UPDATED MAY 2020
If you’re on the hunt for great talent, you’ll appreciate how time-consuming the hiring process can be. Finding your next great employee — someone who will help your call center be successful— is no easy feat.
Added to that, the contact center space is one that experiences a great deal of employee turnover, which makes the interview process even more critical. Take a moment to consider the cost associated with hiring new employees, including interviewing, onboarding, and reduced productivity, just to name a few. Hiring the wrong agents can be detrimental and costly.
In fact, 27% of employers said that just one bad hire costs more than $50,000. Good call center managers instinctively know this, especially since 95% of a manager’s success resides in the ability to select the right people. It’s key to ask the right questions during the interview, ones that help determine whether a candidate possesses certain competencies. But not everyone understands which questions to ask, and more importantly, what answers to look for.
Types of Interview Question for Call Center Candidates:
We’ve split these interview questions into three sections based on the type of interview question, to make it easier for you to find what you need. Simply click to be taken to that section:
And here are the top call center interview questions you should be asking to hire the best customer support agents.
Personal Interview Questions for Call Center Candidates
1. Tell me about yourself
Take a few minutes at the start of the interview to let the candidate talk about themselves. Instead of jumping right into questions, this approach gives the candidate a moment to relax and be at ease.
Let the candidate tell their story before jumping into all the specific questions. This helps to get the candidate comfortable, and it also gives you an overview of who they are. A good answer will explain why they left one organization to go to the next, and what they learned from each venture.
2. What do you like to do for fun?
If they say things like, “hanging out with friends and watching movies”, they probably aren’t the go-getter type you’re looking for. Great talents have a passion outside of the office.
Perhaps they like to cycle, play guitar in a band, or have a side gig — what better way to show a hard work ethic?
In any event, while ‘hanging out with friends’ is a good social trait, you should certainly look for the candidate that offers more to this answer.
3. How would your previous team/manager describe you?
The candidate should provide examples and situations that reflect their descriptions. See if what they are describing would be a good culture fit for your contact center.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ideally, the person you hire is someone who can grow in your organization. If you’re hiring an agent and their goal is to be involved in management in the next 5 years, it shows you that they’re motivated to grow and lead. This is a great way to hold on to talent!
5. What enticed you to apply?
Now that you know a bit about them and their background, it’s good to get a sense of why they’re interested in this particular role. Why are they excited about working for your call center?
Look out for specific keywords in their answer. Assuming this is a role for a contact center agent, responses like “customer-facing” or “problem-solving” might be great keywords for you. It also shows you how well they understand the role.
6. Why are you leaving your current role?
This question is crucial. The answer needs to demonstrate a good reason for the decision. The candidate should also remain positive and show what they learned in their last role.
If the candidate is currently employed, it’s important to understand why they are moving on. Answers like, “I’d like to learn more” or “it’s time to spread my wings”, are great, but not if they’ve only been at the job for a few months.
Watch how often the candidate jumps from job to job, since this can be a bad sign. If they quickly go into shaming the company, this also shows a lack of loyalty and professionalism.
Practical Call Center Interview Questions
7. What are the key factors that make a call center successful?
This question helps when candidates haven’t spent much time learning about the organization, but still show great potential. Now it’s time to understand what they know about the call center industry as a whole. It also gives you a chance to see what ideas they will put forward to make your contact center successful.
8. Tell me about a time when you had to handle an unreasonable or angry customer
Every agent has experienced a negative phone call with a customer. How it was handled and what they learned is essential to career growth.
If they have any experience working with customers whatsoever, they will have a story to tell for this one. It’s important to see what kind of story they choose to share.
Ideally, they’ll explain how they were the hero in an otherwise terrible customer interaction. That they went over and above to make the customer happy, and that their manager was thrilled with the outcome.
9. What procedure do you follow when you’re contacted by a customer?
This will vary slightly depending on your contact center and industry, but any confident agent will be able to give you a rough outline of how a conversation with a customer should go. It should sound something like this:
- Greet the customer and introduce yourself.
- Ask the customer how you can help them.
- LISTEN. EMPATHIZE. LISTEN.
- Help the customer to find the best solution.
- Check the customer is satisfied and if they need anything else.
10. Tell me about a time where you received constructive criticism
It’s always interesting to hear how people handle constructive criticism. This is a tough one to analyze, but you can usually tell in their story if the criticism was well received. If the candidate says something like, “I appreciated the feedback”, then it’s likely they weren’t defensive when the advice was received.
