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Contents

15 Most Common Job Interview Questions and Answers

Last updated on March 16th, 2020 at 07:13 am

Following a recent study that reported on entry-level job interviews in ninety seven different corporations in the United States, we put together a list of fifteen most common interview questions.

We analyzed each question. We looked at it from the perspective of an employer, and a perspective of a job seeker.

Short hint explains what the interviewers try to find out with the question, and how you should answer it. Sample answers follow the hint. Enjoy the list!

(Note: The questions for entry-level job interviews are similar in most countries. Keep reading even if you live outside of the US.)

Table of Contents

Question no. 1: Can you tell me something about yourself?

Hint: This is often the very first question. It helps the HR managers to get a basic idea of your communication skills, motivation, and interests. It is also an ice breaker, and a good answer will help you to feel more relaxed.

The interviewers do not ask about your education, experience, personal life, or anything else in particular—you can choose the way to introduce yourself.

However, your choice reflects what matters to you. In a job interview, you should talk about your education, working experience, career goals, skills and abilities. You should talk about things that are relevant for the employer.

On the other hand, you can mention one or two hobbies, or tell them something from your personal life. This shows that you have a life outside of work. Check one sample answer below.

I am Mario, 25 years old, and I have just finished my Masters in Economy. I enjoy team work, and I am looking for my first job, ideally in a big company. I want to learn, and meet like-minded people in work. In my free time I like to run, read, and meet with friends. I try to have positive outlook of life, and take everything that comes my way as an opportunity to become a better person.

Question no. 2: Why did you apply for this job?

Hint: Motivation is one of the deciding factors in every single job interview. Do you apply for a job just because you want to earn money, or graduated from the field? Do you apply only because you need a job, or do you really want to have this particular position?

Your goal is to convince the employer that you genuinely want to work for them, and that you have a good reason for choosing their offer (and not an offer of one of their competitors).

Pre-interview research should help you to find a good answer. You should learn something about the working environment, their vision and goals, the value they bring to their customers and business partners.

Try to look for something that goes beyond your personal role in the company, something you can praise, something that resonates with you.

I really like the job description and believe I can fit here, and bring some value to your team of financial analysts. On the top of that, I have the right education for this position, and I would enjoy working in an international environment.

Your store is just ten minute away from my apartment, and I shop here regularly. I like the way you approach customers, and I would be proud do be a member of your team. On the top of that, I like the vision of your company, the way this store is organized, and overall I have a good feeling about the place.

Special Tip: Download all questions in a simple, one page long .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

Question no. 3: Why did you leave your last job? / Why are you planning to leave your present job?

Hint: Changing a job, or even a career, is not anything special. Nevertheless, employers want to understand why you plan to make a change, or were forced to make one.

They try to understand whether they can count with you in a long run, and how it will feel to work with you. Do you look for good things, or for bad things in job? Do you demand a lot from your colleagues, or do you demand a lot from yourself?

Regardless of your past experience, you should focus on good things. Even if they fired you in your last job (for no real reason), try to speak nicely about your former colleagues and employers.

Nobody wants to hire an employee who will complain about everything, a person who always looks for the worst…

I had my job in a restaurant for four years. I enjoyed the company of my colleagues, and believe that I helped the guests to enjoy the place. But I needed a change.

The duties were repetitive, and I felt I was not moving forward anymore. That’s why I left, and decided to apply for your offer, as I really see a potential for learning and growing in your company.

They fired me because I had a different opinion than the director of the company. Nothing wrong with him—we just had a different philosophy of leadership, and how things should be done. Maybe he was right, maybe I was—only time will tell. But I do not want to live in the past. Now I am here, looking for a new challenge, and an opportunity to help your company to prosper.

Question no. 4: Can you tell me something about your education?

Hint: A degree has never made a good employee of anyone. Nonetheless, HR managers will often inquire about your education, trying to understand your attitude to learning.

You should focus on the practical skills and abilities that will help you in your new job. These matter more than the names of degrees and educational institutions–unless you graduated from Harvard or Cambridge, obviously :).

I have studied at ABC University. I acquired knowledge of statistics, project management and accounting, beside many other subjects. I took part in projects and competitions we had at school. I believe that my education and internship that followed prepared me perfectly for a job in your company.

Question no. 5: Can you tell us something about your working experience?

Hint: Employers can read about your experience on your resume. Nevertheless, they want to hear what matters to you, and they want to see your attitude to work.

You should pick one or two roles that are most relevant for your current job application, and then you should speak about your duties, achievements, and lessons you learned while having them.

If you had just one job in the past, and it was completely irrelevant to the one you try to get, you can at least say that the experience helped you to gain basic working habits, and simply to prepare for an employment in general.

I have worked only at Walmart so far. But I learned a lot there, how to approach the customers, how to work with other people. It is not such as easy job as it seems, since the workload is heavy most days. But I do not complain, just I hope to get a better job now, and learn something new again.

As you can see on my resume, this is my first job application. But I have done some volunteering for Red Cross, and I worked a lot with my father while we were renovating the house. I believe that I know what it means to have a job, and I am eager to finally start working somewhere, after many years of studying, and preparing for employment.

Question no. 6: Why should we hire you (and not someone else)?

Hint: If someone hires you for a job, they will pay you a monthly salary, and they will also pay money to the government–just for having you onboard.

Will you become a great investment, an asset for their team, or will they just lose money hiring you? HR managers try to find the answer.

This is arguably one of the most difficult questions. You should focus on something unique, a value you can bring to their team. Sample answers should give you some inspiration.

And when you can not find anything special, you can at least list relevant skills and abilities that make from you a great candidate for the job.

I had the very same job with one of your competitors, and I can bring a new perspective to your team. We can talk about things they did better, and I believe my feedback and experience will help to improve your own results.

I am young, eager to learn, and motivated to work hard. I have passion for numbers, and I would really enjoy having this job. Of course I haven’t met the other applicants for the job, and it is hard to tell whether I am the best one.

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Question no. 7: What are your strengths?

Hint: Professional interviewers should identify your strengths—without inquiring about them. They get their salary for this capacity.

Nevertheless, you can meet a variety of bodies in your interview. Sometimes the person leading the meeting can have little or no experience with interviewing people for the job (think owners of small business, or HR generalists who are just starting their career).

In this case, the question makes at least some sense.

You should pick relevant strengths. If possible, you should elaborate on your answer, saying how you demonstrated your strengths in your career, how they helped you in the jobs you had (if you had any jobs before).

I love to talk to people, and I believe I do understand them well—what they need and desire in their lives. My empathy helped me in my volunteering experience in a nursing home, and I hope to use this strength in my career as a social worker.

Responsibility is my greatest strength. I consider my job the first priority, and it has never happened to me that I came late to work, or that I did not finalize my tasks in time.

Question no. 8: What are your weaknesses?

Hint: I will repeat myself. Professional interviewers should identify your core weaknesses after talking to you for five minutes, or even for less. At least I can do that :).

But anyone can lead an interview with you, and good interviewers often also use this question, trying to see what you think about yourself. Can you admit having a weakness? Are you humble, or over-confident?

Those who believe to have no weaknesses can hardly move forward in life, since they do not see any areas for improvement. This is not a picture you want to present in an interview. Show us your weaknesses, and tell us how you work to improve on them.

I am not very patient. That’s obviously bad. But I am working on it, trying to control myself, staying tolerant to my colleagues. It is not easy, but I have definitely made some progress in recent years.

Sometimes I struggle to focus on my duties. However, I practice every day, trying to eliminate useless thoughts, and my concentration has improved over the years. I still continue working on it though, trying to eliminate distractions in work.

Question no. 9: What are your goals in five years time?

Hint: Every responsible person has some goals. When recruiters ask you about your goals and dreams, first of all they want to hear that you have some goals.

Secondly, your goals should somehow relate to their business, or at least they should not interfere with their goals and dreams.

For example, if you dream about running your own business, or about traveling the world, avoid mentioning it in your interview. Companies do not want to hire people who will leave them after a year of employment, to pursue their traveling or entrepreneur dreams…

Goals do change, and nobody can blame you for changing your mind after working in a company for a few months (or even only for a few weeks). Once in an interview, however, you should say things that will help you to get the job.

I would like to have a managerial role in five years time. However, I understand that I need to learn a lot before it can happen, and I believe that this entry-level position in your company is a perfect starting point for my career.

I do not dream much about the future. If I have a teaching job, and if I do it well and get a good feedback form my students, it will make me happy in my life. That’s likely my only goal—to be happy, and to do my best in both professional and personal life.

Question no. 10: Tell us about your greatest achievement.

Hint: Employers try to find out if you have just “gone to the job” (or to the school), or if you actually tried to achieve something while doing your routine.

Whenever possible, you should speak about your achievements from the perspective of an employer (helping them to find new customers, helping them to improve their reputation, building good atmosphere on the workplace, earning more money, etc), rather than achievements from your own perspective (getting promoted, earning a degree or certification, etc).

If you have no other option, however, you can talk about personal promotion, employee of the month award, or other recognition of your good work for the employer.

If you apply for your first job, however, you can speak about achievements from your personal life. For example, a chain smoker who managed to quit smoking recently shows their strong determination and will.

When I worked in sales at ABC Inc., our sales volume grew by twenty percent or more each year. It was a team work, and we helped their business a lot.

I have become a better person over the years. I learned to listen to others, and to see the good things in people, which is something I had struggled to do early in life. I consider this my biggest achievement, since it made my life better, and I hope people enjoy my company more.

Question no. 11: What characterize a good boss/ colleague from your point of view?

Hint: You won’t work alone. Employees interact with each other, and the interviewers try to find out if you can fit into the team.

You should avoid going for something personal in your answer, for example saying that you prefer young colleagues, or that you work better under a boss who is older than you.

Such an answer could easily backfire—if a boss was a young man, they would not hire you. I advise you to mention something general, and to emphasize that you can get along with anyone.

Ideal boss doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t even matter to me. I want to focus on my job, and on my duties, and I try to avoid any conflicts with other employees.

Everyone is different, and I respect the individuality of each person. But I do not try to think much about my colleagues, what they should do better, how they should act in their job. I simply prefer to focus on my own duties, and good attitude to other people. That is the only thing I can control.

I can get along with anyone, and I do not have special preferences. The most important thing is to see that my colleagues try their best in work, day in day out. But whether they are old or young, whether they like dancing or watching movies doesn’t make any difference to me.

Question no. 12: What motivates you in work?

Hint: Interviewers try to find out whether you work only for money, or are driven by something else, a meaningful purpose you see in your job, or at least your desire to make someone else happy.

Your motivation is actually tested during the entire interview, and you should demonstrate it with the enthusiasm for the job offer, for your future, and for the world in general.

Answering this particular question, however, you should speak openly about your motivation, something that drives you forward.

It can be a desire to help people (great choice for a nurse, a social worker, a teacher), and it can be a desire to support your own family, simply a goal to live well. One way or another, a good answer should always exceeds your own personal needs and desires.

Meaningful purpose of this job motivates me. I would be proud to teach young children, as I believe I can become a good role model for them. And I do not want to be a bad role model, so you can be sure I’d try my best in each class.

I have a family, and I love them. I try my best to support them, and this job would help me greatly. While it is not the most fascinating job one can have, it is definitely fine for me. Even if it gets boring sometimes in work, I always try my best. It’s not for my own sake…

Question no. 13: What are your salary expectations?

Hint: If they start talking about salary it is mostly a good sign.

It means that they consider hiring you (unless they just blindly follow an interview template, and ask every job candidate exactly the same questions).

Anyway, you should say that your salary is not a deciding factor, and that you didn’t apply having a number on your mind.

If they insist on hearing a number, however, you should have something to backup your claim (the statistics about an average salary for the position, the sum of money you earned in your last job, etc.). Let’s have a look at some answers.

I like the job description, I like your bank, and I would be happy to have this job. But as far as my knowledge goes, average salary for a teller in your institution starts at $29,000. I would accept that number for the start.

This is my first job application, and I am motivated to learn. I understand it is an entry level position, so the salary offer won’t be great. At the same time, however, the possibilities of promotion are almost endless, so I would accept your standard salary offer for the newcomers.

Question no. 14: When can you start?

