15 Customer Service Job Interview Questions (+Example Answers) – CV Nation

15 Customer Service Job Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

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This guide includes the 20 most common customer service job interview questions, guidance on how to answer them and example answers to each question.

Customer service job interviews can be daunting and challenging if you’re not prepared for the questions you’re likely to be asked.

As stated in Workable’s guide on interview statistics, an average of 12 customer service job interviews in the UK leads to just one hire.

In the United States, an average of 14 customer service job interviews leads to one hire.

As these numbers suggest, competition for customer service jobs is tough. With this in mind, it’s vital that you’re ready to ace your interview.

To do this, you need to be prepared for the interview questions, understand why interviewers are asking the questions and know how to answer them.

In this guide, we detail the 20 most common customer service interview questions and explain how you should answer them. We also provide example job interview answers for each question, which you can study to provide you with a platform to succeed in your job interview.

1. Why do you want to work for us?

You can be almost sure that you will be asked this question during job interviews.

When hiring managers ask this question, they don’t just want to hear why you want to work for their company.

They want to know how you can benefit them.

They also want to know if you are aligned with their company's values and missions. So ensure your answer is tailored to the company and how you can add value as an employee.

This question offers a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company, so make sure you’ve done your research.

Example answer

I want to work for your company because I appreciate the standards it has set in relation to quality customer service. I have used the company's services and I was blown away by how helpful the customer service staff were.

As someone who is passionate about customer service and always goes the extra mile to achieve customer satisfaction, I am keen to play part in your mission to continue improving the customer experience.

Note that this answer not only indicates a knowledge of the company and alignment with the company’s values, but it also shows that the candidate is eager to be part of the delivery of excellent customer service.

2. What is good customer service to you?

When interviewers ask this question, they want to know what type of customer service you would deliver and whether you’re aligned with their customer service values.

The best way to answer this question is to touch on the definition of great customer service – as this will show you understand what good customer service is – and provide a tangible example of a time you have provided good customer service.

Example answer

To me, good customer service is going the extra mile to ensure customers are satisfied and making sure they know that they are valued.

While employed in my previous job as a customer service advisor at a clothing company, I aimed to do this every day.

An example is a time I encountered a customer whose order had been lost in the post. Under normal circumstances, we would have simply sent her another item, but by the time she had got in touch with us the item was out of stock.

I contacted the courier service and managed to track down the missing order. This was then delivered to the customer, who contacted me to thank me for my efforts.

3. Describe a time you encountered a difficult customer and how you handled the situation?

This question is all about discovering how you react to situations involving challenging customers. Interviewers are trying to determine if you can demonstrate conflict resolution and problem solving skills under pressure while maintaining a calm, professional demeanour.

The best way to answer this question is to provide a specific example of a time you have handled a situation involving a difficult customer and achieved a positive outcome.

If you don’t have any customer service experience, think about your experiences engaging with members of the public or your colleagues. Use these experiences to highlight your ability to diffuse conflict and maintain your composure under pressure.

Example answer

While employed as a cashier at a supermarket, I encountered a customer who became very irate after I informed him that his discount voucher was invalid. Ensuring I followed the store’s policies, I politely apologised to the customer and explained that the voucher had expired the previous day.

I then referred the customer to a new voucher that he could use for future purchases. He accepted that the existing voucher was invalid and thanked me for providing him with an alternative.

4. Tell us about our products or services

Sometimes interviewers will ask customer service candidates to explain how much they know about the product or services their company provides.

Why is it important to know about the company’s products or services?

Because you can’t assist customers with products or services if you don’t have a complete understanding of them.

If you can demonstrate an extensive knowledge of the company's products or services in your job interview, you’ll stand a much stronger chance of succeeding. This is why researching the company you are interviewing with is one of the most important aspects of preparing for a job interview.

According to TwinEmployment’s study, 47% of the job interviewers stated that they would not hire a candidate if they demonstrated little or no knowledge of their company.

Example answer

Example Company provides business consultancy to small to medium sized companies in the logistics and supply chain spheres. Their business consultancy aims to improve their clients’ business processes and enable them to increase their revenue.

A key aspect of their consultancy revolves around automating procedures for clients to drive efficiency and reduce costs.

