You’ve been invited for a customer service interview.
But.. you’re nervous and don’t know what to expect?
A bit of preparation will ease your nerves and help you start with your best foot forward.
Explore 18 customer service interview questions with sample answers, and win that interview! If you need a checklist, download a PDF to keep around for last-minute checkups.
Customer interview questions and answers:
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- What does customer service mean to you?
- Are you a team player?
- What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses when interacting with a customer?
- How do you keep cool in a stressful situation?
- What do you do when you don’t know the answer to a question?
- What motivates you?
- Why do you think you would be a good fit for this position?
- What skills do you have that will be useful in this job?
- What attracted you to this position?
- Why should we hire you?
- Can you tell me about your previous customer service experience?
- Can you talk me through what you do after answering a customer’s query?
- Describe a time when you provided high-quality customer service.
- Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem.
- Describe a time when you made a mistake at work and how you handled it.
- What’s important to you in the workplace?
- A random question
First things first, though.
Your answers to recruiters’ questions should be anything but chaotic. That’s why it’s crucial to establish a framework that will keep them organized and logical.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to do so is by using the so-called STAR method.
STAR stands for:
- Situation you were involved in
- Task you were responsible for
- Actions you took to solve the situation
- Results of the actions you took
Following this simple structure will surely help you stay on track.
Also, check out this article ”How to Use the STAR Method for Interview Questions” to learn about the practical aspects of using STAR in interviews for various positions.
Let’s jump straight into it then—
1. Tell me a little about yourself.
No matter what job you’re applying for, you’ll most likely get this question. The interviewer asks about your professional self, not about your private life. Don’t mistake the two.
By starting a customer service interview with this question, your future employer hopes to get a summary of your background and skills. It also presents them with what you think is most relevant to the position.
This question is your pitch. Show that you know what the role is and how you fit in it.
- Most people don’t feel comfortable talking about themselves so make sure you prepare the answer, and you are not caught off-guard.
- Be confident and organized. This question is your chance to sell yourself.
- Present your interviewer with a summed-up timeline of your professional life.
- Start with your current position and move backward through the most important parts of your background relevant to the customer service job you’re applying for.
- Make it into a short story. The person interviewing you is speaking to a lot of people. Stand out by making your customer service interview interesting for both of you from the very beginning.
I’ve always enjoyed working with people and supporting them when they needed a helping hand. I am currently working as a retail assistant at ABC company. I am managing stock, assisting customers with their shopping, and processing payments. During my two years with them, I exceeded my sales goals by about 10% every quarter. I also became the employee of the month several times.
Before this position, I worked as a waitress in a busy restaurant. I loved the fast-paced environment and being able to interact with each guest to make them feel welcomed. I also finished university with a Public Relations Bachelor’s degree which helps me better interact with others.
Even though I enjoy my current position, I would like to try something new and develop my communication skills even further with your company.
2. What does customer service mean to you?
This interview question for a customer service representative is designed to see if your definition of customer service is in line with what the organization stands for. Your answer will tell the employer if you’re a good match for the position and for their business.
- Check the company’s mission statement to see their values and mention them in your response.
- Make sure you know the importance of customer service on the company’s growth and how customer success affects the success of the business so that you can have some extra pointers to include in your answer.
- Ask yourself, “Why is customer service something I want to do?” Write down the answer alongside a specific example of when you provided exceptional customer service.
To me, customer service is going that extra step to ensure we help our customers and exceed their expectations. It is making sure that the client wants to share their experience with friends and family and recommend us to their close ones.
3. Are you a team player?
Yes! The answer is yes. Even though a customer service representative seems like a lone wolf type of job, it is not. There will be many times when you don’t know how to help a customer, and you need help from your coworkers.
By asking this customer service interview question, the employer wants to know how well you play in a team. They want to hear that you can recognize when a situation goes beyond your capabilities and are able to pass it to someone who can deal with the problem better.
- Emphasize that you can work independently and that you are self-reliant. Most of the time, you will be working alone with the client. Your employer needs to know that you’re comfortable with that and that you won’t need supervision at all times.
- Try to balance your answer smack-bang in the middle of being too independent and being too indecisive.
- Research the company and what’s important to them. Is it working independently or do they put more value into teamwork? Match what their preferences are.
