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The main three skills or traits employers are looking for in an interviewee are: communication, enthusiasm and problem-solving. These questions will help employers identify the right candidates and interviewees to demonstrate their full potential:

Tell me about yourself

Employers will already know key information about an applicant from their CV and other documents, but this is your chance to get a deeper understanding of who you might be hiring. People are far more honest when speaking in real time than in their cover letter or job application.

Candidates should refer directly to what is in the job description and make your introduction relevant to the role. The hiring manager also wants to know who you are as a person, but in terms of your professional background and values, rather than just your hobbies.

What does customer service mean to you?

There are times when candidates will apply to roles just to get their foot in the door at a company and will really have their eye on a different profession. This customer service interview question helps you assess the motivation of the applicant and see if they really want to work in customer service or are just using your role as a stepping-stone.

A good candidate will be able to explain what customer service is, why it’s important to a business, and what they enjoy about it. Candidates who show passion, dedication and potential are often more highly valued by hiring managers than those with a wealth of experience and education, because these traits show the longevity of employees.

Describe a time when you’ve dealt with a difficult customer – what did you do?

Scenario-based questions help employers understand the candidate’s practical ability without having seen it first-hand. For this to be effective, they need to have real examples and be able to answer questions from their own experience. Hypothetical answers such as “If I were in that situation I would…” don’t demonstrate their experience or ability, only their theoretical understanding of customer service.

Candidates should be aware that any experience you have with conflict resolution, in a retail role, for example, can be applied here. Those with customer service experience should be as specific as possible and answer honestly in case of any follow-up questions. If the customer being difficult or rude was their fault, being honest about it will show their accountability and self-awareness.

What do you know about our company/product?

Any candidate who hasn’t done some preliminary research will most likely not get the role. If they don’t know what they’re applying for, they may leave once they find out.

Employers don’t expect a detailed description, only that the interviewee has an idea of what the company does, what the specific product is, and how that relates to the role. This is a chance for an applicant to share any thoughts or opinions they have about the company, potentially highlighting what made them want to apply in the first place.

Utilising the job description, checking out their website, and even calling their customer service line to see how they work, are good methods of researching a company. Preparing for an interview by doing research shows both interest and professionalism and will boost the candidate’s chances of receiving a job offer. It’s even better if the candidate is already a customer because they can give real feedback and will have a deeper understanding of the product/service.

Can you tell me about a time you provided excellent customer service?

Customer service competency questions commonly use scenarios in which you’ve interacted with a customer. These are opportunities for interviewees to brag about their achievements and demonstrate their understanding of what excellent customer service is, while drawing on experience. Through this question, employers can assess their best performance, and ask follow-up questions such as what skills they think helped them achieve this, and what the result was.

What do you think are the most important skills for someone in customer service?

When it comes to customer service advisor questions, soft skills are the most important to mention, e.g. communication skills, patience, empathy, listening, and more. Advisors are there to inform and assist customers in a way that is clear and concise, honest, and polite – even in high-pressure situations. Working well under pressure is important because customer service advisors may need to speak to several difficult people and remain professional. Usually, the skills candidates cite as most important are the ones they see in themselves the most.

What is your biggest weakness?

Self-awareness and self-assessment are skills in and of themselves. The most common customer service interview question might be this one, because it usually enlightens employers on several areas in addition to the candidate’s weaknesses: how they view themselves, and how they are working on mitigating their own weaknesses to improve themselves.

Interviewees must be honest and avoid the trap of saying “I’m too [something positive]” because this sounds insincere and indicates a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset – indicative of someone unafraid of new challenges. Candidates answering honestly about self-improvement shows employers that they are still developing and can become a more valuable employee later, even if they don’t have the right skills or experience yet.

If you’re looking for your next opportunity in customer service, or a talented professional, contact one of Reed’s specialists today.

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