3 Interview Tips for Hiring Customer Success Managers


There has been a considerable rise in the volume of Customer Success Manager jobs in the marketplace, CSM’s are becoming an integral part of extraordinary client experience. Problem is, role in CSM is relatively new, and finding the right candidate for the job can certainly frustrate the hiring manager.

CSM’s main goal is to improve client retention and the upsell of services. Customer success can be defined as a proactive, real-time sales approach consisting of building relationships with existing customers, in-depth understanding of their company and product goals, and helping the customer meet those goals through regular contact.

Chances are you won’t find someone with years of direct experience, that’s why many Customer Success executives ask me some common questions like “How to interview a customer success manager?”, “What kind of skills to look for while hiring CSM?” and “What should be an ideal personality of the candidate?”, the fact is, you need to get a little creative in determining the skills to recruit for.

There are many criteria that you might require to look after before you actually search for the right customer service manager. Whether you require someone to handle a super strategic big account or a mid-size company (mid-touch) or somebody who would manage a slew of SMB (small and medium business).

I would like to share some very practical tactics that most of my clients used to hire an efficient customer success manager that can do the job.

Your Three Tips on How to Interview CSM

When looking at common characteristics, skills, and qualifications on CSM job descriptions, I evaluate the candidate through three common traits of Customer Success teams: Productivity, real-time scenarios, and Mockups (through QBR templates).

To make things a little easier, we’ve narrowed down a few of the top traits to look for along with a few must-ask interview questions.

Tip 1: Productivity

The job of the customer success manager is relatively new in the marketplace which prevents the hiring manager to ask the predefined set of questions, instead, the hiring manager will be required to get little creative with the questions and judge the real capabilities of the candidate.

Here is how to do it:

  • Give them a spreadsheet that contains tons of different attributes for your multiple customers and clients.
  • The spreadsheet may include ARR, current health score, NPS score, recent trends, number of employee data, etc.
  • How many features they are using vs the holistic modules that you can sell them on.
  • Now ask them to evaluate the data, and organize and prioritize the client requirements.

This test will give you a better impression of the organizational capabilities of the candidate, do they really have a sense of prioritization and a deeper understanding of how would they approach the client’s problem.

infographic CSM Profiles

Tip 2: Real Scenarios

Real-time scenarios can tell a lot about the candidate’s problem-solving capabilities.

Give your Customer Success candidate a scenario that is not straightforward to think about. This might include any kind of real-life situation that is a little complex. Take a scenario from your life experiences and ask them “What would you do in that situation” and really hone in on “Why would they take that action”.

Real work scenarios will give you a better idea of the candidate’s mental clarity and capability.

Tip 3: a QBR Mock-up

Effective customer success is key to overcoming churn and increasing ARR, so it’s vital for the hiring manager to hire the kind of CSM no less than a rock star.

Give them a QBR template and ask them to be a part of the mock-up drill. A difficult scenario or up-sell scenario and ask them to prepare a QBR session.

It gives you a sense of the candidate’s presentation and communication skills. The candidate needs to master the skill of human communication, it got to be easy, effective, and authentic.

How would they deal with different situations and customers? This gives you a better insight into who they are besides the return work on paper. Hopefully, these three tips are going to help you in your interview process.

CSM Customer success managers recruiters list download


The process of hiring a CSM is well beyond a list of predefined questions, a customer success manager will be the company’s key player to work on client retention, upsell, and renewal of services.

Let’s summarize the key pointers to finding a great customer service manager:

  • Test the organizational capabilities of the candidate by providing them with the data of multiple client scenarios.
  • Real-time scenarios are the best way to know the decision-making capabilities.
  • Mock-up drills to hire the best out of rest.

If you are a hiring manager looking to fill the customer success position, we have service offerings that could help you define the proper CSM Ratio, the segmentation and engagement models appropriate for your business model, and define the hiring skill grid necessary to make for a strong customer success team.

Top Customer Success Manager skills

Written By:
Irit Eizips

Irit is the Chief Customer Officer & CEO at CSM Practice, is a world-renowned expert on customer retention, upsells, cross-sells, and customer value strategies and methodologies. Since 2013, Irit has been pivotal in shaping Customer Success best practices. She has been nominated as a top Customer Success strategist and influencer, year after year, since 2013. Irit was recently named one of the Top 150 Global Customer Experience Thought Leaders and Influencers of 2020. She is frequently producing thought leadership on her youtube channel (CSM Practice) and is often featured as a speaker at conferences and Customer Success publications.