I enjoy being part of a team and working with others to achieve the best results. When it comes to the ordinary workday, I am self-reliant and try to connect with the customer and solve their problem the best I can. But, I am willing to admit when it goes beyond my capabilities, and I need help from my coworkers. I am also always happy to help members of my team whenever I can be of assistance. In my previous workplace, I discovered how valuable a team could be. There was a time when I couldn’t find the answer to the customer’s query even though I looked through all sources I could think of. We had a group chat for our team, so I popped the client’s problem in there. Just a moment after, one of my colleagues contacted me privately, saying he had that issue before and talked me through how to solve it. The client left the interaction happily with their issue resolved, and I was grateful to my coworker for their help.
4. What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses when interacting with a customer?
This is a very specific question. You could also hear a simple “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
When you hear this question in a customer service interview, the employer wants to know what you are good at and what you need to improve. Don’t be afraid to tell them about your struggles but make sure to mention that you’re working on them and want to improve.
- Think of two or three strengths that helped you with customer service before.
- Have examples that demonstrate your strengths.
- Come up with your biggest weakness related to customer service and what you’re doing to improve it. This is important. Show your employer you’re aware of your liability and working on it. This will leave a positive impression because it will show that you’re developing and working on yourself.
My biggest strengths are empathy and great communication skills. I always actively listen to the customer and then talk him through how to solve his problem or what I’m doing to help him out. I try to put myself in the customer’s shoes and make sure I can understand their needs best. During my career, I realized that a calm and friendly approach can work wonders in communication with a customer.
My weakness is that I sometimes get too involved in a customer’s case. When they have a problem, I want to make sure I help them solve it. Sometimes it just takes longer than what my coworkers spend with clients. I try to improve by making sure I know our products inside out and know who to go for help in extreme cases so that the process of solving the customer’s inquiry is quicker.
5. How do you keep cool in a stressful situation?
This interview question for a customer service position is to check if you can handle being in a stressful environment. You’ll need to speak to dozens of people, each with an individual problem, every day.
Can you handle different types of customers? This is your time to prove to the employer that you can handle being in a fast-going workplace.
- Prepare a time when you had to deal with a stressful situation at work
- Think back to some stressful situations you’ve been in and remind yourself how you handled it. Write down what helped you keep cool and how you managed the stress.
- Make sure this is what you want to do. Customer service is a stressful job, so you need to prepare for it. Only then will you be able to persuade the employer that you can do this.
Being prepared helps me stay calm in stressful situations. When I worked in a call center, I got a phone call from an angry customer. It was difficult for me to understand his issue because his sentences were mashed together in anger. I started piecing together what the problem was and why he was upset. I said that I understand his problem and emphasized his frustrations. He calmed down and told me fully about his situation. I knew our products and services thoroughly and managed to fix his issue in under 5 minutes. The whole interaction lasted 20 minutes, but I stayed diplomatic and acknowledged the customer. When I showed him that I value what he’s saying, it de-escalated the heat and got the client on my side so that we can solve the issue together.
If you need some help with staying calm under pressure, check out this video:
6. What do you do when you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question?
This will put you on the spot. The interviewer wants to know how you deal with being caught off guard.
There will be plenty of times when you don’t know the answer to a client’s question, especially at the beginning of your employment. This is normal, and that’s why your employer wants to know if you can handle it. So, how to answer this customer service interview question?
- Prepare for this question by thinking about the last time someone asked you about something you didn’t know. How did you handle the situation?
- Write down all the important actions you took to find the solution to the problem. If you couldn’t solve the issue yourself, say who helped you.
- Make sure your answer involves how you help the customer even though their question is new to you.
- If you’re applying for a senior position, refer to a specific situation at work when you didn’t know the answer to a customer’s question.
- If you’re applying for a junior position, you might not have a specific work example for this question. That’s okay. Think of a situation at your school when you didn’t know the answer to a teacher’s question and describe how you dealt with it.
