Customer service is the backbone of any company. If you have a customer service team that is not performing at its best, it will take a toll on your company in many ways. Your customers will feel frustrated and dissatisfied with your product or services, and this can lead to them leaving your business for good.
A customer-centric organization starts with hiring great people who care about delivering an excellent customer experience every single time. In order to hire these individuals, we’ll discuss what you need to screen for during the interview process as well as some questions that can help determine if potential candidates are right for your team!
You should choose the questions which will allow you to filter the candidates. This is not an exhaustive list, nor would every company use all of these. Make sure that your selections include questions that best suit what you are looking for in a candidate.
Screening customer service candidates start by asking the right questions. We’ve outlined some approaches that we use when considering a candidate, as well as ones used in other industries to help you determine who is best for your team.
Here are 40 questions you can ask during the interview process to determine if a candidate is a good fit for your team.
Customer Service Interview Questions
Before we start, let’s define what customer service is.
Customer service is the department that handles customer requests, questions, and concerns. In some cases, this can include a combination of in-person interactions with customers as well as phone or email correspondence. Customer Service Representatives are usually one of the first points of contact for customers who have issues with your products or services (i.e., they want to know how to order a drink, where your store is located, why there was an error in their account).
The customer service department may also include sales representatives for some companies. Customer Service Representatives are usually the people who handle returns and exchanges of products as well.
As you can see from this definition, it’s critical that candidates have strong verbal communication skills. It’s also important that they have a basic understanding of what the customer is trying to accomplish, and can offer solutions in an empathetic way.
As you’re screening candidates for this position, it may be helpful to ask them questions about how they would handle various situations – examples:
- What are your thoughts on offering refunds?
- How do you feel when customers become frustrated with their purchases?
- Do you prefer working by yourself or as part of a team?
General Customer Service Questions
1. Do you have any prior customer service experience?
This question will help you determine if the candidate is qualified, has any specific experience with your industry or customer base, and whether they’re a good cultural fit.
2. Why do you want to work as a customer service representative?
This question is a good way to gauge the candidate’s level of interest in working customer service. Customer service representatives often have to work with frustrated customers, so it’s important that they are passionate about customer service and dedicated enough to handle difficult interactions day-in and day out.
3. How do you think we could improve our customer service process?
This will test how well they have researched your company, their level of customer focus and what ideas they may offer in terms of improvement.
4. In your opinion, what qualities are the most important for someone to succeed in a customer service role?
This will show what qualities the candidate values. If they value loyalty, for example, you may want to reconsider how this would affect their job performance if they are working with customers who have canceled service or filed complaints about your company when it’s understaffed during a high volume period.
5. Are you comfortable using an IVR system?
Some customer service representatives don’t like talking on the phone and prefer email correspondence instead, whereas others feel more at ease speaking to disgruntled customers face-to-face. This question can help determine which type of person is best for that role so that time isn’t wasted in training someone unqualified.
6. What percentage would be acceptable to you for an on-time delivery completion rate (for example: 80% or higher)?
This is a good question to ask if you’re looking for someone that’s detail oriented and cares about getting things done efficiently while still meeting requirements.
7. How would you define good customer service?
This question is a great way to see how the candidate thinks about customer service, and what they believe is important when providing it.
8. Tell me about a time you experienced exceptional customer service and why it was so good.
Answering this questions will show you how the candidate thinks about customer service, and what they believe to be important. Someone who believes good customer service comes naturally may not have much enthusiasm for providing high-quality customer service throughout the day. On the other hand, someone who knows that having great customer service skills takes years of practice might take their job more seriously.
9. What are your favorite parts of customer service?
This question shows where this person’s passion and interests lie, as well as what they find most satisfying in their work. A candidate who likes working with customers face-to-face is more likely to be a better fit for a hands-on role than someone whose favorite part about customer service is data entry or analytics.
10. Do you think there is such thing as “too many” questions? Why or why not?
This question can help assess how well candidates understand – albeit on an abstract level – what customer service involves. It also helps them define their own boundaries for what constitutes overstepping or pestering others (a common complaint among people who offer customer support).
