you are ready to move onto Company Fit.

Generally, Company Fit is a bit more challenging that Skill Fit and good interview questions can often get us the information that we need. In order to focus on company fit, you first need to know what types of behaviors are expected at your organization. Are you a team oriented culture or one that rewards individual contributors? Are things flexible or do you hold to specific policy? Shorts and a T-Shirt or suit and tie? Closed or open door policy with an executive? All of these components make up company fit. Your interviewer will want to ask questions like:

  • "Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a policy. What was your disagreement and how did you handle it?"
  • "Tell me about a manager that you worked for that was particularly effective. What behaviors did he/she display?"
  • "Tell me about a very busy day that you have had in the past. How did you go about accomplishing everything?"

The final component is Job Match. Using Job Match technology, you can assess successful incumbents in customer service roles and find out what their learning styles, behavioral traits, and occupational interests are. Each of these three components have been studied and found to be key indicators of job success-more so than experience and education alone. They indicate the following:

Thinking Style: Shows how the person processes and learns new information. It answers the question "Can the candidate cope with the mental demands of the job?"

Behavioral Traits: What are the key behaviors the job demands? It answers the question "Will the candidate be comfortable in the job environment?" It also answers the question "Will the candidate be motivated by this kind of work?"

Occupational Interests: What is this person interested in doing? Are they an artist who is applying for a data driven job?

By understanding those key components, you can then create a job match pattern for people who you know to be successful in the job. Once that pattern is created, you can then assess incoming potential talent and see where they fit in the pattern and where they lie outside of the pattern. Some job match tools even provide behavior-based interviewing questions that target areas where candidates lie outside of the job match pattern making the interviewing process even easier.

By utilizing behavior based interviewing to target Skill Fit and Company Fit and then adding in Job Match technology, you can go a long way in improving customer service. It is not easy to find great people but it is possible. Putting a solid, repeatable methodology in place is the key.

Learn more at Talent Insight Group

More tips for customer service interview

Just like any other job that you are going to be applying for, there is going to be that sometimes scary interview process that you will have to do. Sure, some people do not necessary like this part of the job search but it is always something that needs to be done. Being prepared for the type of customer service questions that you are going to receive is key to landing the job.

First of all, think about what customer service really entails -- working with people. So obviously you will be asked a series of questions relating to helping and working with the customers.

An employer wants to verify that you can fully satisfy their customers as well as meet any of their needs during the transactions that a customer brings.

An employer will also look at your past work history to see how experienced you are with working in the customer service department. More experience surely means a better chance to get the job but even if you do not have the experience, you can a lot of times land it by answer their questions right.

Really, a lot of the questions you will be asked are mainly going to be common sense answers that even someone without experience should know. Think about it, you are a customer at times as well and know how you want to be treated. Use that knowledge and answer the questions thinking like a customer.

A customer service job is not too difficult to land if you are a people person, know how to deliver for the company to the customer and can provide a good record of satisfying customers.

Now get out there and land that new career in the industry.

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