How would you deal with a difficult customer?

How would you deal with a difficult customer? – Tough Sales Interview Question

During an interview, it is common to face situational questions where you have to showcase your core sales skills. In such scenarios, it is important for you to learn how to manage the situation and handle customer relations. These questions are designed to dig into your behaviour and quick response skills. 

To answer these sales interview questions in a proper manner to overcome the interview round, you need to focus on some major points. This question is aked in a different context or format but you need to prepare the best script to sound appealing and a well-deserving candidate. 

There is no wonder that you would be facing rejections or rude behaviour from strangers in sales and it is a part of your job. While preparing for the answers, you need to admit the points to follow in real-life situations as well to grow in your career. 

Why the interviewer is asking this question?

Everyone has their own process of situation handling and dealing with the customers. The hiring manager wants to know how efficiently you can handle difficult customers. These behavioural skills cannot be mentioned in your resume but you have elaborate in front of the interviewers. 

The main reason behind asking this type of tough question is to ensure that you would be acting as a professional in front of the customer no matter how they behave and solve the problem. If you get tensed by this question, it would reflect that you cannot handle difficult customers. 

Customers get irritated or behave rudely out of different situations and as a salesperson you cannot get demotivated by this. Instead, you need to come up with a positive solution. In the interview, you need to frame the answer with this positive notion to impress the interviewers. Note that this type of question may be asked as a counter-question to any of your previous answers as well. 

How do I answer this question?

For Freshers:

There is no need to think that freshers won’t get the attention due to lack of experience. All you need to do as a fresher is to research the position and company well and prepare yourself to encounter all the questions. The main focus should be on highlighting the skills required to handle a difficult customer. The better you fame your answer, the higher would be your chance to get selected. 

When you don’t have a past story to share with the interviewers, tell them more about your skills and how would you use them to deal with a difficult situation. If you mention that you are patient, you try to listen to them, or you want to explain them calmly won’t help until you elaborate its effect on the overall process.

The basics should be clear and communicate with a natural tone. Provide examples with your answer to make an impact. If you have enough potential, interviewers would just overlook if you are experienced or not. Also, it is suggested to discuss with someone who is working in sales and has similar experiences. 

Make sure your answer reflects that you’re truly interested in the job and you consider this problem as a part of your job. Consequently, you are ready to solve the problem even if you’re a beginner. Your answer should never convey that you don’t have experience in such tough situations. 

Also Check :- How do you handle Customer Rejection? – Tough sales interview questions

Sample Answers for Freshers:


My father was in sales and he has a different experience of handling angry customers. So, before I applied for this role, I discussed with my father and listen to his stories carefully. From the real-life experiences, I can understand that I need to be patient in any situation and use my active -communication skills to listen to them. Then, I need to find an effective solution to keep both the customer happy and the company on the top. 

I think it is important to listen and understand the situation from the customer’s side as well instead of taking the situation too personal. I would be empathetic to the customer and as a customer-relation executive, it would be my achievement to convince a difficult customer. 


I think there is no reason to lose hope if any customer gets angry or disappointed by our service. Rather, it is high time to look for a better solution to convince the customer. As a relationship manager, my first action would be to listen to the customers patiently and find the actual reason for the conflict. Next, I would apologise for his/her loss and tell them that I want to help them. With my obstacle-handling skills, I would try to find the best possible way to recover from the damaged situation. 

In this way, it is possible to handle a critical customer and I would also make sure that these incidents can be examples for the company’s better image. A difficult situation always leads to some better position and by solving such issues we could analyse the process. Gradually, we can perform better and cut down the complaint rate. 

For 2-3 years experienced:

This coin has two clear sides. As an experienced candidate, it would be an advantage to sit for the interview. On the other hand, you need to share some proper examples while answering this question to sound different and better. You need to mention your key skills while talking about your style of handling customers in the format of a story. 

In your answer, the customer’s condition, his/her problem and behaviour, your concern, and your action should be seen in a distinguished manner. All the required skills like patience, flexibility, communication, problem-solving, empathy, and interpersonal skills should be reflected. And by reflected, it is meant to be practised, not making up a story.

From your answer, there will be one or more follow-up questions from the interviewer’s side. So, until you share true experience, you would end up getting rejected. Also, when you share a true incident, it would definitely boost your confidence. 

You can follow the STAR method to frame your answer in Situation, Task, Action, and Result. By this, it would be easier for you to remember the points you wanted to mentioned and easier for the interviewers to connect with the story. 

