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Strategic interview questions to ask candidates – Customer Success

It all begins with the interview. Many people struggle with the interview process, even on both sides of the table (or screen).

Having some strategic interview questions can help guide you in making the right choice. A candidate’s response can tell you many things about them so having the right questions can reveal more about a person and ultimately provides you with the right match.

As the focus shifts from a complete skills match, to a more balanced approach with skills plus values being preferable; having the right questions in your back pocket will make this happen.

Interview questions – more than qualifications.

You have the candidate’s CV, so it’s almost unnecessary to ask them questions about their qualifications. Use the interview opportunity to ask specific questions which can highlight the soft skills that are needed in a Customer Success Manager role.

Two of the soft skills a CSM needs are: Communication and Empathy. Ask Questions which will allow the candidate to showcase these qualities.

Top 5 questions to showcase empathy and communication skills:

Tell me about a difficult situation you’ve had to handle and how you solved the problem.  

This is an open ended question and really allows the candidate to explain problems they have faced and how they solved them. This showcases their communication skills as well as problem solving.

You have to deliver some bad news to a client about their account, how would you handle this? 

The perfect way to see how empathetic a candidate is, how someone handles delivering bad news highlights their ability to place themselves in the client’s shoes. If the candidate goes into more detail and explains how they would help move beyond the bad news, you know you have someone who can communicate to a high level.

Tell me about [insert product feature here].

Having the candidate explain a product to you can show you how they would break down a product or service to a client. This is extremely important when onboarding new clients and enables the candidate to show you how they explain products and services in real terms.

How can you de-escalate an upset client?

A perfect way to see how empathetic the candidate is. Using empathy in situations where a client is unhappy has a higher chance of solving the problem as well as retaining them.

How do you approach upselling / cross-selling to a client?

This question allows you to see how a candidate would approach an aspect of their role. No one likes to be sold to, so upselling / cross-selling can be daunting. Finding that sweet spot which feels natural is a skill, this also demonstrates how effectively the candidate communicates as they can steer the conversation towards their goal of upselling.

Customer Success; role specific questions:

It is always good to ask candidates questions which show you how they would handle day to day responsibilities.

What is your strategy to prevent customer churn?

This gives them the opportunity to share their processes on how to prevent customer churn. No one wants to lose clients, and having a CSM who has a process which can help prevent this from happening is only going to be beneficial.

How would you convert zombie customers into company advocates?

While a zombie customer is not as bad as losing a client, they still aren’t the most beneficial. As a CSM they should be able to convert customers into company advocates, meaning your product or service is something they couldn’t live without. Finding out how a candidate would do this can showcase their Customer Success skills.

How would you improve or adjust your success strategy for various products/services?

This gives the candidate the opportunity to explain how they would continue to improve the client’s experience. Depending on the type of business you own, how you improve or adjust your services can vary. For ongoing services, particularly SaaS companies, the success strategy would be different for an individual product/system.

Finding the right candidate takes time, however, with the right recruitment agent at your side you are sure to find the perfect match. At ABR we focus on not only matching the skills to your requirements but also matching the person. Having the right people in the right roles ultimately benefits the business in the long run. Contact our expert recruiters now to see how we can help you find your next customer success professional.