5 Customer Service Interview Questions You Should Ask

Behavioral interview questions will tell you a lot about your candidate!  While people can certainly prepare for what questions might be asked, it’s difficult to prepare a canned answer when you have to recall and recant a specific situation.  The big draw to these types of questions is based on the assumption that past behavior will dictate future behavior – if you like what you hear, you are likely to see it happen if you hire the person.


Behavioral interviewing is especially effective during the search for employees who deliver great customer service.  From call centers and receptionists to retail management and restaurants, a customer service question that begins with, “tell me about a time when…” or is otherwise open-ended tends to make room for the cream to rise to the top.  They usually elicit responses that either wow or throw up a big red flag.  In my experience, these (or a version of them) will make the hiring process more efficient and effective for you.

  1. What is your customer service philosophy?
  2. Tell me about a time when you lost a customer despite your best efforts.  What was the situation?  How did you try to resolve it?  What would you do differently next time?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. What made the person “difficult?”  Was their anger or upset warranted – why or why not?  How did you diffuse the situation and what was the outcome?
  4. Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile for a customer – doing something beyond the parameters of your job description.  What was your motivation?  What was the outcome?
  5. Tell me about a time when you have handled a long line of waiting customers.  How did you manage the line?  What techniques did you use to keep each customer happy?  How did you manage your stress?

After thinking about the potential responses, you can probably see how they so easily tell you what you need to know.  The best candidates will show genuine passion and an eagerness to make things right in their answers.  They will illustrate the distress of upsetting customers and the joy in pleasing them in their expressions and in each answer; the very best will unknowingly sprinkle some ownership into their answers.  Alternatively, the red flags are easy to spot because annoyance with customers is not an easy thing to hide.  They may try to throw the customer or their former employer under the bus rather than taking part or all of the responsibility, or may display a lack of empathy by being dismissive or exasperated as they describe the customer in their answers.

Hiring people who understand that customers are the reason your doors are open is vital; utilizing effective interview questions and techniques to help avoid trouble is priceless.  Do you have a favorite interview question that gets to the heart of customer service?  Please share!


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