Customer Service

Mastering Customer Service Assessments: Format, Prep, and Tips

If you are a people person and like engaging with others, then a job in customer service may be ideal for you. And if looking for a job where you will be dealing directly with people, you will have a wide range of workplaces to apply to.

Generally, we think of customer service jobs as existing in retail, helping customers do their shopping or working at the check-out desk. But the range of customer service jobs is much wider than that.

Working as a bank teller, an air hostess, serving customers in a restaurant, or working as a tour guide, the range of jobs where you will be dealing directly with the public is wide-ranging.

And the skills you will need are equally wide-ranging. So is the list of assessments you may have to take when applying for one of those jobs.

Customer Service Assessments 



What Are Customer Service Assessments?

Customer service assessments assess your people skills and decide if you have the personal qualities necessary for dealing with customers in the workplace.

They are also a prospective employer’s way of finding the job applicants who will be best suited to the role. 

In the early stages of the pre-employment process, the employer asks applicants to take the assessments allowing them to make an informed decision as to who should progress further in the recruitment process.

If you are a student planning on working in customer service, you can also do the National Retail Federation NRF aptitude tests as a starting point. 

Passing their aptitude tests will entitle you to a credential that proves useful when applying for customer service jobs.

Are the Assessments Hard?

Pre-employment assessments are generally hard, but not in the way an academic assessment may be hard. 

Factors that make them hard include:

  • A style of questioning that is new to you
  • The severe time restrictions on the tests
  • The number of people who are in competition for the jobs
  • The fact that employers select the highest scorers on the tests means that it is not simply about how good your answers are but about how many applicants you can outshine 

What Are Customer Service Assessments Like?

You can be asked to take any of a wide range of assessments, but generally you will have to do:

  • Situational Judgment Tests (SJT)
  • Personality Profiling Assessments

You may be asked to do the assessments online or in a paper and pencil format.

During both tests, you will be assessed on how you are likely to behave when dealing with clients in a customer service situation.

For example, you may be very well qualified to work as a bank teller in terms of handling money. 

But from the bank’s perspective, you also need to be very good at dealing with customers when explaining the workings of the system to them or when tricky situations arise.

Bear in mind that prospective employers are very aware of the damage an unsuitable employee will do to a company’s ability to retain customers.

When doing the tests, you need to keep the customer at the forefront of your mind. Thorough preparation will help you get into that mindset.

Format of the Customer Service Assessments

Situational Judgment Tests

The SJT asks you to consider a scenario that might arise if you are working for the company. 

Imagine, for example, that you are in a situation where a customer is complaining about a product they bought from the company. In the test, you are given four options from which you have to choose your response. 

The response you select will tell the employer if you are capable of dealing with a situation like that if working for the company.

Example question:

Consider the following question. What, in your opinion, is the best course of action? 

A customer calls the customer service line. He says that since he had to wait so long, he is now in a hurry and doesn’t have much time to speak. Which of the following is the most important response from the representative?

A. Apologizing for the long wait.

B. Suggesting a better time for the customer to call when the line is less busy so that he can talk without pressure of time.

C. Proceeding at the usual pace in order to thoroughly solve the customer’s problem.

D. Adjusting his conduct to the customer’s need by showing desire to complete the task quickly and effectively.

 Note: D is the correct answer, but on assessment day you will have to come up with the answer quickly. Practicing on sample papers and putting yourself in the customer’s shoes will teach you how to accurately select the correct answer.

In the real assessment, you will have to do approximately eight of these in thirty minutes.

What personal qualities is the customer service SJT assessing?

The customer service SJT is looking at your competencies and skills and if you have the ability to deal with people in what may be tense situations. The test will assess: 

  • Your communication skills 
  • How flexible you are 
  • How good your negotiation skills are 
  • If you have the ability to read a situation and make a judgment

Personality Profiling

Many people react with horror when they hear they are going to have a personality test. Their reaction usually is that they cannot change their personality and, therefore, there is nothing they can do to prepare.

However, a personality test is not a test of your downtime personality but a test of your workplace one. And personality is judged by behavior. 

In the personality test, you will be asked to respond to statements in a series of multiple choice questions asking you to describe yourself or what you would do in specific situations. 

Example questions:

You can expect questions along the lines of the following:

On a scale of 1-5, indicate the extent to which you agree with the following

“It is better to be polite and rule-obedient rather than carefree”

Now decide how you would answer the following statement

“I would have to be very sick to miss a day at work”

You can 1) Agree 2) Neither agree nor disagree 3) Disagree

To get a better understanding of how personality testing works, try giving each of the three answers in turn. Then sit back and decide what each answer is saying about you.

How Do I Prepare for the Assessments?

Accessing preparation resources is your answer to acing the tests.

You need to find out the format of the particular tests you will be doing and equip yourself with accurate preparation materials. 

Your best course of action is to use the services of a reliable job test preparation agency. For this, we recommend using Job Test Prep, a leader in the field of preparing candidates for pre-employment testing. 

With thirty years of experience in the field, they will give you accurate information on the format of the assessments and supply you with test preparation materials. Your material arrives in a test prep pack which includes:

  • Sample test papers modeled on the real assessments
  • A useful scoring system allowing you to check your scores after every test you do
  • Detailed explanations for questions and answers
  • Helpful notes and study guides.

To get an idea of the type of tests they give you, try your hand at the following free sample Situational Judgment Test.

Research the Company

Learn as much as you can about the company you have applied to before taking the tests. Many companies have an ideal personality type in mind for the type of candidate who will be a good fit for the role.

If at all possible, try to find out the type of person the company wants in the workplace. A trawl through their website may give you that information, or you or someone known to you may have dealt with the company. 

If possible, replicate that ideal personality in your answering. In the case of the above question, try to decide what type of person would be employed at the company you are applying to.

With practice on personality tests, you will learn how to adjust the answers to produce the ideal persona in personality profiling.

What Qualities Are Needed to Get a Customer Service Job?

The following skills are all necessary for this role:

  • Co-operativeness
  • Assertiveness
  • A positive attitude
  • The ability to multi-task

You also need to be committed to delivering quality service to the customer.

And bear in mind that very often in this position, you will be poised between the employer and the customer. They may often have conflicting demands, so problem-solving ability will be another very useful quality.

Above all, you have to show you are patient.

Example question:

Try the following question, assessing what each individual answer may be saying about you.

For example, if you “strongly agree” that you usually let others do the talking could that present you as a passive individual? On the other hand, if you “strongly disagree,” could you be overly aggressive?

Play with the question. Decide how you need to present yourself, then find the most suitable answer.

Assessment Preparation Tips

For effective preparation, try taking the following steps :

  • Work to a timetable.
  • Ensure you leave the day before the assessments free to get some rest before the real tests.
  • Divide study periods into 60-minute sessions: 50 minutes to work and 10 minutes break time.
  • Use your sample papers in every study session, and make sure you monitor your progress.
  • Get adequate rest and nutrition. Exam preparation is stressful. By taking care of your well-being, you will work better in your preparation sessions as well as in the real tests.

Approach the Tests…

Well-prepared, well-rested, and confident that you have done the work to win that customer service position!

If you want to prepare for customer service pre-employment tests, click here for all the resources you need.