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How to assess job applicants for customer communication skills


Employees with poor customer communication skills can be detrimental to your business. Failing to understand customer needs or communicating solutions ineffectively is likely to result in low customer satisfaction, reduced sales, and a poor reputation for your company. 

Thus, it's critical to properly assess your candidates’ customer communication skills, especially for client-facing roles like customer service

However, many recruiters measure customer communication skills solely on interview performance, ignoring the breadth of other essential factors that need to be properly evaluated. 

In this guide, we explain how to assess customer communication skills and what mistakes to avoid in the process. We also discuss how to use customer communication assessments to help you make well-rounded and reliable hiring decisions for all your customer-centric roles. 

What you need to know about customer communication 

Here are some factors to take into account before you start the assessment process.

Different roles require different types of customer communication 

Many jobs need good customer communication skills, but each may have slightly different requirements. For instance, a customer service executive working in a call center needs to be an excellent communicator over the phone and engage customers without in-person interaction. 

An account manager, on the other hand, might need exceptional sales and presentation skills to support and upsell existing customers and acquire new ones. 

Therefore, it’s necessary to clearly outline the role, including relevant communication channels and interaction types, so you know what customer communication skills to assess. 

Communication needs vary by customer    

Good customer interactions involve tailoring communication strategies to the audience. For instance, if a real estate salesperson understands the significance of homeownership for a specific culture, they can customize their pitch accordingly and increase their likelihood of closing a sale. 

Hence, it’s important to check that a job applicant can adapt their communication skills and tactics to account for customers’ languages, cultural nuances, and personal needs. 

Customer communication requires a number of skills 

Customer communication isn’t a stand-alone skill per se. It comprises several other soft skills and traits, all of which need to be properly evaluated when you’re assessing an applicant. 

Here’s what to look out for: 

  • Technical proficiency: Knowledge of customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like Hubspot or Zendesk, Outlook or Google email, live chat software, video conferencing, and phone systems.

  • Languages: Strong command of the written and spoken language(s) relevant to the customer base.

  • Sales: Pitching, presenting, and negotiating sales-focused communications. 

  • Overall interactions: Written and verbal communication, active listening, and effective questioning.

  • Empathy and adaptability: Skilled at understanding customers’ wants, needs, and individual situations, tailoring communications accordingly.

How to assess candidates’ customer communication skills

Bearing in mind the varied skill set required for top-level customer communication, it’s best to take a multi-measure approach. This means holistically assessing candidates for their role-specific, technical, and soft skills.

TestGorilla lets you choose from more than 400 tests to create an assessment tailored specifically to the role you’re hiring for. Evaluate the many different factors that form good customer communication and receive a set of objective results for data-driven hiring decisions.

Consider incorporating the following tests into your customer communication skills assessment:

  • Role-specific tests, such as the Customer Service test, Account Management test, and Customer Success Manager (SaaS) test. These look at a candidate’s overall suitability for the role but also contain questions that assess their abilities to communicate with customers.

  • Technical tests, such as the Telesales (B2C) test, email skills tests for Microsoft Outlook or Gmail, and CRM tests for Salesforce CRM. These tests help to determine candidates’ level of familiarity with software and tools relevant to the customer communication elements of their jobs. 

  • Language tests are a great way to assess your applicants’ proficiency in the language(s) required to cater to your company’s customer base.

  • Communication Skills and Communications (Intermediate) level tests assess candidates’ fundamental communication skills for different types of roles.

  • Verbal Reasoning evaluates how applicants recognize logical patterns and relationships between words, as well as interpreting written information.

  • Reading Comprehension determines a candidate’s ability to read text and comprehend its meaning, draw conclusions, and make inferences, which is critical to customer communication.

  • Personality tests help you to better understand if job applicants possess emotional intelligence, good interpersonal skills, adaptability, and other traits required to succeed in customer-centric jobs. 

  • Culture Add tests look at applicants’ suitability to align with your company’s culture and working practices. This is particularly suitable for candidates who will be dealing with “internal customers” – for instance, in IT support jobs. 

Behavioral interviews

Combine online tests with in-person or one-way video interviews for a thorough assessment of a candidate’s customer communication skills. The right set of questions can help you dig deeper into how applicants have dealt with customer communications in previous jobs, different situations, and more. 

Customer simulation tests 

Another way to assess customer communication skills is through in-person or virtual simulations. For example, you could consider a role-play test where the hiring manager or interviewer plays the role of a customer and asks the applicant to resolve a concern for them. 

Putting candidates through real-world situations is a great way to test their abilities to manage customer communications effectively.

Common mistakes to avoid when assessing customer communication skills

Avoid these common pitfalls when assessing job applicants’ customer communication skills. 

Relying solely on resumes and cover letters 

Reading resumes and cover letters can tell you if a candidate has had experience communicating with customers. However, it doesn’t tell you how skilled or effective they are in their communications. 

By relying solely on these screening methods you could end up, for instance, hiring someone who has many years of customer service experience but poor interpersonal skills. 

Disregarding red flags during the interview process

Many interviewers focus too heavily on candidates’ responses to generic experience-based questions. While this is important, you also need to pay close attention to their real-time communication skills or do some role-play exercises to assess how they interact with customers. 

Without this, you might recruit someone with a great career story but lacking the necessary skills for successful interactions. 

Ignoring non-verbal communication skills

Customer interactions aren’t limited to verbal and written communication. It’s important to assess candidates on non-verbal cues such as active listening, reading between the lines, and interpreting customers’ tones and body language.  

Otherwise, you might hire a candidate who possesses good verbal and written skills but doesn’t pick up on subtle customer needs, leading to customer frustration and low satisfaction levels. 

Use TestGorilla to assess customer communication skills

Good communicators can enhance customer experience, encourage repeat business, and help strengthen your company’s reputation. That’s why it's so important to invest in a robust hiring process that thoroughly evaluates candidates on their customer communication skills. 

TestGorilla offers 400-plus online tests that can help you quickly and reliably evaluate your job applicants on customer focus, communication, languages, technical proficiency, culture add, and more, so you can hire only the best applicants for the job. 

Create a free account, request a live demo, or take our product tour to hire faster and better starting today.


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