Interview Terror
January 23, 2017 9:09 PM   Subscribe

I have two interviews on Thursday for Customer Service Manager positions, and I'm terrified. I don't use that word lightly. Terror, dear readers.

I was at my last job for 13 years, which I didn't have to interview for. Same applies for jobs I had prior to that; no interviews! I've had a few light interviews the last six months but the last one, last week, for a job I actually cared about, was a mess. I froze, and wasn't particularly articulate, and probably said some things I shouldn't have. I was also paralyzed with fear in the week leading up to that, and had a real shame meltdown after. So here I go again ... any interviewing tips/resources you can share, especially for the insecure and anxious?

Many thanks!! I'm finding this whole process so, so hard.
posted by soakimbo to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ok, take some deep breaths!

I love interviews and I just won an amazing position last week, so I feel positive this is going to be our year!

Head on over to this wonderful site where there is so many tips and helpful advice about interviews. You will feel much better after having a read of the articles there. You will definitely learn what not to do as well.

My tip is to practice as much as you can, just by yourself. I practiced answering silly questions like what my favorite movie or song was, not because they are going to ask that, but to get myself thinking about my own qualities and just putting words together that sounded good.

At the end of the day you can't do anything more that show them who you are and what you know, it'll either be what they want, or not. I know that sounds cliche, but seriously, just be the most professional version of yourself that you can be.

Read the blog linked above and good luck!
Oh and get some rescue remedy to calm your nerves.
posted by Youremyworld at 9:26 PM on January 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

Practice. Get a friend to ask you some questions and just practice answering them out loud. It's all practice.
posted by GuyZero at 9:45 PM on January 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Insecure? 13 years in the same job is very dependable! Especially in this day and age.

Don't try too hard to impress. Keep your answers brief and to the point.

Interview them. It's a two way relationship... you may be great for the postition, but the position mightn't be great for you. Ask them details. This not only makes you appear competent, but also puts you on an equal footing with them.

Can you get some info on the company before the interview so you can ask informed questions? Website press releases?

Is there any way you can become a customer (or potential customer) and use their Customer Service?

If they use lingo, jargon, phrases that you don't understand, ask them to clarify. That's necessary, of course, for you to answer intelligently, but it also sets them back on their heels a bit and levels the playing field.
posted by at at 10:13 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agree with above, it's easy to feel that you are coming "hat in hand", hoping they will ask you to prom, but that's not the situation at all. You have something they want, otherwise you wouldn't be there. They want it bad enough to pay you for it, now the question is, do you want them.
Obviously don't go in and put your feet on the desk, but try step away from the supplicant role.
Be yourself, if you are someone else then you have to keep being someone else the entire time you work. Not to say you won't be the better version of yourself, the one who reads the papers and uses their cutlery properly; I call it "meeting my girlfriends parents" mode.

Before you go in to your meeting, spend a few minutes in a toilet stall doing power-poses.
This involves standing like Superman, cheat back, chin up, hands on hips. It creates some small physical changes in yer bod that should give you a little calming confidence boost. Also, have a "negative automatic thought" CBT worksheet printed out and easy to go in case you do some reflexive shaming and blaming of yourself when you come out anyhow. They've helped me with "omfg, I can't believe what an asshole I am" after a weird interview before (which I got).
posted by Iteki at 10:23 PM on January 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

Was your previous job in Customer Service?

If so, then try to use whatever strategies you use when dealing with an irate customer or one of those customers who's trying to get something for nothing. Be polite, be firm, state exactly what needs to be said, etc.

If you didn't work in Customer Service before, I would be concerned about your Customer Service skills if you're sweating the "interaction" part of this interview for this particular position.
posted by kuanes at 4:15 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

As one who interviews people for customer service positions, I would suggest thinking of some stories from your career that match the claims on your resume. For instance, if you say you exceed at customer service, have a few stories in mind where you can tell how you encountered an unhappy customer and helped them succeed. If you claim XXX experience, prepare to tell a story where you approached your most difficult XXX problem and owned it with your smarts and resourcefulness. Allow each story of your badassery to boost your confidence.

As a hiring manager, I want to hear stories of your experiences and confidence in what you know and what you can do.
posted by cross_impact at 6:16 AM on January 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Maybe one strategy is to think of the interview as a sequential process; break it down into steps or phases. Each party plays their assigned role.

For a rough example, 1.) Greetings and small talk 2.) Intros with telling about yourself 3.) Q & A about your resume and the available position 4.) Summary or closing remarks and goodbyes

Being able to see the process unfold may help allay some of your anxieties.

It is a two-way process, so definitely have examples of your experiences matched with your resume. Also, have a few questions ready for the interviewer.
posted by mountainblue at 7:23 AM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

List 2-4 questions that you think would trip you up the most - read lists of typical questions if you can't think of any. Search online for the "right" answers to them and then put those into your own words. For me it was Your Greatest Weakness. The right answer was office politics and I spun that into not being in on gossip and relying too much on official communications. It also gave me a mental boost when the question came up, since I knew I was ultra prepared for that one.
posted by soelo at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

This may or may not be helpful, but if in the future you plan to be interviewing you may want to consider talking to a doctor. I got a small script for a few beta blocker pills when I was auditioning/interviewing. It blocks the adrenaline that caused me similar symptoms to yours. It was a game changer- I was suddenly able to show the articulate and talented person they wanted to hire.
posted by k8oglyph at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

You need to practice, a lot, with a friend. Just like you'd practice if you were an actor or a musician. They don't go out on stage without a lot of rehearsal and that's what you need too. Practice both asking and answering the questions. Find 5 different people and spend about 15 minutes with each one, being the interviewer and the interviewee. Get comfortable answering these kinds of questions:

Why do you want to work here? "Because I love what you're doing in terms of aaa, bbbb, and cccc. I read that WidgetsRUs has been steadily gaining market share because of how you xxxx and I want to be a part of that." Or, "I like what you're doing with social media, especially that thing on FB where you had the monkey video, oh, and the Twitter puzzle thing." The people considering you for the role want to know that you understand and are aligned with the mission of the company. If you can show in any small or large way that you've prepared for the interview you will make a really big impression. Read up on the company enough to come up with a 3 sentence coherent answer and by practicing your answer, it will start to sound more natural to yourself and to your audience.

How have you handled a situation where you had to deal with a really difficult customer who was asking for something against company policy? Give an example that shows you've dealt with this, you've thought about it and you're focused on giving good customer service along with toeing the company line. Practice your story.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or ten years? This one is up to you but one possibility if you really have no idea, or want to be doing something completely different, is to look a couple of steps up the ladder from the job you're applying for and say you'd like to aim to be a regional manager because you like the idea of juggling all the stores in the district and traveling around and troubleshooting.

I really believe that if you write up a short list of questions and practice this every day until your interviews, you'll feel and perform a lot better. If you don't have anyone to practice with, MeMail me and I'll call you. I just finished interviewing a bunch of candidates for an opening at my company and there was such a huge difference in the one who was prepared compared to the three who clearly were not. GOOD LUCK!!! You can totally do this.
posted by Kangaroo at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Most of the time interviews ask similar questions. As others have mentioned here, you can use the ones here and come up with answers ahead of time so that you know what'd you say when asked about your greatest weakness and how you've helped a difficult customer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:18 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Specifically, this.
posted by xm at 6:55 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

So I had the interviews today, and everyone's tips helped enormously. Thank you all SO much!!!

*extra gold star to the Metafilter Angel Kangaroo!*
posted by soakimbo at 8:40 PM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

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