Job Interview Question & Answer: How Would You Deal with a Difficult Customer?
Reasons You Encounter this Question
The ability to solve conflicts is a trait employers seek in potential hires. Behavior interview questions such as “How would you deal with an angry customer?” gauge how job seekers react to less-than-ideal work situations.
Giving the Right Answer
Don’t generalize the topic. Use a clear example with a positive end result. Stick to the facts and stress the best tools to diffuse the conflict. Describe specific actions and use enough detail to show hiring managers the capacity to resolve problems.
Remember the following concepts:
- Be solution-oriented
- Emphasize positive results
- Pick a specific, useful example
- Practice responding to job interview questions
Try to use professional cases to illustrate the point. Candidates applying for entry-level jobs who have limited work experience can use an instance from school, like a group project or leadership role.
What to Avoid
When answering this question, do not be overly negative toward customers. Limit real stories to relevant work details. Try not to discuss particulars of a person or highlight bad behavior. Rather, focus on resolving the situation.
Companies tend to red flag prospective employees who:
- Seem nervous about conflict
- Fixate on trivial matters
- Have poor communication skills
The following sample answer gives job hopefuls a general idea of how to respond to the question: “How would you deal with an angry customer?”
Do not memorize this response or recite it during the interview process. Use a genuine experience or original reply, and be honest for any additional questions from the hiring manager.
Explain the Issue:
“I previously worked at a fast food restaurant. A customer was angry because their order was incomplete. They went through the drive-through first, and were upset they had to come inside to get the rest of their food.”
Discuss Taking Action:
“Quickly and sincerely, I apologized for the error. I then acknowledged that it was our fault, and said I planned to address it internally as well.”
“The customer proceeded to angrily vent about past service at our location. I did not argue or place blame on anyone. I simply showed concern by giving my full attention.”
“I continued to listen and completed the order. I asked if there was anything else I could do to help. The patron still seemed bothered, so I offered a coupon for the next visit. I assured them that I would mention these concerns to my fellow workers and supervisors.”
Review the Results:
“The customer looked happy and took the coupon. I felt confident they would return. When I addressed the mistake with the crew, we all agreed to work on double-checking orders to avoid future issues.”
Points to Take Away
A strong answer highlights a worker’s ability to deal with angry customers. It is a chance to exhibit problem solving and a willingness to improve overall performance. Whether using a real-life or hypothetical scenario, keep these principals in mind when replying to this job interview question.