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Interview Tips for Hiring Great Customer Service

Finding Employees with Exceptional Customer Service Skills

Employees are a representation of your brand. They are your product in action, and the best way to show off that product is by hiring the very best customer service representatives. Your staff members must effectively use their knowledge, skills and positive attitude to solve problems and represent your business every day.

Of course, the hiring process is the surest way to find future employees who showcase these skills. OTA is frequently asked by those managing others, “What are some of the questions I can ask during the interview process that will help me find the best person for a customer service job?”

Our research shows that communication skills and empathy are just as important as knowledge of the product, and in some ways, they outclass that knowledge in the day-to-day interactions within your company. Tailoring questions to tease out the best and worst qualities of prospective employees is a must. The following questions provide a template for any interview, giving you the opportunity to evaluate the applicant’s skills.

  1. “Why this Job?”
    Ask the applicant why he or she applied to your business. This is a great way to begin the interview, and this question lays out the motives of the interviewee without being too forceful.
    1. “What brought you to apply here?”
    2. “Why should we choose you?”
    3. “What are your short-term and long-term goals in applying to this job?” All of these questions provide a basis for the interview.

  2. Evaluate Problem Solving
    Ask questions that determine the interviewee’s ability to assess problems with customers, and his or her ability to solve those problems. This lets you know if they’re worth hiring. Customer service is self-explanatory; the ability to service and handle customers effectively is a must, and questions such as these help you determine who fits the job best.
    1. “Name a past experience in which you had to solve a problem in a work setting, and how did you solve the problem?”
    2. “Describe a time when a customer presented an issue that you did not know how to resolve. What steps did you take to find a solution?” By gauging the applicant’s ability to solve problems, you can determine their fit in your business.

  3. Empathy
    Empathy is an important tool in any customer service representative’s arsenal. By being able to empathize and work with customers or fellow employees, any worker can make their time, and the time of others, valuable and constructive.
    1. “What steps would you take to help if a fellow worker is struggling while aiding a customer?”
    2. “What kind of relationships have you had with former coworkers? How did you work to foster these?”

  4. Hypothetical Practice
    You can gauge your prospective employee’s customer service skills by giving them practice problems that occur regularly in your business.
    1. “A visitor has a problem with ________, how would you help fix the problem?”
    2. “There is a huge mess in the lobby or store. What steps will you take to clean it up?”

A good customer service rep has the skills to work in the daily environment of your company. Empathy and communication most likely trumps knowledge of the product or service. At the end of the day, they’re there to help customers and keep them coming back for time to come. Of course, knowledge comes in time, but the most important traits of any employee are not always learned on the job. Testing to see what potential employees offer helps you, the employer, make the right choice when staffing your business.