Hint: Most employers prefer to see their new hires on board as soon as possible. If you can start immediately, say it, and stress that you are not waiting for any other interviews.

And if you can not start immediately (bearing in mind notice period requirements, or other reasons), explain it clearly.

You can even turn this answer to your advantage. You can show you right attitude to work, saying that it would be irresponsible to leave your current employer without finishing the work you have started.

I am eager to start as soon as possible. I have applied also for two other job offers, but this one is my first choice. If you need me tomorrow, I can be here in the morning.

I could possibly start tomorrow, but I want to finish the project I currently work on with my employer. It would be unprofessional aif I just left. I need two or three weeks at least to finish it, and then I can start working here. But I am ready to sign the contract today, and you can be sure that I won’t change my mind about your offer.

Question no. 15: Do you have any questions?

Hint: You will get a chance to ask some questions in your interview. It is good to ask one or two questions at least, since it shows that you still want the job, after everything that has been said and done in your interview.

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But you should not ask about something that was already discussed, or about something that was clearly explained on the job description.

Focus on their working environment, next steps of recruitment process, company culture, their goals and plans, their product portfolio.

What are the next steps of recruitment process? Is there anything else I can do to improve my chances of getting this job?

I really like your product ABC. Can you tell me more about the plans you have with the product, and the innovation you plan in the future?

Do you set any goals for sales managers, such as monthly sales volume?

Screening part is just the start of the interview process

So you made it to the end. Wonderful!

But you should know that after passing the first, screening part of interview process (phone interview, online interview, group interview, or simply the first interview with the employer), you will often have to deal with behavioral questions (second interview, final interview). That’s where the real fun starts…

According to the study from 2020, these are the fifteen most common behavioral interview questions:

  1. Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.
  2. Describe a conflict you had with your colleague.
  3. Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the customer, for the colleague).
  4. Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  5. Describe a situation when you had to motivate someone in work (your colleague, your subordinate, or even your superior)
  6. Describe a time when you had to deal with an angry or upset client (customer).
  7. Describe a situation when you did not agree with an opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong.
  8. Describe a situation when you faced a particularly demanding problem or challenge in your personal life. How did that affect you in your job?
  9. Describe a time when you struggled with motivation in job (it was repetitive, you did not enjoy it anymore, there was no work to do, etc). How did you overcome the crisis of motivation?
  10. Describe a situation when you were unable to solve the problem on your own.
  11. Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
  12. Describe a difficult decision you had to make in your professional career. How did making the decision affect you?
  13. Describe a time when you experienced a conflict of your personal and professional interests.
  14. Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
  15. Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important.

Answers to all behavioral questions

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2nd: eBook, Brilliant Answers to Fifteen Most Common Behavioral Interview Questions (including answers for people who apply for their first job, see samples directly on the product page).

3rd: Audio recording (mp3) I Will Get a Job (winning interview strategies, 56 minutes, mp3, you will learn how to win your interviewers over and get the job).

Thank you, and good luck in your interview!

May also interest you:

  • Interview preparation tips – Learn how to prepare for your interview, in every sense of the work (what to wear, what to bring, how to get rid of stress)
  • Salary negotiation section – Learn how to get what you deserve. Salary negotiation letter samples, negotiation strategies and tips.
  • Interview questions for different job titles – Find your job on the list, and learn how to answer interview questions that are specific for your job field.

20 Getting-to-Know-You Questions For Work That Build Trust

If you’re the type of manager who doesn’t talk to your employees that often, chances are your employees haven’t formed a strong bond with you either. This is unfortunate because the better the bond you have with your team, the happier they’ll be showing up to work each day.

According to our research, the number one thing employees like about their jobs is

This begins with you asking great team building questions.

Keep in mind that many workers don ’ t quit their jobs — they quit their bosses. That being the case, it ’ s in your best interest to make sure you have positive relationships with every member of your team.

One recent study revealed that 93% of workers believe being able to trust their immediate bosses is one of the biggest factors that influences employee happiness. Despite that, half of employees don ’ t trust their supervisors.

Getting your company to the next level starts with having a team that trusts you. With that in mind, here are 20 getting-to-know-you questions for work you can ask your staff to get to know them better.

01. Who inspires you?

Maybe it ’ s a musician or artist. Maybe it ’ s a politician. Maybe it ’ s a family member.

Whatever the case may be, this is a super fun question to ask employees. You may be able to use this information to figure out how to be a better manager to each member of your team.

Don ’ t forget that inspiration plays a huge role in employee engagement. When your employees are inspired to reach their full potential, great things can happen. If you ’ re looking for extra ways to motivate your employees, check out these 15 inspirational TED Talks.

02. What was the best concert you ever attended?

You might find out you have the same taste in music. Even better, you might have even been at the same show. Or you could discover musicians that ’ ll change your life.

Studies show that playing music at work can increase productivity. If you find out that a number of your employees like the same artist, maybe it ’ s time to start blasting their music on Friday afternoons.

03. Where’s your favorite place in the world?

This question should help you glean insight into your employee’s travel habits. You might even get convinced to visit a new place yourself.

If you find out that hardly any of your employees have traveled much, it may be time to rethink your vacation policy. Being exposed to new cultures helps employees become more well-rounded, after all. This is why one company based in Sweden gives it workers an extra $2,300 each year (as long as they use that money to travel).

04. If you could be any animal, which would you be?

The classic question to get to know your coworkers. Stay away from the lions. Nurture the bunny rabbits.

If you find out that every single one of your employees wants to be a golden retriever, it may be time to institute a pet policy and let your workers bring their furry friends to the office once in a while.

05. What’s the last book you read?

You may discover you’re both obsessed with the same obscure author. That’s a connection that can’t be shattered.

You may also find out about new authors you never knew existed. Or that one of your more introverted employees is impressively familiar with the works of Eastern philosophers. And another is obsessed with reading humorists.

Bottom line, finding out what books people like to read can provide unique insight into what makes them tick.

06. What are you passionate about?

Their answer could change the way you think about them in the organization. Maybe a salesperson, for example, is really passionate about graphic design. You won’t know until you ask.

There ’ s no rule that says salespeople aren ’ t able to whip up infographics for their company ’ s marketing efforts. Find out what your employees like doing and let them work on pertinent pet projects at least every once in a while. It ’ s a surefire way to increase engagement.

07. What’s your favorite movie?

A comedy? A drama? A horror movie? Ask them why they like their favorite movie. Get to know them on a human level.

As an added bonus, you might find out about films you never knew existed. Not only will watching them help you connect with your team on a personal level, you might also learn a leadership trick or two.

08. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

One of your teammates might have climbed Mount Everest. Another one might have gone bungee jumping in Austria. Someone else might have hitchhiked around South America.

Find out whether you’re still the craziest person in the office — or whether you should do your best to avoid certain employees.

09. What are you currently watching on Netflix?

Save yourself some time. Let your employees tell you what you should binge watch this weekend. It ’s another way to establish some commonalities that are unrelated to work.

10. What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

Are you aware of how your entire team spends their time at work? Probably not.

Be honest: You can ’ t be everywhere at once. You ’ re busy enough as it is. It can be hard enough to figure out how to manage your own responsibilities. Keeping tabs on everything that your team is doing? Next to impossible.

Not only will asking this question clue you in to each of the contributions the members of your team are making, it can also provide the groundwork for some well-deserved employee recognition.

For example, imagine one of your employees is combing through your image archive to clean up file names and delete duplicates. It ’ s important work that can often go unnoticed.

11. Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?

Will it be a celebrity? A family member? An animal? The question is a great conversation starter at the very least.

12. What’s the best meal you ’ve ever had?

If someone were to ask you this question, how long would it take for you to answer it?

Asking this question should get your employees thinking. There ’ s a good chance you ’ ll learn some interesting tidbits about each person who answers it. Maybe the best meal they had was at a quiet restaurant in Rome. Maybe it was with their significant other on the night they fell in love.

Whatever you do, just don’t ask before you’ve eaten lunch.

13. If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go?

Maybe you’ve never heard of the place before. Maybe you find out about an amazing hike that ’ s a 25-minute drive from your office.

Once the conversation is over, head to Wikipedia and begin planning a trip of your own.

14. What are some of your pet peeves?

Your employees might tell you they hate the phrase “case of the Mondays.” Go back to the drawing board and think of another way to say it.

Worst case, by finding out what your employees don ’ t like, you can figure out what you can do to be perceived as a less annoying manager. It ’ s up to you whether you try to change your behavior accordingly.

15. What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

If you find out a worker is a virtuoso guitar player, ask them to serenade the staff on a Friday afternoon (if they ’ re up to it). Maybe an employee is a fantastic chef. Encourage that person to whip up a snack for the team (again, if they ’ re up to it).

At the very least, this question provides you the perfect segue to showcase your own secret talents. It ’ s okay to brag about your sick yo-yo skills.

16. Which four individuals, living or dead, would you like to eat dinner with the most?

Another classic question for getting to know your team that should give you a clear look into your employees’ personalities. It ’ ll also serve as a great springboard for engaging conversation.

17. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Once you have their answer, search the web diligently to learn what their personality color means. Manage them accordingly.

The answers to this question may also inspire you to paint the walls of your office certain colors. If a bunch of people on your team like the color blue, for example, it might make sense to repaint that depressing musty yellow conference room.

18. What’s the most helpful way for you to get feedback?

Everyone works differently. Some folks like receiving negative feedback, so they can improve. Others are more fragile.

The only way you ’ ll find out which way individual employees prefer to receive feedback is by asking them directly. To take your business to the next level, you need to learn how to approach your staff most effectively.

If you ’ re worried that your employees might not be honest with you, use pulse surveys to let them share their thoughts anonymously.

19. What is your favorite family tradition?

Sunday night dinners. Summer vacations to the same beach each year. Watching four movies on Christmas. Playing Apples to Apples every time the family gets together.

Your employees might have some pretty awesome family traditions. Maybe ones you ’ d even want your own family to adopt.

Who knows? You may even get inspired to launch a similar company-specific tradition.

20. Who is your least favorite superhero?

Asking people which superhero they’d like to be for a day is overrated. Finding out who their least favorite superhero is what really matters.

Find out which caped crusader you should try hardest to avoid channeling.

Trust can’t be built overnight. Giving employees unfiltered insight into a company’s operations and future also plays a key role in building trust. Regardless of how big your company is, all-hands meeting is an effective way to share information and make leadership visible. However, employee are sometimes hesitant to approach their manager about an issue, concern, or suggestion. To solve the problem: give them an anonymous virtual suggestion box.

But the saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words.” Managers need to act upon these suggestions in order to build trust with their employees. Consider presenting these suggestions during meetings. Take this chance to deliberate as a group and vote on what action should be taken. It’ll show that managers are interested in sharing the feedback they’re getting, and that they’re willing to hear their employees’ voices. Learn more about how to build an organizational culture of transparency.

Top 50 Customer Service Interview Questions – with Answers

In this article we have asked our panel of experts for the top customer service interview questions. We have also included pointers and guidance on how to deal with them and some sample answers.

These questions cover four common bases from classics, team leadership, examples and role play as well as customer service – know-how and competency.

Also, if you are recruiting for staff you may find that this provides you with a few tricky questions to ask.

Classic questions

This group covers generic interview questions that you will likely be asked, no matter what job field you are interested in.

You will probably be asked one of these questions early on in the interview, so it is important to be prepared to face them and get yourself off to a good start that will boost your confidence as the interview progresses.

1. “Why do you want to work here?”

To answer this question you must have researched the company. Reply with the company’s attributes as you see them and how your qualities match them.

2. “Tell me about yourself.”

This is not an invitation to ramble on. If the context isn’t clear, you need to know more about the question before giving an answer.

Whichever direction your answer ultimately takes, be sure that it has some relevance to your professional endeavors. You should also refer to one or more of your key personal qualities, such as honesty, integrity, being a team player, or determination.

3. “Why do you want this job?”

Whilst more money, shorter hours or less of a commute are all potential factors for your next role, they are unlikely to make you the ‘stand out’ candidate of the day.

Know what the company are looking for and the potential job available, and align this with your career to date. Highlight your relevant experience, goals and aspirations in line with the role, to showcase why you are the best person for the job.

