Feb 3, 2023

Read Time 4 min

Winning over Customer Success talent: Four ways to build a better interview process


This is a guest article by Swati Garg, founder and CEO, Melo Associates, and Lindsay Lynch, senior recruitment consultant, Melo Associates, a recruitment firm focused on Customer Success hiring for SaaS and tech companies nationwide.

Having a strong interview process is imperative to finding quality Customer Success candidates who are the best fit for your organization. It is also critical to involve your team in hiring decisions to retain talent and continue to grow a flourishing department. Here are four tips to conduct an effective Customer Success interview and design a great candidate experience.

 1. Use the right job title

As the function grows, there are an increasing number of titles for individual contributor Customer Success professionals, e.g., Scale Customer Success Manager, Digital Customer Success Manager, Customer Success Operations Manager. That’s not even including the varying roles, responsibilities, and levels of people management and leadership positions.

The job title you choose for a role is essential to its success. To help you and your potential candidates better navigate the nuance between Customer Success roles, using the correct title is key.

Internally, a job title signifies a role’s authority and responsibility. It sets expectations for how CS team members and other departments interact with the position, and how its contribution to the company is viewed and measured.

Externally, using the right job title helps you find qualified candidates faster. A title represents many aspects of a role, including its level of technical ability, customer base (internal vs. external stakeholders), seniority, and expertise areas. As the basis for a candidate’s job search, the title is the most important element to get right. Crafting an unfamiliar title means you’re likely losing out on candidates who don’t know to search for a custom designation. Titles are not the place to get overly creative; use those most common to the industry to increase visibility.

2. Practice timely communication

We ask our clients to reach out to candidates within 24-48 hours of receiving their applications. If a CS professional is in the market, there’s a high chance your organization is not the only one they are speaking to. Responding to an applicant in a timely manner ensures you do not miss out on a qualified candidate and shows your company is just as committed to the process.

When and how fast your company responds also gives the candidate insight into how you communicate and where this role fits amongst your list of priorities. A delayed response to an interested candidate who’s qualified shows a lack of interest and gives other companies an opportunity to move quickly and take them off the market.

3. Keep the interview process simple and thorough

An efficient interview process is respectful of everyone’s time. If the process is too slow, companies that have fewer steps or quicker turnaround times will be able to present offers and hire candidates before they get the chance to fully assess your company and the opportunity. Additionally, long interview processes can dissuade candidates from continuing if they are not actively in the market.

To entice candidates and increase your odds of landing them, we recommend a two- or three-step process. Here are two examples of strong interview processes we have seen among our clients:

Two-step Customer Success interview process

  • Step 1: An hour-long conversation with the hiring manager
  • Step 2: A half-day interview that includes a panel interview and/or a series of interviews with two team members, and one to two additional leaders who work closely with the role, as well as an exercise (a presentation, role-play scenario, or technical competency conversation)

Three-step Customer Success interview process

  • Step 1: An hour-long conversation with the hiring manager
  • Step 2: An exercise (a presentation, role-play scenario, or technical competency conversation)
  • Step 3: A panel interview or series of interviews that include meeting two team members, and one or two additional leaders that work closely with the role.

Choosing between these processes depends on how streamlined a company wants to make the process, and how many people they want the candidate to interview with. If a company wants more time to make a decision in between stages, we recommend the three-point process.

In both examples, assigning an exercise allows the candidate to see what the work would be like and allows the company to assess the candidate based on their specific needs. Can they tell a story with data? Can they spin low adoption rates into an opportunity? Do they have a professional presence? The majority of our clients include one exercise to test skills and ultimately determine if this candidate would be a good team fit.

Additionally, involving individual contributors and peers in your interview process helps retain strong professionals by giving them an important role in influencing the growth of the internal function and a glimpse into leadership responsibilities. This is one way to provide growth opportunities to current employees.

4. Use the correct name pronunciation and gender pronouns for interviewers and candidates

Names and gender pronouns are used daily and are essential to how we communicate. Make proper pronunciation and correct pronouns a regular part of the application and interview process and work environment to ensure everyone involved is comfortable and identified correctly.

Some ways to make this seamless are as follows:

  • Include pronouns and phonetic spelling of names in email signatures for internal employees
  • Request this information on application documents and ensure it is shared with the entire interview team
  • Have the individual coordinating the first interview request this information prior to the interview when providing interview details
  • Have the first interviewer request it once to share with the team and add it to the official candidate profile

The impact correct pronunciation and pronouns have on a person is powerful, and it will be well received internally and externally.

The key to attracting and hiring top-tier Customer Success talent

To impress your ideal candidates and beat out the competition, you first need to know if what you’re offering matches or, better yet, exceeds what they’re looking for in an employer.

Learn what it takes for today’s Customer Success workforce to say ‘yes’ to your offer in our blog, “Five things Customer Success professionals want in their next position.”

And if you’re feeling like you’d like a pulse check on what’s going on in the job market for Customer Success, you’re not alone. It’s one of the questions our clients ask us most often.

To help make sense of the emerging employment shifts and opportunities that are shaping the industry, we’ve compiled a list of the top hiring trends for Customer Success professionals to know in 2023.

This is a guest article by Swati Garg, founder and CEO, Melo Associates, and Lindsay Lynch, senior recruitment consultant, Melo Associates, a recruitment firm focused on Customer Success hiring for SaaS and tech companies nationwide.


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