I do everything I can for that situation not to happen. But when I am presented with a question that I don’t know the answer to, I try to research it by browsing around all available resources. If I can find the answer, then great. But in rare cases when I cannot find a solution to a client’s inquiry, I consult my colleagues and supervisor. For example, in my first customer service job, I got a question that I hadn’t heard before and didn’t know the answer to. I went through our company’s knowledge base, researched the question, and went through the user instructions. Nothing. I couldn’t find anything, but I didn’t want to let the customer down, so I kept the conversation on while trying to find a solution to their issue. Once I realized I couldn’t do it by myself, I asked for help from my more senior colleague. They encountered that question before and helped me talk the customer through the process to solve their problem. The customer was satisfied, I was grateful, and my coworker said he’s always happy to help. That’s when I realized it’s not the end of the world if I don’t know something. I just have to do my best to help the client solve their issue by the end of our interaction.
7. What motivates you?
The interviewer wants to know what drives you to accomplish results. What’s important to you in the workplace? The answer to this client service interview question will give the employer an idea of your values and the best reward.
- Look at the company’s values. This will help you define what is important to them and see if it matches your drivers.
- Be truthful but don’t say money. They want to know what keeps you going that isn’t your paycheck.
My results drive me. I enjoy the feeling I get when I’m able to help others. I get a sense of satisfaction when an angry user becomes a loyal customer by the end of an interaction. I like to be a part of a team that puts the customer first and helps to make sure they are happy and stay with us.
8. Why do you think you would be a good fit for this position?
This is your chance to present yourself as the perfect candidate for the company you apply to. The employer wants to know what skills you have to make you the right person for the job.
- Research the company. Look for their values, the work environment they create, and what they strive towards.
- List out what connections you have with the company and what makes you a great customer service representative.
- Highlight your personal traits and special skills. Share your achievements and present what makes you unique.
On your website, you say that you value teamwork and personal development. I entirely agree that teamwork is essential in customer service and that the more your employees grow, the better service they can provide. I am a good fit for this position because I enjoy working with people and truly care about them. At my previous job, I was praised by customers because of my friendly approach and attentiveness. I value hard work and supporting each other in a team. I also want to keep developing and growing professionally, and I think your company will be a great place for this. My experience provided me with many opportunities to challenge myself and develop. I can bring all the lessons I learned throughout the years and positively impact the team.
9. What skills do you have that will be useful in this job?
The interviewer could also word this customer service interview question as “What skills can you bring to the job?”
These customer service job interview questions are there to see if you would be a good fit for the job and how well you understand it. What are the attributes you will bring to the support team?
Customer service tool you should know
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- Look through the most important customer service skills that employers and customers love in a customer service representative. While reading through the article, try to spot the skills you have and which ones you can develop over time.
- Read through the job posting and see what skills they are looking for and list out a few of your skills that match their description. Try to remember a few situations where you demonstrated these skills.
I love helping customers and always look forward to the opportunity to make our customers feel special and valued. My excellent communication skills and attentiveness, alongside my positive attitude, bring a good atmosphere into the workplace. Just last week, I was helping a client with their system issue. I listened closely to what his problem was and tried every solution one by one with him. When we managed to find and fix the issue, he was very grateful and said he struggled with it the whole previous day. We got a returning customer and a five-star review from him that afternoon.
10. What attracted you to apply for this position?
By asking this customer service question, employers want to know if you understand the job and know what the position requires. What did you like about the job description and the company that made you apply for it?
- Look back at the job posting and look through the organization’s website. Find out some interesting facts about the company to be able to mention them when answering this question.
- Be positive and enthusiastic about the position and joining their company. This will show that you’re excited and passionate about the position.
I’ve been working in customer service for over six years now. I want to continue my journey by developing my skills further. After reading the job description and looking at your company’s values, I found that you value your employees’ personal growth, which drew my attention. You also mention that you treat failures as lessons, not a breaking point. I think this is a great opportunity to continue my development and growth. I would like to get up to speed quickly and start contributing results for your business in this role.
11. Why should we hire you?
During your customer service interview, answers won’t come easy. With this question, the interviewer wants you to present a few reasons why they should hire you. They want to find out what they are going to gain when you join their business.
- Make a list of 3-4 of your biggest strengths and describe how they relate to the role. There is no need to list all of your strong skills without any context. It is better to present a couple and give example situations to them.
- Recall your success stories and accomplishments to present yourself as the best candidate for this role.
