Spot the Right Support: 3 Types of Questions to Ask
Cathy Recto April 1, 2016

After a successful designer recruitment event just 3 months ago, our team at 24Slides held another recruitment session. This time the goal was finding qualified customer support representatives.

Support in 24Slides is the frontline of the company”, says our CEO Tobias.
They bear a big responsibility, not only to respond to customers but also make them come back and stay.”

 

Indeed, as they are the ‘face’ of your company, hiring the most suitable support is crucial and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Allow us to share some of the lessons we learned from the event, tips as well as examples of 3 types of questions to ask to make the most out of the shortlisted applicants you have:

Ask questions that encourage honest responses, and also probe deeper

 

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For example, instead of asking directly what their professional strengths and weaknesses are (which they probably prepared for), ask about their interests. It’s not only a good way to get them to relax or build rapport but also to dig deeper in understanding their background and personality.

According to Novika, our Project Manager:

“the goal of interviewing for support is not just determining how well they can do their jobs, but more importantly, how well they can handle stressed and pressured situations that come with the job.”

 

As those who were selected for interviews had already passed the writing test, this time around we wanted to know more about their personalities and attitudes. We started by asking them what items, personas or objects best represents them, and we got answers like Batman, the wind or a PC. Then we asked them to further explain.
When asking these open ended, and less formal questions with no right or wrong answers, you are more likely to elicit honest, straightforward and unique responses that give you a better idea of who they are. Furthermore, you are also more likely to be able to personalize follow-up questions based on each candidate’s profile, as opposed to asking the same questions every time.

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Ask questions that allow for individual elaboration

 

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Although we asked certain unavoidable questions, such as “are you okay with working late?” or “how much do you expect your salary to be?” to which a certain fixed answer can be expected, the main focus of the Q&A should be on open-ended questions. For example, we asked them about their motivation to work in the company to see how serious they are in applying for this job. Moreover, we asked them to describe themselves to understand how they see themselves, before we formed our own opinions.

Another relevant technique is to ask questions that encourage storytelling. This allows you to gauge how they think, analyze and process information at hand, and more elaborate answers offer you more insights. For example, asking “give me an example of a time where someone on your team was having issues with other team-members” then follow it up with “what did you do?” and “what was the final outcome?” Or “tell us about your greatest achievement over the last 4 years and how you obtained it.

Furthermore, making them elaborate on their answers, will allow you to gain insights on how they value their work. Support tasks can sometimes be tedious and routine work. How they weave their stories tell you a lot about their personalities, and whether they will be able to handle and engage in even the dull and less exiting tasks.
And in our case, the shortlisted applicants already passed the written English test, asking them to elaborate on their answers allowed us to assess their oral English and communication skills in general.

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Ask questions that have an element of surprise

 

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If you ask canned questions such as “what are your strengths and weaknesses“, you can expect canned and well-prepared responses such as “I work too much.“—not exactly the type of answer that gives you any personal insights.  After all, the ideal support staff should be able to mingle and cooperate with various kinds of customers, as well as colleagues, the other support members and designers in our case. This implies that we are looking for candidates that can creatively adapt to the company culture, working hours, and our customers’ varied cultures, expectations and working-style.

Furthermore, the ideal candidates have to be able to practice self-control with their emotions and have a sense of discipline to cater to different attitudes. We are avoiding people who have a fixed attitude or a quick solution to all kinds of situations. For example, when asking “tell us what you know about our company”, we also combined it with questions such as “what is your expectation of this job?” You can also ask questions that will throw a candidate off, for example by mentioning something totally unrelated to the job.

Observe their non-verbal communication, how are they dealing with a stressful situation? Most likely, an unexpected question will also yield unexpected body language from potential applicants.

 

By avoiding the standard, boring interview questions, and moving towards more open-ended questions that allow for elaboration and story telling, you allow your applicants to express their real selves and skills, and you will be able to spot the most suitable candidates for your company.

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