How to hire the best candidates for customer-facing positions

By May 28, 2014Hiring Advice
Hiring Advice Smiling woman working in a coffee shop

Hiring for client-facing positions is a little different from hiring for desk jobs, IT spots or any position where the employee doesn’t have to interact with customers.

I would argue that it’s not that different – you should always hire for attitude and train for skills, and this applies to any and all jobs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A person with an excellent skillset and an attitude problem will always have an attitude problem, while someone with a great attitude who needs to learn some skills will soon have a great attitude and the skills.

But this is even more important in hospitality, sales and customer relations. An employee who comes into contact with customers should, above all, have a great disposition.

The below infographic from Zendesk examines the needs of customers and lists the qualities you need to look for in employees. These are optimism, kindness, empathy, creativity, curiosity, and teamwork.

Looking for more insight into what to seek in a client-facing employee? The author of this Forbes article has listed five crucial customer-centric employee traits and come up with the acronym WETCO. “Suggestion: You’ll never forget this if you picture a wet dog at PETCO,” he says. (Er, OK.) Most of these overlap with Zendesk’s listed traits.

Micah Solomon writes:


    W is for Warmth: Simple human kindness.

    E is for Empathy: The ability to sense what another person is feeling.

    T is for Teamwork: An inclination toward ‘‘Let’s work together to make this happen’’ and against ‘‘I’d rather do it all myself.’’

    C is for Conscientiousness: Detail orientation, including an ability and willingness to follow through to completion.

    O is for Optimism: The ability to bounce back and to not internalize challenges.

Take a look at the infographic, which also lists the skills you should train for.