I can learn quickly to start delivering great results, and I think I would fit in your company. I’m passionate about my work and have achievements in helping companies succeed by providing exceptional service for our customers. When I joined the previous company as a customer service representative, I focused on providing excellent support to clients. I brought my experience and positive nature to the position and did my best for our clients. After learning how the company operates, I started motivating my team members to do their best for our customers as well. The company’s churn rate decreased by 14% in just eight months, and I was mentioned in over a dozen five-star reviews.
12. Can you tell me about your previous customer service experience?
This behavioral interview question for a customer service representative covers your experience in the area. The employer wants to know how prepared you are for the role. Yes, your experience is on your resume, but this is your chance to talk about everything you learned and did at your previous workplaces.
- Print out your application materials. These include your resume, your cover letter, and any additional documents you sent alongside your application.
- Read through your application and prepare a longer description of your previous experience. You can even mention what each place of work taught you.
- Make clear connections between the job posting and your previous experience.
As you can see from my resume, I have worked in customer service for over four years. During this time, I have managed customers’ requests ranging from checking inventory for a different color product to troubleshooting software to fix an issue in the system. I have learned that friendliness and diplomacy are the best policy when speaking to a dissatisfied customer. I enjoy helping people and being able to turn an angry customer into a happy client.
13. Can you walk me through what you do after answering a customer’s query?
To answer this interview question, you need customer service experience. Your interviewer wants to know the process you operate when handling customer’s inquiries. For this one, you’ll need a bit of preparation and imagination.
- Be organized in your response. From the moment you answer the customer’s query till you’re finished speaking with them, keep the flow as it would normally go.
- Try to imagine you were hired and you’re sitting at your desk when a client phones. Pretend you’re just describing to the employer each action you’re doing and each process that comes into play.
- You can also go back in your memory to when you were speaking to a customer last. Think about what the process was and try to remember it step by step. In this case, you’ll have something to refer to, which might help in a stressful interview scenario.
Every case is different, and every customer needs a personalized service which I always strive to provide. When I see a customer’s query and click on it to join the conversation, I always check if there were previous conversations with this customer and if I know their name. I greet them by their name if I can find it and introduce myself. I then ask how I can help? I closely read the customer’s problem. Then, I try to help the customer using my product knowledge and look through available resources to send them additional information. When we solve the issue, I ask if there is anything else I can assist with. If the answer is no, I wish them a good day and let them know we’re always here when they need any additional help.
14. Describe a time when you provided high-quality customer service.
This customer service rep interview question is your opportunity to show that you care about the customers who contact you. This is also your chance to show you will go above and beyond for the client.
- Think back to the time when a customer was impressed with your service and describe it in detail.
- Focus on the extra work you put in and how you made the customer happy. This should be your great achievement, not just another daily case. Make your story enthusiastic and show that you’re proud of making that customer feel valued.
A customer recently contacted our center saying that his package didn’t arrive and he didn’t get a confirmation number for his order. This was an issue because, without a confirmation number, the tracking of his order was not available. I asked him for his details and tried to locate the package, but it was difficult to do without the order number. I contacted my manager to find out if I can find his order by any other means than the number, and my manager said it was possible, but it would take time. I spent 20 minutes on the phone with this client chatting to him about his day and his plans for the weekend while I was going through our system to find his package. I was able to find his order and provided him with the information about its date of planned delivery. I also gave him the confirmation number if he wanted to keep track of it. Even though this interaction was prolonged, the customer was happy with the results and the fact that they didn’t need to contact multiple people to solve his issue. The company got a five-star review saying he will keep doing business with us.
15. Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem.
This situational interview question for customer service allows your interviewer to discover your problem-solving skills. You will have to handle many requests every day, and some of them are bound to be situations you’ve never heard of before. In other cases, you know the problem, but the customer seems very unhappy, and it easily escalates.
- Recall the time you had a difficult situation to solve and how you managed it before the interview. Write it down if it helps you remember so that your mind doesn’t go blank in a stressful interview environment.
- Focus on taking ownership of the situation. You might not know how to solve it but acknowledging the problem is the first step.
- Describe chronologically how you manage to handle the difficult situation and what was the outcome of your efforts.
