The emphasis on client service has increased in recent years. Client service at the university means meeting the needs and expectations of students, staff, and faculty and thereby enhancing both the educational and work experiences. Attracting and hiring employees committed to client service is the first vital step in reaching client expectations.

When an organization seeks to hire service-focused employees, it is important to understand the process of identifying, interviewing, and attracting this type of candidate. Initially a department should ascertain the essential functions of the job through the use of a job analysis. A job analysis is a tool for gathering and analyzing information about a particular job. The analysis should include the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies for comparing the applicants’ education, experience, and training with the job demands.

After you have completed a job analysis, you need to determine what competencies are required for the position. Competencies are the person-based factors, such as problem solving, listening skills, decisiveness, and communication skills that help distinguish superior performers. When interviewing candidates you should take into account and measure traits that include reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. These competencies provide guidance in assessing candidates. This enables organizations to align an individual’s competencies with the department’s key objectives and client-oriented values to help foster success.

The following chart is an example of how the process should flow.

Analysis:

diagram

The best service-oriented employees possess exceptional people skills; have the ability to solve problems with effortlessness and timeliness; are composed, clear headed, helpful, and good-natured; and are motivated to satisfy the client. When conducting an interview for a position that has a client-based focus, you should ask questions of the applicant that can ascertain these core competencies.

Below is a list of general service-related questions you can use during your recruiting efforts to help determine if the applicant has the competencies you require.

  1. Tell me about a time when you asked for feedback on your client service skills from your manager or coworker and then used that response to improve your own performance.
     
  2. Give me an example of how you have used “out of the box" thinking to successfully satisfy a client.
     
  3. Tell me about a time when you had trouble working with a difficult or demanding client. How did you handle this?
     
  4. Sometimes it is necessary to choose between being right and making the client happy. Give me an example of how you have let the client be “right” even though you disagreed.
     
  5. Tell me about a time when you foresaw that your client might not get what he needed on time. How did you handle it?
     
  6. Describe a time when you had to say no to the client because what he wanted was against organizational policy. How did you handle the situation?
     
  7. It is clear to see that you enjoy talking. Give me an example of how you have used this talent to deliver a higher level of service.
     
  8. Give me an example from your experience in which you have used your ability to think quickly to solve a problem.
     
  9. Describe a time when you had to listen to a client express her dissatisfaction with your organization’s service. What did you do?
     
  10. Give me an example of a team problem or issue you helped resolve.
     
  11. Tell me how you feel you communicate your level of attention to a client.
     
  12. Give me an example of how you had to balance the interests of the organization with the demands of an angry client.
     
  13. Give me an example of how you ensure that your follow-up is timely and accurate.
     
  14. Describe a process that you improved so clients would be better served.