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Customer Service Attitude and Personality Job Interview Skills

In my last post I explained how the ‘soft skills’ become the most important factors in the second job interview.  I reviewed two of the four that consider most important: initiative and work ethic.  This time I’ll talk about the other two: customer service attitude and personality.

Sometimes people are surprised when I say that, as a hiring manager, I consider a customer service attitude to be critical during the second interview.  After all, many jobs are not ‘customer service’ jobs and therefore displaying a customer service attitude should be pretty low on the list of desirable traits, right?

Wrong!

Every job has customers.  Your boss is your customer, your co-workers are your customers, people in other parts of the company whose work is somehow affected by your job are your customers.  Even though you may not be in a job formally designated as a customer service job, it’s still critically important that you give excellent service to these other customers.  Why?  Because reputations are made – or broken – in large part by the customer service attitude you display.

When you provide good customer service, you make other’s jobs easier; you help make them successful and in turn help your company to be successful.  Isn’t that the type of employee you’d want to hire if you were the boss?  Exactly.  That’s why you must convince the interview panel that you have a great customer service attitude and then back it up with specific examples from prior jobs.  I estimate that only about 10% of the people I see in second interviews do this and these are the people who get the final interviews and/or the job offer.

Finally, there is the admittedly hard-to-quantify soft skill of ‘personality’.  By personality, I don’t mean telling jokes or glad-handing the interview panel.  Specifically, I mean coming across as sincere, inquisitive and, most of all, enthusiastic.  I’ve had way too many interviews, even second interviews, where the applicant answers the questions in a textbook-like manner, never smiling, and seemingly concentrating as coming across in a way they consider to be ‘professional’.

Carried to an extreme, this can make you come across as boring.  And boring candidates are seldom remembered as favorably as candidates that show enthusiasm and some genuine personality.  So remember: smile, concentrate on making your answers sound enthusiastic, and give an overall impression that you like the job for which you’re interviewing and you sincerely believe you are a good match (of course, all along you’ll have used specific examples of accomplishments that support this, right?).

Here’s one final tip on how to give yourself just a bit more edge over the competition in a second interview: manage your time very precisely.  If you aren’t told up front, ask how much time is allocated for the interview.  Then, take your watch off (both men and women should wear a watch to every interview) and place it in front of you.  Explain briefly that you’re doing that to be certain you stay within the allotted time.  Very – and I mean very – few candidates do this, yet it’s one of the most impressive things you can do.  It shows you have consideration for their time and are a true professional.  Trust me on this one – it will make a favorable impact on almost any hiring manager.

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