Working at a help desk or in a support role is a great way to be tapped into the core of any business: customers and products. In a help desk job, you get to connect with customers, understand their experience with your company, and get to know the product inside and out. It takes a certain mix of skills, values, and personal characteristics to really go far in a help desk or support career.
I sat down with Rick Bal, HipChat’s Global Server Support Manager, and asked what impresses him most when looking for and interviewing help desk or support candidates. With over 5 years leading and staffing Atlassian support teams, Rick knows what makes for a stellar help desk support agent.
12 traits hiring managers look for in help desk job candidates
1. A real desire to help people.
This person does a great job because they truly want to help others, not because it’s “their job”. They work hard to play hard, find joy in their day-to-day tasks, and have passion for their role.
2. Works ‘with’ and not ‘for’ the customers.
A superior support agent sees the customer as an equal partner, and considers themselves an extension of the customer’s team. Identifying with the customer as a partner helps support agents treat problems as their own and provide a level of service that they would expect themselves.
3. Positive and optimistic approach to problem-solving.
Support jobs can be difficult, but this person doesn’t allow negative customer interactions to become contagious. In the face of a tense or charged situation, this person knows how to stay logical and focus on solving the issue at hand. They approach customers with empathy, don’t complain about customers when things get tough, and look for what can be learned from the situation.
4. Creates and cultivates a playful and relaxed work environment.
This person enjoys themselves at work, spreading a positive can-do attitude. A great support agent integrates a bit of fun into their daily tasks to make everyone’s loads a little lighter. Office pranks are always a fun way to do this.
5. Collaborative team spirit.
This person feels responsible not only for their own tasks, but also cares about their team’s workload, too. They know when to ask for and offer help, and understand how much they can take on at a time. They care about the team’s success, and are happy to sacrifice personal goals when needed to help the team achieve its goals. There are times you will get pulled into a call that lasts for hours on end, so it’s good to know the team can cover for you.
6. Passion for the product.
An awesome support agent is an informed champion of their products. They’re enthusiastic about using them, understanding how they work inside and out, and seek to improve them. This natural curiosity drives them to tinker, and truly understand how the product works, not just how to fix it when something breaks. This type of passion for the product shows up in customer interactions, and it’s infectious.
7. All-star communication skills.
A great help desk agent simply enjoys communicating with customers. They know it’s essential to listen and understand before being heard. This person strives for transparency, and communicates with tact. They know how to adapt their style to different kinds of customers – from those that want to be your best friend, to those that just want the problem solved. Their natural teaching skills help customers understand the product enough to even solve issues on their own.
8. Advocates for the customer – with balance.
This person feels the customer’s pain, and uses their resources to go above and beyond to help the customer reach a solution. They look beyond 1:1 customer interactions to solve problems globally, and in turn, help even more customers. This could be something as simple as updating knowledge base information or filing a bug or feature request. At the same, they know how to prioritize their day, and are careful not to dive too deep into one problem at the cost of other customers.
9. Real respect for the customer.
In a help desk job, it’s important to acknowledge customers by name and build meaningful relationships with them. This person caters to the customer’s needs regardless of where they fall on the technical and product knowledge spectrum, always doing so in a respectful manner which is never condescending or patronizing.
10. Detective-like troubleshooting skills.
From the moment a ticket is submitted, this person knows how to ask the right questions and gather the available data to narrow down the root cause of the issue. Like Sherlock Holmes, they leave no stone unturned in figuring out what’s really going on.
11. Analytical and process-oriented approach.
This person understands support processes are important, and not only follows them, but helps improve them. They take an analytical approach to driving change, and use data to support their assertions.
12. Care for quality over quantity.
When you have a long list of tickets, and know there are more coming in, it’s tempting to work on as many as possible, without truly solving the problem at hand. Focusing on the quality of the support you give, as opposed to the quantity of tickets you touch, will ensure you’re actually solving problems and creating happy customers.
Land the job
All of these traits help hiring managers know if help desk job candidates would be a good fit, from an experience and cultural perspective. “Will this person embody our values and help cultivate a culture of customer success?” “Will they continually seek to learn, grow, and make the product better?” Being able to demonstrate this cultural fit is just as – if not more important – as the technical skills you possess.
Being a help desk or support agent isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s a rewarding career for those that want to help others and learn a lot. At Atlassian, we are always looking for new people to join our awesome support team. Check out out the jobs we’re hiring for.
Want more? Learn about the different types of help desk, read our blog articles about customer service, or learn more about JIRA Service Desk, our customer service and IT support tool used by over 20,000 support teams.