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Techniques to Ace the Customer Success Manager Job Interview



Two people shaking hands


Job interviews are nerve-racking, not just for Customer Success Managers, but for any role! But what if you learned some tricks to help you navigate the interview process like a pro? Well, I'm going to do exactly that. I'll help you channel some simple, but powerful techniques that you can apply in your next CSM job interview that will leave a memorable impression.


Behavioral Interviews


Every company at some level uses behavioral interviews, which uses your past experiences to understand how you would behave in a given situation. Instead of theoretical questions, the interviewer wants you to share a specific example to assess your soft skills. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 60% of hiring managers say behavioral interviews help them gauge a candidate’s skill set, which can oftentimes be challenging.


STAR-method is the framework you can use to address each behavioral question:



STAR framework infographic

  • Situation - Before diving into the issue, take the time to provide context about the situation or problem that you will share instead of going directly into the how

  • Task - Discuss the specific task that you needed to accomplish. What was the complication or implication of this task?

  • Action - Provide how you attempted to resolve the situation by sharing action steps.

  • Result - Lastly, what was the benefit or impact that resulted from your actions. This should clearly outline the benefit that all parties received through a successful resolution.


Example:


Prompt: Describe a difficult client situation and how you resolved it.


Situation: When I first joined the company, I received a few accounts from a colleague that had just departed the company. One of the main POCs of the account that I inherited was dissatisfied with our product and service.

Task: My goal was to understand the root cause for their dissatisfaction, show value and turn their experience around.

Action: I set up a meeting to introduce myself and understand their concerns. In my first meeting I learned that there were significant knowledge gaps that prevented my client from getting the full value of our product. I set up some 1:1 training and facilitated a team workshop targeted at achieving their department initiatives.

Result: Within a month, we saw significant product adoption with an increase in 30% of users signing on regularly. Our champion was very impressed and has even referred another department who could use our platform. We were excited to not only retain her business, but grow the account.


Five C’s of an Effective Interview


You may have heard of the 5 C’s of Effective Communication, which outlines principles to follow in order to make sure your communication resonates with your audience. There are many variations of what the 5 C’s include so listed below we’ve adopted the 5 C’s of an Effective Interview. Following the guidelines below, you’ll be able to navigate the interview process like a pro.


  1. Clear - As you’re being interviewed, you have to make sure that your answers are clear. If you aren’t able to articulate your answers, it will be hard to convince the interviewer of how capable you are, regardless of your background or experience. If you’re unsure of what the interviewer is asking for, simply ask for more clarity on the question. Make sure you understand what is being asked, even paraphrasing the question before providing an answer. Having a clear message will make you a sharp candidate.

  2. Concise - It’s very easy to go down tangents or ramble so make it one of your goals to be concise and brief with your answers. While you will definitely want to elaborate and provide context for anything that is asked, be direct and conscious of how much time you spend providing an answer. One of the most common open-ended questions that can lead you down a winding path is “Tell me about yourself.” Practice your answer so that your delivery is concise and to the point.

  3. Compelling - With each answer, you will want to put your own flavor or personality. You will be sharing examples so make it a compelling story - take the time to engage the interviewer to help them see what makes you unique. You can give a generic example or take the time to share examples that really tested you and share what you learned. That genuine effort will make your answer compelling and worth listening to.

  4. Confident - Every candidate should be confident. You are talking about yourself and your experiences. You already know that you are a great fit, it’s time to share that with your interviewer. Say it with confidence and conviction.

  5. Connection - Lastly, you should be able to connect with your interviewer. This one skill is not mentioned much, but it’s highly valuable during the interview process. If you are able to connect with your interviewer, they will like you as a person and they could envision you being part of their team. Help them paint that picture and you will instantly become memorable. Do not underestimate this important skill because it might be the reason they choose you over another candidate with the same level of expertise and experience.


Verbal v.s. Non-verbal Communication


woman waving at camera

According to a study done by Psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian on body language , only 7% of communication is verbal and a staggering 93% of communication is non-verbal, which means your body language and tone make an impression even if you don’t realize it. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to pay attention to how you are expressing yourself. If you are doing a virtual interview, this goes without saying, but have your camera on, with good lighting and background blurred or without distractions. From the settings to the clothes you wear, everything should be presented in a professional manner to set the stage for what it would look like to work with you. That extra effort will go a long way to helping you secure the role.


When you consider that non-verbal communication plays a major role in what you say before you even say it, you will want to practice your facial expression and hand gestures when you speak. This includes the following:


  • Eye contact

  • Nodding

  • Leaning in to listen

  • Tone of voice

  • Smiling


All of the above will help you engage your audience and create a memorable experience with your interviewer. Good luck!




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