Top 17 Customer Service Interview Questions
Interviewing for customer service jobs? We’ve got you covered!
We’re going to look at 17 sample customer service representative interview questions, including the top behavioral customer service interview questions.
These are the questions you can expect to hear in any customer service interview… whether it’s a first phone interview or face-to-face interview.
Make sure you can answer ALL 17 before going into your interview. Let’s get started…
Sample Customer Service Representative Interview Questions
1. “Do you have any previous customer service experience?”
Not everyone’s great at dealing with customers, and employers want to make sure you’ll do a good job before they hire you.
So they’re going to want to know if you’ve done similar work before.
They’ll start by asking if you have any previous customer service experience, and if you do, then the hiring manager will ask a lot more about it.
They’re going to ask for details like:
- How you interacted with customers (phone, in-person, etc.)
- How many customers you served per day/week
- The types of customers you served (retail customer service, business customers, etc.)
So brush up on your past experience and review your own resume when preparing for your interviews.
Be ready to go into detail about everything you’ve done in the past in the field of customer service.
If you don’t have any previous customer service experience, don’t worry. They obviously liked SOMETHING on your resume or they wouldn’t have invited you to interview.
So you can be direct and say, “no”.
Or if you have some other experience you think is relevant even if it wasn’t exactly customer service, you can say, “no… but…” and then talk about what else you’ve done and why you feel it’d help you succeed in this customer service job.
2. What does “good” customer service mean to you?
Next, the interviewer is going to want to see if you have a basic understanding of the purpose of customer service.
This is a tough interview question because it’s so open-ended.
I’d recommend saying something like, “To me, great customer service is going above and beyond what a customer expects to make sure they have an outstanding experience and want to tell friends about how positive their interaction with our company was.”
It’s important to show that you know your job involves making sure customers are happy with the company, not just you as a person.
You’ll notice a lot of customer service surveys say, “From 1-10, how likely are you to recommend the company to a friend?”
And that’s how they evaluate their customer service representatives.
They’re not asking customers, “Was Jake a nice guy when he helped you?”…
They’re asking whether you’d recommend the company. So that’s what your job really is as a customer service representative – to help customers and give them a positive impression of the company overall.
3. “What motivates you in your career?”
Employers want to know what motivates you and keeps you going aside from money… especially when you interview for a difficult/stressful job like customer service representative positions.
These jobs are DEFINITELY stressful at times.
So employers want to make sure there’s something that will motivate you and keep you going when a day gets difficult.
Don’t say “money” when you answer this question.
They want to know what’s going to keep you motivated besides the paycheck.
That’s what hiring managers are curious about this when they ask this question in a customer service representative interview.
Here’s some further reading on answering the “what motivates you” interview question.
4. What are your career goals/Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years?
Most people don’t dream of being in customer service and don’t want to stay there forever.
So employers are probably going to ask about your long-term goals in a customer service representative interview.
You don’t need to lie and say this is your dream job…
You just want to show that this customer service representative position fits into your overall goals, even if it’s not where you want to be forever.
For example, do you want to become a manager? Learning the “ins and outs” of customer service can boost your people skills and help you learn about a vital part of the organization.
Want to work in sales eventually? You can say that you hope to build A+ interpersonal skills and communication skills, and you thought customer service was a great place to build that foundation.
That’s the basic idea when answering this interview question.
Answers for “what is your dream job?”
Answers for “where do you see yourself in 2-5 years?”
Must-Know Behavioral Customer Service Interview Questions
Next, you’ll want to prepare for behavioral questions. These are questions that start with phrases like, “tell me about a time you had to ___.”
Behavioral questions are very common for customer service representative jobs.
Employers want to make sure you can handle difficult situations with customers BEFORE they hire you.
They also want to make sure you won’t do anything to harm the company’s reputation, like yelling at a customer, walking out, etc.
Here are some sample behavioral interview questions to make sure you’re ready to answer for any customer service job:
5. “Tell me about a difficult customer you had to deal with and how you handled it?”
For answering behavioral interview questions, I like the S.T.A.R. method.
Situation. Task/Challenge. Action you took. Result.
That’s a good way to organize your answer.
So when you’re in a customer service job interview and they ask about a difficult customer you encountered, you could say:
“It was Friday afternoon and we were about to close the store.” (Situation)
“A customer came to me extremely unhappy because __” (Task/Challenge)
“So I quickly did ___ and decided to offer her ___ to rectify the situation” (Action you took)
“She was very grateful and completely understood after I explained ___. And she was thrilled that I was able to give her ___ as compensation for her hassle. She said she’d be back soon to shop again.” (Result).
