Practical Application: Assessing Candidates' Customer Service Skills

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

This practical application lesson includes assessment questions you can use to determine if a potential customer service candidate has the requisite skills to be successful on the job.

Customer Service Skills

Businesses that deal directly with consumers need employees with good customer service skills. For example, people who work at restaurants and coffee shops need good customer service skills in order to make customers happy and to create relationships with customers that encourage them to come back again and again. This is why many large companies have special customer service teams devoted to handling questions and concerns from customers.

Companies with exceptional customer service teams are usually well known by customers. And companies with sub-par customer service teams are also known. Customers will typically recommend companies with good customer service while encouraging their friends and family to avoid companies with bad customer service.

Managers and HR professionals, therefore, find it important to assess a potential candidate's customer service skills before giving a candidate a job offer.

Assessment Questions

Use the following questions to assess the customer service skills of a potential candidate. The questions are based on the lesson Essential Skills for Customer Service Personnel.


  • Is the candidate showing thoughtful attention to what I am saying?
  • Is the candidate giving thoughtful replies that show he or she is paying attention?
  • Is the candidate able to summarize what we discussed?

A person may listen but not pay attention, so listening skills involve more than simply listening. Effective listening skills involve thoughtful attention and replying in kind to what is being talked about. A candidate with good customer service skills is able to listen with thoughtful attention. For example, an interviewer might present an imaginary scenario to a candidate. If the candidate has listened well, then he or she will be able to give a thoughtful reply that addresses the important parts of the scenario.

Communicating Information

  • Is the candidate speaking clearly?
  • Is the applicant speaking concisely?
  • Is what the applicant saying accurate?

When customers ask a question, they expect an answer that will help them. The answer needs to be clear, straightforward, and correct. Effective communication eliminates confusion and allows customers to act on the information they are given. For example, if a customer service candidate is asked to summarize the mission of the company to which he or she is applying, the candidate should be able to do so in a way that is succinct and makes sense. Good communication skills during an interview translate to good communication skills in the workplace.

Understanding People

  • Is the candidate considerate of other people?
  • Does the candidate understand that how he or she acts impacts others?
  • Does the candidate display the ability to interpret a person's reactions in a particular situation?
  • Is the candidate able to identify others' needs well and respond accordingly?

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