1 Interview Question you must ask Frontline Candidates


There are many things to consider when adding to you front-line team; relevant experience and qualifications, how and if they will 'click' with your team and your customers, presentation standards, security and log-in codes, privacy and confidentially regulations, position descriptions, pay rates, toilet paper protocols and the list goes on and on and on.

Just the thought of what it takes to employ and induct staff can make some of us want to curl up into a tiny little ball and roll away.

A resume will provide an insight into a candidate’s hard skills (technical skills), but a resume doesn’t confirm how that individual will cope under pressure; the pressure of peak periods and the pressure of dealing with difficult customers. An important part of working on the front-line is having the skills to handle pressure situations professionally.

To help you gain a deeper insight into the service skills and attitude of candidate/s, add this 1 question into the interview process;

"Explain a time when you have had to deal with an upset/angry or complaining customer and what you did during and after the interaction."

How they respond to this question will give you a great insight into 3 things;

1.      Their ability to self-regulate. Assess their response to confirm if they have the skills to remain calm and help an upset customer professionally. Do they see the event as an opportunity to help or do they take it personally? Do they know that how they react in the first instance can make the situation better or worse?

2.      Their big picture skills. Do they consider the effect the interaction will have on other customers who are within eye or ear shot? Do they record the interaction so the business can identify improvement opportunities? Do they seek help from co-workers or try to go it alone? Do they follow complaint handling policies and procedures?

3.      Their level of self-awareness. Difficult customer interactions can leave employees feeling annoyed/angry or upset. How do they process those emotions? Do they seek to de-brief privately and professionally? Did the review the interaction to see how they could have done more, better, different or less? Did they share their insights with the team as a learning opportunity for all?

The above 3 insights are related to Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Front-line employees with high levels of EQ consider difficult customer interactions as learning opportunities; they learn about themselves and how they feel and act under pressure. They learn about the customer; their expectations and preferred communication style.

Employees with high EQ embrace complaints.They know that unhappy customers treated professionally, happily join the marketing team of the business and they do it for FREE; free positive word of mouth and fingers to keyboard marketing. 

If you would like your team to understand more about EQ, Chapter E in my book "The A – Z of Service Excellence - The essential guide to becoming a Customer Service Professional",  covers it in depth. Use my book as a resource in your Induction pack and you will be confirming to new recruits that customer service skills are not only vital, they are valued.

By Cate Schreck - Service Excellence Coach