One day at work, our system went down. This was also the day three of my coworkers were on sick leave. We had dozens of people trying to contact us on the phone, via email, and through our integrated live chat. I needed to answer multiple people at once because of the small number of staff available. When I was receiving the communication from clients, I explained what happened and what we’re doing to fix it. They needed reassurance that we’re working on it and that it will be back soon. By providing a calm and structural response to clients’ complaints, I was able to calm them down. The system was back up and running within 30 minutes, and we got a few emails from customers thanking us for the excellent customer service we provided to calm them down.
16. Describe a time when you made a mistake at work and how you handled it.
You don’t want to talk about your failures, but in this case, you need to own your mistakes and show how you handled them. This is a customer service interview question to ask when the interviewer wants to learn how you pick yourself up after a wrong move.
- Be honest in your answer. Everybody makes mistakes, and you need to show how you solve yours.
- Try to present the story in a positive way to show how this mistake helped you develop. This will show the employer that you learn from your past experiences and that you’re a more valuable candidate because of that.
When I moved to a different company to become a customer service manager, I started changing the team structure and how everything was working. I had experience with this system and knew it was effective, so I wanted to implement it in my new place of work. The opposite of what I hoped happened. The team became less organized and more disconnected. They didn’t know the system and were not comfortable with it. I realized I was pushing something on them that didn’t fit. I realized my mistake and called a team meeting to brainstorm and discuss changes they think would benefit the work environment. I noted their suggestions, removed my system, and implemented some of the changes we agreed on as a team. Ever since that day, my team feels closer to each other, and our office is a pleasant place to be.
17. What’s important to you in the workplace?
The interviewer asks this question to find out if their company is the right fit for you. The closer your ideal environment aligns with theirs, the more potential you have to grow and be happy there.
- Before the interview, think about what you consider to be an ideal work environment. Write it down and research what the company’s culture and environment are like.
- Try to highlight the aspects from your vision that matched the environment of the organization you’re applying for.
Being able to grow and fit in with the team is important to me in a working environment. A positive workplace that ensures my personal development and encourages open and honest communication. This is what I need from a work environment to grow and develop in my position.
18. Let’s say I decreased in size to the size of an ant. I then fell into a vase. What should I do?
It is a very random question a future employer may ask you. It could be this one or something more like “What’s the next book I should read and why?”
The interviewer wants to see how you handle questions you don’t know the answer to. Since you’re joining a new company, you will not know the answers to customers’ questions initially. You need to be able to handle the situation nonetheless, and this will let the employer see if you can.
- Keep calm. Take a moment to think of an answer but don’t just sit there in silence. Say, “That’s a great question. Let me think about it for a moment.”
- When answering this type of question, try to be reasonable and practical. Don’t give a random answer. Have a reason and explanation to back up what you’re saying.
You should climb up the flowers that are in the vase. Considering you fell into a vase and the only one in this room has flowers in it, you probably fell into this one. The easiest way to get out would be to climb up them and then slide on the side of the vase. You’ll be on the ground unharmed.
Google interviews are known to be tough and tricky. Once, they asked: “You shrunk to the height of a nickel and got thrown in a blender. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?” If you want more of those questions, check out this article with answers to 15 Google interview questions.
5 questions you should ask your interviewer
When the interviewer finishes their interview questions for the customer service position, they will most likely say, “That’s all the questions from us. Do you have any questions?” Make sure you have questions. This is your chance to get to know the company better and show your interest in the role.
- What would I have to accomplish in the first 90 days to be successful in this position?
- What does a typical week look like in this position?
- What’s your favorite thing about working for this company?
- What are some of the qualities you’re looking for in a customer service representative?
- What are some of the biggest challenges for a person in this position?
Cass Thompson has more great examples of questions you want to ask at the end of an interview so go check out her video:
That’s all for the customer service job interview questions and answers. The best practice is to look through them twice. The first time to prepare the skills and experience to match the questions. The second time is to make sure your answers sound right.
5 key tips for you to take away today:
- Look for examples from your previous experience
- Research the company you’re applying to
- Look through the job posting and job description
- Practice the customer service interview questions and answers with a friend
- Ask questions when you have the chance to
Remember to take your application materials with you, dress appropriately, and keep a positive attitude. You’re ready as long as you keep calm. You’ll do great.
We have a small checklist you can download and keep close by when preparing for your customer service interview.
We have a small checklist you can download and keep close by when preparing for your customer service interview.
Watch this great video with some additional customer service interview questions and answers.