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Classic Interview Questions and Answers

What is your customer service philosophy?

Alternative and related questions:

Can you tell me about a difficult client/customer you’ve had and how you handled them?
Can you give me an example of an occasion when you exceeded a client’s/customer’s expectations?

The meaning behind the question:

Most organisations provide a product or service to a customer. Some definitions of ‘customer’ are obvious: Marks & Spencer sells sandwiches to the public. Some are less obvious: The Job Centre helps the unemployed return to work.

Customer service skills are consequently of importance in many different walks of life – and this question is designed to probe your customer service skills. It is more far-reaching than that, though, because many of the same skills which will enable an individual to work well with customers will also help them to work well with their colleagues.

Your answer:

However the interviewer phrases their question, the main thrust of your answer should be to outline your customer service skills.

If you can illustrate your answer with an example of when you have delivered outstanding customer service then so much the better. Outstanding customer service could include resolving a difficult client’s complaint or it could be a case of your having exceeded a customer’s expectations. Whatever example you select, make sure it is one which shows you in a positive light, i.e. if you want to talk about a dissatisfied client then it had better not be your actions which caused their dissatisfaction!


I believe the customer is central to everything we do. Profits are certainly our ultimate goal but, without customer satisfaction, profits will suffer. I consequently attach a lot of importance to customer service. A business is nothing without its customers and it’s vital to recognise this. I believe I have strong customer service skills – and working with the public is certainly something I enjoy. It’s not always easy of course. Recently, I had to deal with a particularly difficult client who was – fairly unreasonably, it has to be said – very dissatisfied with the solution our sales team had sold them. Rather than let the complaint escalate, I took the time to calmly and patiently listen to the customer and to demonstrate that I understood and empathised with their concerns. This alone took a lot of the wind out of their sails. I went on to give them my viewpoint, addressing their concerns one by one and explaining why I felt the solution they had been sold was the best one for them. It turned out that they had principally misunderstood what was being offered and, once realisation set in, they were actually quite apologetic!

The Interview Question & Answer Book

The Interview Question and Answer Book

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More classic interview questions and answers


How would you describe yourself? / How would your boss/colleagues/team/family/friends describe you?

In what ways are you a team player?

Do you work well on your own initiative?

What techniques do you use to get things done?

What motivates you?

Are you proactive?

Are you creative?

Are you a risk-taker?

How do you handle pressure and stress?

Can you tell me about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal?

What's the worst mistake you've made at work and how did you deal with it?

How would you handle the following situation?

Can you tell me about a major project you have successfully completed?

Can you tell me about a major problem at work that you've had to deal with?

We have a problem with x. How would you resolve that?

What do you do when you disagree with your line manager?

How would you describe yourself as a manager?

Can you give me an example of when you have successfully coached a member of your team?

What is your customer service philosophy?

How did you get your last job?

What does your current job involve on a day-to-day basis?

What contribution do you make to the department in which you work?

What changes have you made to your current job role since you started?

What have you learned in your last job?

Can you tell me about your last appraisal?

How would you describe your current boss?

Why did you leave that job?

Which of your jobs was the best?

Why is there a gap in your resume/CV?

What do you know about us as an organisation?

What do you know about our products/services?

What do you think are our organisation's greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

What do you know about the vacancy for which you are applying?

How do your skills and experience match the job description/person specification?

What appeals to you most about this vacancy?

Why have you chosen this line of work?

Are there any other organisations to which you are applying?

How does this job compare to others for which you are applying?

Can you describe your ideal employer to me?

What sort of person would you most like to work for?

In what ways is your degree relevant to the work you are now doing?

What have you learned and how have you developed over the last year/five years?

What sports are you/have you been involved in?

Do you know what the current headline news is?

How quickly can you adapt to a new work environment?

Would it be a problem if we asked you to work overtime/evenings/weekends?

What is your current salary package?

What salary package are you expecting for this role?

When would you be available to start?

Do you mind if we contact your current employer for a reference?