32 Customer Service Interview Questions incl Competency + Answers (for Representative, Manager)

customer service interview questions

Have you got a interview coming up for a customer services representative or manager? Want to be able to answer those tough customer services competency and behavioural questions easily?

Having interviewed for a range of Customer Services positions I am very familiar with the different types of interview questions you will come across, especially competency and behavioural.

Some will be directed towards discovering how capable you are and whether you possess the essential skills such as communication and customer handling, while others aim to find out about your past performance and how this will impact your future role.

This guide gives an insight into potential questions asked at customer services interviews which are relevant to posts such as Customer Services Representative and Manager level.

In This Guide:

  • A Word About Customer Service Jobs
  • Competencies They Look for in Customer Service Job Interviews
  • Customer Service Competency & Behavioural Interview Questions
  • Sample STAR Competency Interview Answer for Customer Service
  • General Customer Service Interview Questions With Answers
  • Customer Services Representative Interview Questions and Answers
  • Customer Services Manager Interview Questions and Answers
  • Tips for Answering Customer Services Interview Questions
  • How to Succeed in  Your Customer Service Interview

A Word About Customer Service Jobs

Almost all modern organisations have some form of customer service function. This can range from the receptionist who meets and greets visitors, right up to a dedicated call centre with 1,000’s of employees.

The activity of customer servicing refers to the behaviours and actions an organisation undertakes during its interaction with its customers and can be present at all times, before, during and after a transaction.

The task of the customer service function is to make this interaction as easy and smooth as possible, generating goodwill and in turn encouraging loyalty and repeat purchases.

A career in this sector can certainly be rewarding. While some may find the task of dealing with people stressful, for others there is a sense of achievement in ‘helping’ and making sure that customers get what they want.

Competencies They Look for in Customer Service Job Interviews

skills for customer services interviewsIn my experience recruiting into customer services there are 6 key competencies or skills I expect a good candidate to bring. These include a combination of interpersonal, great communication and problem-solving skills plus an ability to put yourself in the customers shoes – called empathy.

Here are some key competencies and behaviours that I would expect to see you demonstrate in your customer service interview:

Excellent Communication skills: Effective communication is crucial in customer service. You should be able to express yourself clearly, listen actively to customers, and understand their needs.

Efficient Problem-solving: Customers often reach out with problems or questions. The ability to analyze situations and find effective solutions is a key skill in customer service.

Ability to Show Empathy: Being able to understand and empathize with customers’ concerns or issues is essential. Empathy helps in building rapport and showing customers that you genuinely care about their experience.

Patience and Flexibility: Dealing with a variety of customers, some of whom may be upset or frustrated, requires a high level of patience. Remaining calm and composed in challenging situations is crucial as is the ability to be flexible in creating solutions for your customer.

Expert Product or Service Knowledge: A good understanding of the products or services offered by your company is essential. This knowledge allows you to provide accurate information and assistance to customers.

Conflict resolution: Sometimes, customers may be upset or dissatisfied. Having strong conflict resolution skills helps in addressing concerns and turning negative experiences into positive ones.

Continuous improvement and learning are also important in customer service, as it allows professionals to stay updated on company policies, products, and industry trends. Training programs and ongoing support can further enhance these skills over time.

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Customer Service Competency Based & Behavioural Interview Questions

At some stage in your  job search process, you will be asked Competency Based Interview Questions or Behavioural interview questions. For customer services roles, these will exploring core skills such as Communication, Problem Solving, Empathy, Conflict Resolution, Leadership, Team Working and more.

Just to mention, the terms competency and behavioural are interchangeable. So if you are told you will be asked behavioural questions in your interview, take this to be the same as competency based.

Here is a selection of common customer service  competency based / behavioural interview questions:

  • Can you give an example of a time when you experienced good customer service and explain why it was good.
  • Talk us through a recent example of an interchange with a customer which shows your ability to communicate effectively?
  • Describe a recent situation where you successfully resolved a conflict with a customer or client. What did you do that made it successful?
  • Describe a time when you had to deal with an irate customer. How did you handle the situation, and what was the outcome?
  • Give an example of a situation where you had to go above and beyond to meet a customer’s needs. How did you approach it, and what was the result?
  • Can you discuss a time when you successfully collaborated with a team member to resolve a customer issue? What was your role, and how did the teamwork contribute to a positive outcome?
  • Give an example which demonstrates your ability lead a diverse team of advisors and representatives. Outline the challenges you experienced.

To answer these question effectively you should use the STAR formula. To understand how this works, have a look at this guide.

Sample Competency Based Interview Answer for Customer Service

Q. Tell us about a time when you gave effective customer service.

Situation: In my previous role as a customer service representative for an e-commerce company, I encountered a situation where a customer’s order was delayed due to unforeseen shipping issues. The customer had contacted us, expressing frustration and disappointment.

