Customer Service Representative Interview Questions

When hiring a Customer Service Representative look for someone who enjoys engaging with customers and quickly building a rapport. The best customer service representatives are energetic, sociable, and thoroughly understand the company’s products or services. Of critical importance is the ability to navigate customer issues and complaints.

A Customer Service Representatives should be comfortable being the first point of contact when a customer requires assistance. A strong candidate will assume the responsibility of resolving the vast majority of inquiries, transactions, issues and complaints independently, but also recognizes when it’s appropriate to recruit assistance from call center management. Customer Service Representatives are an excellent resource for the feedback on how customers react to the company’s products, services, pricing, return policies, and the like.

General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position. 

Below are Customer Service Representative interview questions to help you get started: 

What does customer service mean to you?

What you want to hear: A strong candidate will speak about being on the front lines between the company and its customers. In that capacity they must represent the brand well in all manner of customer service they provide. The candidate should share the need to be informed, professional, independent, and friendly in order to succeed in the role.  

Red Flag IconRed flag: Good customer service isn’t just about ticking boxes. If your candidate can’t articulate a solid understanding of the role and its importance to the company’s reputation, then you can anticipate a sub-par performance when working with your customers. 

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

What you want to hear: A key to success in this role is enjoying interaction with a high volume of people on an hourly and daily basis. A qualified candidate will welcome the consistency of engagement and be eager to satisfy each customer’s inquiry and needs.  

Red Flag IconRed flag: Candidates who prefer to work alone may be better suited for administrative or clerical roles with less people interaction. A bad fit will likely get overwhelmed when dealing with customers each day, resulting in poor customer service. 

How would you deal with an angry customer?

What you want to hear: Listen for a candidate who can keep their cool under all circumstances. A great candidate will explain that they will listen to the customer’s complaints, acknowledge the customer’s frustration with sincere empathy, and work tirelessly to find the right solution to the problem. They should be clear that their top priority is to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer. 

Red Flag IconRed flag: If your candidate doesn’t have a solid game plan for how they handle angry customers they will likely get flustered when the situation presents itself in real time. Also look for someone who appears to take things personally or has an aggressive edge to their personality, as these qualities are not compatible with excellent customer service.

Sell me one of our company’s products right now.

What you want to hear: See if your candidate has done their research on your company. Even if a few of the details are incorrect, they should be able to readily select one of your products or services and make a reasonable impromptu sales pitch. You’re looking for a candidate who can identify product or service benefits of value to the customer, and demonstrate enthusiasm in the presentation. While product feature information can be perfected in training, this is a great opportunity to assess basic mechanics of selling. 

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who appears awkward or low energy when making the sales pitch is likely to struggle in the role of a Customer Service Representative. While product or service knowledge can be taught, the right personality and a level of enthusiasm are qualities the candidate themselves must bring to the table. 

How would you respond when faced with a customer inquiry or issue that you can’t immediately answer? 

What you want to hear: This question can help you evaluate your candidate’s problem solving skills. A strong candidate will acknowledge the importance of operating independently and being able to tap all available resources to effectively resolve the issues that fall outside of standard procedure. They should discuss the importance of remaining calm and focused during the investigative period. Ultimately, matters that cannot be resolved independently will have to be referred to a supervisor with the appropriate background information to allow for an expedient review and response.  

Red Flag IconRed flag: A Customer Service Representative who appears quick to refer matters to a supervisor without trying to solve the problem on their own is a risk to the overall productivity of your operations.  

How would you define success in this role?

What you want to hear: A good candidate measures success in terms of both individual and team achievements. Look for someone who can point to specifics in their background and experience that will translate well to the duties of the current role. Pay attention to whether the candidate highlights wages, expanded responsibilities, customer satisfaction, or other achievement benchmark. Do their values match those of your company?

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who has a very narrow view of what success means in the role may not prioritize their efforts in the most advantageous way for your company and team.  

How do respond to pet peeves you experience from a co-worker?

What you want to hear: It is inevitable when working in a group that someone’s behavior will be an annoyance to another person. A candidate who can recognize those annoyances and comes prepared with coping strategies is a plus. A productive workplace requires the ability to openly communicate and resolve interpersonal issues, or the professionalism to simply carry on without allowing trivialities to impede a smooth workflow.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate who simply complains about co-workers without making an effort to resolve issues may be a negative influence on your team and will likely be ineffectual with difficult customers. 

Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Customer Service Representative position.

Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:

  • Have superior communication skills
  • Are eager to be well-informed about your company’s products and services
  • Can think on their feet and problem solve