Top Qualities to Look for When Hiring for Customer Service Positions

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Updated on
Jun 16, 2022
Last published on
Nov 18, 2022
Top Qualities to Look for When Hiring for Customer Service Positions | Canada Talents - Blog

Have you ever experienced terrible customer service? How did it influence your opinion about the company? Did you deal with that company again after that? 

Achieving customer service excellence is the ultimate goal of any business as it is the visible part of the iceberg, the first impression customers have. No matter what you have to offer, they will not be interested if their experience with your customer service is negative. That is why it is essential to be aware of the qualities to look for when hiring for customer service positions. These positions are all about dealing with people, meaning that most of the skills required are actually soft skills. 

Resumes reflect education, experience, and volunteering, so assessing soft skills in a candidate can be tricky. Thankfully, Canada Talents is there for you! Here is a list of top qualities to look for in an applicant, along with examples of questions you can ask during the interview.

Listening Skills

Listening is as important as speaking in the communication process. Every customer has a unique situation, and time should be dedicated to each of them to ensure they are understood. A good representative pays attention to verbal but also non-verbal language. Imagine a customer asking for information and your representative giving them a whole lot without noticing in their facial expression that they got completely overwhelmed. In this type of situation, someone with strong listening skills will make all the difference. 

During the interview, a candidate that keeps interrupting you, doesn’t seem to pay attention when you speak, or completely misses the point when answering a question all constitute red flags. 

Interview question: A customer comes to you with a problem, but doesn’t speak English very well. You don’t understand the problem. What do you do?

Effective Communication

Communicating effectively with customers involves speaking loud and clear, avoiding technical words, and appropriately using body language. All these factors eliminate the possibility of misunderstandings that could have harmful consequences on the customer experience. 

A full command of the language is also essential in a customer service position. While multiculturalism is largely accepted in Canada, customers still expect fast and efficient service. They will not appreciate having to repeat themselves many times. If you are looking for fully bilingual French/English candidates for your company, Canada Talents can help you. We specialize in the integration of francophone candidates into the Canadian market and make it our priority to source the best talents for your projects.

Interview question: Tell me about a time you had to explain a complex or technical concept to someone. How did you manage that?


Nothing is worse than customers feeling like they are bothering a representative with their questions, when it is precisely what they are here for. An employee demonstrating high energy and a positive attitude is seen as someone happy to be working at your company, thus giving a positive image of it. A dynamic representative gives the assurance that problems will be considered and resolved quickly. On top of that, positive energy is contagious: it will benefit both your team members and the customers.

During the interview, pay attention to the energy the candidate transmits. Things like smiling, showing interest in the conversation, developing answers, and asking questions in return reflect a positive attitude and dynamism. 

Interview question: Tell me about a time you had to show dynamism and a positive attitude while having a rough day/feeling low. 


Empathy is the ability to see things from someone else's perspective and understand their feelings. It is a primordial quality for customer service representatives since their role is to understand what customers need and offer them the best solution to their situation. Empathy also helps create healthy relationships with coworkers and integrate well into a team. 

The most crucial factor for a positive customer service experience is how customers feel they are treated. Even when you cannot tell them exactly what they want to hear, taking time to listen, understand and look for a possible solution is the best attitude to adopt. 

Interview question: An elderly customer has to do a procedure only available online. This person doesn't know how to use the internet. You have other people in line waiting. What do you do?


People who reach out to customer service are often confused and frustrated. Customer service employees should be able to deal with angry, disrespectful, or impatient customers on a daily basis. Despite being poorly treated, a good representative must keep calm and offer the best experience to everyone no matter what. Most of the time, the customer’s anger has little to do with the employee, so they should know not to take it personally. Therefore, candidates prone to hypersensitivity or impulsiveness are likely not a good fit for this kind of position.

Interview question: Tell me about when your patience was tested at work. How did you handle it?

Problem Solving Skills

When working in customer service, chances are people will come to you with a problem. Some of them will be easy to deal with, while others might require more effort and thinking. Problem-solving is defined as the ability to identify and implement a solution to a specific issue. The best customer service employees can deal with almost any problem customers come up with without having to ask a superior. Problem-solving involves critical thinking, creativity, and taking initiative, especially when you do not have a definitive answer. 

Interview question: A customer comes up with a question or problem you do not know how to address. What do you do?

Time Management

Customer service is a fast-paced environment requiring optimizing employees’ and customers’ time. Customers expect an almost instantaneous response, especially for online customer service platforms. When having many tasks at once, employees must know to prioritize the most important ones. Serving customers should always come first, while every other task can be done at quieter times. There is also a limit to the amount of time you can dedicate to a customer when others are waiting. The key is finding a balance between appropriately helping a customer and doing it in a timely manner. 

Interview question: You are returning from vacation and open your mailbox to 100 new emails from customers who have questions. How do you decide which ones to address first?


One of the most remarkable qualities a customer service employee can have is their expertise in the sector of activity. Lack of expertise leads to poor efficiency, longer waiting times, or provision of incorrect information. Facing a customer service representative lacking the necessary knowledge to help them can become very frustrating for a customer. On the contrary, they will trust your company more if they feel your employee knows exactly what they are talking about. 

Expertise can be acquired through experience but also with a thorough training. Part of the onboarding process should be dedicated to getting your employee familiar with the company, its products, and services. This time invested will enable them to answer consumers' concerns in an effective and timely manner in the future. 

Interview question: Do you have any professional or personal experience giving you a certain level of expertise in [activity sector]?

You should pay attention to these skills when screening resumes and doing interviews for a customer service position. Situational questions are your best ally to assess candidates’ soft skills during an interview. Our examples are generic ones, but feel free to customize questions to make them relevant to your sector of activity. 

Keep in mind that while these skills are greatly based on character, they can also be easily developed. That is why you also need to identify the skills to develop and offer appropriate training to your employees. Check our article for tips on optimizing your onboarding and training process for new hires.

Do you have a customer service position to fill? Canada talents offer recruitment services for companies looking for bilingual professionals. We can help you reach and select the best candidates for your company. We always ensure they have all the required skills for the role before presenting them to you. Contact us at

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Top Qualities to Look for When Hiring for Customer Service Positions

Intentional dreamer, culture speaker, mentor & designer, Julien Mainguy arrived in Canada in 2014 and he got involved with people and communities to make a difference. He thrives on building better societies, by using awareness on cultural management and by understanding yourself better.