Interviewing for customer success? Better answer this question correctly!

What takes up most of your day? For myself, I’m spending most of my time these days interviewing potential candidates. It can be gruelling and invigorating at the same time. I had an intern that I interviewed who gave me a whole new perspective on what their role would be – that is powerful.

When it comes to interview questions, I have a number of standard questions I ask candidates. I like to think I don’t make it too difficult for those I’m interviewing but it’s the answers not the questions that are important.

Over-aboveI won’t give away all my questions as the smart candidates are reading them right now (good on you). This one is specific to learning more about a candidate’s customer service background.

I ask the question “tell me about a time that you went over and above for a customer?” I ask this for a few reasons as I want to know:

  • What type of customer experience do you have? Let’s hear a real example.
  • Are you a cultural fit here? What is your definition of going over and above for a customer and how does that compare to our definition? I find that if people have bad habits, it can be hard to break them so you need to test for that.

Years ago (and I’m talking serious years) back when I was a stock clerk at a grocery chain I applied for a job at another grocery chain as I needed a second job to help pay for university. The hiring manager didn’t want me. He said “we keep things clean over here unlike where you currently work”. I said you’re right, they do keep things a little messy over there but let me tell you about how I helped clean up a massive mess of glass from a soda shipment (back when pop/soda was predominantly stored in glass) that was dropped by a colleague of mine. I volunteered to help and ensured that every last glass shard was picked up and that the floor was clear. I demonstrated that I went over and above to keep customers safe and would do the same for them. I have a few scars to prove it.

This may not be the right question in all customer success positions but you should come prepared with a good story to tell. I would even ask this question if I applied for a customer success position as I would want to know what the company does to delight their customers.

On a side note, you may nail this question but still not be considered for a position. This is one of many areas that you need to excel to be part of a customer success team. 

What questions do you use that work well? What questions do you get that you hate?


2 thoughts on “Interviewing for customer success? Better answer this question correctly!

  1. Thanks for sharing, Chad.

    One of the key behaviours that I look for in candidates is empathy. I typically ask candidates for their thoughts or feelings about a specific event in their lives. I want to know how compassionate and caring they really are, through real life examples. A typical question I ask is “Give me an example of when you went out of your way to help someone. What were your thoughts and feelings about that situation?”

    I believe that anyone can learn the intricacies of our software relatively quickly, but the ability to be patient and empathetic towards a customer is something that takes years to develop and refine. It’s a character trait, not something that can be taught.


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