Also Check : – How to answer tough sales interview questions

Sample Answer: 


Situation: In my last job, I faced a very difficult customer who wanted to exchange a dress after a month of purchase. According to the store policy, customers cannot return or exchange any product after one week of purchase. However, she told that she was out of town and a day ago she noticed some marks on the dress and now she needs an immediate exchange. 

Task: As a purchase manager, I needed to resolve this issue soon. So, I went to her and apologised for the inconvenience. I knew that any exchange would be against the store policy and I cannot do so. But at the same time, I need to satisfy the customer as well. 

Action: I took the bill from the customer and checked whether she bought that dress with any offer or coupon. I found that it was our stock clearing sale and she took this dress in 40% off. So, I said that there can’t be any exchange right now but as she bought this dress at 40% off, she can now buy another dress from the fresh stock at 40% off. I talked to her humbly and helped her to choose another dress. 

Result: As there were no offers at that time, and she got 40% off on the bill, I was satisfied. Although, it was not in our rulebook, as a manager it was my duty to ensure that every customer is satisfied with our service. Going the extra mile solved this problem and from then onwards our store had a new customer-relation policy. We used to generate a call after four days of purchase to the customer to know if they liked our service and if there is any complaint about the dress, we could resolve it within seven days. 


Situation: In my last job, I was working as a desk manager for a meal shop. In one of the holidays, we had overloaded orders and home deliveries to complete. So, our delivery boys were very busy and in a rush. However, I got a call from one of the customers that they received incomplete orders even after paying the advance bill online. He was very angry and told that he had guests waiting for lunch. 

Task: As a desk manager, my job was to ensure that all the orders are delivered properly at the right time. I understood that there is a mistake from either the delivery boy’s side or someone who was receiving the order on call. 

Action: I apologised for such a mishap and told him to wait for half an hour. Then, I checked the order book and there were five items. Then I called the delivery boy and asked him to check if there is any extra box lift in his delivery cart. He checked and informed me that there is one packet which he didn’t notice to deliver. I asked him to return back t that customer. Meanwhile, I sent another boy to deliver a complimentary cake from our side as an apology. 

Result: Finally, the customer was calmed down and on the next day, when we called him for the feedback, he thanked us for our service. 

Tips to Answer this question

  • Tell them that you would ask probing questions to understand their actual problem and what are their needs. Also mention that you would apologise to them in advance and put their needs first. Taking a step back would give you a chance to control the damage. You can also try to build a common connection with customers to make them comfortable and deliver successful solutions. 
  • Always end a conversation with a positive note like, ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ or ‘Do you want to share anything else with us? Our service is open for you’. Showing gratitude would take the customer relationship at a better height. Your long-term patience would help the customer to calm down as well. 
  • While describing a situation, never use a disrespectful or unprofessional word or phrase. If you get excited while sharing a story, it would reflect that you cannot control your personal emotion at work and you cannot handle difficult customers. Be very careful with your tone and expression in the interview. A slip of tongue would be the reason for your rejection. 
  • Do not say that you try to avoid conflicts or you try to pass such responsibilities to others. Such answers won’t be entertained in a sales interview as they want to hire candidates who can face unusual situations comfortably. 
  • Mention that these types of incidents help to improve a company’s customer-relationship standards. So, this answer would reflect your positive approach to tough situations. 

Similar Interview Questions: 

  1. Tell me a time when you dealt with a difficult customer or client?
  2. When have you had to deal with an irate customer?
  3. What would you consider when dealing with a challenging customer?
  4. How would you deal with an angry customer?
  5. How would you deal with a difficult customer on the telephone?
  6. What actions did you take during your past jobs to deal with challenging situations?
  7. Give us an example where you solved a complicated problem at work?
  8. Describe a situation with a difficult task at the workplace and how you handled that?
  9. Can you tell us about a situation from your past experiences when you made a certain mistake and what you did to fix that?
  10. Tell us about the time you led a project where there was conflict within a team.
  11. Have you had any experience of responding to some unhappy customers?


You need to show the employer that you have people skills and you can handle not so pleasant customers instead of avoiding conflict. As a sales professional, it would be your responsibility to handle every type of customer and try to convert them into your retaining customers. Customer-relationship is an integral part of a product or service-based companies and as a company representative, there is no way to avoid the situation. An efficient salesperson would always face the challenge and these problem-solving techniques need to be highlighted.

In this article, you would find all the necessary tips to prepare for the best sales interview round, especially for the customer-relationship related positions. 

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