5 Customer Service Interview Questions

Good customer service reps are hard to find. If you think you have what it takes, here are some of the sticky questions you might be asked during the interview.


Customer service departments drive loyalty and retention rates in business. So for many business owners and HR teams, it’s essential to make sure their customer service department or call centers are staffed with the highest caliber representatives.

While some customer service interview questions are designed to see how well you understand the role of customer service in the organization, others target specific customer service scenarios, many of which are tricky even for experienced customer service reps.

Poise counts – customer service agents are expected to maintain their composure under fire and the way you answer these (and other) interview questions will be just as important as the answers you provide.

  1. How would you define great customer service?

    This is a common interview question that is designed to separate exceptional applicants from the rest of the pack. Rather than simply describing customer service as a response to customers’ problems and complaints, expand your response to a discussion about the role customer satisfaction plays in driving revenue, strengthening customer connections and generating positive word-of-mouth about the company in the marketplace.

  2. How would you deal with an angry customer who is threatening to take their business somewhere else?

    Angry and irate customers are an everyday reality for customer service agents. Employers know that it’s impossible to resolve every customer complaint, but they are looking for customer service reps who will calmly listen to their customers’ frustrations and provide alternative solutions that fall within company guidelines. If the customer refuses to accept those solutions, the rep needs to firmly (yet politely) deny their request.

  3. When would it be appropriate to initiate contact with a client?

    In some ways, this is a trick question. Most customer service departments have policies and procedures that specify when it is acceptable to initiate customer calls or emails. But at the same time, the employer is looking for hires that are willing to take the initiative. So a good response might be to mention that although you would fully comply with company policies, it might be appropriate to contact a customer with additional information about the issue they are experiencing or to recommend new products and services.

  4. Can you give us a specific example of a time when you have had to solve a complicated problem for a disgruntled client or customer?

    This question is your time to shine. If you have prior experience, you should have a long list of instances where you excelled in the customer service role. If not, talk about an instance where you helped a customer or some other disgruntled individual work through a hard problem. If you can think of an example where your involvement resulted in an additional selling opportunity, that would be icing on the cake.

  5. Now give us an example of a time when you failed to adequately address a customer’s needs and/or lost the customer.

    Most people don’t realize that customer service is a complicated and nuanced business activity. It takes years for the best customer service agents to learn how to do their job well and failure is part of the learning process, so be honest with the interviewer. Although you probably don’t want to discuss your worst customer service horror story, talk about a time when you knew you blew it – and more importantly, follow up with what you learned from the experience.

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