How to Ask the Right Customer Service Interview Questions

Hello everyone!

In last week’s video I shared the 3 customer service skills your employees must have to create customer loyalty.

In this video, I’m going to share my 5 go-to customer service interview questions to ensure you’re hiring the right people to represent your company. 

To create an exceptional customer experience we know that our employee engagement must be extraordinarily high. To do this successfully, your company must have a rigorous interview process and ask some forward thinking questions to immediately identify if the candidate is truly customer-focused. If they aren’t, don’t consider hiring this person, regardless of their past accomplishments or achievements.

At Baro, my restaurant that has over 100 team members, we take every candidate, regardless of their position or prior experience through a customer-centric interview.

Some people have questioned me on this. They have asked why I recommend that my management team take a dishwasher or a finance person, people who aren’t customer-facing, through a customer service interview? The answer is simple; because you must have an aligned team if you truly want to become a customer-obsessed organization.

I’ve also been told that our interview process, which is the same one that I recommend to the companies I advise, isn’t efficient. Well, I’m not trying to be efficient, I’m trying to be diligent, protect my company from hiring misfits and to ensure that anyone that has an interaction with my company, whether it’s a paying customer, a vendor or the media, has an exceptional customer experience.

To ensure you have an aligned customer-centric team I recommend asking these five questions when hosting customer service interviews. You can find a downloadable template that includes these questions and answers below in the comments section.

#1 – As a consumer, what companies do you admire because of their customer experience? 

The reason I like asking this question is because it gives the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate whether they know what a great end-to-end customer experience looks like. Pay particular attention to the level of detail the candidate goes into when describing their experience because ultimately this is the exact type of organization you’re going to be asking them to help build.

If the candidate replies with a vague answer, ask related follow up questions and probe to give them an opportunity to answer the question in detail.

#2 – What would you do if you were given 5 customer-facing tasks but only had time to do 3 of them before the end of your shift?

I believe an exceptional candidate would say that they would continue with their tasks even if their shift was over. The reason I’m looking for this answer is because it shows that they would take ownership over the customer experience and that they are 100% committed to the brand.

There may be occasions when the team member can’t stay longer than their allotted time. If this was the case, another acceptable answer is that they would find another team member to help serve the customer but, not without providing context and passing along pertinent information to the new team member to ensure the transition for the customer is seamless and that they don’t have to repeat themselves.

#3 – Tell me of a time when you wanted to help a customer, who you believe had a reasonable request, but it went against company policy? What did you do to manage the situation?

While I don’t agree with outdated company policies interfering with justifiable customer requests you do want to hire team members that have the integrity to operate within the rules they are provided – even if they don’t align well with delivering an exceptional customer experience. For this question you want to hear the candidate mention three key things.

  • The first is that they will politely explain the current process to the customer so that they have an understanding of the company’s current process without demeaning the organization’s policy
  • Next, they should explain how they will be prepared to answer any follow up questions diligently if the customer pushes back on the policy.
  • If the candidate includes this last point then I believe you have a great candidate on your hands and that you should consider hiring them. If they mention that they will make note of how many occasions customers have become upset by this particular policy and that they would bring the information to their manager, II would consider hiring them as they are exemplifying managerial traits. Who knows, this might be a tipping point where this outdated policy is reviewed my management and a new operational strategy is created to better the experience for the customer.

#4 – What are some of the most important skills that a customer service employee needs to have to be successful at their job?

I recommend asking this question because you want to hear what resonates with the candidate the most. If the candidate says that speed is most important skill then you may want to ask some follow up questions because speed is only important if you’re trying to build a transactional relationship – which you shouldn’t be doing.

The type of things you want to hear the candidate say are most important are:

  • Empathy
  • Diligence
  • A team player
  • And someone who pays great attention to detail

#5 – This next question was introduced to me by my General Manager, Colin Denton: what celebrity do you believe would be great in a customer-facing role?

Now, this question may seem like a filler question but it’s actually not. The reason I recommend asking this question is to further identify if the candidate knows the type of attributes that makes a great customer service team member.

My General Managers answer to this question is Justin Timberlake. The reason he believes that Justin Timberlake would make a great customer-facing team member is because he’s charismatic, has an outgoing personality, is funny and engaging.

Ask this question during the interview process; I think your candidates will have fun with it.

There you have it, my five recommended customer service interview questions that I use within my businesses and recommend to the clients I advise.

I want to hear from you. What customer service interview questions do you find most effective? Leave a comment below to let me know which ones are working for you today.

Don’t forget to download the template below that outlines my five questions and their answers so you can start using them immediately.

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I’ll see you next week!

Customer Service customer-centric