13 Tricks and Treats for the Best Customer Service Interview

Mercer Smith-Looper Mercer Smith-Looper · 5 min read

A poorly-run interview can scare candidates away and give them a fright. Or worse: it might not actually get the hiring manager the insight they need to make the right decision.

Interviewing for a new support person can either be a barrel of laughs, or a bunch of screams depending on how you do it. A well-run interview can attract better candidates who may be considering other offers.

This holiday season, we want to give you some tips to creep it real and run the best possible customer service interview process that you can—both for you and the fangtastic candidates that come through your applicant tracking tool.

customer service interview
1. Zom-Be on time

Whenever you set a time for an interview, make sure that you’re there at that time. If it is a video interview, make sure that you have downloaded all of the necessary drivers ahead of time. And also that you are ready to go. You set the right expectations for your candidates and show them that you care when you arrive on time and make an effort to value their time, as well.

Treat (or trick) every candidate exactly how you would expect them to treat you.

customer service interviews2. Set expectations

Let the candidate know what they can expect before going too far into the customer service interview process, just like you would with a customer. After all, they only have a limited amount of time before they turn back into werewolves! What is your company’s timeline for hiring? How many steps can be expected for the process? How much time will each step take? What does the salary look like?

These are things that you can tell your candidate within the first few calls just to make sure that you are making the most of each other’s time. If it doesn’t work for them, they’ll know now rather than four hours into the process and you will too.

customer service interview
3. Ask about empathy

Empathy is key for customer support people—if they do not have it, it will make their job of caring and helping people day in and day out very difficult. Ask them questions to discern how empathetic they are towards other people.

For example, ask when the last time they helped someone was, as well as how and why they did it. Was it self-motivated? How do they spook about emotion? These give important insights a person’s empathy.

customer service interview
4. Ask about problem-solving style

Try to discern what kind of problem-solving style they have. I like to boo this by asking “If I gave you a set of legos, how would you go about putting it together?” This shows a few things: how they feel about process and procedure (do they read the instructions?), and also how they think about solving a problem or building something new (what they do with the legos).

customer service interview
5. Ask about a time they received amazing service

In order to give excellent service, you must have received excellent service at least once in your life. Ask your prospective employee this question and then listen to how they describe the service they received and what made it so amazing.

Does it sound faboolous or above average to you? They will bring those same tenets (or lack thereof) to your business.

6. Ask about a time that they gave amazing service

The way I like to ask this is “Tell me about the last time you had an interaction with a customer that left you feeling like a total boss.” This creeps it open-ended, and you can get a bit more of a sense about whether they have a customer-focused personality, or they are more focused on something like sales or getting rid of the customer.

7. Ask about how they work with other teams

If they’ve ever worked in a sizeable company before, they’ve likely had to interface with other teams. Ask them about how they’ve done that, or if they’ve put any process in place to make it easier. A good costume-r support person will speak about the importance of interfacing with other teams, and the value of communicating effectively.

customer service interviews
8. Ask about how they see their scare-eer in support

Many people see support as a stepping stone for moving on to other departments within a company. Try to find employees that see support as a career and can put words to what they want to do and where they want to go beyond “I want to be a manager.” Try to find out where their passions lay so you can ultimately determine if there’s a need on your team for what they bring to the table.

9. Ask about how they handle constructive insights

Ask the potential employee when they were last told something that was hard for them to hear, and then ask them how it made them feel. How did they integrate the critical or constructive in-frights? The answer to how they integrated the insights will tell you how this person will understand constructive conversations about their work in the inbox or other performance-related conversations.

customer service interviews10. Ask about how they deescalate tough situations

Everyone has been in a situation in their life that started as a small disagreement but gradually snowballed into something much bigger and unanticipated.

Ask your prospective employee about a time this happened, and what they did about it. Listen, first, to how they talk about the person that they were frighting with. Do they sound reasonable, or understanding of the other person’s perspective? Then, pay attention to how they describe de-escalation of the situation and what they did to help.

Both of these answers will be directly applicable to their day-to-day work with your customers.

customer service interviews11. What’s the last thing you taught yourself and why?

Support people should be naturally curious—after all, they have to support a product that is perpetually changing, be knowledgeable about new technologies and, like any other career, if they want to grow, they need to continue to learn.

If the person hasn’t taught themselves anything in a long time, they might not be a great fit for your team because they’ve become complacent in their own growth. Similarly, if they’ve taught themselves something directly applicable to their role, or specifically intendead to delight or improve another person’s life, it might tell you a bit more about their empathy.

customer service interviews12. Let them ask questions

Give them the opportunity to ask questions. If they don’t have any questions, do not ding them on it! Sometimes potential employees may freeze up when being put on the spot to ask questions. Or be worried that asking the same typical questions that everyone asks will get them “dinged” on the ranking for the interview.

Even if you have gone over your interview time, make sure you let them ask their questions if they have them. If they can’t think of any questions right now, be sure they know who to reach out to if some come up after the interview. There’s nothing to be scared of!

customer service interview13. Communicate each time you make a decision

There is no worse feeling in the world than waiting for someone to get back to you and never hearing back.

Don’t leave people hanging. If you decide that they aren’t the right fit, let them know quickly and simply. If you have policies on letting people know why they weren’t the right fit, stick to them, but otherwise try to answer honestly if they ask questions for their own additional growth.

customer service interviewThat’s a wrap!

Halloween is spooky! But hiring doesn’t have to be. Sprinkle these 13 tricks and treats into your interview grab bag, and see how sweet your life can be with all of the additional insights you’re able to get out of each session.

Ask some out-of-the-casket questions, treat your candidates with respect, and you’ll have a monster-sized team of totally all-stars in no time.

How did you like this blog?


Mercer Smith-Looper Mercer Smith-Looper

Mercer is the Head of Support at Appcues, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time. You can find her at mercenator.com and on Twitter at @mercenator.

Related articles

Envelope icon

The best customer service tips every week. No spam, we promise.

Get guides, support templates, and discounts first. Join us.

Pencil icon

Are you a freelance writer? Do you want your articles published on Nicereply blog?

Get in touch with us

Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Instagram icon