Working at a help desk, whether tech support like IT, or a standby customer service assistant at a call center or retail position, is a job that requires strong communication skills, a healthy dose of good manners, and the ability to solve a diverse range of issues creatively and efficiently. When interviewing for a help desk position, employers want to know, above all else, that you not only have these skills, but that you know why they’re necessary and important for the job.
In this guide, we’ll go over major help desk interview questions you can expect to hear when pursuing a career in customer service. While we can’t answer each and every question for you, since many of them are highly personal and ask you to bring in your own experiences and morals into account, we will advise you on ways to answer them appropriately. Let this overview serve as a model for your own unique responses, and good luck with your interview!
Check out this customer service training course for some additional insight.
Help Desk Job Skill Set
Before we even begin to review the interview questions, you should know the skill set that employers looking to fill help desk positions are on the hunt for. These include:
- good verbal and written communication skills
- positive communication habits (“people” skills, listening skills, etc.)
- eagerness to help others
- quick, out of the box critical thinking skills
- good with phones and computers
- ability to multitask
Consider researching the fundamentals of each before reviewing for an interview. It’s good to know how to structure your answers in a help desk interview, but not if you don’t understand the real, essential significance of these skills. You can check out this guide for an overview of good communications skills and how to harbor your own, or read up on the elements of good communication in this blog post. Practice these listening skills exercises to strengthen the way you communicate with others, and develop some critical thinking skills in this course. Remember – good customer service is about efficiently solving the customer’s issues and concerns, all the while being polite and open to feedback!
Help Desk Interview Questions
On to the interview questions! Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common help desk interview questions that potential employers love to throw at you. Prepare to answer them with confidence, and a personal flair. Remember – experience, skill, and personality are key.
- What is good customer service?
This oft-dreaded question actually isn’t that difficult to answer, despite how open-ended it leaves itself. If you’re pursuing a job in customer service, you need to know how to answer this with confidence and sincerity, even if customer service isn’t a career you love fundamentally and want to stick with for the rest of your life.
If it helps, think back on the last time you experienced amazing customer service. What did the person do that stood out to you? Now, channel that positive experience into a general principle. What do you hope to achieve with this job? Do you aspire to be as genuinely helpful and polite as the good customer service people you’ve dealt with in the past?
Example Answer: Good customer service means surpassing the customer’s expectations, going out of your way to address their concerns and solve their issue with efficiency and a genuine desire to help. It means being available for the customer through any hardship, and making the extra effort to get them the help they need, even if you aren’t the particular person fit for solving their problem. It means being honest with the customer, being clear and transparent about policy and other things that concern then, and making sure their experience was positive enough to guarantee they return, happy and fulfilled.
- How do you handle an angry customer?
If you’re working at a help desk, chances are you’re going to be dealing with people who need help. If people need help, chances are they’re confused, frustrated, upset, angry, or a little bit of everything, and you are the one they’re reaching out to in order to calm their woes. It’s important not to take personal offense to a customer’s frustrations – unless, of course, they insult you personally, but most of the time your employer will still expect you to handle this with grace and professionalism. (Usually, this means transferring the elevated customer to a manager – being subjected to verbal abuse and harassment is not in your job description, so make sure to have this discussion with your higher-ups and know what to do in these scenarios.)
In terms of how to answer this question, there are really only a few “right” answers, with any number of personal twists you can pull from your own experience. What you need to focus on here is your understanding of basic communication skills. Don’t get angry back at the customer, don’t resort to name-calling or accusations, and make sure to keep everything professional. Don’t stray from the topic at hand – if the customer is angry that the company ripped them off, express your sincere apologies and let them know you are doing everything in your ability to get them the help they need. Walk them through your process, answer all of their questions, and if you can’t answer a question, never tell them, “I don’t know.” Find out. It is your job to find out for them, and any effort you make, even the smallest, that lets them know you’re working for them – that you are on their side – is vital.
It helps to recall a personal experience where you helped an angry customer, and explain to the interviewer how the values and habits mentioned above played into that particular scenario, and how you carry those values with you at each and every job.
- What is one of your weaknesses?
This specific question, and questions like it, are highly personalized and designed to catch you off guard. It’s important to self-assess and be critical of your own flaws, and potential employers want to know that you can do both of these things, and learn from them. While no guide can’t answer this question for you, since everybody is different, it is good to know why this question is asked. If you aren’t somebody who is capable of analyzing their weaknesses, then you obviously aren’t capable of learning from mistakes. That’s what this question is really about.
Recall the last real life lesson you learned that was a direct result of a mistake you made. Identify the mistake, and ask yourself if it’s one you make frequently. Explain to the employer the ways in which this personal weakness has affected your life, and the measures you’ve taken to combat it. Don’t choose something you’ve already defeated. Let’s say you’re someone who scrutinizes the smaller details and often fails to see the bigger picture. Spin the flaw as being occasionally advantageous, but explain how you’re aware of its cons and that you make a regular effort to see things in different perspectives. The fact that you make an extra effort to improve yourself as a person, out of sheer awareness for a personal flaw, is a good quality despite the flaw itself. Push that on employers.
Whatever you do, don’t pick a weakness like, “I’m a perfectionist,” or, “I just want to help everyone all the time.” They’ve heard those ones before. If you take a not-so-bad weakness like dedication to perfection, and try to play it up as a flaw – “I just spend so much time making sure everything I do is great” – your employer is going to know what you’re doing. While being a perfectionist might very well be something that holds you back, try to hone in on something that actually sounds like a personal weakness you’re working on overcoming, and not just a quirk that is sometimes good, and sometimes bad.
- “Describe a time when…” questions
Your interviewer will most likely ask you to explain a time when you exceeded customer’s expectations, helped out a particularly angry customer, or learned a valuable lesson on the job. You should come prepared to answer a question like this. It’s best to pick a particular story you remember that’s interchangeable – maybe a time when you exceeded particularly angry customer’s expectations and learned a valuable lesson from it! This way you have less details to memorize, and can really focus on the strongest story you have. Make sure to analyze that story from all angles, and understand the central “takeaway” that you can break down for your interviewer. (Make sure it’s a true story too, of course.) Also, make sure to think about this beforehand so you don’t have to waste time during the interview trying to awkwardly recount the details.
Help desk interview questions are less about technical skill (unless you’re interviewing for IT and tech support as well), and more about solid communication and critical thinking skills. Learn more about how to improve your verbal communication skills with this course, and check out this guide on verbal communication in the digital age.