Screening Candidates for Customer Service Roles

November 20, 2017

Screening Candidates for Customer Service Roles

As customer service departments grow, it’s important for healthcare organizations to hire knowledgeable candidates who can provide top quality customer service. Customer service employees need both hard and soft skills to be exceptional in their roles.

But how do you make sure they have those skills? When it comes to evaluating customer service abilities, remember that it’s more about quality than quantity. For example, a candidate may have several previous jobs, but no experience working directly with people.  On the other hand, a candidate may have multiple years of customer service experience that would be invaluable and transferable to any practice, but may not have specifically worked in a medical office before. Of the two candidates, the latter is likely to be a better fit due to their familiarity with providing quality customer service.

By implementing some standard questions and criteria, you can find candidates capable of meeting the demands of your patients and fulfilling customer service needs.

Here are three key questions to ask customer service candidates throughout the interview process

1. “Why are you interested in this job?”

Passion in employees fuels confidence, creates excitement, and is contagious. It’s important to gauge candidates’ interest in the job to get an idea of how engaged they will be in a fast-paced customer service role. Here are some questions that may help you get a sense of whether a candidate will be able to positively contribute to your organization’s culture:

  • What first drew you to the customer service field?
  • What is your approach to customer service?
  • Do you enjoy solving others’ problems?
  • What are your long-term goals for your career?
  • What type of work environment do you enjoy most?

A candidate’s answers to these questions can illustrate their excitement and expertise, and most importantly, if they are a good fit for your culture.  Paying attention to a candidate’s verbal and non-verbal behavior will also be critical. For example, is the candidate’s tone engaging? Do they appear to be enthusiastic about the opportunity, or does it feel like they’re just going through the motions?

The more excited a candidate is to discuss a customer service opportunity, the more likely it is that he or she will excel within the position and be able to grow within your organization.

2. “What’s your experience with customer service technology?”

Patients now have more tools to solve basic customer service issues on their own, but that doesn’t mean your employees won’t hear from them. In fact, customer service employees are often faced with even more challenging technological problems. Your patients expect your customer service representatives to be able to help them with these complex problems. They also expect a polite and professional attitude, and they have more avenues than ever to air a bad customer experience.

To set your team up for success, ask candidates what specific training and experience they have with different types of technology. Many career training programs teach students to work with common healthcare technology, so don’t discount the value of the candidate’s education. You can also ask candidates how they have adapted to new systems after switching jobs, which can help you gauge their ability to learn quickly on the job.  A knowledgeable candidate will likely have the confidence to handle technology challenges with customers.

3. “How do you handle your emotions? What strategies do you use to manage conflicts with others?”

Any customer service role involves dealing heavily with people – and their emotions. That’s why it’s so important to hire candidates with high emotional intelligence. In fact, according to the , emotional intelligence will be considered one of the 10 job skills in 2020.

Hiring managers often associate emotionally intelligent employees with being good listeners, working well on teams, and being empathetic to the needs of others. These characteristics are integral to a successful customer service team.  When asking candidates how they handle their emotions, you’ll want to gauge their tolerance level for others and ask them for specific examples of times where they’ve had to manage conflicts on the job. The more empathy demonstrated by a candidate, the more likely he or she will be able to connect with others and respond well to customers’ concerns.

Finding the best candidates for customer service roles requires more than the skills candidates can show on paper. As the face of your organization, customer service representatives handle the most important part of your business—relationships with your patients. Because of this, it’s important to invest time and energy to build a team of employees who can deliver superior customer service and meet the growing demands of your organization. Using these questions, you can begin to understand your candidates’ ability to be good customer services representatives.


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About the Author

Tommy Moon

Tommy Moon is a staffing professional with more than eleven years of experience in helping candidates find the right positions for them. He is familiar with all aspects of the hiring cycle, and currently works as the Senior Director of Career Services at Ultimate Medical Academy. In this role, he oversees a team of advisors who assist UMA graduates as they begin healthcare careers.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ultimate Medical Academy.

The UMA Blog covers information and advice for employers and workers at the intersection of healthcare, education and employment. Our contributors are intimately familiar with a wide range of subjects covering professional development, career advancement, workplace politics, healthcare industry specific topics, personal finance, education and so much more. Learn what you need to get ahead and stay ahead.

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