5. What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received?

This is another question that is designed to discover what your idea of good customer service is. Is it smiling at customers and being polite? Or is taking active steps to solve problems for customers?

To answer this question successfully, describe a time when a customer service worker went above and beyond for you.

Example answer

Four months after I purchased a washing machine from Example Retailer, one of buttons stopped working. I got in touch with the retailer, who informed me that the warranty had expired on the appliance.

I initially thought that there was nothing that the company could do as the warranty had expired, but the customer service advisor informed me that she would look into the situation.

Later that day, she called me back to explain that, as the buttons should not stop working within four months, they would replace the washing machine.

The customer service advisor also informed me that she had organised a temporary replacement machine while I waited for the delivery of the new one.

6. What is your key strength?

Many interviewers ask candidates this question. The aim of the question is to figure out if you’re a good fit for the job and what skills you can offer.

Think about your key skills and identify which has been most beneficial in providing great customer service. Offer an example of a time you have used the skill to achieve success.

Example answer

My key strength is communication. I am comfortable with communicating with people from all walks of life and I am capable of conveying information to customers in a polite, professional manner.

During my previous role as a cashier, I demonstrated my communication skills by organising an event for customers who were unsure how our products worked. I led the event and delivered a two-hour presentation that highlighted the workings of the products.

This enabled our customers to get more use of out of the products and reduced calls to our helpdesk by 82%.

7. Describe a time when you were unable to solve a customer’s problem?

The reality of customer service is that you can’t please everyone. There are some problems that you simply can’t solve.

This question isn’t about tricking you into admitting that you’re not great at customer service. It’s about how you manage the process of not being able to assist a customer and the steps you take to prevent the problem from escalating.

Example answer

During my time as a customer success executive at a company that provides solutions to website owners, I encountered a customer who’s digital product was not working on his website.

This was because his website was not compatible with the solution due various unchangeable coding issues on his website.

I communicated with our Technical department and asked them to create a custom change to the solution, hoping that it would allow the solution to work with the customer’s website.

However, this still did not work.

I emphasised with the customer and, after getting permission from my supervisor, offered him a free two-month trial of one of our other website solutions.

The customer was happy with my offer and left a positive review on the company’s website.

8. How do you cope with pressure?

Customer service professionals are often faced with challenging customers and stressful situations. As such, hiring managers want to determine how you respond to pressure.

The best way to answer this question is to provide a specific example of time you were faced with pressure. Explain how you reacted and how your reaction led to a positive outcome.

Example answer

Although I don’t enjoy working under pressure, pressure doesn’t get the better of me. In order to ensure I am able to cope with pressure, I effectively manage my time by scheduling my daily tasks and organising my diary.

I demonstrated my ability to cope well under pressure during my previous role when I was faced with a situation where I was asked to manage two areas of the shop at once.

I planned my time and communicated with colleagues to organise a change to our schedules. This enabled me to cope with an increase in my workload and achieve objectives.  

9. Why do you want to leave your current job?

The best answers to this question are always positive ones, such as career progression, a career change or an ability to contribute to the success of the company.

Try to focus on how you can benefit from changing jobs. Will there be more opportunities for growth? Can you learn new skills?

Avoid making negative comments about your current employer as this may reflect poorly on you.

Example answer

I’ve enjoyed working for Example Company for over 4 years. However, there is very little potential for career progression at the company.

I am aware that customer service advisors at your company are eligible for a customer service management programme, so I believe your company will enable me to develop professionally while providing excellent customer service.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hiring managers ask this question because they want to know if you’re likely to stick around. They also want to know if you’re goals are aligned with theirs.

Use your answer to this question to show your interest in the job while outlining your career goals. Focus on your goals that are relevant to the job.

As a customer service representative, in five years’ time you might see yourself as someone who is recognised for improving the customer experience. You may want to touch on your ambitions for career growth within the company.

Example answer

In five years' time, I see myself as someone who is recognised as an effective customer service advisor. I also intend to have improved my professional capabilities a great deal by then.

The opportunity to join your company’s internal management programme was a key factor in attracting me to this job, so I would like to think I can demonstrate enough qualities to join the programme and eventually progress to managerial roles in customer service.

11. Which skills are essential in delivering great customer service?

‘Erm, customer service skills, of course’.

That’s exactly how you should not answer this question.

