Customer Service Interview Questions for Hiring the Best Candidates

by Katie Sawyer, 10 minutes read
HOME blog customer service interview questions for hiring the best candidates

Recruiting for customer service related positions is tough, they typically pay more than a normal hourly position so their job ads will attract a very large amount of applicants. Not only that but they can be a great way for people to get their foot in the door and garner experience in certain industries and begin to work their way up the ladder. These reasons are why you need to be extra careful when hiring for customer service related positions, they are highly sought after and the only way to ensure your company’s standard is upheld is by being thorough in your interview process so you’re confident that you assemble the best possible team. One aspect of a thorough interview process is asking the right questions that allow the candidate to open up as well as giving you the opportunity to dig deeper and get a better sense of whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your team. To get a better idea of the questions that are effective in bringing out the best in your applicants, be sure to analyze the blog ahead as I give you a rundown on what you should be asking your customer service applicants.

But before we get into that, you should take a look at how you handle your employee scheduling procedures. No matter how talented you are at attracting great employees, they will be gone before you know it if you don’t take steps to ensure they’re comfortable in how your company handles things. To learn more, click on the button below to begin your trial.


Customer Service turnover rate

Before we get into the questions, it’s best to gain a better understanding of the higher than average turnover rates for call centers and how you can work to avoid these issues in your own workplace.

Why is turnover such an issue in the Customer Service industry?

There are many reasons as to why customer service roles typically have an issue with high turnover rates, but these rank as the most common as to why people end up leaving these jobs.

  1. High call volumes

Everyone says they’ll be great at answering a bunch of phone calls, up until they’re actually put in the position where they’re expected to answer up to a hundred calls a day. Once reality hits, they will be quick to search for another position as soon as they can. If you’re recruiting for a role where your agents are expected to answer a higher than usual number of calls per day, then make sure to clearly state what you expect from your customer service reps in your job ad as well as during your phone interviews and your in-person interviews.

Customer Service Interview Questions that are Great for Hiring the Best Candidates

This way, your candidates better understand what they’re getting themselves into and can prepare themselves accordingly. Aside from that, you may want to speak with managers about giving employees breaks as well as implementing other strategies for easing the stress levels of the customer service reps. To give you some help, here are some other ways of lowering the stress levels of employees that work to lower your company’s turnover rate.

  • Offer free snacks in the breakroom. (Dark chocolate in particular is great for lowering stress).

  • Declutter your workspace. An office that is filled with a bunch of unnecessary junk will clutter the employees’ minds as a result, so make sure that you’re periodically cleaning your workspace.

  • Give employees some praise every now and then. Managers often don’t single employees our or take the time to speak with them unless they mess up or have some other area that needs improvement. This way of doing things stresses employees out and makes them feel unappreciated. Whenever it’s time for performance reviews, remember to give your customer service reps positive praise to accompany the negative.

  • Ask for their honest feedback. When you ask for an employee’s feedback, it makes them feel appreciated and like there a respected member of the team rather than like there a disposable tool. When you do get feedback, make sure that you take it seriously and take steps to implement useful feedback in the workplace.

  • Implement office activities that involve everyone. This can be a fantasy football league, book club, in-office soccer league, etc. These are great for employee morale as well as giving your employees an opportunity to socialize outside of work. Just make sure that you have a good idea of what everyone’s interests are so you don’t end up starting something that no one is interested in.

  1. Irate customers

It’s no secret that a big part of a customer service representative’s job is to deal with customers that are not always so friendly. In fact, they are often downright hostile to the customer service reps they’re speaking with. This is a large reason why many people end up leaving the job. It can cause great emotional stress that not only affects their ability to be a productive employee, but will negatively affect their personal life as well. While it’s impossible to stop customers from yelling at employees, it is possible to promote strategies to help employees cope. Here are some strategies you should spread amongst your workplace.

  • Remain calm during the call and don’t let the customer get the better of you.

  • Don’t take anything personally, remember that the caller isn’t mad at you, they are mad at the situation. This helps put things into perspective.

  • Listen carefully and acknowledge their frustration. An angry customer is often just looking for someone to vent to and help them feel justified in how they feel. If your customer service representatives are able to convey that feeling to the customer, then they’ll be likely to be less on edge.

  • Apologize profusely, no matter if it’s not your company’s fault. Your customer service representatives will have to get used to apologizing frequently for issues that may not have even been your company’s fault in the first place. Regardless of who’s at fault, the representatives need to express sympathy for all issues they are facing.

Customer Service interview questions

With you now being better aware of the issues facing customer service reps and how it can drive them to quit, it’s time to take a look at the questions best suited for pinpointing the candidates that are qualified for the role.

