Three Categories of Customer Success Interview Questions

Asking the right kinds of questions during interviews of Customer Success Manager candidates is critical, especially in high growth tech companies.   As many companies have unfortunately discovered, an inappropriate hire can slow the team’s development or even set it back.  A good foundation for hiring can be found in The CSM Competency Standard published by The Customer Success Association.  To assist hiring executives to prepare for more focused interviews, here are the three categories of Customer Success interview questions that we found through our Customer Success conversations that also align with that standard.

1.  Client Facing

Image of two businesswomen talkingCustomer Success Manager roles are client facing and therefore require strong communication skills. Below are questions the team needs to identify internally before creating interview questions:

    • How will the new CSM primarily be interacting with the customers?
    • Should the emphasis be on strong phone/webinar, on-site client skills, or written communication?
    • How important will it be for the successful candidate to be strong in short social-media kinds of responses?

This helps differentiate the types of skills needed for the team, which candidates may be strong for the open position, as well as which candidates are interested in the day to day responsibilities.

2.  Industry Knowledge

Book with text: From the real expertsHow much does the candidate know about your industry?  Could they speak easily with your customers about the challenges they face in their businesses? Below are questions the team needs to identify internally before creating interview questions:

    • Why is industry knowledge important?
    • How much emphasis should the hiring company place on this point?

What should the hiring company do if there aren’t enough candidates with the desired level of domain expertise?  Answer: Look for candidates interested in learning the industry, and/or candidates with skills/background in adjacent industries. Note that your candidate may not perceive how the skills they already have may be adaptable to a new focus. In the interview, assist the candidate to discover and make these connections.

3.  Technical skills

Woman in white coat standing in front of engineering workbenchCustomer Success roles vary on the level of technical expertise that is needed based on the type of product and support clients need. Some roles are highly technical and analytical. No matter the level of technical knowledge that is required for the role, it is important to convey this in the job description and while interviewing. When job descriptions or interviews ask for more or less than is required for the job, qualified candidates may be disqualified, may not communicate their skills accurately, or may not feel the role is challenging and provides growth. Therefore, providing actual examples of daily activities and being clear in the job description will help identify the best candidates for the role.  Below are questions the team needs to identify internally before creating interview questions:

    • What technical skills are important on day one of the job?
    • What technical knowledge do we need for this role?
    • What internal training capability do we have for new team members to get up to speed?

Proper preparation for the interviewing of prospective Customer Success Managers is vital for both the hiring company and the applicants.  I hope this helps with the types of questions to ask in the Customer Success process for your company.

Swati Garg

Swati Garg is the Managing Director of Melo Associates.  The recruiting firm’s primary focus is Customer Success Hiring. Our mission is to create opportunities that are mutually beneficial, embracing the strengths and values of both individual and organization, ensuring professional satisfaction is a two-way street.

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