Task: My task was to address the customer’s concerns, provide accurate information about the delay, and find a resolution that would not only satisfy the customer but also demonstrate our commitment to excellent service.

Action: Firstly, I empathised with the customer’s frustration, acknowledging the inconvenience caused by the delay. I assured them that I would investigate the matter and provide a timely update. I promptly contacted the shipping department to gather information about the delay and reasons behind it.

Once armed with the details, I reached out to the customer with a personalised email, explaining the situation transparently, outlining the steps we were taking to resolve the issue, and offering a sincere apology. Additionally, I provided a discount voucher for their next purchase as a goodwill gesture.

To prevent similar issues in the future, I communicated the feedback to the relevant teams, advocating for process improvements in the shipping and order tracking systems.

Result: The customer appreciated the transparent communication and the proactive steps taken to address the issue. They not only accepted the situation but were also grateful for the discount voucher, viewing it as a positive effort to make amends. As a result, the customer continued to be a loyal and satisfied customer, highlighting the effectiveness of the customer service provided in turning a potentially negative experience into a positive one. This experience reinforced the importance of transparent communication, proactive problem-solving, and the value of going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.

General Customer Service Interview Questions With Answers

In addition to preparing for the competency based and bahavioural interview questions, we also suggest having top answers for the standard interview questions such as: ‘Tell me about yourself’, ‘What will you bring to the role?’, ‘Where do you see yourself in 2, 3 or 5 years’ time?’.

These questions are now so common and we would expect only one or two at most in any interview. Additionally, expect questions focus on your customer service experience or the relevant skills you bring which show your ability to deal with clients and manage customer relationships.

For example, here are some common customer service questions with suggestions how to answer them:

1. Tell me about a time when you have gone above the call of duty to assist a client.

Once again another competency based question. This one assesses your commitment to providing exceptional service and your willingness to exceed customer expectations. Share a specific example, using the STAR formula, emphasising the actions you took and the positive outcome for the customer.

2. How do you handle a situation where a customer is upset or dissatisfied with your company’s product or service?

This question evaluates your ability to manage and de-escalate challenging situations. Describe your approach to handling upset customers, including your use of active listening, empathy, and problem-solving to address their concerns.

3. Can you provide an example of a time when you successfully resolved a complex customer issue?

This question assesses your problem-solving skills and ability to navigate through intricate customer problems. Share a detailed example, outlining the complexity of the issue, the steps you took to investigate and resolve it, and the positive outcome for the customer.

4. How do you prioritise and manage multiple customer inquiries or tasks simultaneously?

This question evaluates your organisational and multitasking skills. Discuss how you prioritise tasks, manage your time effectively, and ensure that each customer inquiry receives the attention it deserves.

5. Provide an example that illustrates your ability to handle a high volume of customer interactions.

When responding to these questions, consider using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your answers. This helps ensure that your responses are specific, detailed, and showcase both your skills and the positive outcomes of your actions in real-world customer service scenarios.

6. What do you find most challenging about a career in Customer Services?

Discussing the challenges of a career in customer service can provide insight into your self-awareness and ability to navigate difficulties effectively. However be careful to avoid mentioning core scenarios which you struggle with; this could be a red flag for the interviewer.

Sample Answer to Customer Service General Question:

Q: When dealing with a customer complaint, what would you say is the most important skill you would use?

Sample Answer: I have worked in customer services for five years now and I would say that the most important skill when dealing with a customer complaint is empathy. For me, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and it plays a pivotal role in addressing customer concerns effectively. For example, when dealing with a recent customer complaint, the first step was to actively listen and acknowledge their feelings. By demonstrating empathy in this way, I was able to reassure the customer that I understand their frustration or disappointment. This validation helps in building rapport and establishing a connection with the customer. My ability to show empathy also guided the way I communicated with the customer. Instead of approaching the situation defensively, I responded with a genuine understanding of their perspective. This not only diffused tension but also opened the door for a more constructive conversation. I am pleased to say that I resolved this situation successfully to the point where the customer left me a 5 start review om google, which I was delighted with.

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Customer Services Representative Interview Questions and Answers

Most customer services representative jobs will be client or customer facing. This which refers to the situation where you will be dealing with the customer for example in the branch of a bank, in a store or over the telephone or internet.

Here are some specific customer service representative questions. These also apply to roles such as advisor and agent.

1. How would you show empathy when dealing with a customer?

To convey empathy when assisting a customer, listen actively to their concerns, validate their feelings, and express genuine understanding. Use phrases like “I understand how that could be frustrating” and assure them you’re committed to resolving the issue. This fosters a positive connection and enhances the customer experience.