Customer Service Interview Questions that are Great for Hiring the Best Candidates

  1. What does good customer service mean to you?

In order to fit the role of a successful customer service representative, the candidate must demonstrate that they understand what great customer service means. Your reps are the face of your company and are the first point of contact for your customers, which means they’re going to be the ones in charge of growing loyalty as well as your strengthening retention. These reasons are why this question is so important during your interview process. You need to be assured that they have somewhat of an understanding of what proper customer service is if you expect them to be successful in the role. Look for these tidbits of information in their answer:

  • Ensures that customers are completely pleased before getting off the phone with them and have no more additional questions.
  • Genuinely cares about helping people.
  • Is patient enough to work through any and all issues.
  • Displays an understanding of the principals of good customer service.
  1. Can you explain your past experiences working in customer experience?

This one is pretty straightforward and works to gain a better understanding of what they’ve done in customer service in the past along with what they’ve accomplished. Even if the position is entry level and you don’t require any past experience as a customer service representative, experience in the restaurant industry or even volunteer roles can be adequate for preparing them for the position.

  1. Would you describe yourself as a people person?

When you’re on the phones for hours on out, you’re going to want to be the type of person that likes talking to people. This doesn’t mean you should only hire extroverts and dump the introverts. Believe it or not, introverts can be just as talkative as extroverts, as well as having the listening skills to make them good at customer service. Look for these clues in their answer to get a better idea of whether or not they’re a good people person.

  • They are high energy when you talk to them and are able to hold a conversation.
  • They show that they have a passion for helping people.
  • They’re able to stay focused on a single topic for long periods.
  1. Can you describe a time where you went above & beyond to help a customer?

When you’re a customer service representative, your full-time job is to ensure that your customers’ needs are completely fulfilled before moving on to the next issue. No matter how difficult their problem may seem, your job is to help them in every way possible. That’s why you should take time to analyze their past experiences with going the extra mile so you’re assured in knowing they are used to doing whatever it takes to make sure the customer leaves happy.

Customer Service Interview Questions that are Great for Hiring the Best Candidates

  1. Can you describe a situation where you had to deal with an irate customer? How did you handle it?

Mean, impatient customers are a staple of the customer service industry and are a prime reason why many representatives end up leaving. Make sure that you ask them this question regarding their past experiences with problematic customers so you can gauge their ability to deal with similar issues that arise as a customer service representative.

  1. Have you been in a situation where you didn’t have the skills to help someone with their issues? What did you do about it?

There’s bound to come a time where they’ll be approached with a question from a customer that they don’t know the answer to and you need to be assured that they’ll be able to handle themselves. Try to see how quick they are to ask for outside help, if they don’t know the answer, there’s no point in giving the customer empty promises that will just lead them right back to the support line. You want them to quickly get the help they need so the customer isn’t waiting longer than they have to to get what they need.

Customer Service Interview Questions that are Great for Hiring the Best Candidates

  1. What skill have you increased dramatically over the course of the past year?

Customer service representatives need to be skilled in catching on quickly and efficiently if they want to be successful in the position. They’re providing a support role, so naturally they must be great at learning a lot of information quickly. While this question may catch them off guard, it’s a good idea to get a sense of how they handle learning new skills and talents.

  1. How important is collaboration to you? Would you say that it’s crucial for success?

Despite that representatives are on the phone by themselves, customer service is still a very collaborative job that needs a team to assure it’s done properly. Imagine if they are in a scenario where they don’t know the answer to a customer question, while they may have the option of putting the customer on hold and flipping through the employee handbook for an answer, you never know how long that may take which can cause the customer to get irate. With a team that works collaboratively, they can simply turn to one another for solutions to answers they aren’t aware of. That’s why you should make sure they have experience in working as a team and are comfortable asking for the help they need.

Customer Service Interview Questions that are Great for Hiring the Best Candidates

  1. Pay attention to how they sound on the phone

This one isn’t a question as much as it is a word of advice, pay very close attention to how they sound on the phone during the initial phone interview process and answer these questions regarding the candidate:

  • Did they speak clearly and coherently?
  • Did they seem anxious?
  • Did you get any feeling of them having an attitude or sounding standoffish?
  • Did they use any slang?

You have to be assured that your representatives are able to properly represent your company so your customers don’t end up leaving because of a bad experience speaking with one of your representatives.


You must be assured that the applicants for your open customer service representative roles are equipped for handling all customer complaints and questions so you don’t end up losing valuable customers. The questions above are great for getting a better understanding of how the candidate will be able to handle themselves in a customer service environment.

Also, your representatives will have to deal with many irate customers that will often leave them drained. So don’t add the frustration of having to deal with an inconsistent employee scheduling platform that makes it hard for them to receive their shifts and difficult for your managers to build those schedules. To ensure you never have to worry about this, click on the button below to begin your trial and see how Deputy works to better your scheduling operations.