4. “What was your reason for leaving?”

Wherever possible be positive, even if your role was short term or didn’t quite work out as expected, as it will have added extra experience or skills to your career history.

Although you are now looking to move on, acknowledge what you learned and what was on offer at the time. Demonstrate good reasons for the decisions you made and show that you understood what was to be gained, or acknowledge what you have learned from your past employer.

5. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

“I have been told that I am an excellent communicator, especially on the telephone, but I feel I have good interpersonal skills generally and find it easy to get along with all sorts of people”.

Many interviewers will ask you to name your strengths and weaknesses. Typically, people find it easier to express their strengths, but struggle when it comes to identifying even one weakness. Part of the reason for this may be that they do not want to disclose a particular weakness, as this may result in them failing to be successful in getting the job.

A good initial answer (bearing in mind you are applying for a telephone position) to the ‘strengths’ part would be “I have been told that I am an excellent communicator, especially on the telephone, but I feel I have good interpersonal skills generally and find it easy to get along with all sorts of people”.

For weaknesses you need to think of something which is really a strength but put it across as a weakness. It is also important to make it clear what you are doing to address that ‘weakness’.

A good example would be “I am a very conscientious worker and I get irritated by colleagues who don’t share this value and take any opportunity to take time off work or do the minimum required when they are there. I am learning, however, that these people generally get found out and I leave it to my supervisor to recognise these problems and address them”.

An answer such as this would probably make the interviewer think “well that’s not such a bad thing, actually”.

6. Give an example of this behaviour

Having given your strengths and weaknesses, you are then likely to be asked to give examples of when you have displayed this behaviour. Your credibility will plummet if you cannot give an example of the strengths you have stated. With the strengths listed above, a good response would be: “In my present job, I am often asked to handle difficult customer situations because my supervisor knows that I will handle them politely, efficiently and diplomatically and therefore only a few cases would ever get referred to her. Also, because of my strong interpersonal skills, I have often been asked to buddy-up with new team members, to make them comfortable in their new role at the earliest stage possible”.

When asked to give examples on the weaknesses, you need to think very carefully, and plan in advance what your response will be, as many people dig a very deep hole here. A good response to the weakness quoted would be: “I had a situation once where I knew that a more experienced colleague was regularly absent from work following nights out drinking, but she would say that she had a migraine. When this happened my workload increased significantly. I undertook this willingly but I must admit I was annoyed that this person was taking advantage of me and the company. However, I decided to let the supervisor do their job and just get on with mine. In quite a short space of time, the issue was addressed and the problem was resolved”.

7. “Tell me about a difficult obstacle you had to overcome recently at work? How did you overcome this?”

Here your interviewer wants proof that you will tackle problems head on and not just bury your head in the sand.

A strong answer will clearly demonstrate a problem, an action and a solution.

For example:

Problem: When I was first promoted to team leader, I consistently struggled to ensure that my team achieved their sales targets on a Friday.
Action: I sought the advice of more experienced team leaders to find out how they motivated their teams through the Friday slog.
Solution: Acting on the advice of the other team leaders, I implemented a combination of incentives over the next few weeks and successfully boosted my team’s sales figures.

8. “What is your greatest success and achievement to date?”

Here your interviewer wants to see that you will bring something to their company and not just fade into the background.

Whilst this question does open the floor for you to recite how you once doubled your team’s sales figures, employers are equally interested in hearing about how you have developed and maintained a strong professional network, or how you pride yourself on your reputation for being reliable and hard working.

Whatever you end up talking about, try to keep it short. You don’t want your ego to get in the way of you being offered the job.

9. “What attracts you to the position?”

This is an opportunity for you to show off your research on the role and company.

Talk about the benefits the company has to offer and how they suit you at this point in your career. For example, if you are joining the company as a graduate, discuss how you plan to utilise their highly-structured training scheme.

Also comment on the company’s reputation and try to make reference to a recent success you have seen on their website.

10. “How would your current team/manager describe you?”

Try to think about how you would describe yourself if someone asked you for your strengths, then relate these to what people say about you; peers, agents, managers and stakeholders. Have three or four at the ready, ideally in line with the role you are being interviewed for. Have examples or situations ready, in case your interviewer wants to drill down as to why you think or believe these are your key strengths.

11. “How do you keep yourself motivated?”

This is your opportunity to tell your potential employer what keeps you focused. Possible answers include:

  • Breaking your workload up into daily or hourly targets to ensure that the next small success is never too far away.
  • Living a healthy life-style. Eating the right foods and drinking lots of water in the office can have a big impact on your concentration levels.
  • Motivating others and promoting a positive atmosphere in the office.

12. “What key factors drive you?”

Tread carefully with this question. Whilst the truth may be that you only get out of bed every morning in order to pay your rent, this is not what your potential employer wants to hear.

This question gives you an opportunity to discuss what has attracted you to this line of work and what inspires you to persevere through the tough times. In a sales role, this could be the adrenaline rush of meeting daily targets, whilst in a customer-service role, this could be the personal satisfaction you gain through helping people.

13. “How do you deal with work issues? Would anyone know you were having a bad day or would you keep it to yourself?”

Morale is infectious – whether positive or negative – and, when working in a team-orientated environment like a call centre, it’s important that there is always an air of positivity around.

It’s therefore vitally important to ensure that if you’re having a bad day, you contain this and don’t let it influence the morale levels of the team, and in turn the productivity and efficiency of the overall operation.

With thanks to Mark Conway, Contact Centre Partners

Team leader questions

This interview question set is particularly important if you are applying for a management job in a customer service environment, but also if you are looking for a more basic customer service position.

This is because every employer is looking for someone who can build morale, provide guidance and promote values, so showcase yourself to be a leader and not a follower. So here are our top customer service interview questions for team leaders:

14. “How do you manage time and priorities?”

Here your potential employer wants to know that you are capable of organising yourself properly and ensuring that nothing gets forgotten.

Do you keep a diary? Use Google Calender? Write daily to-do lists? Use wall planners to keep track of out-of-office appointments? Whatever you do, now is your opportunity to tell them!

15. “What have you done to promote great customer service?”

Firstly, know what you think great customer service looks like. Look for situations and examples when you had an idea, a client, or customer call, where you personally went that extra mile.

Did you change a process or procedure? Or perhaps a staff member you mentored, coached or advised delivered a great customer service win or result for your team, brand or business.

For advice on giving great customer service read The 25 Top Positive Words and Phrases

16. “What are the key factors which make a successful call centre?”

Fundamentally, if you look under the skin of the best teams and call centres, they do have certain things in common: clear communication, consistency, fun, performance management, leadership, engagement, incentives, etc.

Think what made up the best team or company you have been a part of or have seen. Have examples to back up any statements for how you would play a part in, or create, this team or environment yourself.

17. “How do you manage change?”

Change is an essential part of life in any call centre environment, as the industry strives to achieve best practice for their customers and stakeholders. Have some examples on how you personally managed, or were affected by, some change. What was your focus, what were you aiming to achieve and how did you deliver the outcome? Know what the problems encountered were and what was learned through and following the transformation.

18. “How do you plan daily and weekly activities?”

Here your potential employer is looking to see that you are capable of planning your time effectively.

They want to hear things like how you hold team meetings to discuss the week ahead and allocate time slots and deadlines for various projects.

19. “How do you ensure that your department’s goals are in line with the overall company goals?”

This question helps your interviewer to gauge whether you understand your role in your current job, and how your efforts contribute to the goals of the organisation.

For example:

The company I currently work for publishes an annual report of KPIs relating to the goals they hope to achieve that year. I extract the company goals that are relevant to my department and break them down into weekly objectives. I then use these objectives to ensure that my team is constantly contributing to the overall goals of the organisation.

20. “How would you measure the success of you and your team over a 3, 6 and 12 month period?”

This question requires you to understand the benefits of setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) objectives and developing action plans.

For example:

In line with the over-arching goals of the company, I would set personal goals for myself and my team which I would subsequently break down into weekly SMART objectives. I would monitor these closely through general in-office communication and a series of team meetings, as well as through scheduling individual appraisal meetings at 3, 6 and 12 month intervals.

21. “How would you manage your time and objectives in your role?”

In my current role, I break down my objectives into daily targets and outline periods of the day when I am going to focus on achieving them. I find this system works well for me and I expect to carry it into my next job.

This is your opportunity to assure your potential employer that you are capable of working in line with your objectives and getting the job done on time.

For example:

In my current role, I break down my objectives into daily targets and outline periods of the day when I am going to focus on achieving them. I find this system works well for me and I expect to carry it into my next job.

22. “How often do you challenge the way your current company does things or challenge something that you feel needs to change?”

This is a bit of a tricky question to answer, as how you answer can determine whether your interviewer thinks you are too strong-minded or, worse, too sheep-like in your approach to work. An ideal answer will show a degree of balance.

For example:

Throughout my term of employment, I keep a constant note of any areas that I feel can be improved. But I only present these concerns to my boss when I have developed in-depth and realistic solutions.

The frequency of these meetings is determined by how stable the company is. If the company implements several changes throughout the course of the year, I am more inclined to provide regular feedback to my boss.

23. “How creative are you in comparison to your colleagues, i.e. in managing, developing, encouraging and motivating your team?”

This question is asked to determine whether or not you are going to bring something to the team.

In an ideal answer you will confirm that you are creative in your job role, and markedly so compared to some of your colleagues. You should then proceed to give examples which demonstrate this.

This question gives you the opportunity to tell the interviewer about how you developed a Monday-morning prize-giving incentive to get your team fired up for the week. Or how you introduced daily staff meetings to keep your team engaged with the goals of the organisation. Or implemented a buddy-up training programme to help your new recruits settle in faster.

24. “How do you measure the success of your incentives?”

I introduced ‘Sugar Fridays’ – giving my team sweets and treats to get them through the Friday slog.

An ideal answer to this question will demonstrate that you are capable of monitoring a situation as it evolves.

For example:

Whilst working in a call centre as a supervisor, I introduced ‘Sugar Fridays’ – giving my team sweets and treats to get them through the Friday slog.

Prior to introducing the incentive, I compiled a backlog of sales figures from previous Fridays. I then introduced the incentive on a trial period, continued collecting data and cross-compared the results. There was an obvious peak in sales figures and so the incentive became permanent.

25. “How have you utilised customer feedback to ensure business excellence?”

This question is set to test your ability to identify and analyse customer insight, trends and data, and drive continuous improvement, by identifying and understanding the root cause.

The interviewer will be looking for an example of where you have taken this insight and subsequently developed, implemented and improved your sales process. This could be through the introduction of training, post-sale procedures, a change in marketing communications, or other process improvements, to ensure that the cause of any future complaint is eradicated.

With thanks to Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson

26. “How have you utilised customer complaint feedback to improve how your team are selling?”

This question is especially important if you are applying for a management position.

An ideal answer will demonstrate that you are capable of assessing a situation and implementing improvements.

For example:

I started to notice that a lot of customers were complaining about feeling patronised by my agents. In response to this, I listened to the calls these complaints stemmed from and realised that words such as ‘wonderful’ were being over used.

I then had a meeting with the worst offenders in my team and suggested changes that they could make to correct this behaviour. After this meeting, customer complaints reduced and sales increased.

Are you interested in reading about the Typical Roles in a Call Centre?

27. “What is your experience of the whole end-to-end feedback process (talk through this process) and how do you ensure this feedback improves the service to customers?”

The answer to this will depend on the job you’re interviewing for and your experience.

I would recommend thinking about a specific instance and then discussing this in detail. Outline the process stage by stage and, if there are areas that need improvement, focus your answers on the solutions instead of the problems.

With thanks to Capita’s Internal Recruitment Team

28. “How have you educated your front-line agents to ensure excellent customer feedback?”

As a leader or manager charged with delivering excellent customer feedback, you will know how important it is that customer feedback and insight are monitored, measured and acted upon, whenever appropriate or necessary.

But how about your agents? This question is very much aligned to your engagement, coaching and development skills. You need to think about the culture, communication and interactions you have with your agents.

Discuss how you impart your knowledge and experience to your agents and how you ensure that they can continue to develop the confidence, skills, knowledge and habits that will drive excellent customer feedback with every interaction.

