Preparing For Customer Success Interviews Mini-Series: Part 1, Doing The Research
You know when you're dropping the ball so bad on an interview? Like you almost want to reach over and say, "can I just leave?" I wanted to do that during my first Customer Success interview –– It was a nightmare.
In the days that followed that interview, I kept reliving the experience and thinking, "Damn, if only I had spent a little time doing this" or "I really should've dug more into the technical side." But you have to kiss a few frogs before you get the prince, and I kissed a fair share of them.
If you secured a Customer Success interview, congrats 🙌 I'm sure you worked really hard to get that opportunity. Now that it's before you, I know that you want to do everything in your power to make sure you go from prospect to HIRED!
In this mini-series, I'll break down the 5 ways to prepare for a Customer Success Interview. I'm going deep on this one and sharing as much as I can to help you absolutely rock out on your interview.
Let's kick things off with part one of the mini-series: doing the research.
Why is researching so important?
I've fallen victim to TikTok in the past (it's so entertaining!) and one of my favorite videos include this sound:
If you're thinking "nobody's gonna know" that you didn't do the research... They're GONNA know!
I've interviewed hundreds of candidates, and on every rubric I've used to score them, there is always a question or section about company knowledge/interest. The prep work is where it all starts.
Let's take the concept of "fake it till you make it" and throw that right in the trash! You don't have to fake anything –– the goal before the call is to gain confidence,and researching is the way to do it.
Before the call, you should know enough about the company, the product, your interviewer, and the role. How do you find that information? Let's break each one down:
Researching for a Customer Success Role
The company website is a goldmine. Their homepage will likely include a simplified copy to help you understand what it is that they do. If it's a SaaS company, they'll probably have a feature or product overview. The most important part of the site will be the About and or Career section. These pages shine a light on the company's mission, values, and team culture.
If they have a blog which includes case studies or success stories, you've officially hit the jackpot 🤑 In these stories, you're learning about how THEY make their customers successful; this is going to be your job. Sprinkle this information into your conversation –– naturally, of course!
News & LinkedIn are great external sources. You can find out things like how the company is performing, funding rounds, and their marketing efforts.
Lastly, if you haven't done so already, you'll want to dig into their Glassdoor and G2Crowd reviews. Find out what others are saying about the company and their experience with the interview process on Glassdoor. On G2Crowd, hear directly from customers what they feel the product get's right and where they could improve.
Best case scenario, they have a free trial you can sign up to help you get acquainted. I'm not saying master the tool but get familiar with it. Write down things you've noticed need improvement, areas that captivated your attention and if you've gone down the list of reviews on G2Crowd, now is your chance to see the functionality customers were raving about personally.
Not every product offers free trials, if they don't, work with what you have! Use the website, blog posts, case studies, and videos (don't forget to check YouTube) to piece together as much information as you can.
A big part of your role as a Customer Success professional is serving as a product expert. Going the extra mile here will show that 1. you are the type that will hit the ground running (points for resourcefulness) and go out of your way to become that expert, and 2. you were curious enough to dig into the tool (this sets you apart from other applicants).
The person(s) on the other side of the table are decision-makers, and you usually have 30 minutes to an hour to convince them that you are the one. Why not do everything you can to make that impression?
If you've scrolled through the website and stumbled upon a video with your interviewer, watch it! Take notes and let them know that you watched the video. Stumbling upon a video would be great but not common so you'll likely be doing further digging... back to LinkedIn you go. Find out things like where they previously worked, posts they've liked, or previous posts they shared. You can do this by going to the person's profile and scrolling down to their activities just like this:
If they're not active on LinkedIn, a quick Google search also works! The extra work here will help you find common ground with the person. Just as you would with a customer, you're looking to build rapport.
The last part of doing your research is digging into what you would be doing there. You already have a headstart here because you have access to the job description. Review it well –– this is a resource we'll be using more in other parts of our preparation, like prepping our questions.
To learn more about the role from an outsider's perspective, check out Glassdoor again. Try to spot any reviews given by someone in the role you're applying for. Here's an example of one from a CSM at Salesforce:
How much time do I need to prep?
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of the research, I hear ya! It's a lot of work, I'm not gonna lie to you. But if you don't do this work, someone else will, and they will likely get the job #toughlove
A few years back, when I was interviewing someone for a Support role, one of the questions we asked was, "What's your favorite part about our tool?" If they couldn't speak to the product comfortably, they didn't make it to the next step. It was as simple as that.
My friends in the space all went about researching in the same way; This takes upwards of 2 - 3 hours. But trust me, it's worth it. In a competitive job market, it's the little things that can help you stand apart from others, so don't leave it up to chance and do the research 😉
With research completed, next, I'll be showing you how to take the research you've done and working that into the interview itself. We'll be "preparing for questions" in the next post.