About the Interview Workbook
The Customer Success (CS) job market has become highly competitive with the current economic state. Even candidates with previous CS experience must now go above and beyond to secure an interview, let alone a job offer.
You may think, “If those with CS experience struggle to secure an offer, how will I do it WITHOUT it?” 😣
This is why interview preparation is crucial if you want to stand a chance of beating the competition and landing a job in Customer Success.
Regardless of experience level, to succeed, you must prepare to do the following exceptionally well:
- Highlight your relevant, transferrable skills.
- Build a personal connection with the interviewer.
- Showcase your cultural compatibility.
- Demonstrate an understanding of Customer Success.
Throughout my career in CS, I have run CSM interviews and spoken with many hiring managers. Through this experience, I have learned what critical skills and tasks are expected from CSMs today and what hiring managers look for during the interview process.
Questions about your career motivations and experience, the industry, scenario-based, hypotheticals, and the company itself are all fair game - and as long as you have done your research and prepared the best examples backed up with tangible results you’ve driven, you will be able to answer them confidently.
Think of an interview as a play with a pre-written script, where you audition for the lead role.
Just like you would never go to an audition without knowing the script, you should never go into an interview without preparing first.
You can't predict every question the interviewer will ask, but you can use resources like this guide to help you prepare for the most critical questions.
All these questions and more are covered in this guide, broken down into these categories:
- Motivations and goals
- Achieving results
- Measuring outcomes
- Managing a book of business and relationship building
- Meeting preparation and organization
- Making strategic recommendations
- Needs discovery
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Overcoming challenges and failure
- Mitigating churn risk
- Clarifying role expectations
- Industry knowledge
What's Covered in the Interview Workbook
Below are a few example questions from the guide and protips on how you can best prepare.
Motivations and goals
- Why do you want to work in Customer Success?
- Why apply to this company?
- Where do you see your career in 2-5 years?
- These questions test the cultural compatibility and how much you want THIS job vs. ANY job.
- Keeping your options broad and saying that you’re open to roles in Customer Success… OR Support… OR Account Management… OR [add another role from your list] can only put you at a disadvantage, as all these roles require different skills and have different focuses.
- This is the time to reassure the interviewer that you’re fully motivated and want THIS job, in THIS industry, and at THIS company.
- Talk about your motivations and how you can relate your previous experiences, strengths, and biggest passions to this role and industry. The answer ‘I love helping people’ won’t cut it. You need to add more substance and explain why.
Managing a book of business
- What’s your experience level with handling a book of business? Can you describe a time when you managed multiple customer needs at once?
- What is the key to developing strong client relationships?
- These questions test how prepared you are to oversee a client portfolio and manage multiple clients' needs simultaneously.
- Think of previous times when you managed a portfolio of clients, multiple projects/tasks, or groups of internal stakeholders. How did you handle multiple priorities?
- If you don’t know how big your book of business would be in the role, clarify it during the interview.
- What key indicators signal a client is at risk of churning?
- What measures would you take to prevent customer churn?
- How would you handle a client who told you they weren’t seeing value in your product/service and wanted to leave?
- These questions test your understanding of churn and key churn indicators. This is one of the KPIs CSMs are often measured against and a metric that CS leadership always cares about.
- Research key churn indicators, as there are so many. To get you started, consider decrease in product usage, lower or no engagement with CS and wider teams (e.g., Support), or clients expressing dissatisfaction with core product features.
- For scenario-based questions, think about how you managed clients at risk previously. Risk is a broad term; almost everyone will deal with some form of risk at work. E.g., teachers can talk about students with low grades at risk of failing a class and how they support them to get back on track. What ‘risks’ did you previously deal with at work?
- After a purchase, what are the key phases of the customer lifecycle?
- What do you understand by high-touch and low-touch CS engagement models?
- Do you understand the difference between traditional and digital Customer Success?
- These questions test your general knowledge of the CS industry.
- Even at an entry-level, you’ll be expected to understand the industry jargon and specific CSM tasks well.
- There are many ways to learn more about the CS industry and best practices – join CS communities, read online articles, network with CS professionals, follow CS leaders on LinkedIn and read their content, watch free webinars and podcasts, and take courses (some are free).
- The more you know, the more thoughtful questions you can ask throughout the interview and impress your interviewers.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of the essential questions all aspiring CSMs should know the answers to. This is just the start!
How to Get Started
Download a complete list of CSM interview questions by entering your email below. Once you enter your email, we will send you the workbook straight to your email with all 55 interview questions and tips on how to structure your answers.
For more interview and career transition guidance, you can reach out to Angelika on LinkedIn.