With thanks to Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson

29. “How did you recognise the level of trust or respect your team held for you and how did you ensure this continued?”

Only you will know if your team really trusts and respects you. Respectful employees will usually make you coffee, hold a door open for you, properly carry out tasks assigned to them and rarely undermine your judgement.

To maintain this level of respect, you should make time to recognise your employees’ efforts, occasionally explain how you reached a solution to a problem (this can help with buy-in for larger changes or projects) and do your best to be consistently level-headed and successful in your judgement – as it only takes one slip-up to undermine your credibility.

Give an example/role play questions

At some point in your interview, you will have to answer a question that prods you to give an example or take part in a role play situation.

This group of questions will provide you with guidance on how to deal with questions of this nature and challenge you to think of scenarios where you have demonstrated attributes that are closely link to the job description.

30. “What is the biggest challenge you have faced in work in the past 12 months?”

This is often an opening question, as it allows you to use one of your strongest examples and may help you relax. For the interviewer, it is also an indication of where your natural focus or achievements may be – people development, process, cost reduction, change etc.

31. “What is your biggest achievement?”

If possible, think work related. There will hopefully be a number of things you are most proud of in your career to date. Think about your key achievements; were they commercial, people or process orientated? What was the cause and effect? How were you involved, what was improved, saved or developed?

If you are short on career-based examples, use personal achievements which demonstrate the commercial skills required for the role, such as team work, commitment, empathy, determination, attention to detail, etc.

32. “Can you give me an example of… ?”

These questions will more often than not be based around the role competencies. Preparation and rehearsal are key to answering these effectively.

You will need two or three instances of how you may have: delivered change, managed conflict, improved performance, reduced absence, increased customer satisfaction, etc. You also need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate the problem, solution and outcome.

33. “Can you give me an example of a time when you had to motivate and develop a team in a challenging work environment?”

During interviews, difficult or awkward questions could come your way. The intention is not to catch you out, but to test how you operate under pressure.

This question is (again) in the format of competency-based interviewing, so remember to outline the specific actions you took to motivate your team, as interviewers want to see evidence of hands-on experience.

Make sure to describe all processes undertaken.

For example: Did you use incentives to motivate the team? Did you implement training programmes? Did you improve internal communications to help engage staff? Did you implement or revisit career development plans to make the team feel valued? Did you take the time to understand each individual’s motivations?

Be clear and precise and be sure to convey any previous first-hand experience you have – they will want to feel confident that you can handle similar issues within the new role.

34. “Give me an example of how you have dealt with an under-performing team member in the past.”

This question is a typical example of competency-based interviewing (CBI) in practice. It is the most popular interview approach, based on the premise that future performance can be predicted by past behaviour.

The best way to prepare for CBI questions is to revisit the job description and person specification before your interview. You should then ensure that you have covered all bases and can comfortably provide examples for each competency. You must also be able to describe the particular scenario, the actions you took and the impact it had on the business.

Approach this particular question by outlining the processes you followed to investigate and resolve this issue. It is also important to explain the outcome. For example, you may have set an agenda of required actions following on from the meeting you held with the particular team member – can you describe what that was? If you created a performance plan that included clear training and development objectives make sure you say so.

Always finish by explaining how the action you took impacted the business. For example, the team member started to meet all targets and bring in more revenue.

35. Within the interview process you may be required to perform a role-play. A popular example of this is being asked to role-play an escalated call with an unhappy customer.

It is vital to have clear objectives before initiating conversation with the customer; what is your end goal? Ensure you are aware of the parameters, rules and regulations within the company. For example, if the issue is over money, can you refund it? What else can you offer to pacify the customer?

It is important to remain calm, confident, be clear and always remember to ask questions. The interviewer is looking for a patient and composed response. If you are still unsure about how best to approach role-plays contact your local recruitment consultant who should be able to offer you thorough advice.

Want to know how to deal with an angry customer? Click here for the article The Right Words and Phrases to use with an Angry Customer

36-38. “Please tell me about a situation where someone was performing badly in your team.”

I adopted a supportive style as I raised my concerns with the individual regarding their approach with customers, and confirmed their awareness of the business expectations regarding excellent customer service.

“What was the situation?”

“How did you deal with it?”

“What was the outcome?”

A model answer to the above 4 questions could look something like this:

As part of my regular team monitoring, I assess all advisors call quality in order to measure them against the relevant KPIs. When reviewing calls for one advisor, I noticed a trend where the advisor was quite abrupt with callers. I scheduled a meeting in private with that advisor, which I prepared for by reviewing supporting information (including their performance statistics for the month).

I adopted a supportive style as I raised my concerns with the individual regarding their approach with customers, and confirmed their awareness of the business expectations regarding excellent customer service. I sensitively discussed with them any reasons they felt they were unable to deliver this, and emphasised the balance which needed to be maintained between quality and quantity. I adopted a coaching style to enable the advisor to work through any barriers and identify solutions, agreed reasonable and tangible expectations for improvement, arranged appropriate support and scheduled weekly meetings to review their performance against these expectations. As a result, the advisor improved their performance and now consistently achieves all targets.

39. “Describe a situation in which you inspired trust and respect in your team.”

It’s important to think of and talk about a situation that’s relevant for the position you’re interviewing for. Ideally this will have had a positive outcome. By doing this you will help the interviewers to understand why you are a great fit for their team.

With thanks to Capita’s Internal Recruitment Team

40. “Give an example of when you have been really stretched for a deadline, and how you made sure you completed your work on time.”

In asking this question, your potential employer is looking to see that you are prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty when the company needs you.

But you have to be careful when answering, as it is easy to fall into the trap of slagging off your current employer or seeming disorganised. Your interviewer does not want to hear how your current boss failed to provide you with resources or that you once pulled an all-nighter to meet a university deadline.

An ideal answer will centre round the busiest time of your company’s year (i.e. the Christmas rush in retail). In your example you should outline the reason for your stretched deadline and say what you did to ensure that you met it.

For example: Whilst working in retail over the Christmas period, there was dramatic increase in stock which needed processing. To ensure that I continued to complete my daily tasks over this time period, I frequently started work at 5am rather than 7am.

41. “Give an example of an occasion where you have given constructive criticism to a member of your peer group.”

No matter what level we operate at, we are all able to lend our experience of success to our peers – we just have to be careful not to patronise or undermine them in the process.

When answering this question, make sure that you give an example that is truly constructive and had a positive outcome. This will show your interviewer that you understand how to help improve your colleagues’ performance without hurting their feelings.

42. “Give an example of a time when things happened in work to dampen your enthusiasm. How did you motivate yourself and your team?”

This question is a test of character and is especially important if you are being interviewed for a management role.

An ideal answer will demonstrate that you are able to support your team, even when things don’t go according to plan.

For example: Whilst I was working in a fast-food restaurant, an unexpected coachload of football supporters came through the door. What followed was a hectic half-hour as the few staff we had on struggled to serve the high influx of customers.

To motivate my team, I came out of the back office and signed onto a till in the middle of the counter. From that position, I could support my team either side of me with phrases like ‘you’re doing well, Kelly’ whilst helping to offset the work load.

When the rush was over, I congratulated everyone on their efforts and brought chocolates in for my team the next day.

Customer service know-how and job competency questions

These interview questions are about customer service specifically. So this category tests your suitability for the job, probing your customer service knowledge and judge your applicability for the role.

So, expect to be asked questions involving technical terms, your understanding of the organisation and your awareness of relevant job situations.

43. “What do you know about the centre/company/role?”

You are not required to be an expert on the organisation or role, but a genuine interest and basic understanding is expected. If you are working with a recruitment consultant then they should be able to provide you with extra details and assist with preparation.

In addition, look for and use press releases, corporate and social websites. Ring the call centre to see how they handle your call: do they offer ‘up-sell’, ‘cross-sell’, how was the service? Read the job description to prepare for this question, a few key facts or some knowledge show a genuine interest and commercial awareness.

44. “Discuss your current role and your reasons for applying to the organisation.”

Before your interview, you should have researched the company and seen a full job description. This information will be key to how you answer this question and show that you have made a considered application.

You need to try and align the experience gained from your current role to some of the challenges or responsibilities of the role you are applying for. Keep it to a few clear bullet points where you can.

Also think about where you are at your happiest or best. The role you are applying for may be in a new field or industry, but you may already have many of the transferable skills required.

You then need to be able to concisely explain what you can bring to the role and demonstrate how some of the skills you have (making passing reference to some of the experience you have just mentioned) would make you a good fit for this role.

With thanks to Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson

45. “If successful in joining the organisation, what do you envisage your biggest challenge will be in joining it as a…?”

The answer to this really depends on the job/company you’re interviewing for. However, it’s a good idea to discuss your understanding of the company, processes, products, clients and the marketplace. As a sales team leader, you’ll also be expected to deliver strong results against your personal sales and team targets.

With thanks to Capita’s Internal Recruitment Team

46. “How to deal with a difficult customer?”

Most customer service interviews will include the “How to deal with a difficult customer” interview question. For example – “Can you give me an example of a particularly difficult customer you had to deal with and how you used your skills to successfully overcome the problem they had?” or “Describe a time you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you handled the situation.”

Many interviewees freeze at this question, simply because they cannot think of an example, rather than the fact that they have never dealt with one. So have an answer prepared and make sure it is one where you resolved the issue, not one where you had to refer the customer to a higher authority (it’s amazing how many people do this). What the interviewer is looking for are the skills you possess in handling difficult customers, not the intricate detail of the particular issue the customer had.

How to answer the “how to deal with a difficult customer” interview question.

In your pre-prepared interview answer you should include the following:

  1. I listened carefully to what the customer had to say.
  2. I apologised and empathised with their situation.
  3. I confirmed my understanding of their concern.
  4. I took responsibility to resolve the issue.
  5. I offered a solution (plus alternatives if possible).
  6. I confirmed the customer was happy with this.
  7. I thanked the customer for raising the issue with me.
  8. I took immediate action following the call to resolve the situation.
  9. I remained calm throughout the whole process.
  10. (If appropriate) the customer wrote in to my supervisor congratulating me on my efficiency.

This may seem like a very long answer. But by explaining the situation, without going into the minutia of the product or the complaint, your response need be no more than one minute or so. You will also impress your prospective employer by demonstrating that you already have the skills necessary to handle the most difficult calls.

Read this article for more advice on How to deal with difficult customers

47. How to deal with an angry customer

There will often be a question about how to deal with an angry customer. A typical question would be “Name a time you had to deal with an angry customer” or “Describe a recent situation when you had to handle an angry guest or customer”.

There are two things that they are looking for here. The first is to see what your customer service skills are like. The second is to see if you lose your temper or if you can keep your cool.

It may help to answer that “the customer is always right” and that it is your duty to help customers out of a difficult situation. You can describe the steps where you helped to calm a customer down, show some understanding, empathy, patience etc.

Ideally use an example of where you were able to turn the customer around and then the customer was able to thank you for your effort.

For more information read this article on How to deal with an angry customer

48. “Describe how you have brought about business change through use of technology and process re-engineering, describing what particular techniques you have employed, e.g. 6 sigma, lean management, etc.”

What you need to show here is primarily an understanding of the particular project management methodology. For example, 6 sigma or lean management.

You should do this by giving an example of a project that went well, and show some of the challenges that you had to overcome along the way.

In particular, it would be useful to show examples of how you managed to get the team on your side and sharing the same vision for success.

If you have no experience of these types of methodologies, you should just give an example of a project that you worked on that went well.

You might be interested in our article about Interview Do’s and Don’ts

49. “Please tell me about an occasion when you had to analyse a large amount of complex information which led to you identifying an improvement in service delivery or cost.”

Here your interviewer is testing your ability to analyse data. An ideal answer will clearly outline the problem you were faced with, the information you extracted from the data and the changes you subsequently made to improve.

Problem: The appliance-delivery company I work for was getting consistently low ratings on its delivery service.

Action: I looked at all of the online feedback forms and personally phoned customers who had rated our service 0.

Findings: I found that the majority of our unhappy customers hated waiting in all day for their items to be delivered.

Solution: I piloted a new system where the delivery driver phoned the customer an hour before their item was due to be delivered. This stopped our customers from having to hang around the house all day waiting for their delivery.

