5 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Customer Success Manager

customer success manager interview questions

Your customer success managers make up some of the principal frontline employees who work with your customer base regularly. Whether you’re looking to fill just one customer success role or build an entirely new team, there is some pressure to find the perfect candidate.

The role of a customer success manager is also challenging to fill because it requires a variety of skills, from relationship building to analytical thinking. While the set of skills you’re looking for in your customer success managers will vary depending on the products and services your company offers, there are some key questions you can ask potential candidates to narrow in on the right fit for the position.

In this article, we’ll take a look at:

  • Five questions to ask candidates when interviewing for a customer success manager.

  • Why these five questions are essential and what they help you discover about each candidate.

  • The kinds of answers to listen for from the candidates.

As a quick note before we go any further, this piece is aimed at helping hiring managers prepare for interviewing a customer success manager. If you’re on the other side of the table, looking guidance as you prepare for a career in customer success, check out our free seminar: Starting a Career in Customer Success.

1. “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer.”

This type of question is a staple for any customer-facing role and is especially important when it comes to customer success. Going above and beyond is a crucial step in creating a customer base that happily renews and upgrades with your company.

Since this is a bit of an obvious question for the interview, suitable candidates should be well prepared for it. They will have plenty of stories to choose from and shouldn’t have to think long about their answer. Listen for someone who consistently over-delivers to their customers, and thinks creatively to come up with solutions that are a win-win for both the customer and the company they represent.

2. “How do you bounce back from a negative customer interaction?”

Not every conversation with a customer will go well, and your team has to be ready for that. Customer success managers must be able to handle negative reactions without letting it ruin the relationship with the customer or affecting their performance for the rest of the day.

As you field answers for this question, listen for candidates who show emotional and mental resilience. They should know not to take the negative interaction personally and instead let the experience roll off of them. Good answers to this question include taking a few minutes to reset, reflecting on the situation, learning from it, and sharing any relevant feedback with other teams.

3. “How do you handle multitasking?”

A customer success manager always has a lot going on, from managing different customer needs to staying up to date on products and services. They must be able to multitask without getting distracted so they can accomplish the goals at hand.

When asking interviewees about multitasking, listen for answers that include staying organized and properly prioritizing different tasks. Someone with previous customer success experience may already have their own systems and tools in place to help them juggle multiple things at once. Bonus points to any candidates who aren’t afraid to ask for support from coworkers and managers when things start to feel overwhelming.

4. “Would you change anything about our product or services?”

This question is a great way to see how prepared a candidate is coming into the interview. It also gives you a chance to see how they do with critical thinking and providing honest feedback.

A good candidate would have spent time researching your company along with your products and services. If they can answer the question confidently and give solid reasoning to the changes they suggest, then you know you have a qualified applicant in front of you. Another good answer is suggesting that they would wait to see what kind of feedback the customers have once they’re in the role before suggesting major changes.

5. “How do you measure customer satisfaction?”

Whether or not the interviewee has worked specifically in customer success before, this question will help you gauge what their general customer-facing experience is like.

While a customer success manager will have a gut feeling of how their customers are doing, feelings are not enough to go on. Look for an interviewee who speaks comfortably about reviewing data and analytics, including looking at churn rates, upsell rates, and survey results.

Preparing for the Interview

Finding new customer success managers can feel like a daunting process, especially when you have several interviews lined up in a row. To make things easier on yourself and the rest of the hiring team, follow a few steps before you begin the interview process:

  • DON’T be afraid to ask different candidates the same questions. Add these five questions to your list of things to discuss in every interview.

  • DO use these questions as inspiration to come up with a few of your own questions. Create two to three additional questions that will reflect uniquely on your company and its offerings.

  • DON’T go into the interview without expectations. Understand ahead of time what kind of answers you’re looking for from the interviewees that signal them as strong candidates.

  • DO keep an eye out for red flags. Before the interview, ask yourself what kind of answers are signs you shouldn’t proceed with a particular candidate.

Building a dream team of customer success managers starts with the interview process. These five questions will make everything about the process a little easier!

Robyn Petrik

SuccessCOACHING contributor Robyn Petrik is a freelance copywriter originally from Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in blogging, website copy, and social media content. While she happily spends most of her time writing, you’ll also find her reading, hiking, and eating too much peanut butter.