When asking this question, hiring managers are trying to determine if you understand which skills are key in delivering great customer service.

The best way to identify the skills that employers are looking for in the job you’re interviewing for is to study the job description.

Customer service skills include:

- Communication

- Problem solving

- Time management

- Professionalism

- Teamwork

- Empathy

- Patience

Example answer

Essential customer service skills include problem solving, teamwork and communication. I think its’s important to be able to find solutions for customers’ problems in an efficient manner.

The best way to do this is to maintain strong channels of communication and good teamwork with colleagues.

I also think professionalism and patience are essential skills for customer service professionals.

12. Describe a time you disagreed with a supervisor’s instructions

With this question, hiring managers try to gauge how you handle conflict. They also want to learn about your emotional intelligence, communication skills and professionalism.

Is it acceptable to disagree with your boss’s instructions? Of course, if there was a valid reason. The point is they’re trying to determine if you can handle disagreements with professionalism and maturity.

Example answer

When I worked as an assistant at Example Company Ltd., my supervisor asked me to distribute an email marketing list, which I knew included customers who had not consented to email marketing.

I didn’t want to cause a stir by bringing the issue of data compliance up in front of colleagues, so I waited until my boss was alone to approach him.

I explained that, while I respected his authority, I wasn’t comfortable with distributing the emails as it would be a breach of regulations. My manager understood my concerns and instructed me to only send emails to customers who had consented to receiving them.

We both agreed that it was important for us to communicate with each other when we had concerns.

13. Have you ever had to say no to a customer?

As a customer service professional, you’ll always aim to please customers. But there will be times when you have to say no.

When recruiters and hiring managers ask this question, they are trying to determine if you can say no or refuse service to customers in a polite, professional manner.

Your answer can also help them figure out how you deal with conflict and challenging situations.

Example answer

While employed as a cashier at Example Supermarket, I was approached by a customer who tried to enter the store as we were closing. The store had almost completely closed down and it was against policy to let customers in after closing time.

The customer became very angry, but I apologised for the inconvenience and politely informed him that he would have to return the following day.

Eventually the customer agreed and accepted that he could not enter the store.

14. What is your biggest weakness?

Interviewers ask this question to find out if you’re capable of recognising your flaws and taking steps to ensure they don’t become hinder you too much.

Don’t focus on weaknesses that would impede your ability to perform your role. For example, if you’re interviewing for a job as a customer service agent, it wouldn’t be wise to state that your weakness is talking to customers.

When answering this question, explain what you intend to do in the future to combat your weakness.

Example answer

I’m not skilled with certain software packages that are often used in customer service roles, including Microsoft Office. In my last job, this became an issue as I was required to use the package to prepare documents.

I asked a friend to show me the basics of the software in my spare time, but I am still not completely proficient with it.

In the coming months, I intend to commence an advanced Microsoft Office training course to ensure I am able to use the software if I am required to do so.

15. Do you have any questions for me?

This question is almost always asked at the end of interviews.

Your worse response to this question could be ‘No, I don’t’. Such a response indicates little enthusiasm about the job and may cause the interviewer to think you’re not that interested.

Even if you don’t have anything to ask, fire some questions at the interviewer to show that you’re interested.

Example questions for hiring managers

Do most customer service professionals here work alone or collaboratively?

Are there opportunities for progression to more senior roles in this job?

Will my duties change over time?

What happens now? What is the next stage of the application process?

What do most employees love about working here?

STAR Technique

As we’ve covered in this guide, many job interview questions should be answered with specific examples of your experiences.

The best way to do this is to use the STAR technique. This is the technique we used in the interview answer examples in this guide and the one we recommend you use.

What is the STAR technique?

STAR consists of ‘Situation, Task, Action, Result’.

When you use the STAR technique to provide examples in your answers to interview questions, you describe the situation that you encountered, or the problem (situation). This is followed by the task at hand (task), the action you took (action) and the result you achieved (result).

By following this formula, your job interview answer examples will be structured in the proper way and you'll give hiring managers the information they want.

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful in preparing for your customer service job interview.

Need further help in your job search?

Take a look at our three great customer service cover letter examples. Or check out our comprehensive guide on how to write a CV. If you're pursuing customer service jobs as a receptionist, view our guide to receptionist job interviews, which includes 20 common receptionist interview questions.

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