How To Answer Customer Service Interview Questions

By Mike Simpson

When it comes to jobs in the workforce, few positions require an applicant to wear as many hats as those worn by a customer service representative.

Great customer service representatives are often the face and physical representation of an organization, providing the human experience for consumers who are looking for information regarding products and services, placing orders, dealing with problems, issues and complaints and in some cases, processing returns.

In many ways, a really exceptional customer service representative is a bit like the ninja of an organization, ready to assume any role in order to make sure a customer is satisfied with their experience, all while simultaneously preserving and protecting the integrity of the company they’re working for.

Whew!

Customer service jobs stretch across all sectors, and involve all types of jobs, from retail to food, industrial to scientific, educational, medical, service…basically, if an organization has anything to do with providing a product or service to the public, you can bet there’s a customer service representative somewhere in that mix.

Desirable Traits of a Good Customer Service Representative

A good customer service representative should be someone who is:

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  • calm under pressure
  • personable
  • possesses good people skills
  • is attentive to the needs of the consumer
  • patient
  • has a deep understanding and knowledge about the products they are representing as well as of the company they work for
  • is willing to continue to learn and grow
  • has excellent time management skills
  • can think on their feet
  • has a positive attitude
  • is tenacious without being pushy
  • and above all, is patient (did we already say that? Well, that’s why we’re saying it twice…it’s just that important.)

Yes, this list seems overwhelming…but this list is exactly why, when it comes to securing a customer representative position, hiring managers are so particular in who they hire.

It takes a special person to be a customer service representative and a good hiring manager is going to make sure that individual matches up to all those traits.

This list also means that, as a job seeker who is interested in interviewing for a customer service representative position, you should be prepared for an incredibly wide array of potential interview questions.

Luckily, we’re here to help guide you and make sure that your customer representative ninja skills are as sharp as a proverbial katana.

The first thing we need to do is take a quick look at the types of questions you might reasonably expect to answer in a customer service interview, starting with the traditional ones.

We’ve gone over traditional interview questions before, so to quickly recap, traditional interview questions are the ones that basically get the interview machine rolling, the “starter” questions.

These are questions designed to quickly let the interviewer know who you are and what your background and qualification level is before moving into the more in-depth questions like behavioral and situational.

Traditional interview questions are questions like “What is your highest level of education” or “Can you describe what your responsibilities and duties were at your last job for me?”

While these might be considered “ice breaker” questions, they are no less important than any other questions you’ll be answering during your interview and you should make sure you’re prepared to answer them quickly and efficiently.

To brush up on how to answer these and to see an impressive list of example questions and tips and tricks on how to answer them, check out our post on the Top Ten Interview Questions and Answers.

Following the basic round of questions, many hiring managers interviewing potential customer service representatives will then start to really focus in on behavioral and situational questions. Remember, a good customer service representative is like a ninja and these questions are meant to help the hiring manager determine if you’re actually a ninja or just pretending to be one.

So, let’s get started by tackling behavioral questions first. As we’ve discussed before, behavioral questions are questions that allow the hiring manager to see who you really are based on how you’ve handled situations in the past.

This allows them to accurately assess how you’ll act on the job and how you’ll behave when similar situations arise in the future.

These questions usually begin with “Tell me about a time you…” and require you to give an in-depth answer, tailored specifically to the question. Again, we’ve gone over these in depth and you can see all that information here in our blog post Behavioral Questions and Answers 101.

These questions are often followed by the situational questions, questions designed to take the experiences of your past and see how you’ll apply the lessons you’ve learned to potential future scenarios. These are the role-playing questions and while they can seem intimidating at first, we’ve got a sure fire way to make sure you’re ready for them in our blog post Situational Questions and Answers.

As you can see, based on these three distinct types of questions that you should expect to be asked, interviewing for a customer service representative position requires almost as many skills as you’ll need should you ultimately get the job (and since you’re the perfect candidate and have this guide helping you, that shouldn’t be an issue, right?!)

Of course, what good is it if we just pointed you in the direction of all these past blogs we’ve posted and left it at that? Sure, you can read what we’ve already covered (and we strongly suggest you do as they’re stuffed full of valuable information and a wealth of example questions you can practice your own tailored answers with) but that wouldn’t be good customer service on our part…now would it? Of course not! (Ooh, see what we did there?)

That’s why we’re also going to include our top five tips and tricks intended to help you prepare for your customer service representative interview by highlighting the things you should do before you get to the interview!

Not only will you be better prepared to answer any question the interviewer might throw at you, but you’ll also be able to truly target those answers.

But wait, there’s more!

We’ll also follow up those tips and tricks with ten of the most common customer service interview questions along with a brief explanation on why hiring managers ask these questions and what you should focus on when you answer them.

All right ninjas, let’s get going!

Top 5 Tips For Answering Customer Service Questions

1. Be honest with yourself:

This means making sure you’re actually a suitable candidate for a customer service representative position before ever setting foot in a hiring manager’s office.

While this might seem like a no-brainer tip, this is a critical step you should take even before applying for a customer service position, much less accepting an opportunity to interview. Go back over our list of desirable traits for a customer representative and ask yourself honestly if these all apply to you.

Customer representative jobs aren’t always easy and even people who truly posses all the traits and love the job have off days, but for people who have secured these positions without really knowing what the job entails or ensuring they’re the right fit, the job can be downright miserable.

2. Do your homework:

Prepping for your job interview is Interview Guys 101, and something you should be doing without us reminding you, but when it comes to customer service interviews, we’re going to encourage you to go the extra mile and talk to people who are already doing the job for the company you’re interviewing with.

Hopefully you’ll already have a contact who can either help you out or put you in touch with people who can guide you. Get to know what the job is like and what the employees are expected to know. Dig a little deeper than you normally would into what the company stands for and what their history is.

Remember, if you get the job, you’ll be representing the company to the public and that means presenting yourself in a way that aligns with their culture, mission and brand.

3. Guaranteed good idea:

While you’re doing all your interview prep homework, take some time and investigate what the company’s customer service policy is. Not only will you be able to go into the interview with a good idea of what you could possibly be doing in the future, it will help you tailor your situation