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How to Answer Interview Questions for Customer Service Jobs

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The job of a customer service representative is to balance the satisfaction of each customer with the rules and regulations set by the retailer. Applicants to customer service jobs may not realize that prospective employers are trying to find this balance in interviews. A job application and resume can say a lot about an applicant's skills but one-on-one interviews speak to interpersonal skills needed in customer service jobs. Your approach to every interview for a customer service job should be to speak honestly about your qualifications, personality and approach to difficult situations.

Follow a logical step-by-step approach when asked about your approach to a difficult "what if?" scenario. For example, discuss your method of negotiating with a difficult customer who refuses to accept a store's policy on refunds and returns. By showing a methodical approach to hypothetical situations, prospective employers will know that you can handle actual problems on the floor.

Refer to past experiences in customer service often as part of your interview answers. The essence of a customer service job is experience with the public, which makes past instances of customer relations invaluable to employers. Highlight managerial or supervisory positions held in the past to demonstrate advancement in customer service.

Offer a thoughtful answer to the inevitable question about your future with a prospective employer. If you are applying for a temporary or seasonal customer service job, indicate that you would be interested in long-term work if it becomes available. Applicants to permanent customer service jobs should indicate their interests in management positions in the future.

Prepare to explain absences in your employment record during interviews for customer service jobs. Write down two to four sentences for each absence prior to your interview to fill in the blanks honestly and completely. A store or call center may be more forgiving of an illness or an educational opportunity than a 6-month absence from work due to problems with a prior employer.

Leave your interviewers with little doubt that your qualifications fit perfectly the job description for a customer service position. Put your job experiences and skills into the context of specific job requirements as noted in a job listing or announcement. If you are successful in putting your skills and the job's requirements together, the interviewer will not only appreciate the brevity of your answers but also your focus on the job at hand.

Address each answer during an interview to the individual who asked the question. Maintain good eye contact and pretend you are having a simple conversation with the interviewer. These skills are necessary in customer service jobs, so they should be demonstrated in the interview.

Finish the interview by asking questions about the rest of the interview process. Seek information on the number of candidates for a customer service position as well as the timetable for hiring. Your curiosity will show your willingness to speak openly with others as well as your ability to anticipate long-term issues.

Tip

Research the products and services offered by a prospective employer before entering a customer service interview. Each answer to a question about how your skills fit with the company should reference a specific product to draw a clear line between your candidacy and the job vacancy.

Warning

Read through your resume several times to create a narrative about your career before an interview. Customer service applicants who assume that they will recall job responsibilities and dates on the spot may fumble with details.

About the Author

Nicholas Katers has been a freelance writer since 2006. He teaches American history at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis. His past works include articles for "CCN Magazine," "The History Teacher" and "The Internationalist" magazine. Katers holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in American history from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, respectively.

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