Outcome: During the trial period, we saw a marked increase in our customer satisfaction ratings and the new system soon became standard practice.

50. “Please outline and describe your current targets and KPIs – How do you ensure you achieve these?”

Here your interviewer is checking that you are capable of working consistently towards your targets.

In an ideal answer you will outline what your current targets are, then follow this up with a discussion about how you break these targets down into weekly objectives to ensure that you are consistently working towards your annual goals.

With thanks to…

Mark Lightburn, Artis Recruitment – www.artiscc.co.uk for responses to questions 1-3

Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson www.douglas-jackson.com questions 4-12

Geoff Sims, Hays Contact Centres www.hays.com/contactcentres/ questions 13-15

Clive Harris, Specialist Contact Centre Services www.specialistccs.com questions 16-18

Francesca Randle & Kirsty Ryan, Cactus Search www.cactussearch.co.uk questions 21-24

Have you been asked any great interview questions? Do you have better answers to any of the questions?

Please leave your comments in an email to Call Centre Helper

Published On: 6th Sep 2020 – Last modified: 11th Feb 2020
Read more about – Call Centre Life, Career, Incentives, Interview, Jobs, Recruitment

I always stumbled on the what is your biggest weakness. I hated that question when I was in interviews. I’m sure the interviewer saw the beads of sweat running down my forehead. On one occassion I actually said I can’t think of any and the interviewer said I need you to answer so I sat there for seemed an entire age trying to think of something my head went completely blank. Very embarrassing.

As easy as some of these questions may look, they can some time put you in embarrasing situation as you are least prepared to answer them…this article is great lesson in preparing for questions that may sound simple but difficult to answer when thrown at you in an interview…Thanks to all who contributed to this article.

Can the answers to the questions be more eloborated, keeping in mind that a call centre manager is going for an interview, what specifically he should answer so that its his day.

excellent source of information,But

Having become a raving fan of the Strength Finder system, I now have a range of answers to that tricky “what are your weakness” question and have no problem telling them the truth. My weaknesses are in areas that come no where near my working life (I’m a business analyst) e.g. sport, science, music. I do the job I do because my strengths work well in an office and in my career I avoid my weaknesses e.g. sport.

So before you get this question again, stop and think, what are you REALLY bad at that you NEVER do at work – that is probably your weakness cos not many people work in areas of their altimate weakness. You will get surprised reactions to this type of answer but it will be the truth.

Having become a raving fan of the Strength Finder system, I now have a range of answers to that tricky “what are your weakness” question and have no problem telling them the truth. My weaknesses are in areas that come no where near my working life (I’m a business analyst) e.g. sport, science, music. I do the job I do because my strengths work well in an office and in my career I avoid my weaknesses e.g. sport.

So before you get this question again, stop and think, what are you REALLY bad at that you NEVER do at work – that is probably your weakness cos not many people work in areas of their altimate weakness.

You may get surprised reactions from this type of answer but it will be the truth.

Information given is highly appreciative by me.
It makes me more aware/prepared for upcoming interviews.
I have learnt a lot from it and will not hesitate in passing on this info to colleagues.
The Question of strengths n weaknesses are mind boggling…It should be stated that whatever you are at is your strength, and whatever you have difficulties in handling is your weakness.(we should try to relate them to job in question)
Thanks for such valuable info!!

what have done in my team that everyone tried doing but couldnt and i eventually did it.

great article thanks very much.

Can you tell me about a time that you were able to solve a tough problem that you encountered with a customer without referring to your direct supervisor or manager?

Describe a situation when you have helped drive a business change as a result of customer research/analysis

Any one knew what type of questions would be asked to assess the candidates’ “Analytical Skills” and “Interactive communication skills”? Does not any one have clues. THanks

well done. great hint for job seekers

my question is ”how you would deal with different situations you are likely to encounter”? position : Senior Admin Assistant in a clinic

very usefull, im alot calmer about my interview now i have a general idea of what i’ll be asked, and obviously how i’ll answer them! thanks alot!!

Describe a time where you were presented with the challenge of working with or gaining information from a person with specific needs?

Very well explained questions, very helpful for job hunters. Great.

I m a fresher n it was being little difficult for me to think how to encounter questions in an interview but to my fortune it is a privilege to get answers so directly that i feel much more confident n optimistic for attending interviews now…i am really thankful to the whole team for giving such drastic answers to frequently asked questions which just seemed simple.This would really resolve one’s issue.
Questions on weaknesses and strength is mind blowing!it has actually helped me convert my weakness into strength..
I hope the team puts forward more answers to such questions which would help the applicants in mere future.

Hi thanks alot for this it will help in my interview in the morning i feel abit calmer now

VERY USEFUL QUESTIONS FOR AN INTERVIEWEE …..

These questions really don’t change a lot from postion to postion or company to company, either. ��

These questions were really very helpful.

I love how u made everythng simple 4 me*smiling*hope I pass all my interviews now

thanks for that some questions . it helps me a lot ��

THIS DOCUMENT HELP ME LOT IN MY ACADEMY WAY OF LIFE

excellent im more confident.i have an interview today hope it comes in handy n finally get my dream job.

The “weaknes question” is the meanest. By now, every interviewer is already prepared for the standard answers like “i am perfectionist”.
Great guide anyway.

Please provide an example of when your determination or competitive spirit has been key to a successful outcome. Personal or professional examples are acceptable.

hi this questions really helps me how to answer the questions politely thanks a lot

Admirable article, I think words are not enough to say… you
Thanks a lot

This site is Awesome! Great to see the comments constructive feedback for the blog! It really works, if your committed. Head down! NAIL IT. Go hard eeryone. Thinking caps on and GO FOR IT. god bless me for my interview tomorrow now that I hae found this FORTUNE. Time to make it happen. THANKS ALOT MUCH APPRECIATIVE ��

Am soo lucky to come accross an info as this. I’m pretty much more confident to take on any interview. Lucky enough am preparing for one soonest. Thanks for enlightening me the more.

Great article.
Very useful.
I´m very thankful with you guys, this is a priceless info.
regards,

Thanks for all the info.

I have a roll play as an insurance agent dealing with the difficult customer for my 2nd interview. Can you give me an idea to prepare for it. This is my second interview with AAA Club as a sales agent. Thanks in advance!

This is an excellent website and tool to use for hiring and for being a candidate.

Thank you a lot,
the Question provided here help me a lot to face my interview.

Thank you sooo much for this article! I have an interview as a customer service representative at HSBC and this helped a lot!

Great article. Gave me insight on why most lose it during interviews

I interviewed somebody once who told me his weakness was his flat feet lol

geat this helps soooo much keep it up

Questions and hints to the anwers are very helpful in relation to an interview next week. I believe it will help others.

For the question what is your strength and weakness? I think the best answer is th same i mean what’s your answer in strength is also your weakness…for me the best answer is FAMILY..

Thanks for this wonderful piece. its really informative.

Should help me a lot, thanks

very great article….!
gonna help me a lot..tnx

Brilliant, This will help me very much in my upcoming interview.

Thanks very much, even the comments taught me more

This is a great and helpful site. Thanks and more grease to your elbow

Excellent post – both for human resource managers and people looking for jobs!

A great foundation to build on or personalised answers.

The questions seem simple but need an ability to think stay focus and go Ace the interview

If you don’t have a degree, place that down as a weakness. Tell the interviewer that you always have to prove that you are capable of doing the work by trying to be the best, just like in your previous positions.

If you have a degree, tell them that employers may take this achievement as a shield and not focus on personal qualities. You have more than this ‘shield’ to offer to the company.

Am so happy to come across your article…..am sure i will be more confident in my upcoming interview.thank you.

I have passed my 2nd interview and ready for my 3rd with a telephone call for the following day, this has been alot of information I was seeking for..thankyou you have been very helpful with your tips..

very important & helpful

As a hiring authority, many of the questions are similar to what I ask. However, memorizing answers will get you nowhere when it comes to integrity, team chemistry and personality. I can see through most of the charades. Most skills can be taught, determination, drive and perseverance cannot. Always be honest and candid. It makes more of a difference than you may think.

Thanks for the information, really useful. Hoping to score that job

It was good. Hope ill get through my interview ��

Im about to undergo interview lst wik,but for some risons it was posponed.den suddenly,i saw this article..then realized dat im not yet ready for dat said interview.god is good.e evrythng hapens for a reason.finally i can say dt im confident enaf to undergo and pass to my interview.thanks a lot

Thanks for the advice and alerts

Great article, with a good insight into interviewers and the types / angle of questions you may get.

There are only so many question you can ask that are general and then specific to the role. You always get the weird questions within some interviewers I think its just to see how the candidate reacts…

[Part of post removed by moderator]

its very help for me of my further interviews. thanks alot

this is a very helpful information to interviewee….. thank you so much…

Very interesting and helpful information. Thanks alot.

really helpful i have only ever had meinual jobs and not had the confidence to go for any jobs I thought too above my station even though I know I could do them so I think this will help hey who knows I could be prime minister in a few years

Very useful. This has really helped me. Thank you

Amazing Help this is!

Haven’t even read through everything as of yet but thought it was worth commending first.

Thanks for this…

I got the job Thanks you

I think to be your self, scrbble nots down on paperwork, no tv no sounds a very quiet room. And say this, what is it i did my previous job each day and how i did it, what steps i took to do my job and when things got to some thing needing a repair or an upset customer its very easy the problem is the brain tends shut off when put on the hot plate, don,t let this cause to be blinded by it, its just how you human body reacts.

But instead see it through, good preperation and practice and practice and practice i usual go 4 – 5 days of just running through my answers, ok yes you are in effect talking to your self, but you practice at chatting talking more and more and more, the more you do the better you will get at it, the answers to these questions have been thought out of the answers an situations you have been in, when you look and think back, to your pre jobs all the answers are there, the phone call you recieved, the upset customer, the actions you took to put it right and reassure them, how delt with a time deadline ie what did you actually do to carry that out, was it in a team, did you have help, was there obstacle what did you do to get round them, how did you plan your repair, what tools did you need, was it scheduled or instant repair, put into words what you actually do in your job, from Am and Pm and will see it was all there for you to answer, just let you brain relax and do some deep thinking.

Just like im thinking right now to type this, that is some i did. Ie i used the internet to get this acroos ie the tool i used and used typing to convey the idea across to like minded people in this area of employment working with people ie in this comment page which is in affect the group of members in coming together to solve problem, ie your already actually answering what you know will be asked. Remember be strong smile have some fun with it, practice at controlling your breathing and do it each day, remember practice practice, wright it down, go online, research, and no matter how you feel spend several hours each before the big day, the more armed you are the better you will feel on the day, also you control your nerves not the other way round, breath relax, show them you know how to solve situations as that is one of the things they are observing, they are not there to embarres you, they are just trying to build up a picture, just be your self.

remember practice practice pracice, see the situation in your minds eye, open up your thoughts thats teh best way to approach it and trust your self more.

hope this helps guys.

go for it, be strong.

As a professional trainer of english job interviews and being an ex-head hunter I come across lots of advice. This article is one of the better ones and I really enjoyed reading it ad will be adopting some of your interview answers in my training material. Thanks and keep up the good work.

QUESTIONS ARE A LITTLE BIT HARD BUT THROUGH THIS YOU CAN HAVE AN IDEA ON HOW YOU HANDLED EVERYTHING DURING THE INTERVIEW.

Going to use these today �� very good questions to ask.

Thanks for this wonderful piece. its really informative.

Top 50 Customer Service Interview Questions – with Answers

In this article we have asked our panel of experts for the top customer service interview questions. We have also included pointers and guidance on how to deal with them and some sample answers.

These questions cover four common bases from classics, team leadership, examples and role play as well as customer service – know-how and competency.

Also, if you are recruiting for staff you may find that this provides you with a few tricky questions to ask.

Classic questions

This group covers generic interview questions that you will likely be asked, no matter what job field you are interested in.

You will probably be asked one of these questions early on in the interview, so it is important to be prepared to face them and get yourself off to a good start that will boost your confidence as the interview progresses.

1. “Why do you want to work here?”

To answer this question you must have researched the company. Reply with the company’s attributes as you see them and how your qualities match them.