I’d recommend using this method to break down your answer into smaller pieces and tell clearer and better stories.
This is useful for any behavioral customer service interview question.
6. “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond what was expected to please a customer?”
Employers don’t just want someone who does the bare minimum or sticks to their exact job description as a customer service representative.
So they ask behavioral questions like this one to see if you’re able to really please customers and go above and beyond the basics.
If you have any previous customer service experience, be ready to go into detail about a time you got creative or put in the extra effort to please a customer.
For example, if you worked in a grocery store, what was something you did that they really didn’t expect, and made their day?
Maybe you helped them find their lost child as the store was closing.
Maybe you special-ordered a product that you don’t normally carry.
Think about those things that aren’t on the job description. That’s what to talk about when answering this interview question.
If you’ve never worked in a customer service role before, they might ask a similar question like, “tell me about a time you went above and beyond what was expected of you at work?”
So even if you’ve never worked in customer service, be ready to talk about a situation where you did more than what was expected in your job.
7. “Tell me about a difficult day you experienced at work. What happened and how did you handle it?”
You’re going to have difficult days as a customer service representative.
So employers want to know that you’re resilient and can handle it.
They want to know that you won’t freak out, throw your uniform and quit.
So show them you know it’s not always easy being in customer service, but that you’re able to stay professional and come back the next day no matter what happens.
Use the S.T.A.R. method (mentioned earlier!) to tell a clear story about a day that really didn’t go your way, and what you learned from it and how you turned it into a positive experience.
What were you able to improve from that experience?
How did you make sure the customer was satisfied?
How did that experience help you avoid problems/mistakes/difficult situations later in your career?
That’s the general approach I’d take when answering this type of question in your customer service interview.
8. “Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client or coworker. How did you make sure they understood you?”
Communicate skills are vital for any customer-facing job, so employers want to see how you explain yourself and communicate.
They’ll judge this throughout the interview with EVERY answer you give them, too.
So make sure all of your answers are clear, concise, and to-the-point.
9. “Tell me about a time you thought you communicated clearly but were misunderstood. What happened and how did you handle the situation?”
This is another customer service interview question designed to measure your communication skills and your ability to recover when things don’t go exactly as planned.
They’re looking to hear a story showing your ability to solve a problem/issue after your first attempt to communicate didn’t go so well.
If you work in customer service long enough, you’ll be misunderstood once or twice. (No matter how great you are).
So the hiring manager or interviewer wants to see you can keep your cool and recover even if a customer totally misunderstands you and gets upset.
10. “Describe an instance when you had to improvise or think on your feet to solve a problem”
Another part of being great at customer service is solving problems and improvising on the spot.
Sometimes the unexpected happens.
A power outage.
An injury to a customer (if you’re in retail, etc.)
So try to use the S.T.A.R. method that we discussed earlier to tell a story of how you improvised in the past to find a solution to an unexpected problem.
7 More Sample Behavioral Customer Service Interview Questions
We’ve looked at 10 of the most common questions you’ll hear in a customer service interview now.
There are 7 other behavioral interview questions that you’re very likely to hear, too, though.
So I’m going to leave you with those as well.
Answers to all of these are in our Complete Guide To Job Interview Answers.
11. “Tell me about a time you were under a lot of stress at work and how you dealt with it”
12. “Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work, what happened?”
13. “When you’re working with a large number of customers, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to all of them. How do you go about prioritizing your customers’ needs?”
14. “Describe a time when you had to interact with a difficult client. What was the situation, and how did you handle it?”
15. “Tell me about a time a customer was pleased with your service”
16. “Give me an example where you did not meet a client’s expectations. What happened and how did you attempt to fix the situation?”
17. “Describe a time when it was especially important to make a good impression on a client. How did you approach things?”
Word-for-word answers and detailed explanations of EXACTLY what the hiring manager is looking for can be found in our Complete Guide To Job Interview Answers.
If you follow the advice above and practice these common customer service job interview questions, you’ll be better prepared than most candidates, and you’ll give yourself a great shot at getting the job offer!
If you want more help succeeding in your interviews, here are two additional free resources to check out:
The top 14 must-know interview questions and answers
How to send “thank you” notes/emails after your interview