Have you ever gone into a store or to a customer service counter and the clerk just stared into space like a zombie?  He or she didn’t greet you or smile, or asked if you needed help, or even say what your total was when they rang you up?  I’m not saying the extreme opposite is desireable–the relentlessly cheerful type that pounces on you as soon as you walk in the door.  But I have to wonder about the bosses who hire the zombies.  Surely these applicants didn’t walk into the interview all full of sunshine and pep just to make a good impression–if you’re a zombie to begin with, it’s hard to fake being outgoing and amicable.  So, bosses, if you’re hiring someone for a customer service position and you are concerned that they actually do make a good impression on the customers, here are a few things to watch out for in the interview besides what is actually discussed:

Did they greet you when they came in?

Did they smile at all?

Did they make eye contact?

Did they speak clearly?  Or did they mumble?  Did you have to ask them to repeat themselves more than once because you couldn’t hear them?

Did they seem defensive or angry?  Were they belligerent?  (with some of the clerks I’ve encountered, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the news, arrested for having chopped up bodies in the fridge)

If they don’t care enough to make a good impression on the person interviewing them, guess what?  They certainly aren’t going to do it on the salesfloor!  I’d much rather hire someone with reasonable social skills and no experience than someone with plenty of experience who acts like a zombie.  It’s easier to train someone to use a register than it is to teach them warmth and empathy. 

This may all just sound like common sense–if not downright obvious–but I’m betting there are a few managers out there who just don’t have common sense–or just don’t care, which is another topic for another day.

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