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An Interview for Recent College Graduates

Customer Service Representative








Helen has just graduated from college. She is scheduled for an interview for an entry level position as Customer Service Representative for the City Bank. Helen got this interview from her school employment assistance office. For the interview, Helen is given a set of instructions along with questions she will be asked in the interview.

You will get the general questions below, and, most likely, questions about your relations with your superiors (instructors) and classmates, your learning abilities or aptitudes. See Recommendations below after you go over the questions and answers.

Question: Tell us about yourself.

Focus on the aspects of your experience that apply to this position, such as your educational and work background.

Answer: I graduated from Boston University this summer with a major in Business Administration. I was a top student in my major study in college as I expected of myself to be. In addition, I was involved in extra curricula activities: I was captain of the volleyball team; I led competitions in English proficiency. These extra curricula activities help me develop interpersonal skills. I learned how to interact with my teachers and get along with class and schoolmates. I also learned how to manage stress and work effectively under stress. In addition, for the last six months before I graduated, I was assigned to an internship with Merill Lynch, a New York investment company. In this internship, I was trained for customer service representative for the front desk. Would you like me to elaborate on this position?

Question: Yes, please. In this position what duties did you carry out?

Answer: I learned how to listen effectively, maintain a professional demeanor and composure. As for specific skills, I learned to answer the questions in specific ways, just to the point. For example, when a customer asked for interest rates on long term government bonds, I learned that I would have to provide the specific answer, the interest rates first and then listen to the customer. If the customer asked other questions, then I would again answer the question. This way I would be more efficient in satisfying the customer as well as managing my time well.

Question: Give me some examples for skills you used in dealing with different types of customers.

Answer: Actually, to begin with my college years I had developed a sense of calm with difficult people and for difficult situations. I carried out these skills to my internship where I solidified these people skills. For example, in dealing with customers over the phone. I learned how important it is to listen well, make the customer see I understand his/her point.

Question: How did you handle angry customers? Assume a customer is yelling at you. How would you deal with this customer?

I had heard so much about "angry customers" before I took the internship position. I read about case studies that showed effective strategies in dealing with angry customers. Most effective strategies always entailed patience, giving the most appropriate help to the customer's inquiry, being polite yet firm. if I did my best, then I would take to the next step, if I was no longer able to deal with the angry customer, then I would report it to my supervisor immediately. Or, I would remind the customer we would contact the customer shortly with an answer to his/her question.

Question: Assume the following: A customer calls and tells you he needs extra time to make his/her payment. Assuming you have the authority to make a decision, what information would you need before making the decision for this request?

Answer: I would consider first the company policy for delinquent customers: delinquent for 30-days, 60-days and 90-days. I would politely remind the customer of these three delinquency terms. Then, I would tell the customer the policy that best fits his/her credit history. provide late payment interest rates for each delinquency terms.

Question: Dealing with a high volume of customers is a requirement of this job. Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure. How were you able to perform successfully in this stressful situation?

Answer: In my internship position, I was expected to type when taking calls, Sometimes I had to answer heavy volume calls while I was typing. I followed my supervisor's instructions as well as common sense. I answered calls after three rings; I listened to the customer briefly and then reminded the customers to hold on. Or, I would turn on the tape response to customers' calls, and at the switch board I would pick the calls in the order they were received. Then, I would give an appropriate answer to the customer. Because I was trained on most frequently-asked questions, mostly I were effective to handle heavy volume telephone calls.. After I were done with the customer, I would resume typing.

Question: Is customer always right? Why?

Answer: Customer may not be right all the time but I must put my best face to the customer's demands. Because, first I understand customers are needed for business. Second, I am dealing with human beings and cultivate a professional demeanor, patience, and necessary skills serve best to the customer. As long as I serve the customer with a professional demeanor, the customer will not be unmanageable generally speaking. If I confront a difficult customer, I put at work the grand rules I have learned: don't argue with the customers; do your best, be calm and professional.

Question: How many languages do you speak and/or write? Describe your fluency level.

For this question, most importantly you must speak fluent English if you are to work with English speaking customers. Improve your English by working at it with self-discipline everyday, by using utilizing the Internet resources, and companies who offer free help certain customers (such as students). We do have a program to help high-school, college students and recent college graduate learn American English. In order to qualify for our program, please see the information

Answer: I speak Urdu, Russian or Hindu as my first language, and English as a second language. Please note whatever language you speak you will be told the level proficiency required for the position.

Question: Why should we hire you?

They usually ask this question at the end: "Tell us why should we hire you if we have other applicants as good as you are?" This means: in order to choose you over other applicants, you should come up with a skill or trait that is rare. Think about your good traits and talk about them. For example:

You are a problem solver, you can handle stress, you listen well, you work well under stress. You are a leader to inspire others to do their best; you are a team worker, you know how to work with others. You must have one or two of these qualities that may clearly distinguish you from other applicants, because many applicants will probably have the same type of skills, such as they may all meet the requirements for education required for the job. They may have more or less the same kind of work experience this job requires. But, what makes you an outstanding applicant from others is a unique quality you can offer. So, for example, not every body will have leadership qualities; Not everybody has an interesting personality. Many of us may be good workers but not leaders, have good personalities, but just average. An applicant who can offer the most will be hired. If you have a unique quality, talk about it.


Focus on the aspects of your experience that apply to this position. For this position you need to have excellent people skills, telephone skills, listening and speaking skills. In addition, specific technical skills for the industry the Customer Service Representative position entails. Learn about the skills needed for the position and stake out the relevant skills you have. Write down your answers. Mock an interview with someone to answer the interview questions.

You definitely want to emphasize good customer service skills and problem solving. Think of an example or two for each, for example, staying calm under stress. Then, put down on your resume all relevant skills for the Customer Service Representative position. Keep in mind, if the company invites you for an interview, they must have liked your skills in your resume, and focus on those skills in your resume.

Customer Service Representative requirements will vary depending on the company, product and scope of the position. However, common requirements include:

Example questions:


  1. Be groomed.

  2. Wear proper attire: one piece-suit jacket and pants or skirt. Do not wear excessive makeup and jewelry.

  3. Be positive.

  4. Be courteous and pleasant.

  5. Listen well.

  6. Speak clearly.

  7. Have eye-contact.

  8. Do not over-produce yourself.

  9. Have a copy of your resume typed and properly formatted. Include references in case the company wants to check up your background.

  10. If you are relaxed, you will do well. So practice relaxation before the interview, learn how to maintain your calm in a stressful situation. Meditate regularly before the interview.




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