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Getting ready
for the interview

Interviewing can be an incredibly nerve-wracking, depending on what the interview process looks like, how comfortable you are talking about yourself, and what kinds of situations the interviewers put you in. Because of that, it’s obviously the thing that many people worry about most — the resume and application portion are out of your hands, obviously.

So, what are some great ways to prepsare yourself for interviewing? Here are some questions that an interviewer might ask, and the best way to go about answering them.

— Why do you enjoy or care about customer support?

When someone asks you this, they are normally looking for you to affirm that you would like to keep a job in customer support for a while and that you’re interested in having support become your career. Many people look at support as a jumping off point to other roles, which can be a bummer for companies that hire them specifically for support. Trello and Appcues, for example, both require a minimum two-year commitment to working on the support team while at the company, if brought in for a support role.

So, when asked this, speak to the things that you find value in or that attracted you to the role in the first place. Some good things might be:

  • You enjoy talking to lots of different people every day.
  • You love seeing the “Ah ha!” moment when a customer understands a concept that they were struggling with.
  • Solving problems is fun for you, and something that you want to do a lot of during your work.
  • Helping people brings you a lot of joy.
  • You rise to the challenge of assisting and de-escalating an aggravated customer.

Obviously, be honest to your own truth and why you enjoy support or want to work in support. It’s always better to be honest and speak candidly than to take someone else’s words. But, those are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

— Tell me about an experience with a customer that left you feeling amazing afterward?

A lot of people ask this to see where your focus is in a situation and why you feel amazing. For example, if your response involves winning a huge sale for your company, that might mean you’re actually a better fit for Sales than for Support. If your focus is on helping a customer by going above and beyond, but the last thing you mention is that you got a promotion or bonus because of it that speaks a bit to some self-centeredness. Do you have an experience where you helped a customer by going above and beyond for no reason other than it seemed and felt like the right thing to do? Awesome. Come to the interview with a story like that.

— Tell me about a time you’ve had to work with another team. What were you trying to accomplish and what did it look like?

The main thing that the interviewer is testing for here is what your inter-team communication skills look like. Support has to work with most other teams within a company, whether it be for helping field responses to marketing campaigns, provide bug reports to engineering, or work with product to steer the future of the product. So, anyone who is in the role of support will need to be able to work well with teams that have team members with different styles of communication.

Do you have a story of working with the marketing team to help them prepare marketing copy for a new release that was both compelling data-wise, but made sense in terms of the actual features the new release would bring? If so, those are the ones that you should bring to the table when being asked this question. Speak about overcoming hurdles between communication styles, what you did to be receptive, and how successful the overall outcome was. The more support-centric the issue that you worked together to solve, the better.

— What happens if you can’t help a customer?

Honesty is the best policy here. Most interviewers want to hear an answer that is honest and filled with customer focus. So, for example, say you are currently working for a SaaS company. Do you have a story about when a customer reached out about a feature request that you knew the company wasn’t ever going to release into the product? If you helped guide the customer by being open and honest with them about that not being on the roadmap, and then showed them a product that would be a better fit, you should share that story. If you don’t have anything like that, you should speak to the importance of honesty and setting the right expectations for your customers and you’ll be good to go.

— What was the last thing you taught yourself? What was your motivation?

This is a test of curiosity and if you are a self-starter when it comes to learning. It also serves to help the interview learn a little bit about your technical background. For example: did you teach yourself HTML and CSS when you were in middle school using MySpace? That’s the kind of learning you should share. Anything that you learn for a job, while nice, doesn’t show the interviewer that you are a self-starter, or that you have self-driven interest or curiosity about technology.

Something else that you could share is something regarding deep customer focus. For example, if you were a barista you should share something like “Well, I learned how to make Grumpy Cat faces out of cappuccino foam”. And when the interviewer asks why you would do that, you can say “I knew that some of our customers first thing in the morning would think it was funny if they took off their lid to put sugar in their drink, and there was a grumpy cat face looking back up at them”. This shows the interviewer that you are willing to go above and beyond for the experience of the customer.

If you can’t think of anything like that in your experience, try to focus on something that you’ve taught yourself recently that applies to the role. If you taught yourself anything and are able to give interesting examples of how you did it, you should be good to go.

— If you were given a puzzle (set of legos, or anything else like that), how would you go about putting it together?

This is, obviously, a question about problem-solving. The interviewer is listening to you to see how you go about thinking about something you need to solve (or put back together), and then how you actually take action to make it happen. For example, if you say that you separate out the legos and spread them out across the floor so you can see all of them, the interviewer might think that that means you are more a big-picture thinker that needs to have the lay of the land. If you say that you would follow every instruction in order to avoid messing up the final product, that might signal to the interviewer that you’re a bit of a perfectionist or afraid of failure.

Some companies might also test you in action. For example, at Chatra, we’ll give our customer champion candidates a potential scenario they might run into and watch how they respond to it. Here are some examples of questions we ask:

  1. A customer invites you to a movie date in the chat. How do you react?
  2. A potential customer is thinking about switching to Chatra from a competitor and asks about a certain feature that we don’t have yet, but the competitor does. How do you reply?
  3. You start your working day and see 30+ messages from frustrated and angry customers who can’t access their accounts. What steps do you take?

How would you react in these situations? Here are the reactions we expect from our candidates:

  1. You need to politely refuse their invitation and ask them if they have any questions related to the product or service.
  2. If this feature is going to be released in the future, ask the customer to leave their email address (if they haven’t already) and promise to notify them once you have this feature available. Also there might be a workaround the customer doesn’t know about, so tell them about it, if possible.
  3. Since many customers have the same problem, something is obviously broken. You’ll need to check the situation with the engineering team, and then reply to the customers as quickly as possible. Briefly explain the situation, apologize for the trouble, and assure them that you are already working to fix it. Send another message once everything is back to normal and confirm the issue has been resolved on their side.

Learn more about Chatra and our team of customer champions.

Either way, no matter what you say, think about the image that you’d like to convey to your interviewer and focus on those aspects as you’re describing the steps that you would take. Remember: even if a question seems silly or makes no sense, there’s probably a reason why the person asking it is asking.