Article

10 customer service interview questions and answers that reveal great support reps

See a list of common interview questions and learn what to listen for to see if your candidate is a good fit.

By Sarah Olson, Senior Associate, Content Marketing, @seolson5

Published December 17, 2013
Last updated November 10, 2020

A day in the life of a customer service agent is not easy. It takes a very specific set of skills to be successful as a customer service representative. The right candidate needs to have the perfect combination of people skills and critical thinking while also being resilient in the face of customer complaints.

To identify good candidates, it helps to ask a mix of common interview questions along with more specific situational interview questions that help you see how a job seeker would perform in common situations of a customer service job.

Customer service interview questions need to be specific enough to help the interviewer identify whether the candidate can provide great customer service to even the most difficult customer. At the same time, the hiring manager needs to find out if the job seeker's talents and career goals are a good match for the organization and role.

That's a lot for a customer service manager to think about in just a short, 30-minute job interview. This list of customer service interview questions can help you narrow in on what matters most.

1. Tell me about yourself. Why are you interested in a customer support role?

Why you should ask this question:

"Tell me about yourself" is a standard interview question for any job interview, but how someone answers it can say a lot about a candidate’s attitude and aptitude for a customer support role. You can see the candidate’s conversational skills in action while also identifying interest areas and strengths.

What to listen for:

  • Personable
  • Follows a clear train of thought
  • Has relevant skills, interests or passions

Example answer:

I’m a recent graduate with a double major in business and sociology. I’m curious about a career in customer support because it aligns my skills in business with my desire to help people. I’m here today because I think my understanding of why people do what they do, which I gained through my sociology coursework, would make me a good support agent. I’m really grateful you took the time to talk to me today, and I’m excited to learn more about the role and see if it would be a good fit.

2. Define great customer service. What does that mean to you?

Why you should ask this question:

The purpose of this interview question is to identify whether the candidate has put thought into the meaning of customer service. A strong candidate will come to the job interview prepared with a point of view that demonstrates knowledge of the industry.

What to listen for:

  • Has a point of view
  • Demonstrates knowledge of the customer service industry
  • Shares a similar values with your organization

Example answer:

I like how Jeff Bezos describes Amazon as being customer obsessed. I think that’s really what customer support is about. It’s doing everything you can to help the customer, and constantly thinking about their needs and desires. Customer service exists to help the customer, so we should be customer-obsessed in everything we do.

3. What do you like about your current position, and what don't you like?

Why you should ask this question:

This question can help you identify what the candidate is looking for in a new position, workplace environment, and career trajectory. Consider how their priorities align with the position you’re hiring for and your company’s goals and objectives.

What to listen for:

  • Doesn’t disparage past employers or roles
  • Recognizes skills gained and lessons learned
  • Interests are aligned with the position you’re hiring for

Example answer:

In my current role, I support customers on every channel, which for us is email, phone, chat, and social media messaging. I especially like talking to customers on social media because I get to be more conversational and use emojis. This position has taught me to be adaptable, and I like that I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn helpful skills for each channel, but what I’m really looking for in my next position is an opportunity to specialize and become an expert on one or two channels that I’m passionate about. When I saw that you were looking for a chat and messaging agent, I was excited about the opportunity because that’s exactly the type of role I’m looking for.

4. What things on your resume are you really an expert on?

Why you should ask this question:

This interview question tests whether the candidate can validate claims made on their resume with specific anecdotes that demonstrate their skills. Strong candidates will be able to explain how they used those skills to solve a tough or urgent problem.

What to listen for:

  • Provides specific examples demonstrating those skills
  • Strengths match the needs that you are hiring for

Example answer:

As I mentioned on my resume, I’m a people person. Talking to customers is where I shine. My philosophy is that talking to support should feel less like a chore and more like a conversation. One example was when I was helping a customer troubleshoot a technical issue. The customer had an older device, so we were waiting a while between each step. That’s when I started chatting with the customer, asking them where they were from and what they liked to do. She said she liked baking, and after a while we were swapping recipes and she was giving me bakery recommendations in case I ever get a chance to visit the Northeast. After the call was over, the customer commented in the satisfaction survey saying, “I didn’t even mind that it took nearly an hour to get my computer working again-I was having such a good time talking! Best customer service call ever.”

5. Tell me about problems with the products you previously supported.

Why you should ask this question:

Every product has its challenges, but part of good customer service is being able to discuss those problems with customers and come to a helpful resolution.

