“Hire slow, fire fast.”
Many companies do the opposite. Especially startups. Pressure for speed and growth forces managers to be fast at hiring (“we need someone on this position YESTERDAY!”) but very slow at letting poorly performing people go. Don’t make this mistake.
Now, to the actual questions:
“Tell me about your most annoying client ever”
I don’t have to tell you why is this important. Also, it’s OK to be annoyed by a customer. As long as you’re not showing it. And as long as it does not not affect your work. Also, ask the candidate WHAT was the most annoying about that client specifically.
“Why this job?”
What drew their attention to customer service industry? What are their career goals? Your objective here is really to understand if they treat this a temp job. If they do – oh that’s a bad sign. If they don’t – embrace it and tell them, that helpdesk agents in your company are not some “second grade” employees, they get invited to all the important meetings and get involved into all the product decisions.
They are, right?
Test their writing skills
99% of support is done via email anyway, so writing is crucial. No need to test it during the actual interview, just keep this in mind while exchanging emails and text messages prior to the actual meeting. Short clear and systematized thinking is a great sign.
Test how’d they reply to a REAL customer request (my favorite)
Go through your case history, pull some previous tickets and send a couple of them to the candidate, even before inviting them to an interview. Ask them to provide a reply. And you will quickly see if they’re a good fit.
Don’t push on technical skills too hard
Having no previous experience in your industry is OK. But they still need to be “tech savvy”. They’ll learn from their peers.