2. Imagine that a customer calls to complain about not receiving documentation connected with their new account. How would you respond to this customer and what would you do to resolve the situation?

This is an opportunity for you to show your ability to resolve a challenging situation with empathy, patient and understanding. Active listening, reflecting back, showing your understand how difficult it is for the customer and ultimately providing a satisfactory solution is what is required.

3. Imagine you have to make decision for a customer and you have limited time. What would you do?

When faced with limited time for decision-making, prioritise key factors, gather essential information quickly, and use the company policy to guide you. Focus on the most important  actions and be decisive. Communicate transparently about the time constraints, seeking input if possible from your colleagues or manager. Swift, informed decisions are often more effective than delayed ones.

4. Imagine a customer or client contacts you and asks for something which is outside of company policy. How would you communicate to them that you were unable to satisfy their demand?

As a customer services representative you must always work within the set policy of your employer. There are no exceptions and you cannot act independently. In this situation you would refer or escalate to your supervisor or manager and ask for guidance. Let the customer know you are doing so; they will be pleased as you are dealing with their case effectively.

5. How would you successfully turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied one? What techniques would you use?

This question assesses your ability to handle challenging situations and resolve conflicts. Share a specific example, detailing the steps you took to understand the customer’s concerns, address the issues, and ultimately create a positive experience.

6. How do you handle communication with customers who may not be fluent in the language you are providing support in?

This question evaluates your adaptability and communication skills. Discuss your approach to effective communication, including using plain language, active listening, and utilising any available translation tools to ensure that language barriers do not hinder the customer service experience.

So how would you have answered these questions? It is vital that you show you skills clearly, including the empathy and sensitivity required to be an excellent customer service representative. These skills of course come through practical experience and this is what these questions set out to discover.

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Customer Services Manager Interview Questions

Going into a post as manager in a customer service environment can be a challenge.

The interviews are demanding reflecting the varied nature of the role itself. As a customer services manager you carry significant responsibility whether it be leading a team of people, managing a budget or delivering a project and the interview questions you will be asked will be targeted with discovering how competent you are.

Expect a combination of competency based and behavioural interview questions exploring your ability to manage a team and be an effective leader. In addition, questions will check your experience and skills when managing difficult situations.

Here are some common customer service manager interview questions. Take a moment and see how well you can answer them.

  • Talk me through your management experience highlighting that which is most relevant for this customer services post. (Competency Question)
  • What would you say is the most difficult aspect of a management role in customer services
  • Tell me about a time when you or your team failed to achieve it’s targets. (Competency Question)
  • How would you deal with an angry customer who was verbally abusing one of your staff?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make someone redundant. What was most challenging for you? (Competency Question)
  • How do you communicate goals so that all you customer service team members are in agreement?
  • Talk me through an example of how you have used data to improve your team’s productivity.  (Competency Question)
  • Describe when you have made successful changes to established work methods or routines? (Competency Question)
  • Can you give some examples of when your initiative has helped improve a situation or solved a problem? (Competency Question)
  • I see you have managed customer services teams before. Tell us how do you go about coordinating you team so they work together effectively?

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Tips for Answering Customer Services Interview Questions

The key to successful answering lies in being able to understand what is required in the post and what the interviewer is looking for.

Examples for Competency and Behavioural Questions: You must choose examples which are relevant and recent. Make sure they are complex and show the competency or behaviour they are looking for.

Create STAR Answers: While the competencies required can vary, for every Customer Services position, you can bet on one of the main skills being Communication. You will either need to be excellent at communicating with clients, colleagues and with an audience.
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Show Your Customer Services Skills: Customer Service jobs require a certain skill set and the interviewers will be looking to see if you possess them. They will expect you to give examples clearly demonstrating the skills we mention above including communication, empathy, problem solving and being able to communicate these in a clear and concise manner is essential.

Demonstrate Leadership Ability: Other key skills and/or experiences are ability to think laterally, make decisions, work as part of a team. You’ll also need to demonstrate your ability to manage time and meet deadlines. To work in customer services management, you need the ability to motivate others, to lead and manage and to ensure your team contributes to goals.

Most importantly at whatever level you are at, you should be enthusiastic about the organisation and what it does and let that enthusiasm shine in the interview.

Succeed in Your Customer Service Interview and Get The Job

Join InterviewGold and answer any customer services interview question including competency and behavioural with 100% confidence.

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Best of all, it is tailored to your target career. Log in select Customer Services and then select your role and get accurate questions and answers plus tons of top advice.

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About the Author |
Experienced interview coach with Anson Reed and co-author of the bestselling interview guide Top Answers to 121 Job Interview Questions. With over 20 years experience of recruiting and leading large teams Andrew is well placed to know just what is required to secure a job offer.