11. What would make you happy at your job? What makes you unhappy at your current/previous jobs?
This question can help assess a candidate’s sense of purpose in their work. It also helps you identify whether the person will be motivated by intrinsic or extrinsic factors, which can make it more difficult for them to stay engaged with customer service throughout their careers.
12. Do you ever get frustrated when talking to customers who are angry/upset? If yes, how do you cope with those emotions?
This question is really about how the candidate manages their own moods. Customer service representatives are often on the front lines when it comes to dealing with angry customers, so it’s important that they’re able to manage these types of interactions well and not let them provoke an emotional reaction in themselves.
13. What has been a difficult customer experience for you recently?
You want your team members to be empathetic towards others – as this will make them much better at providing solutions or resolutions for complex problems. This also gives interviewers insight into whether or not candidates have experienced anything like what they’ll encounter during their workday!
14. What are your thoughts on bad customer service?
This question may be more useful for candidates that have had experience in customer-facing positions prior to applying for this one. It will help you determine if this person has any preconceived notions or biases about the position – which could be good or bad depending on where they’re coming from!
15. Do you know how big our customer base is?
This will help show their understanding of scale – something important when it comes to customer service roles. For example: “We have over 500 million active users!” vs “I don’t know.”
16. Which is the best way to start a customer service call?
This question will help you determine how well they interact with others. For example: “I would listen to understand why they are angry, then try to fix it.” vs “That sounds like my boss’ job…”
17. What’s the difference between customer service and sales or marketing?
This question will tell you if they understand what customer-centric principles are, as well as some of the differences between customer service and other fields. A good answer would be something like “Customer Service is a people-oriented profession that focuses on resolving customers’ issues while Sales is an organization focused on generating revenue by selling products to clients” which shows understanding in both of those roles.
If someone doesn’t know about these distinctions, it might not make them a bad person — but more introspective questions during their interview can help you determine how much experience they have with different types of customer interactions before hiring them for your team.
18. What training have you had related to customer service?
The answer here will show whether or not the person has been trained on customer-centric principles and skillsets like active listening, empathy, how to handle difficult conversations, and more.
19. How well do you handle customer service calls during peak hours (i.e., weekday evenings, holidays)?
This is an excellent question to determine how someone will handle customer service calls during busy periods. Peak hours can happen at any time of the day, so it’s important that the customer service representative can handle a high volume of calls.
20. How do you prioritize which customers to speak with first? How many different types of people or issues does this encompass on average per day?
Ultimately, prioritization focuses on delivering excellent customer experiences for all customers — but prioritizing who should be serviced first depends on factors like urgency, priority level, etc. This type of information can make an interviewee less qualified because they may not have much experience with these kinds of factors.
Problem Solving Questions
21. What would you do to help a customer who is angry?
This question will help determine the candidate’s level of empathy and how they may handle difficult customer situations. For example: “I would listen to understand why they are angry, then try to fix it.” vs “That sounds like my boss’ job…”
22. How would you handle an irate caller or someone speaking in broken English?
This question will help you determine how well they handle difficult people. For example: “I would apologize for the inconvenience and ask them what their call is about.” vs “No, I don’t speak English.”
23. How do you decide to escalate an issue?
This question will help you understand how they make decisions – a skill that can be very important in customer service. For example: “We work with our manager/department head on this” or “It depends on who has more experience”.
24. Give me an example of a time you couldn’t solve a customer’s problem.
This question will help you determine how well they handle failure. For example: “I researched the issue and found a solution.” or “We were able to find an alternative product that would work for them”.
25. How do you deal with difficult customers?
This question can tell you if they are likely to engage in conflict, which is going against customer service best practices. For example: “That’s not my job; I just take their information” vs “I try to understand their point of view first before starting any confrontation”.
26. How would you handle a customer who has asked a question you can’t answer?
This question are often a good indicator of how well they’ll fit in with your company culture. For example: “I would research and find the answer for them, even if it takes some time.” or “I wouldn’t have an answer so I would escalate to someone who’s more knowledgable.”
