Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Customer service-oriented workers help businesses by providing warm, genuine care for clients to resolve disputes, offer services, answer questions and ensure customer satisfaction. When interviewing candidates for customer service-related jobs, it helps to understand some of the personality characteristics of workers who excel in these positions. Asking worker candidates for examples of how they meet these desired characteristics can be an effective screening tool.
Some workers are motivated by the bottom line, and see interactions with customers as a distraction from achieving other goals, such as filing reports, unloading merchandise or rallying sales. Customer-service oriented workers share a common characteristic in that they’re naturally helpful people; they don’t mind taking time to assist another person, whether it’s a client, co-worker or complete stranger, in order to lighten their load. In interviews, ask candidates for examples of when they went out of their way to help someone.
Customer service oriented workers are also considerate. Customers appreciate good manners, whether that includes opening doors, maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation, beginning conversations with a pleasant greeting and avoiding interrupting when customers speak. During the interview, monitor potential workers for their ability to maintain polite conversation without interrupting. Applicants might also show consideration by actively listening; examples include nodding, tilting the head to demonstrate interest and repeating phrases to confirm comprehension.
Another characteristic of customer service oriented workers is cooperation. Cooperative professionals are able to set aside ego and personal priorities to generate solutions that work for all involved. Rather than approach customer problems and complaints with a combative attitude, cooperative workers cooperate by listening, identifying customer goals and working to help meet them. Ask candidates to provide an example of how they’ve cooperated with a coworker or client in the past to achieve desired goals.
One of the top characteristics for customer service oriented workers lies in communication skills. Communication intertwines several of the aforementioned characteristics to present an overall ability to positively interact with customers. Communication skills include active listening, nonverbal qualities including eye contact and friendly demeanor, and ability to clearly articulate options and information for customers. Observing and listening to applicants throughout the interview will give you a sense of whether candidates are skilled communicators.
Customers interact with businesses because they have some kind of unmet need. They may need store signage designed, their fingernails painted, a million dollar deal negotiated or their credit card interest rate adjusted. Skilled customer service oriented workers are problem-solvers who are able to quickly identify and suggest workable solutions for customer needs. During the interview, ask candidates to talk about a time they resolved a customer-service related problem or present them with a theoretical workplace dilemma and ask them for their suggested solution.
Customer service oriented workers also share the characteristic of organization. Despite their commitment to quality customer service, employees must have time-management skills to juggle multiple client needs simultaneously. For example, a restaurant server may be providing four-star service to one table at the expense of ignoring other tables. Since a business must keep all customers satisfied, ask potential hires how they plan to manage multiple customer service demands.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.