Interviewing for Customer Experience Rock Stars
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Interviewing for Customer Experience Rock Stars

Interviewing for Customer Experience Rock Stars

You get what you pay for. Hiring great people is an investment. Every employee is like a stock in your investment portfolio. The rock star rule is that fewer employees are paid more, which equals a lower total labor cost. It has been said that one high performer delivers more than 10 average employees in a creative environment. Not to mention, average employees bring down high performers. Performance is contagious.

Hiring objectives

Hiring aims not simply to fill job openings with warm bodies. It doesn't matter if you are a small, medium, or large organization; or if you are the director of human resources, head of recruitment, or a department leader; or if you are hiring seasoned people with a certain level of expertise or less experienced people you will have to train. Regardless of all these factors, your number one job is to find a candidate who fits your culture and will enhance it.

A great leader and a great organization understand that just as much as the potential employee needs to be the right fit for their company and team, the company needs to be the right fit for the potential employee. If not, within the next six months, both the company and the person hired are likely to be back at the drawing board with both parties looking for a new situation.

Three objectives of an interview

  1. Scare away the wrong candidates
  2. Find out who are the potential rock stars 
  3. Make the potential rock stars want to work for your company

Hire for the heart, train for the part

Your goal is to find candidates who are happy, kind, caring, empathetic, friendly, positive, optimistic, grateful, and genuinely like others.

The following is an abbreviated list of optional interview questions from the Interview Question Guide to Gauge Service Aptitude that focus on whether the candidates have the potential to provide excellent customer experience skills, primarily soft skills. These questions should be combined with other interview questions not listed here that assess skills, including technical knowledge, work ethic, cultural fit, etc. We also do not recommend using all these questions. Pick the ones that best fit your company's customer service culture.

These questions are broken into categories:

  1. The "Five Es"
  2. Happy/optimistic
  3. Genuinely likes others
  4. Curiosity
  5. Kind and caring
  6. Desire to be great at customer service
  7. Empathy

The "Five E's"

If you are seeking people who have the potential to be customer-centric team members, evaluating their "Five Es" might be your most powerful tool. Many of our consulting clients have incorporated these into their interview processes, literally counting the times a candidate demonstrates each one.

Throughout the interview, we measure how often the following occurs:

___ Eye contact is made

___ Ear-to-ear smiles take place

___ Enthusiasm is displayed

___ Engagement with the interviewer occurs naturally

___ Educated answers are given to interview questions


  1. How are you doing today? (How happy are they? Looking for a better answer than "fine" or "okay.")
  2. What is something you love to do when you are not working? (Do they show enthusiasm when they talk about what they love?)

Genuinely like others

  1. Think about some of your favorite people you have ever met, such as friends, family, colleagues, etc. What characteristics did they possess that made you like them so much?
  2. Would you rather work alone or collaborate with a team?
  3. How demanding do you think customers are today?


  1. How would you get someone to like you during a conversation? (The best answer: "Ask them questions to learn more about them.")
  2. What would you like to ask me (the interviewer)? (Are they curious? Do they want to learn about the interviewer, company, etc? Besides the next steps in the interview process.)
  3. How do you handle situations where you disagree with someone's viewpoint? Provide a specific example. (Assesses the ability to maintain empathy toward others' viewpoints, even in disagreement, and seek mutual understanding or compromise."

Kind and caring

  1. When did you last make someone's day, and how did you do it? (Follow-up question: How did it make you feel?)
  2. After coming in contact with you, how do you want customers to feel emotionally?

Desire to be great at customer service

  1. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), how would you rate yourself for delivering customer experience and why?
  2. Do you feel you need training on customer experience? (It always can get better. Are they open to a company that constantly trains on CX?)
  3. What does customer experience mean to you?


  1. Let's watch a video ("Day in the Life of a Customer"). (Follow-up question: Tell me what you think. Did it move them, inspire them, or were they uninspired?)
  2. Can you tell me a time when you showed empathy for a customer?

Please note that the interview questions provided herein are designed to assist with evaluating candidates' qualifications, skills, and experience in a manner consistent with fair hiring practices and compliant with federal, state, and local employment laws. This disclaimer is provided for guidance and does not constitute legal advice. Interviewers should consult with their human resources department or legal counsel if in doubt about the appropriateness of an interview question or topic.

While most employee candidates have the potential to provide excellent customer service, not all do. These sample questions can help you identify candidates who can achieve a high service aptitude with additional customer experience training.

John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or

Published: June 18th, 2024

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