Can you become a an excellent customer service worker? Do you have the right personality for this job? And how would you react to different tricky situations that you’d have to deal with in your new job? HR managers and recruiters try to find the answers while talking to you in an interview. They will ask you mostly personal questions and behavioral questions, and they will observe a lot of things while talking to you:
- Whether you listen carefully, and talk to the point (essential qualities for a good CS worker).
- If you have enthusiasm in your voice, and whether it is easy to understand your words–whether you can explain difficult things in a simple way.
- If you are really motivated to do the job, and want to keep it for some time, or if you apply just because you can not secure any better position at the moment.
Let’s have a look at ten common questions.
Question 1: How would you deal with an angry customer, or with a person strongly unsatisfied with your customer service?
Customers are only people, and they can be angry–for whatever reason, or for no reason at all. Tell us that you would approach every customer with smile on your face, that you’d stay calm and cheerful, and that you would try to uncover the reason why they were unsatisfied with your service.
You can also say that if you failed to understand the reason of their anger, or failed to address their complaint properly, you would call an experienced staff member to help you (your supervisor, manager, etc).
Angry customers belong to the job, and you should show us that you are ready to meet them with a smile on your face. Their behavior will not affect you negatively in work, or at least you hope so.
Question 2: Is there anything extra you would do for your customer, outside of your standard working duties?
Most people take care only of their working duties, exactly as they are specified on the employment contract–they do nothing more, whatsoever. They answer phone calls, they approach customers who seem to be looking for something, and they answer their questions. Simply they always wait for the customer to make a first move.
Exceptional customer service assistants, however, always strive to do something extra for their customers. They to please them, to make them feel great in the store. They do it because they know that the competition is enormous, and an unhappy customer will spend their money somewhere else, satisfying their shopping needs again.
Needless to say, companies prefer to hire the exceptional CS assistants, and you should do your best to convince them of belonging to this elite group… Informal talk with the customer, a small unexpected present, a discount you negotiate for them (if possible) are just a few ideas for a good answer to this question.
Special Tip: Download the full list of questions in a one-page long .PDF document, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Question 3: If a customer buys 3 items, each for $4.43, and gives you $20 bill, what will be the change?
We try to understand if you have basic financial literacy, and can count two and two, if you won’t make some simple mistakes in your job (which are always costly once they add up).
Pay attention and listen carefully. You should give us a brief and correct answer. Nothing more, nothing less.
You can use pen and paper for quick calculation, none interviewer will be upset seeing you doing your math. But you should not take the calculator out of your briefcase, or use the app on your smartphone to count the numbers. Doing that would not leave a good impression.
* A must read: Customer service interview – Tell me about yourself. 7 sample answers to the icebreaker question you will almost for sure face.
Question 4: What plays the key role in retail? Is it price, product value, or communication with the customer?
In most cases, the price and the product value determine whether the customer eventually purchases a product. As an applicant for CS position, however, you should definitely point out communication, and say that it plays the prime (or at least an important and significant role)–because that’s the only thing you can control.
You can not change the price of a product, or the value it offers to the customer. But you can talk the people into making a purchase, helping them to see the benefits they’d gain with their purchase. Good customer service workers understand the value of their work, and they know that they can help their employer to prosper. Show us that you plan to do your best in this job…
Question 5: The role-play.
We will ask you to play a customer assistant, and we will play a shopper (or a client). Your task will be to sell us something, or at least try to convince us to consider making a purchase (of a simple pen or pencil, of a notepad, or of any other item we happen to have in the office with us).
To ace this role play is not easy. Many job applicants lose their chances to succeed at this point of the interviews. If you want to avoid following the same route, however, you should approach the role play responsibly. Ask us some additional questions, try to understand your customer, their needs and desires. Asking questions is the most important thing to do when you do a role play in your interview. Then you should adjust your sales talk accordingly…
Do not be afraid of a role play. Show us that you like to talk to the customers, that you are not afraid to take the initiative and start the conversation. The worst thing you can do is refusing to do the role play in your interview. And if you are worried, check our in-detail analysis of “Sell me this pen” interview question.