2. “Tell me about yourself.”

This is not an invitation to ramble on. If the context isn’t clear, you need to know more about the question before giving an answer.

Whichever direction your answer ultimately takes, be sure that it has some relevance to your professional endeavors. You should also refer to one or more of your key personal qualities, such as honesty, integrity, being a team player, or determination.

3. “Why do you want this job?”

Whilst more money, shorter hours or less of a commute are all potential factors for your next role, they are unlikely to make you the ‘stand out’ candidate of the day.

Know what the company are looking for and the potential job available, and align this with your career to date. Highlight your relevant experience, goals and aspirations in line with the role, to showcase why you are the best person for the job.

4. “What was your reason for leaving?”

Wherever possible be positive, even if your role was short term or didn’t quite work out as expected, as it will have added extra experience or skills to your career history.

Although you are now looking to move on, acknowledge what you learned and what was on offer at the time. Demonstrate good reasons for the decisions you made and show that you understood what was to be gained, or acknowledge what you have learned from your past employer.

5. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

“I have been told that I am an excellent communicator, especially on the telephone, but I feel I have good interpersonal skills generally and find it easy to get along with all sorts of people”.

Many interviewers will ask you to name your strengths and weaknesses. Typically, people find it easier to express their strengths, but struggle when it comes to identifying even one weakness. Part of the reason for this may be that they do not want to disclose a particular weakness, as this may result in them failing to be successful in getting the job.

A good initial answer (bearing in mind you are applying for a telephone position) to the ‘strengths’ part would be “I have been told that I am an excellent communicator, especially on the telephone, but I feel I have good interpersonal skills generally and find it easy to get along with all sorts of people”.

For weaknesses you need to think of something which is really a strength but put it across as a weakness. It is also important to make it clear what you are doing to address that ‘weakness’.

A good example would be “I am a very conscientious worker and I get irritated by colleagues who don’t share this value and take any opportunity to take time off work or do the minimum required when they are there. I am learning, however, that these people generally get found out and I leave it to my supervisor to recognise these problems and address them”.

An answer such as this would probably make the interviewer think “well that’s not such a bad thing, actually”.

6. Give an example of this behaviour

Having given your strengths and weaknesses, you are then likely to be asked to give examples of when you have displayed this behaviour. Your credibility will plummet if you cannot give an example of the strengths you have stated. With the strengths listed above, a good response would be: “In my present job, I am often asked to handle difficult customer situations because my supervisor knows that I will handle them politely, efficiently and diplomatically and therefore only a few cases would ever get referred to her. Also, because of my strong interpersonal skills, I have often been asked to buddy-up with new team members, to make them comfortable in their new role at the earliest stage possible”.

When asked to give examples on the weaknesses, you need to think very carefully, and plan in advance what your response will be, as many people dig a very deep hole here. A good response to the weakness quoted would be: “I had a situation once where I knew that a more experienced colleague was regularly absent from work following nights out drinking, but she would say that she had a migraine. When this happened my workload increased significantly. I undertook this willingly but I must admit I was annoyed that this person was taking advantage of me and the company. However, I decided to let the supervisor do their job and just get on with mine. In quite a short space of time, the issue was addressed and the problem was resolved”.

7. “Tell me about a difficult obstacle you had to overcome recently at work? How did you overcome this?”

Here your interviewer wants proof that you will tackle problems head on and not just bury your head in the sand.

A strong answer will clearly demonstrate a problem, an action and a solution.

For example:

Problem: When I was first promoted to team leader, I consistently struggled to ensure that my team achieved their sales targets on a Friday.
Action: I sought the advice of more experienced team leaders to find out how they motivated their teams through the Friday slog.
Solution: Acting on the advice of the other team leaders, I implemented a combination of incentives over the next few weeks and successfully boosted my team’s sales figures.

8. “What is your greatest success and achievement to date?”

Here your interviewer wants to see that you will bring something to their company and not just fade into the background.

Whilst this question does open the floor for you to recite how you once doubled your team’s sales figures, employers are equally interested in hearing about how you have developed and maintained a strong professional network, or how you pride yourself on your reputation for being reliable and hard working.

Whatever you end up talking about, try to keep it short. You don’t want your ego to get in the way of you being offered the job.

9. “What attracts you to the position?”

This is an opportunity for you to show off your research on the role and company.

Talk about the benefits the company has to offer and how they suit you at this point in your career. For example, if you are joining the company as a graduate, discuss how you plan to utilise their highly-structured training scheme.

Also comment on the company’s reputation and try to make reference to a recent success you have seen on their website.

10. “How would your current team/manager describe you?”

Try to think about how you would describe yourself if someone asked you for your strengths, then relate these to what people say about you; peers, agents, managers and stakeholders. Have three or four at the ready, ideally in line with the role you are being interviewed for. Have examples or situations ready, in case your interviewer wants to drill down as to why you think or believe these are your key strengths.

11. “How do you keep yourself motivated?”

This is your opportunity to tell your potential employer what keeps you focused. Possible answers include:

  • Breaking your workload up into daily or hourly targets to ensure that the next small success is never too far away.
  • Living a healthy life-style. Eating the right foods and drinking lots of water in the office can have a big impact on your concentration levels.
  • Motivating others and promoting a positive atmosphere in the office.

12. “What key factors drive you?”

Tread carefully with this question. Whilst the truth may be that you only get out of bed every morning in order to pay your rent, this is not what your potential employer wants to hear.

This question gives you an opportunity to discuss what has attracted you to this line of work and what inspires you to persevere through the tough times. In a sales role, this could be the adrenaline rush of meeting daily targets, whilst in a customer-service role, this could be the personal satisfaction you gain through helping people.

13. “How do you deal with work issues? Would anyone know you were having a bad day or would you keep it to yourself?”

Morale is infectious – whether positive or negative – and, when working in a team-orientated environment like a call centre, it’s important that there is always an air of positivity around.

It’s therefore vitally important to ensure that if you’re having a bad day, you contain this and don’t let it influence the morale levels of the team, and in turn the productivity and efficiency of the overall operation.

With thanks to Mark Conway, Contact Centre Partners

Team leader questions

This interview question set is particularly important if you are applying for a management job in a customer service environment, but also if you are looking for a more basic customer service position.

This is because every employer is looking for someone who can build morale, provide guidance and promote values, so showcase yourself to be a leader and not a follower. So here are our top customer service interview questions for team leaders:

14. “How do you manage time and priorities?”

Here your potential employer wants to know that you are capable of organising yourself properly and ensuring that nothing gets forgotten.

Do you keep a diary? Use Google Calender? Write daily to-do lists? Use wall planners to keep track of out-of-office appointments? Whatever you do, now is your opportunity to tell them!

15. “What have you done to promote great customer service?”

Firstly, know what you think great customer service looks like. Look for situations and examples when you had an idea, a client, or customer call, where you personally went that extra mile.

Did you change a process or procedure? Or perhaps a staff member you mentored, coached or advised delivered a great customer service win or result for your team, brand or business.

For advice on giving great customer service read The 25 Top Positive Words and Phrases

16. “What are the key factors which make a successful call centre?”

Fundamentally, if you look under the skin of the best teams and call centres, they do have certain things in common: clear communication, consistency, fun, performance management, leadership, engagement, incentives, etc.

Think what made up the best team or company you have been a part of or have seen. Have examples to back up any statements for how you would play a part in, or create, this team or environment yourself.

17. “How do you manage change?”

Change is an essential part of life in any call centre environment, as the industry strives to achieve best practice for their customers and stakeholders. Have some examples on how you personally managed, or were affected by, some change. What was your focus, what were you aiming to achieve and how did you deliver the outcome? Know what the problems encountered were and what was learned through and following the transformation.

18. “How do you plan daily and weekly activities?”

Here your potential employer is looking to see that you are capable of planning your time effectively.

They want to hear things like how you hold team meetings to discuss the week ahead and allocate time slots and deadlines for various projects.

19. “How do you ensure that your department’s goals are in line with the overall company goals?”

This question helps your interviewer to gauge whether you understand your role in your current job, and how your efforts contribute to the goals of the organisation.

For example:

The company I currently work for publishes an annual report of KPIs relating to the goals they hope to achieve that year. I extract the company goals that are relevant to my department and break them down into weekly objectives. I then use these objectives to ensure that my team is constantly contributing to the overall goals of the organisation.

20. “How would you measure the success of you and your team over a 3, 6 and 12 month period?”

This question requires you to understand the benefits of setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) objectives and developing action plans.

For example:

In line with the over-arching goals of the company, I would set personal goals for myself and my team which I would subsequently break down into weekly SMART objectives. I would monitor these closely through general in-office communication and a series of team meetings, as well as through scheduling individual appraisal meetings at 3, 6 and 12 month intervals.

21. “How would you manage your time and objectives in your role?”

In my current role, I break down my objectives into daily targets and outline periods of the day when I am going to focus on achieving them. I find this system works well for me and I expect to carry it into my next job.

This is your opportunity to assure your potential employer that you are capable of working in line with your objectives and getting the job done on time.

For example:

In my current role, I break down my objectives into daily targets and outline periods of the day when I am going to focus on achieving them. I find this system works well for me and I expect to carry it into my next job.

22. “How often do you challenge the way your current company does things or challenge something that you feel needs to change?”

This is a bit of a tricky question to answer, as how you answer can determine whether your interviewer thinks you are too strong-minded or, worse, too sheep-like in your approach to work. An ideal answer will show a degree of balance.

For example:

Throughout my term of employment, I keep a constant note of any areas that I feel can be improved. But I only present these concerns to my boss when I have developed in-depth and realistic solutions.

The frequency of these meetings is determined by how stable the company is. If the company implements several changes throughout the course of the year, I am more inclined to provide regular feedback to my boss.

23. “How creative are you in comparison to your colleagues, i.e. in managing, developing, encouraging and motivating your team?”

This question is asked to determine whether or not you are going to bring something to the team.

In an ideal answer you will confirm that you are creative in your job role, and markedly so compared to some of your colleagues. You should then proceed to give examples which demonstrate this.

This question gives you the opportunity to tell the interviewer about how you developed a Monday-morning prize-giving incentive to get your team fired up for the week. Or how you introduced daily staff meetings to keep your team engaged with the goals of the organisation. Or implemented a buddy-up training programme to help your new recruits settle in faster.

24. “How do you measure the success of your incentives?”

I introduced ‘Sugar Fridays’ – giving my team sweets and treats to get them through the Friday slog.

An ideal answer to this question will demonstrate that you are capable of monitoring a situation as it evolves.

For example:

Whilst working in a call centre as a supervisor, I introduced ‘Sugar Fridays’ – giving my team sweets and treats to get them through the Friday slog.

Prior to introducing the incentive, I compiled a backlog of sales figures from previous Fridays. I then introduced the incentive on a trial period, continued collecting data and cross-compared the results. There was an obvious peak in sales figures and so the incentive became permanent.

25. “How have you utilised customer feedback to ensure business excellence?”

This question is set to test your ability to identify and analyse customer insight, trends and data, and drive continuous improvement, by identifying and understanding the root cause.

The interviewer will be looking for an example of where you have taken this insight and subsequently developed, implemented and improved your sales process. This could be through the introduction of training, post-sale procedures, a change in marketing communications, or other process improvements, to ensure that the cause of any future complaint is eradicated.

With thanks to Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson

26. “How have you utilised customer complaint feedback to improve how your team are selling?”

This question is especially important if you are applying for a management position.

An ideal answer will demonstrate that you are capable of assessing a situation and implementing improvements.

For example:

I started to notice that a lot of customers were complaining about feeling patronised by my agents. In response to this, I listened to the calls these complaints stemmed from and realised that words such as ‘wonderful’ were being over used.

I then had a meeting with the worst offenders in my team and suggested changes that they could make to correct this behaviour. After this meeting, customer complaints reduced and sales increased.

Are you interested in reading about the Typical Roles in a Call Centre?

27. “What is your experience of the whole end-to-end feedback process (talk through this process) and how do you ensure this feedback improves the service to customers?”

The answer to this will depend on the job you’re interviewing for and your experience.

