The Call Center Interview – Know What to Expect
By Julia Penny
What makes a good call center agent? Know what the interviewer is looking for in the call center interview and prepare to win that call center job.
Call Center Competencies
First and foremost are the competencies that the successful candidate requires.
These are the knowledge, skills and ability needed to perform in the job. Knowledge and skills would include technical expertise in terms of the company's products and services and the call center system including computers and software applications, CRM databases and the telephony systems that the company uses.
Abilities that have been identified as contributing to the success of a call center agent include problem-solving, customer-service orientation, decision-making, learning ability and stress-tolerance. The current trend is to use behavioral questions to explore these competencies, questions that ask the candidate to describe how they behaved in relevant situations in the past.
A typical behavioral question is, "Tell me about a time you had to deal with a complex problem from a customer, what did you do?"
Essential to a call center agent position is the ability to speak clearly and articulately and, very importantly, to listen actively. Communication skills will begin to be assessed during the initial telephonic contact. The candidate's manner, phone etiquette and language and grammar skills will all be under scrutiny. This evaluation will continue during the call center interview. Be aware of the tone of your voice and the words you use. Listen carefully and rephrase questions to check that you have understood what the interviewer is asking.
Employees in call centers commonly fail to perform because they don't like the job tasks and the work environment and not because they lack the ability to do the job. Motivational fit idetermines whether the candidate will find the job satisfying and the environment one in which he or she wants to work. Turnover in call centers is high and this is mostly attributed to job dissatisfaction rather than a lack of skills. Therefore as well as determining what a candidate can do (skills and ability) the call center interview will set out to determine the candidate's motivation to do the job.
Questions that commonly explore motivational fit center around the characteristics of the job and the environment. Depending on these, motivational fit questions include those that explore the candidate's experience and satisfaction in working independently or as part of a team, working for a fixed income or on a commission basis, working on different priorities and tasks or adhering strictly to a fixed routine, receiving close support and supervision or having to motivate and monitor oneself.
Questions will be structured along the lines of a behavioral question, for example: "Tell me about a time you had to work as part of a team. How satisfied were you with that and why?"
The best candidates will think in advance about these selection criteria and prepare their interview answers and questions. The better prepared you are, the more confident you will be and confidence is a key ingredient of call center interview success!
An easy-to-use and free guide to the call center interview, including sample call center interview questions and answer guidelines. If you are looking for more job interview questions and answers, tips and strategies.
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