Go-to interview questions

Jeff Breunsbach
Jeff Breunsbach Member Posts: 266 Gain Grow Retain Staff
5 Insightfuls Photogenic First Anniversary GGR Blogger 2022
edited July 2020 in CS Org Conversations

I'd love to start filling a list of go-to interview questions when looking to hire a CSM. Hit me with it. 


  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited May 2020

    Im a big fan of building your line of questioning based on business deficiencies to start hiring skillsets that are missing in the department.

    business need: we are experiencing issues with churn happening at the front end of the customer journey

    tell me about a client where things started off rough that you were able to recover the account

    business need: we are experiencing issues with adoption

    what are your methods for increasing product adoption?

    business need: we don’t have a solidified CSM identity

    tell me about how you impacted the way your last company does customer success

    our goal is to see if the CSM is a problem solver or do they stay in the lines of normal resources.

  • David Ellin
    David Ellin Member Posts: 170 Expert
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Comment
    edited May 2020

    @Jeff Breunsbach, the vast majority of today's interviews are designed to eliminate risk in hiring and identify cultural fit within an organization. Hiring manages are deathly afraid of making the wrong hire as it puts them at risk with their manager.

    Assuming I've identified that the candidate meets or exceeds work qualifications via the resume or LinkedIn profile, I want to ask one or two questions to gauge customer-centricity:

    • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a situation where your customer asked for something and your company was not willing to provide it. How did you handle the situation?
    • What is your approach to the first few conversations you have with new customers?
    • When talking to executive leaders at your company about your customers, what information do you find most important to share?

    Next, you want to identify cultural fit based, specifically, on your company's culture or desired culture. Since those are culture-specific, these examples would need to be modified. The two questions below would get at whether the candidate is highly collaborative or prescriptive.

    • What do you feel is most important in helping drive customer objectives within our company?
    • How would you approach trying to solve a customer issue with a specific area of our company (IE: product development, operations, finance, etc.)?
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited May 2020

    the first question is huge if this is a reality the CSM would face often. If the ask is 99% likely to fail, how do you keep customer goodwill, sentiment, and buy-in at a high level. Not every company is going to be the same in process and environment. Important to see where decisions impact customers and how we manage expectations around those decisions. Important question to ask if your business has that challenge.

  • Tejas Satyan
    Tejas Satyan Member Posts: 5 Navigator
    edited May 2020

    One area I focus on is how a candidate handles questions around leading cross-functional teams without direct authority. I look for examples on how they work with Support, Engineering, Professional Services etc. and drive them towards a common goal and their ability to build strong internal relationships within the company. 

  • Alex Farmer
    Alex Farmer Member Posts: 62 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment GGR Blogger 2021
    edited June 2020

    For a CSM, I am looking for domain expertise, commercial competence, and technical aptitude.

    One of the key things I do for the final round is have the CSM run through a technical test.  Basically, I give them access to our support site and a demo account and ask them to show me 5 different areas of our software, ensuring they explain why it would matter to my business goals as a customer.  Firstly, it helps us understand if the candidate can pick up technology quickly, but secondly and maybe more importantly, lets the candidate see the tech they'll be representing with their customers should they be successful.  I also ask they prepare a 10 min powerpoint on our software and how it will help me achieve business goals - helps me look for polish and preparation. 

    Some other questions and resources: 

    • What would bad look like in a role?  What are you non-starters?
    • How do you think this interview went?
    • How much time did you take to prepare?
    • We meet at a social event - explain to me what Incopro does.  What value do we bring to customers?
    • What does customer centricity mean to you?  Where do you think we are customer centric and where do you think we're not?
    • What behavioural styles or personality traits irritate you most at work? 



  • Jeffrey Nadeau
    Jeffrey Nadeau Member Posts: 28 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited June 2020

    My favorite interview question is to ask them to work through a problem solving exercise that they can't necessarily plan for. 

    For example, I used to hire CSMs at a company supporting customers who used our platform to AB test on their mobile apps. I would ask the candidate to tell me what their favorite app they use is, tell me something they would AB test on the app and what metrics they would measure for success. 

    Once they share the app, AB test example and metrics, I tell them that the way to enable this will take 6-months to develop and they need to come up with an alternative solution to measure the same metrics they want to increase. 

    This is what really happens in our CSMs lives and I think any CSM since not everything will work and you don't find out until you try to implement it for the customer.

    This question has given me the chance to see how the candidate problem solves or their inability to problem solve. The best part is that no answer is a bad answer besides not being able to answer the question at all since the point is for them to ask me questions to get a better idea of what I am looking for and providing an alternative for us to explore. Exactly what I hope they would do with a customer!