What to listen for:

  • Summarizes the issue without disparaging the company
  • Shows empathy for the customer’s experience
  • Demonstrates the thought process behind proposed solutions (if applicable)

Example answer:

I used to work in customer service for a local credit union, and we would often get complaints from customers who would be frustrated by the mobile app experience. The app was a little outdated, especially compared to what bigger banks are able to do with their apps. An app redesign was in the works, but it was going to take a few years to complete. When customers would complain, we’d say that we understand their frustration and invite them to submit their feedback to the app redesign team via a web form. I think it helped customers feel better knowing that their feedback was heard and would be taken into account, even though we couldn’t act on it right away. I was proud to work for a company that really listened, and took the effort to collect feedback on something they knew was so important to customers.

6. How do you respond when you don’t know the answer to a question?

Why you should ask this question:

Behavioral interview questions such as this one help you get a feel for how a candidate might respond in real situations they’d encounter in the role if they were hired as a customer service representative.

What to listen for:

  • A clear approach and strategy
  • Rationale supporting their chosen approach

Example answer:

When you don’t know the answer to the question, it’s important to be honest and tell the customer you don’t know. You also want to make sure not to suggest or promise something when you aren’t 100 percent sure. I would say something along the lines of, “I don’t know the answer to that right now, but I am going to try to figure this out for you. Let me talk to my team and see if anyone has encountered a similar issue before. I will give you a call back when I know more, I appreciate your patience.”

7. The customer is pointing out a big known problem with your product. What do you do?

Why you should ask this question:

Despite our best efforts, not every problem has an easy solution. Agents also need to be able to concede with grace. Asking this question in the job interview can help you see how they perform as a customer service rep.

What to listen for:

  • Empathizes with the customer
  • Apologizes for the inconvenience

Example answer:

I know from my experience that sometimes there’s nothing you can do for a customer on a particular issue, so it’s best to just acknowledge the problem and be direct that there’s not a clear answer. To convey this, I would say something like, “I hear you, and I understand how frustrating it can be when the software doesn’t work the way you need it to. We know this is an issue, and we apologize for the trouble it’s caused you.”

8. The customer is saying you’re taking too long to resolve the issue. What do you do?

Why you should ask this question:

This question puts your candidate in the (hypothetical) hot seat. A customer service representative needs to be able to stay calm under pressure, remember their training, and stay focused on the issue at hand.

What to listen for:

  • Professional savvy
  • Strong decision-making skills

Example answer:

I think it’s always important to remember that in the customer’s world, their issue is the most important issue. It makes sense that they have a sense of urgency. I’ve found that in these types of situations, I’m more successful when I frame my response as helping the customer find the best possible answer. For example, I might say something like: “I know how important it is that you find an answer to this question, so I want to make sure I’m giving you accurate information. I appreciate your patience as we work through this, and I’ll provide an update as soon as I know more.”

9. Can you give me an example of a customer that you turned around from a position of unhappiness to sheer joy?

Why you should ask this question:

Strong candidates should have more than a few examples to draw from, and they should be proud to share them. Watch for body language such as smiling or talking more loudly, which can show that a candidate really loves the work.

What to listen for:

  • Examples come easily
  • Has a sense of pride and accomplishment

Example answer:

I once had an angry customer who was venting about a product that arrived broken. He said the product was a gift for his daughter whose birthday was the next day. He would have to show up to her party empty-handed. I told him I was so sorry for what happened, but I had an idea for how we could help. I talked to my team, and we were able to send him a new product with overnight shipping. We also surprised him by throwing in gift wrapping for no charge. With just a little coordination and a small cost, we were able to totally change that gentleman's experience. It was so rewarding to hear from him later that his daughter loved the gift, and he said he was blown away by the service he received. It really affirmed for me the value of customer service, and how we can truly have an impact on customers.

10. Have you tried our product or service? What do you know about it?

Why you should ask this question:

Simply put, it’s an easy way to find out if a candidate has done their homework. They should be able to provide a few key talking points that prove they’ve visited your website, and maybe even tried a demo of your product (if applicable).

What to listen for:

  • Evidence that they reviewed your website, social media and/or product demos
  • Interest and desire to work for your organization

Example answer:

I know from visiting your website that you have a mantra of “always be helpful,” which is clearly demonstrated by features such as the chat widget on your website and how easy it was to find your FAQ page. I also saw on your company Facebook page that you have a strong commitment to social impact, and you encourage your employees to volunteer in the community and support organizations such as Black Girls Code. I can really tell that your organization lives by their values. I’m excited about this opportunity because I feel we share similar values, and I think my ability to make meaningful connections with customers would be really aligned with your mission.

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