Hiring Support Agents: 6 Stories for Aspiring Support Agents

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

Show your curiosity, personality, and the things you care about—they’re going to love you!

According to Gartner, 89% of businesses expect to have to compete on their team’s ability to deliver an outstanding customer experience. Everyone is learning that companies that take care of their customers stand apart from the crowd, resulting in increased customer loyalty.

We can talk about new technologies, helpful tactics, and best practices, but ultimately, nothing will be as impactful as the people who make up a team. Given that, hiring customer support agents is one of the most important things a team can do. You, as the applicant, hold the upper hand.

Teams are hungry for excellent members, so when they release a job posting, it’s up to you to knock their socks off. Here are some tried and true tips from some of the pros.

Teach them something new

Mo McKibbin, Head of Customer Success at Moxion, had an excellent tip for the best way to ace your interviews: give the interviewer something they can use after the fact.

“I like to bring up something cool like a life hack or fun software thing or tool I like. Then, use that as an excuse to display how well you can construct step-by-step instructions!

For example, in the era before Slack statuses, when you used to put emojis in Slack names, I talked to the interviewer about how I had a pizza emoji in mine. She asked me how I did it, so after the interview, I sent step-by-step instructions on setting it up. She ended up adding sparkles to her Slack name that stayed for years – until Slack stopped supporting it.”

By doing this, you share a little bit about what is important to you and show your personality. Beyond that, you show the interviewer that you are proficient in the education and documentation pieces that are important to working in support.

Go above and beyond

Interviews are intimidating. Success is mostly a matter of how you channel that nervous energy. Some people get frozen by their nerves, but Jesse, a Content Marketing Specialist at Qwilr, has a better strategy: “I panicked during my interviews and put together an entire marketing plan for a gated content piece that the interviewers never actually requested. I’m not sure if that helped my case, but I did get hired.”

All joking aside, going above and beyond is a great way to show the interviewers your commitment and abilities. Be respectful of your own time and try to gauge where your relationship is at with the company. If you’ve just completed a cursory phone screen, for instance, it might not be the time to deliver a five thousand word blog post. That said, most interviewers will look favorably upon extra effort during the process.

hiring support agentsBring your A-game to the project

Many managers rely more on writing tests and projects than interviews when searching for an ideal candidate for customer experience roles. When you’re working on any kind of material for an interview, be sure to follow these steps:

  • Run your writing through a grammar checker, like Grammarly or Hemingway App.
  • Reread your writing after you’ve sent it through the checker to ensure that you don’t miss any awkward errors or phrasing.
  • Do your research on the product. If you have to answer customer inquiries, be sure to review relevant documentation to be as informed as possible. There is little that reflects on you more poorly than not utilizing docs to answer straightforward questions.
  • Take your time. There’s no need to rush, especially when it’s such a huge indicator of your potential success in the role.

One manager even noted that if they see a single grammar or spelling error on a resume, they’ll archive the candidate entirely. “If they can’t be bothered to double-check their resume, why would they ever read over their emails to a customer?” They’ve got a good point. Be careful and make sure you triple check anything you send along to your potential future employer.

hiring support agentsNail things down

When you go into an interview, you want to feel as confident as possible. Some people do that by wearing their favorite socks, others make sure to get enough sleep the night before, but the best thing you can do is make sure you think of a few talking points before going into the conversation with your interviewer.

According to Carter Gibson, the Program Lead for Internal Community Management at Google, “I do a lot of prep. Specifically, I write down examples of what I’ve done well, why it was hard, and why it was valuable. Having a backlog of stories to draw on is always a huge help.”

Preparing this list ahead of time saves you the awkward scramble when an interviewer asks you a question. Quick transitions to responses also make you seem more prepared to the interviewer, and just generally make the process go more smoothly.

Tell your story

When you answer questions, recognize that the interviewer cares more about how and why you did something over what you did. Lance Conzett, a BizOps Manager at Postmates, says, “interviews are an exercise in storytelling.” The better you tell your story, the more compelling the interview is going to be. If you share generalities and anecdotes that aren’t personal, it doesn’t tell the interviewer anything.

Craig Stoss, Support Lead at Shopify, explains how this looks from the other side: “I can’t tell you the number of times I interview someone who knows all the theories of coaching, leadership, performance management, morale-boosting, etc. but can’t (or doesn’t) tell me how they use those theories in practice, even after I ask more probing questions.”

Interviewing is not the time to downplay your own experience. Use this opportunity as an excuse to talk about yourself and your stories, not just the information that you’ve read in blog posts or on Twitter.

hiring support agentsTalk about what you have taught yourself and why

When I was interviewing for my first-ever support role, I worked as a barista at a local coffee shop. They asked me what the last thing I had taught myself was and why. Instead of relating it to the role, my response was that I had taught myself to make a grumpy cat out of cappuccino foam. I did this because I thought it would make my customers laugh.

In general, I would recommend that you focus on something more technical or directly related to a support role, but this worked to charm my interviewer, and I got the job. Customer support representatives need to be curious and continuously learning. Answering this question is an excellent opportunity to showcase your natural curiosity and a bit of your personality.

hiring support agentsBe yourself

Personality rules all when it comes to interviewing. As much preparation as you can do prior to the meeting will never make up for showing your personality to its fullest. Educate your interviewers about your passions, and go above and beyond to help them understand what a fit you are for the role. Bringing your A-game and wowing them with extra effort is an excellent way to ensure movement farther along the interview path.

Never be afraid to be yourself. Get ready to share great anecdotes and stories about your performance. Don’t shy away from telling stories about specific instances in your career that highlight your performance. Show your curiosity, personality, and the things you care about—they’re going to love you!

For more help on acing that interview, check out these 11 questions you might be asked in a customer service job interview.

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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.

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