11. Describe a time that you needed to know or learn something new and how you went about getting that information.
Working in a call center often requires agents to undergo intensive training in either the product or industry they’re working in. It’s important that your candidates are not only comfortable learning but actively look to do so.
The best candidates will be happy to talk about the various times they’ve had to learn something new, and will often go about this voluntarily. They should also be able to demonstrate an ability to take initiative to find out answers for themselves.
12. Tell me about the toughest decision or biggest work challenge you had in the last 6 months?
Talk about a challenging question! I can’t even think about a tough decision I’ve had to make in that timeframe.
Don’t worry. There’s no right answer here, just let the candidate tell their story, and hopefully, the challenge had some merit. It’s a good opportunity to gauge what the candidate considers a ‘tough decision’.
13. What have you done to promote great customer service?
In their answer about ‘what makes a successful call center they should have covered the importance of customer service, so let’s dig a bit deeper.
Get an understanding of specific actions that promote great customer service. Do they have an understanding of what this means in practice, and how have they incorporated that into their behavior and phone manner.
14. What achievement are you most proud of?
What a candidate is most proud of can tell you a lot about them as a person. Perhaps it was solving a difficult customer complaint – this shows they are passionate about helping people or say it was achieving an award – this shows they are motivated by recognition.
15. How do you handle working in a call center?
Working in a call center is a high-pressure, high-stress environment; one that can also be monotonous at best, and abusive at worst. You need to make sure your agents can handle the day-to-day stresses of life in the call center.
Use this question to find out how your candidates deal with relentless, often negative, emotional load they take on during their calls.
Interview Questions for Call Center Supervisors
16. How many people have you managed in the past?
Whether they’ve managed a couple of employees or a large team of reps, they should be able to talk a little about that experience.
If necessary, prompt them to expand on the management techniques they’ve tried out in the past, and how they’ve tried to hone their skills and management style through experience.
17. Can you talk about a time when a call was escalated and how you handled it?
The purpose of this question is to get the candidate to demonstrate that they were able to solve the problem and improve the customer experience at the same time.
Look for top candidates who talk about how they use these experiences to create teachable members for the rest of their team.
18. How do you go about onboarding a new employee?
Getting onboarding right is crucial for success. You want to make sure your call center’s new manager understands the importance of a good onboarding process, and how to deliver one.
Look for candidates that highlight the importance of setting expectations, practical training, and creating ongoing opportunities for improvement.
19. Tell me about a time one of your call center agents was underperforming and how you addressed it.
Feedback and performance assessments are a crucial part of managing any business, particularly the call center. You want to know how this person goes about delivering feedback, and how they respond to a disengaged or struggling employee.
The best candidates to be your call center manager will talk about how they spoke to the agent to get to the bottom of the issue and worked with them to form a plan to resolve it.
Closing Contact Center Candidate Interview Questions
20. Does this role still line up with your expectations based on the advert?
Writing a concise and accurate job description is hard. This is your opportunity to make sure that your advert aligns with your expectations for the candidates. Are you putting out the right ad to entice the right people?
21. Do you have any questions for me?
This is a good opportunity to see how much they know about your business. Maybe they’re asking about your client base, or what the work environment is like – these are all great questions!
Bad questions would be jumping right into compensation or, worse, not having any questions prepared at all. The first shows you that they’re mainly interested in money and not the opportunity; the latter shows you they aren’t serious about the role.
Great Interview Questions Make Great Call Centers
Out of more than 6,000 hiring professionals worldwide, more than half said they have felt the effects of hiring someone who turned out to be a poor fit for the job or who did not perform well.
A successful call center manager needs to understand that the first step to training the right agents is in the hiring process. Remember the words of Steve Jobs,
“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”
As candidates prepare and practise their responses, interviewers too should be compiling critical questions and thinking about the best responses.
It’s also important to have a mix of ‘canned’ questions that are significant to the success of the role while leaving room for some conversational questions. If you can develop a dialogue in the interview you’re more likely to build rapport, which can lead to faster decisions and a better outcome.
It’s also important to remember that employees need continuous nurturing. After the candidate is hired, make sure you devote time to ongoing relationship building. Have regular meetings to make sure they’re happy, and their goals are being met.