I would recommend thinking about a specific instance and then discussing this in detail. Outline the process stage by stage and, if there are areas that need improvement, focus your answers on the solutions instead of the problems.

With thanks to Capita’s Internal Recruitment Team

28. “How have you educated your front-line agents to ensure excellent customer feedback?”

As a leader or manager charged with delivering excellent customer feedback, you will know how important it is that customer feedback and insight are monitored, measured and acted upon, whenever appropriate or necessary.

But how about your agents? This question is very much aligned to your engagement, coaching and development skills. You need to think about the culture, communication and interactions you have with your agents.

Discuss how you impart your knowledge and experience to your agents and how you ensure that they can continue to develop the confidence, skills, knowledge and habits that will drive excellent customer feedback with every interaction.

With thanks to Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson

29. “How did you recognise the level of trust or respect your team held for you and how did you ensure this continued?”

Only you will know if your team really trusts and respects you. Respectful employees will usually make you coffee, hold a door open for you, properly carry out tasks assigned to them and rarely undermine your judgement.

To maintain this level of respect, you should make time to recognise your employees’ efforts, occasionally explain how you reached a solution to a problem (this can help with buy-in for larger changes or projects) and do your best to be consistently level-headed and successful in your judgement – as it only takes one slip-up to undermine your credibility.

Give an example/role play questions

At some point in your interview, you will have to answer a question that prods you to give an example or take part in a role play situation.

This group of questions will provide you with guidance on how to deal with questions of this nature and challenge you to think of scenarios where you have demonstrated attributes that are closely link to the job description.

30. “What is the biggest challenge you have faced in work in the past 12 months?”

This is often an opening question, as it allows you to use one of your strongest examples and may help you relax. For the interviewer, it is also an indication of where your natural focus or achievements may be – people development, process, cost reduction, change etc.

31. “What is your biggest achievement?”

If possible, think work related. There will hopefully be a number of things you are most proud of in your career to date. Think about your key achievements; were they commercial, people or process orientated? What was the cause and effect? How were you involved, what was improved, saved or developed?

If you are short on career-based examples, use personal achievements which demonstrate the commercial skills required for the role, such as team work, commitment, empathy, determination, attention to detail, etc.

32. “Can you give me an example of… ?”

These questions will more often than not be based around the role competencies. Preparation and rehearsal are key to answering these effectively.

You will need two or three instances of how you may have: delivered change, managed conflict, improved performance, reduced absence, increased customer satisfaction, etc. You also need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate the problem, solution and outcome.

33. “Can you give me an example of a time when you had to motivate and develop a team in a challenging work environment?”

During interviews, difficult or awkward questions could come your way. The intention is not to catch you out, but to test how you operate under pressure.

This question is (again) in the format of competency-based interviewing, so remember to outline the specific actions you took to motivate your team, as interviewers want to see evidence of hands-on experience.

Make sure to describe all processes undertaken.

For example: Did you use incentives to motivate the team? Did you implement training programmes? Did you improve internal communications to help engage staff? Did you implement or revisit career development plans to make the team feel valued? Did you take the time to understand each individual’s motivations?

Be clear and precise and be sure to convey any previous first-hand experience you have – they will want to feel confident that you can handle similar issues within the new role.

34. “Give me an example of how you have dealt with an under-performing team member in the past.”

This question is a typical example of competency-based interviewing (CBI) in practice. It is the most popular interview approach, based on the premise that future performance can be predicted by past behaviour.

The best way to prepare for CBI questions is to revisit the job description and person specification before your interview. You should then ensure that you have covered all bases and can comfortably provide examples for each competency. You must also be able to describe the particular scenario, the actions you took and the impact it had on the business.

Approach this particular question by outlining the processes you followed to investigate and resolve this issue. It is also important to explain the outcome. For example, you may have set an agenda of required actions following on from the meeting you held with the particular team member – can you describe what that was? If you created a performance plan that included clear training and development objectives make sure you say so.

Always finish by explaining how the action you took impacted the business. For example, the team member started to meet all targets and bring in more revenue.

35. Within the interview process you may be required to perform a role-play. A popular example of this is being asked to role-play an escalated call with an unhappy customer.

It is vital to have clear objectives before initiating conversation with the customer; what is your end goal? Ensure you are aware of the parameters, rules and regulations within the company. For example, if the issue is over money, can you refund it? What else can you offer to pacify the customer?

It is important to remain calm, confident, be clear and always remember to ask questions. The interviewer is looking for a patient and composed response. If you are still unsure about how best to approach role-plays contact your local recruitment consultant who should be able to offer you thorough advice.

Want to know how to deal with an angry customer? Click here for the article The Right Words and Phrases to use with an Angry Customer

36-38. “Please tell me about a situation where someone was performing badly in your team.”

I adopted a supportive style as I raised my concerns with the individual regarding their approach with customers, and confirmed their awareness of the business expectations regarding excellent customer service.

“What was the situation?”

“How did you deal with it?”

“What was the outcome?”

A model answer to the above 4 questions could look something like this:

As part of my regular team monitoring, I assess all advisors call quality in order to measure them against the relevant KPIs. When reviewing calls for one advisor, I noticed a trend where the advisor was quite abrupt with callers. I scheduled a meeting in private with that advisor, which I prepared for by reviewing supporting information (including their performance statistics for the month).

I adopted a supportive style as I raised my concerns with the individual regarding their approach with customers, and confirmed their awareness of the business expectations regarding excellent customer service. I sensitively discussed with them any reasons they felt they were unable to deliver this, and emphasised the balance which needed to be maintained between quality and quantity. I adopted a coaching style to enable the advisor to work through any barriers and identify solutions, agreed reasonable and tangible expectations for improvement, arranged appropriate support and scheduled weekly meetings to review their performance against these expectations. As a result, the advisor improved their performance and now consistently achieves all targets.

39. “Describe a situation in which you inspired trust and respect in your team.”

It’s important to think of and talk about a situation that’s relevant for the position you’re interviewing for. Ideally this will have had a positive outcome. By doing this you will help the interviewers to understand why you are a great fit for their team.

With thanks to Capita’s Internal Recruitment Team

40. “Give an example of when you have been really stretched for a deadline, and how you made sure you completed your work on time.”

In asking this question, your potential employer is looking to see that you are prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty when the company needs you.

But you have to be careful when answering, as it is easy to fall into the trap of slagging off your current employer or seeming disorganised. Your interviewer does not want to hear how your current boss failed to provide you with resources or that you once pulled an all-nighter to meet a university deadline.

An ideal answer will centre round the busiest time of your company’s year (i.e. the Christmas rush in retail). In your example you should outline the reason for your stretched deadline and say what you did to ensure that you met it.

For example: Whilst working in retail over the Christmas period, there was dramatic increase in stock which needed processing. To ensure that I continued to complete my daily tasks over this time period, I frequently started work at 5am rather than 7am.

41. “Give an example of an occasion where you have given constructive criticism to a member of your peer group.”

No matter what level we operate at, we are all able to lend our experience of success to our peers – we just have to be careful not to patronise or undermine them in the process.

When answering this question, make sure that you give an example that is truly constructive and had a positive outcome. This will show your interviewer that you understand how to help improve your colleagues’ performance without hurting their feelings.

42. “Give an example of a time when things happened in work to dampen your enthusiasm. How did you motivate yourself and your team?”

This question is a test of character and is especially important if you are being interviewed for a management role.

An ideal answer will demonstrate that you are able to support your team, even when things don’t go according to plan.

For example: Whilst I was working in a fast-food restaurant, an unexpected coachload of football supporters came through the door. What followed was a hectic half-hour as the few staff we had on struggled to serve the high influx of customers.

To motivate my team, I came out of the back office and signed onto a till in the middle of the counter. From that position, I could support my team either side of me with phrases like ‘you’re doing well, Kelly’ whilst helping to offset the work load.

When the rush was over, I congratulated everyone on their efforts and brought chocolates in for my team the next day.

Customer service know-how and job competency questions

These interview questions are about customer service specifically. So this category tests your suitability for the job, probing your customer service knowledge and judge your applicability for the role.

So, expect to be asked questions involving technical terms, your understanding of the organisation and your awareness of relevant job situations.

43. “What do you know about the centre/company/role?”

You are not required to be an expert on the organisation or role, but a genuine interest and basic understanding is expected. If you are working with a recruitment consultant then they should be able to provide you with extra details and assist with preparation.

In addition, look for and use press releases, corporate and social websites. Ring the call centre to see how they handle your call: do they offer ‘up-sell’, ‘cross-sell’, how was the service? Read the job description to prepare for this question, a few key facts or some knowledge show a genuine interest and commercial awareness.

44. “Discuss your current role and your reasons for applying to the organisation.”

Before your interview, you should have researched the company and seen a full job description. This information will be key to how you answer this question and show that you have made a considered application.

You need to try and align the experience gained from your current role to some of the challenges or responsibilities of the role you are applying for. Keep it to a few clear bullet points where you can.

Also think about where you are at your happiest or best. The role you are applying for may be in a new field or industry, but you may already have many of the transferable skills required.

You then need to be able to concisely explain what you can bring to the role and demonstrate how some of the skills you have (making passing reference to some of the experience you have just mentioned) would make you a good fit for this role.

With thanks to Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson

45. “If successful in joining the organisation, what do you envisage your biggest challenge will be in joining it as a…?”

The answer to this really depends on the job/company you’re interviewing for. However, it’s a good idea to discuss your understanding of the company, processes, products, clients and the marketplace. As a sales team leader, you’ll also be expected to deliver strong results against your personal sales and team targets.

With thanks to Capita’s Internal Recruitment Team

46. “How to deal with a difficult customer?”

Most customer service interviews will include the “How to deal with a difficult customer” interview question. For example – “Can you give me an example of a particularly difficult customer you had to deal with and how you used your skills to successfully overcome the problem they had?” or “Describe a time you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you handled the situation.”

Many interviewees freeze at this question, simply because they cannot think of an example, rather than the fact that they have never dealt with one. So have an answer prepared and make sure it is one where you resolved the issue, not one where you had to refer the customer to a higher authority (it’s amazing how many people do this). What the interviewer is looking for are the skills you possess in handling difficult customers, not the intricate detail of the particular issue the customer had.

How to answer the “how to deal with a difficult customer” interview question.

In your pre-prepared interview answer you should include the following:

  1. I listened carefully to what the customer had to say.
  2. I apologised and empathised with their situation.
  3. I confirmed my understanding of their concern.
  4. I took responsibility to resolve the issue.
  5. I offered a solution (plus alternatives if possible).
  6. I confirmed the customer was happy with this.
  7. I thanked the customer for raising the issue with me.
  8. I took immediate action following the call to resolve the situation.
  9. I remained calm throughout the whole process.
  10. (If appropriate) the customer wrote in to my supervisor congratulating me on my efficiency.

This may seem like a very long answer. But by explaining the situation, without going into the minutia of the product or the complaint, your response need be no more than one minute or so. You will also impress your prospective employer by demonstrating that you already have the skills necessary to handle the most difficult calls.

Read this article for more advice on How to deal with difficult customers

47. How to deal with an angry customer

There will often be a question about how to deal with an angry customer. A typical question would be “Name a time you had to deal with an angry customer” or “Describe a recent situation when you had to handle an angry guest or customer”.

There are two things that they are looking for here. The first is to see what your customer service skills are like. The second is to see if you lose your temper or if you can keep your cool.

It may help to answer that “the customer is always right” and that it is your duty to help customers out of a difficult situation. You can describe the steps where you helped to calm a customer down, show some understanding, empathy, patience etc.

Ideally use an example of where you were able to turn the customer around and then the customer was able to thank you for your effort.

For more information read this article on How to deal with an angry customer

48. “Describe how you have brought about business change through use of technology and process re-engineering, describing what particular techniques you have employed, e.g. 6 sigma, lean management, etc.”

What you need to show here is primarily an understanding of the particular project management methodology. For example, 6 sigma or lean management.

You should do this by giving an example of a project that went well, and show some of the challenges that you had to overcome along the way.

In particular, it would be useful to show examples of how you managed to get the team on your side and sharing the same vision for success.

If you have no experience of these types of methodologies, you should just give an example of a project that you worked on that went well.

