What we can tell you though is this:
- If you use your own real life and work experiences its easier to sound authentic and genuine
- You need to give enough detail to explain yourself, and knowing your answers inside out will help you do this
- You need to be prepared, so that you aren’t thrown off track whatever question comes your way
- You need to practice in front of a mirror so you can see how you are coming across and get comfortable with the feeling of talking about yourself
- You need to do your research about the airline; what it stands for, what its values, what its latest news is, facts and figures about how and where it operates etc. it’s not an exam, but having a good working knowledge of who you want to work for will look better than being vague and uninformed.
Here are 3 questions and example answers to give you some guidance on how to answer ‘behavioural’ or ‘competency based’ questions (i.e. the ‘tell us about a time/ can you describe a situation..’ type questions).
Can you describe a situation where you have given excellent customer service?
In my current job role as a customer service assistant at Tesco, my role requires me to deliver excellent customer service on a daily basis. I am specifically responsible for handling queries on the customer service desk where I need to help customers and find a positive solution.
On one occasion, I had a customer who approached me regarding a faulty appliance they had purchased. They were particularly frustrated as this item was the last one on the shelves in the store, so they came to see me for help. I listened to the problem, and let her know that I understood and could see why she was annoyed. I reassured her that I would do all I could to help and then checked our stock system. Unfortunately we had none in stock and were not due a delivery until the following Wednesday. The customer was not too happy about this and was concerned they would now have to carry it back to their car and home again, to carry out another visit at a later date.
I made sure I smiled and stayed positive, telling her that I would do everything I could to resolve it for her. I contacted another store 12 miles away straight away to see if they had this in stock. I made sure I clearly explained everything to the other store and politely got them to confirm that they would hold the item for my customer. I asked the store to hold while I explained to my customer who agreed this was a good option for her.
I confirmed the customer details with the other store so there would be no mix up, and advised of her arrival within the next 30 minutes as I had asked her this to make sure there was no confusion at either end. The customer was extremely satisfied and thanked me for helping her out so efficiently and pleasantly. I further helped the customer by arranging for a colleague to help carry the faulty item to her car. The customer left the store smiling and happy, thanking me for my service.
Can you describe a situation where you have handled a customer service problem?
In my job role as a receptionist at a medical centre, my role requires me to manage patients on a daily basis. Patients have a number of different needs these need to be managed effectively to ensure they get the best possible care. Unfortunately there are times booking errors can occur. On one recent occasion, I had a patient come into the surgery to check in for their 2pm appointment. I checked their details and confirmed their identity before attempting to check them in. After looking at the booking system, I could see there was an error, and in fact the patient had been booked for the following week, on the same day. I explained what had happened very clearly and offered my apology. The patient was angry, saying ‘this is not the first time this has happened to me’. I realised the customer was frustrated, so made sure that they knew I was listening to the i.e. concerns and I was sympathetic. I reassured them saying, ‘please don’t worry, let me look into this and see what I can do’. I wanted them to be confident that I could resolve it and that I was working in their best interests. I asked the patient to take a seat whilst I investigated further.
I checked the allocation of patients and GP’s that day, and found we had 2 cancellations for the morning, which had allowed for a space in the afternoon appointments. I quickly made contact with that GP, explaining the situation and the impact on the patient of the mistake. This persuaded the GP to agree to fill the spare appointment with the waiting patient. I returned to the patient within 5 minutes to update them on what I had done, and asked if they would be happy to see another GP today, but not their normal doctor. The patient was extremely happy with what I had done to assist her, and thanked me for sorting it out. I advised that there would be a short wait and asked if I could get her any water or anything to make her more comfortable. She was happy that I had helped re- arrange the appointment so her journey wasn’t wasted.
Can you describe a situation where you have worked in a team to achieve a goal?
In my spare time I am a keen charity fundraiser for a local LGBT charity. Part of this role means I have to be part of a team of 6 that help to promote equality in society and embrace peoples individuality. Earlier this year, as part of our role we had to plan and prepare a parade through the town to help raise awareness and develop positive community relationships. Myself and 3 colleagues had to get support from local businesses, so we put a plan together to go around business to business to ask for funding and support on the day including asking staff to come out into the street to celebrate and support, as well as allowing us to put flyers and posters in their shop/store windows.
I sat down with my colleagues before we got underway and asked what everyone wanted to do. The original plan was to all be involved in all aspects of gaining support, but I knew one of my colleagues was less outgoing than the rest of us and might have felt uncomfortable in approaching people in their businesses and asking for help. I volunteered to go door to door down the high street because I was happy to do that. My quieter colleague admitted that he wasn’t keen on joining me to do that. I asked what his strengths were and he said he liked design and office work. We talked though the options and he offered to design to create the posters, decide on the design with input from my colleagues, and make sure we had enough supplies for us to venture out to local businesses.
We had a short time frame of only 2 days to get this completed, so was working against the clock. I changed my plans for the 2 days leading up to the event to make sure I had enough time to prepare, and focused purely on making sure I had everything I needed to be prepared and organised, and then got out and encouraged participation in the event from everyone I met! Myself and my colleagues went around all the local businesses and promoted the event. I suggested we take turns to do the talking and I took responsibility for making sure we all had enough rest and snacks to keep us going.
We did a great job, and on the day of the parade, we were blown away with the response from the public and their involvement within the event and parade. It was clear that everyone had a fantastic time, and I felt really proud of what I had achieved in the time frame we had available.
The other sort of questions you might face might be more traditional. They may involve research and fact-finding, but also your own opinion and personal take.