Personality & Culture Fit Questions
27. How do you feel about speaking on behalf of a company?
The answer to this question could be indicative of whether or not someone would *want* to speak on behalf of a company – which can have an impact on their ability in fulfilling that requirement when they’re offered the position. For example: “It makes me feel proud! I’m very confident in what our product offers!” vs “Talking so much sounds exhausting…”
28. Do you prefer taking phone calls or emailing instead of communicating in-person?
This question tells you if they want to communicate remotely from home rather than spending all day on site — something that’s not sustainable for some companies. You may also be able to get insight into their personality type by seeing how much they enjoy working face-to-face versus virtually. For example, “It depends” vs “Phone calls ”
29. How would you describe yourself as an employee/team member?
Asking questions like these can give insight into whether or not someone is a good fit for a team environment based on their past experiences with other teams. For example: “I’m very outgoing!” vs “I work best when I work independently.”
30. What is your favorite social media platform?
This will help you determine how the candidate likes to communicate with others, which has implications for customer service. For example: “I like Twitter because it’s quick and straightforward!” vs “I don’t use any social media platforms.”
31. Do you prefer working with customers one on one, or as part of a team?
This question will help you see if they are a people person or not. For example: “I enjoy talking to customers one on one, but I also like being part of a team.” vs “It’s really all the same to me as long as it gets done”.
32. How many people can you talk with on a typical work day?
This question will give insight into their expected workload – something that should be aligned with what is outlined in your company policy for this type of position. For example: “Usually up to three emails per hour” vs “As many as needed!”
33. What are your strengths? What’s hard for you?
This question does two things: gives insight into what traits make up a successful employee in this field; shows if there any aspects of this role where they would struggle or excel. This means that both weaknesses and strengths come out in the answer.
34. What would your supervisor say is your greatest strength?
This question can give you an insight into how well this candidate gets along with supervisors and coworkers alike – as they often have no choice but to interact on both ends of that relationship if they’re working in customer service. “Team player” is almost always going to be one answer here, so don’t just take that at face value!
35. Ask them what their biggest weakness in the role might be.
A candidate will usually tell you where they struggle on the job here, but more importantly than that: often times we see people get upset or embarrassed by these types of questions, which can show you how well they deal with rejection — which is always important when working in customer service. Candidates should not answer this question defensively, as this will not help you make a decision about their fit with your team.
36. What is your work style?
Knowing what kind of personality each customer service representative has will help you when assigning tasks and setting expectations. A person with a structured way of doing things may prefer to have most things laid out ahead of time while someone else likes more freedom, flexibility, or creativity as far as their assignments go. The key thing here is learning what motivates people so that you nted to work for us.
This is a good question because it helps you learn how the candidate will react in customer service situations — and what motivates them. It also lets you know if they are interested in your company or not, which could affect their level of performance over time.
37. Have you ever worked remotely? Describe the skills you have that would allow you to work unsupervised at home.
This is a great question for those remote customer service candidates who are thinking about applying to your open positions. If they haven’t worked remotely before, it’s an easy way to find out if this would be something they’re able to do with ease – both when there’s no one around and when customers have questions that need answering!
38. How do you keep yourself motivated in a role that can often seem repetitive?
This is an important question for customer service representatives who are in the trenches every day, fielding inquiries from customers – it’s not always fun to answer questions that they’ve already answered before (but we all know how critical this job can be!). If a candidate answers “I don’t need motivation,” then you might want to think twice about hiring them.
39. Tell me why you want to work here.
This question can give you an idea of what motivates this candidate to come work for your company. Do they want to make more money? Are they looking for a specific type of customer service experience – or is that unimportant? Sometimes it’s not always about the paycheck, so be sure to ask them about their motivation and background in order to see if there are any surprises waiting right around the corner.
40. Tell me something interesting about yourself.
This question gives candidates a chance to show off some personality! Being able to laugh at themselves shows confidence and can also create good rapport with customers who are faced with frustrating situations all day long (ask anyone who works retail). It’s important not just because we’re people too but also because our job is largely also because customer service can be a really tough job, so someone who is able to laugh and take it lightly will likely do well in the role.
In closing …
The customer service representative is your company’s front line and finding the right person for this position is crucial.
Take your time in screening and interviewing candidates, be clear on what you’re looking for in the role (we recommend using a skills test to assess customer service abilities), and have all of your interview questions ready to go.
Remember: it’s not just about how they answer the question but also about their tone, attitude, and body language — so make sure you’re observing them carefully!