You might be interested in our article about Interview Do’s and Don’ts

49. “Please tell me about an occasion when you had to analyse a large amount of complex information which led to you identifying an improvement in service delivery or cost.”

Here your interviewer is testing your ability to analyse data. An ideal answer will clearly outline the problem you were faced with, the information you extracted from the data and the changes you subsequently made to improve.

Problem: The appliance-delivery company I work for was getting consistently low ratings on its delivery service.

Action: I looked at all of the online feedback forms and personally phoned customers who had rated our service 0.

Findings: I found that the majority of our unhappy customers hated waiting in all day for their items to be delivered.

Solution: I piloted a new system where the delivery driver phoned the customer an hour before their item was due to be delivered. This stopped our customers from having to hang around the house all day waiting for their delivery.

Outcome: During the trial period, we saw a marked increase in our customer satisfaction ratings and the new system soon became standard practice.

50. “Please outline and describe your current targets and KPIs – How do you ensure you achieve these?”

Here your interviewer is checking that you are capable of working consistently towards your targets.

In an ideal answer you will outline what your current targets are, then follow this up with a discussion about how you break these targets down into weekly objectives to ensure that you are consistently working towards your annual goals.

With thanks to…

Mark Lightburn, Artis Recruitment – www.artiscc.co.uk for responses to questions 1-3

Michelle Ansell, Douglas Jackson www.douglas-jackson.com questions 4-12

Geoff Sims, Hays Contact Centres www.hays.com/contactcentres/ questions 13-15

Clive Harris, Specialist Contact Centre Services www.specialistccs.com questions 16-18

Francesca Randle & Kirsty Ryan, Cactus Search www.cactussearch.co.uk questions 21-24

Have you been asked any great interview questions? Do you have better answers to any of the questions?

Please leave your comments in an email to Call Centre Helper

Published On: 6th Sep 2020 – Last modified: 11th Feb 2020
Read more about – Call Centre Life, Career, Incentives, Interview, Jobs, Recruitment

I always stumbled on the what is your biggest weakness. I hated that question when I was in interviews. I’m sure the interviewer saw the beads of sweat running down my forehead. On one occassion I actually said I can’t think of any and the interviewer said I need you to answer so I sat there for seemed an entire age trying to think of something my head went completely blank. Very embarrassing.

As easy as some of these questions may look, they can some time put you in embarrasing situation as you are least prepared to answer them…this article is great lesson in preparing for questions that may sound simple but difficult to answer when thrown at you in an interview…Thanks to all who contributed to this article.

Can the answers to the questions be more eloborated, keeping in mind that a call centre manager is going for an interview, what specifically he should answer so that its his day.

excellent source of information,But

Having become a raving fan of the Strength Finder system, I now have a range of answers to that tricky “what are your weakness” question and have no problem telling them the truth. My weaknesses are in areas that come no where near my working life (I’m a business analyst) e.g. sport, science, music. I do the job I do because my strengths work well in an office and in my career I avoid my weaknesses e.g. sport.

So before you get this question again, stop and think, what are you REALLY bad at that you NEVER do at work – that is probably your weakness cos not many people work in areas of their altimate weakness. You will get surprised reactions to this type of answer but it will be the truth.

Having become a raving fan of the Strength Finder system, I now have a range of answers to that tricky “what are your weakness” question and have no problem telling them the truth. My weaknesses are in areas that come no where near my working life (I’m a business analyst) e.g. sport, science, music. I do the job I do because my strengths work well in an office and in my career I avoid my weaknesses e.g. sport.

So before you get this question again, stop and think, what are you REALLY bad at that you NEVER do at work – that is probably your weakness cos not many people work in areas of their altimate weakness.

You may get surprised reactions from this type of answer but it will be the truth.

Information given is highly appreciative by me.
It makes me more aware/prepared for upcoming interviews.
I have learnt a lot from it and will not hesitate in passing on this info to colleagues.
The Question of strengths n weaknesses are mind boggling…It should be stated that whatever you are at is your strength, and whatever you have difficulties in handling is your weakness.(we should try to relate them to job in question)
Thanks for such valuable info!!

what have done in my team that everyone tried doing but couldnt and i eventually did it.

great article thanks very much.

Can you tell me about a time that you were able to solve a tough problem that you encountered with a customer without referring to your direct supervisor or manager?

Describe a situation when you have helped drive a business change as a result of customer research/analysis

Any one knew what type of questions would be asked to assess the candidates’ “Analytical Skills” and “Interactive communication skills”? Does not any one have clues. THanks

well done. great hint for job seekers

my question is ”how you would deal with different situations you are likely to encounter”? position : Senior Admin Assistant in a clinic

very usefull, im alot calmer about my interview now i have a general idea of what i’ll be asked, and obviously how i’ll answer them! thanks alot!!

Describe a time where you were presented with the challenge of working with or gaining information from a person with specific needs?

Very well explained questions, very helpful for job hunters. Great.

I m a fresher n it was being little difficult for me to think how to encounter questions in an interview but to my fortune it is a privilege to get answers so directly that i feel much more confident n optimistic for attending interviews now…i am really thankful to the whole team for giving such drastic answers to frequently asked questions which just seemed simple.This would really resolve one’s issue.
Questions on weaknesses and strength is mind blowing!it has actually helped me convert my weakness into strength..
I hope the team puts forward more answers to such questions which would help the applicants in mere future.

Hi thanks alot for this it will help in my interview in the morning i feel abit calmer now

VERY USEFUL QUESTIONS FOR AN INTERVIEWEE …..

These questions really don’t change a lot from postion to postion or company to company, either. ��

These questions were really very helpful.

I love how u made everythng simple 4 me*smiling*hope I pass all my interviews now

thanks for that some questions . it helps me a lot ��

THIS DOCUMENT HELP ME LOT IN MY ACADEMY WAY OF LIFE

excellent im more confident.i have an interview today hope it comes in handy n finally get my dream job.

The “weaknes question” is the meanest. By now, every interviewer is already prepared for the standard answers like “i am perfectionist”.
Great guide anyway.

Please provide an example of when your determination or competitive spirit has been key to a successful outcome. Personal or professional examples are acceptable.

hi this questions really helps me how to answer the questions politely thanks a lot

Admirable article, I think words are not enough to say… you
Thanks a lot

This site is Awesome! Great to see the comments constructive feedback for the blog! It really works, if your committed. Head down! NAIL IT. Go hard eeryone. Thinking caps on and GO FOR IT. god bless me for my interview tomorrow now that I hae found this FORTUNE. Time to make it happen. THANKS ALOT MUCH APPRECIATIVE ��

Am soo lucky to come accross an info as this. I’m pretty much more confident to take on any interview. Lucky enough am preparing for one soonest. Thanks for enlightening me the more.

Great article.
Very useful.
I´m very thankful with you guys, this is a priceless info.
regards,

Thanks for all the info.

I have a roll play as an insurance agent dealing with the difficult customer for my 2nd interview. Can you give me an idea to prepare for it. This is my second interview with AAA Club as a sales agent. Thanks in advance!

This is an excellent website and tool to use for hiring and for being a candidate.

Thank you a lot,
the Question provided here help me a lot to face my interview.

Thank you sooo much for this article! I have an interview as a customer service representative at HSBC and this helped a lot!

Great article. Gave me insight on why most lose it during interviews

I interviewed somebody once who told me his weakness was his flat feet lol

geat this helps soooo much keep it up

Questions and hints to the anwers are very helpful in relation to an interview next week. I believe it will help others.

For the question what is your strength and weakness? I think the best answer is th same i mean what’s your answer in strength is also your weakness…for me the best answer is FAMILY..

Thanks for this wonderful piece. its really informative.

Should help me a lot, thanks

very great article….!
gonna help me a lot..tnx

Brilliant, This will help me very much in my upcoming interview.

Thanks very much, even the comments taught me more

This is a great and helpful site. Thanks and more grease to your elbow

Excellent post – both for human resource managers and people looking for jobs!

A great foundation to build on or personalised answers.

The questions seem simple but need an ability to think stay focus and go Ace the interview

If you don’t have a degree, place that down as a weakness. Tell the interviewer that you always have to prove that you are capable of doing the work by trying to be the best, just like in your previous positions.

If you have a degree, tell them that employers may take this achievement as a shield and not focus on personal qualities. You have more than this ‘shield’ to offer to the company.

Am so happy to come across your article…..am sure i will be more confident in my upcoming interview.thank you.

I have passed my 2nd interview and ready for my 3rd with a telephone call for the following day, this has been alot of information I was seeking for..thankyou you have been very helpful with your tips..

very important & helpful

As a hiring authority, many of the questions are similar to what I ask. However, memorizing answers will get you nowhere when it comes to integrity, team chemistry and personality. I can see through most of the charades. Most skills can be taught, determination, drive and perseverance cannot. Always be honest and candid. It makes more of a difference than you may think.

Thanks for the information, really useful. Hoping to score that job

It was good. Hope ill get through my interview ��

Im about to undergo interview lst wik,but for some risons it was posponed.den suddenly,i saw this article..then realized dat im not yet ready for dat said interview.god is good.e evrythng hapens for a reason.finally i can say dt im confident enaf to undergo and pass to my interview.thanks a lot

Thanks for the advice and alerts

Great article, with a good insight into interviewers and the types / angle of questions you may get.

There are only so many question you can ask that are general and then specific to the role. You always get the weird questions within some interviewers I think its just to see how the candidate reacts…

[Part of post removed by moderator]

its very help for me of my further interviews. thanks alot

this is a very helpful information to interviewee….. thank you so much…

Very interesting and helpful information. Thanks alot.

really helpful i have only ever had meinual jobs and not had the confidence to go for any jobs I thought too above my station even though I know I could do them so I think this will help hey who knows I could be prime minister in a few years

Very useful. This has really helped me. Thank you

Amazing Help this is!

Haven’t even read through everything as of yet but thought it was worth commending first.

Thanks for this…

I got the job Thanks you

I think to be your self, scrbble nots down on paperwork, no tv no sounds a very quiet room. And say this, what is it i did my previous job each day and how i did it, what steps i took to do my job and when things got to some thing needing a repair or an upset customer its very easy the problem is the brain tends shut off when put on the hot plate, don,t let this cause to be blinded by it, its just how you human body reacts.

But instead see it through, good preperation and practice and practice and practice i usual go 4 – 5 days of just running through my answers, ok yes you are in effect talking to your self, but you practice at chatting talking more and more and more, the more you do the better you will get at it, the answers to these questions have been thought out of the answers an situations you have been in, when you look and think back, to your pre jobs all the answers are there, the phone call you recieved, the upset customer, the actions you took to put it right and reassure them, how delt with a time deadline ie what did you actually do to carry that out, was it in a team, did you have help, was there obstacle what did you do to get round them, how did you plan your repair, what tools did you need, was it scheduled or instant repair, put into words what you actually do in your job, from Am and Pm and will see it was all there for you to answer, just let you brain relax and do some deep thinking.

Just like im thinking right now to type this, that is some i did. Ie i used the internet to get this acroos ie the tool i used and used typing to convey the idea across to like minded people in this area of employment working with people ie in this comment page which is in affect the group of members in coming together to solve problem, ie your already actually answering what you know will be asked. Remember be strong smile have some fun with it, practice at controlling your breathing and do it each day, remember practice practice, wright it down, go online, research, and no matter how you feel spend several hours each before the big day, the more armed you are the better you will feel on the day, also you control your nerves not the other way round, breath relax, show them you know how to solve situations as that is one of the things they are observing, they are not there to embarres you, they are just trying to build up a picture, just be your self.

remember practice practice pracice, see the situation in your minds eye, open up your thoughts thats teh best way to approach it and trust your self more.

hope this helps guys.

go for it, be strong.

As a professional trainer of english job interviews and being an ex-head hunter I come across lots of advice. This article is one of the better ones and I really enjoyed reading it ad will be adopting some of your interview answers in my training material. Thanks and keep up the good work.

QUESTIONS ARE A LITTLE BIT HARD BUT THROUGH THIS YOU CAN HAVE AN IDEA ON HOW YOU HANDLED EVERYTHING DURING THE INTERVIEW.

Going to use these today �� very good questions to ask.

Thanks for this wonderful piece. its really informative.

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