People working in customer service jobs as representatives serve customers by providing product and service information, dealing with queries and helping to resolve problems. They may be required to record and update account information and to collect and analyse customer information.
A good customer service representative requires excellent communication skills. They may deal with customers face to face, via written correspondence or, most frequently, by telephone. Customer service is also increasingly being offered via live online chat or email queries.
A candidate must be able to deal with customers in a friendly and empathetic manner, but also try to stick to particular company protocols. They will also usually need basic computer and data entry skills. It is also important to prepare effectively and make sure that you represent yourself in a professional manner. This can apply to everything from the way that you dress to the way that you speak during the interview.
It is a good idea to be very clear on the job description and to be aware of the main responsibilities of the role. This will allow you to tailor any questions that you ask to the job specification, demonstrating that you possess a keen eye for detail.
This is a great quality for a customer service assistant to possess. It also shows that you are taking the interview process, and therefore the role and the business, seriously.
Our recruiters in the sales, marketing and customer services sectors outline their top interview prep tip in the video below:
Customer service job interview questions
The exact questions you are asked may vary depending on the nature of the organisation and the specific role of the customer service worker within that organisation. It will help, however, if you prepare for some typical questions that might come up. These may include:
What is customer service?
You should provide a short and concise answer to this question. Consider the role you are applying for and make sure that what you say is relevant. In short, customer services is simply providing assistance to a company's current customer base.
What is good customer service?
Good customer service is ensuring that every customer is satisfied. This is done by answering their questions, resolving problems and dealing with complaints. The goal is that each customer leaves with a positive impression of the company.
How have you dealt with upset or angry customers in the past? Is there anything you would do differently?
If you have first-hand experience talk about this, otherwise say that you have not had to deal with angry customers but if it did arise you would remain calm and professional and listen to the complaint and try to provide a response that addresses their problems. It is important to not take it personally and to always apologise to the customer.
Have you been in a situation where you were unable to resolve a customer problem? How did you deal with the situation?
Answer that if you cannot personally resolve a problem you always inform the customer that you will investigate and get back to them. Then ask the team leader or other experienced co-workers for advice on how to deal with this specific issue before calling back.
Which computer/data entry/telecommunications systems are you familiar with?
Ideally, you will have had some experience with a dedicated customer service software package. If not, explain that you are proficient with Microsoft packages and using web based solutions and are confident that you will quickly learn how to use a new system.
Are you a team player? What types of team structure have you worked within?
Always answer that you are a team player, that you enjoy working as part of the team. Talk about previous teams you have worked in; mention the size of the team, who you reported to, what role you had and who the team leader reported to, for example, manager or director.
Why do you think people choose our company’s products or services?
Here you must do some thorough research before the interview. First, find out what are the main products and services that the company provides. Second, do some research into their marketing plans to determine who they are targeting. The annual report should provide some details of their customer base and target market. The aim here is not only to impress them with your knowledge of their product but also to show an understanding of who their customers are.
What are your strengths and weaknesses when interacting with customers?
Ideally, you should already know what to say here. Remember, your weaknesses must always be used to your advantage - nobody has any true weaknesses in interviews. Your strengths could be that you are good at listening and always patient. A weakness should ideally be related to the role, such as sometimes being too helpful and providing more advice than a customer actually requested. Go on to say that you are careful to ensure that you concisely answer their questions.
Tell us about a time that you helped resolve a particularly difficult customer issue.
Hopefully, you can speak from experience. If you do not already have any direct experience you should be honest and say so before going on to describe a related incident, such as helping to resolve a disagreement in a team sport, at school or with a family dispute. Show that you are always ready to step in and help to resolve a problem.
Why are you applying to work here?
This is always a challenge to answer well. The interviewer wishes to see that you have done some research about the company. Mention the company’s values and mission as being in line with your personal attitudes and goals in life.
What would you do if a co-worker were rude to customers?
Say that it depends on the structure of the team and how long the co-worker has been at the company. If somebody new, you might speak to them to suggest that they maintain a more professional attitude. If you feel that this might cause confrontation, inform the team leader of your concerns.
What is most important - a good product or friendly, fast service?
Say that a good product should not result in customer complaints so products are always most important. If unexpected problems do occur, however, it is important to quickly resolve them.
General interview questions for customer service roles
In addition to job-specific interview questions, you will also be asked a number of more general questions. These may relate to areas including:
- General employment history, experience, education and qualifications
- Personal strengths and weaknesses
- Goals and future ambitions
- Your knowledge of the company
- Hours you are looking to work
You will also usually be given the chance to ask your own questions. Make them pertinent to the company and specific role you are applying for. It is a good idea to base these questions on the research you have done and the qualities, requirements and responsibilities listed on the job application.
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