Question 6: What are your weaknesses?
Every person has some weaknesses, and you are no exception. Good employees are aware of their weaknesses, and they try to improve on them. Try to pick a weakness that is not essential for the position. Customer service workers do not need excellent leadership or management skills–because they don’t manage other people in job.
They do not need to be experts with computers either, and they do not have be in a great shape (physically). Pick a weakness that is not essential for customer service, and show us how to try to improve on it.
* Special tip: We have also a specialized article for good strengths and weaknesses for customer service, with 7 sample answers.
Question 7: Where do you see yourself in three years from now?
The career growth possibilities are limited, or non-existent, for most customer service jobs. That is the reason why you should say that you would like to have a good job in the same field, in three years time from now. You can also say that you do not think much about the future, and focus on the present moment, trying to get a job and excel in it afterwards.
You can also turn your answer around, focusing on goals in your personal life, such as improving your qualification, starting a family, etc. Remember that you can say and promise anything when answering this particular interview question. Nobody will later blame you if you leave the company in six months time, or even earlier.
Try to convince them that they can count with in you in a long run, that you plan to stay with them. Whether you really want to stay, or plan to leave as soon as a better offer rings your inbox, does not matter much in this interview.
* Another tricky interview question: How do you define success?
Question 8: Why should we hire you?
Try to say something that differentiates you from other job applicants, from your competitors. Each of us is unique, and each of us can bring a different value to the company. The key is to identify this value, and to demonstrate it in your interview.
If you struggle to identify the value, however, you can simply list the skills that make from you a good candidate for the job. The following sample answers should help you to come up with your own answer:
People enjoy spending time with me, I am a great listener, and I am sure that your customers will be more than happy with my service.
I am enthusiastic in work, and I bring a lot of energy to the team. This helps other colleagues with their motivation, and their commitment at work. At least that’s my experience from the other jobs I had in retail.
My sales skills stand out, and I am sure I will not disappoint you in this job. Of course I have not met the other job applicants, and can not tell their strengths and weaknesses. If you hire me, however, you can be sure I will try my very best to help your business prosper.
* For 7 longer answers, check the following post: Customer service interview – Why should we hire you?
Question 9: Which customer would you struggle to serve?
Some of us prefer to talk to teenagers, some of us are good with seniors. Men, women, children, avid shoppers, people who just look around and never buy anything–each of us has their favorite customer, and the one we do not like, or even hate.
However, as a good applicant for a customer service position, you should emphasize that you can get along with anyone, and that you enjoy the diversity this job offers. Say us that even though you prefer some type of a customer, you do not struggle with any other type, and you’d do your best to help every single person in the store.
* May also interest you: What motivates you in work? It is sometimes hard to stay motivated while doing repetitive job every day. Learn how to convince the interviewers that you won’t lose your motivation easily.
Question 10: Why do you want to work for us, and not for some other retailer (call center, company)?
Try to focus on good things, something that is specific for their business. It can be their goals and values, their good reputation, their product portfolio, the vision and goals they have, the company culture.
Alternatively you can say that the location of their store (factory, office) is perfect for you, or mention any other reason for your choice. One way or another, this question offers an opportunity to praise your future employer, and you should embrace it and benefit from it.
People like when other people praise them, when they recognize their good work. HR managers and recruiters are no different. Praise them, and win them over in your interview…
Conclusion & Next Steps
Customer service is a popular job field, and you will compete with a few other job applicants in your interview (or with many of them, when applying with one of the famous companies). Nevertheless, you should focus on things you can control—your interview answers, your preparation, your clothes, your smile, your mindset…
What the other applicants will do, and how they will answer the questions of the interviewers, is simply out of your control. Continue your preparation with InterviewPenguin.com, and do not underestimate anything:
- Interview attire tips – Some interview attire tips for the brave, and for people who like to experiment. Every detail matters in an interview, and you should definitely gain some points with the right choice of clothes.
- Tell us about a time when you provided excellent customer service.
- Customer service interview – Why are you interested in this position?