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Monday, March 22, 2010

Call Center Interview Questions and Tips (Part One)

This might be the most challenging article I am writing for this blog! Yet indeed, when I was starting to apply for a call center job not so long ago, the availability of a list of most probably asked call center interview questions was something which I knew back then would be of a great help, especially for call center virgins like I was before (people who have no call center job experience yet). I gathered as much information as I could find from online, newspapers, magazines, and from my training with Verbal Advantage, too. Surprisingly, I got so many of them which I needed to categorize them by the most likely answers needed to hear or to know by the interviewer.

According to Kyle Gianan, my former trainer in Verbal Advantage, more often than not, interviews in call center recruitment process start with: Tell me something about yourself. Your answer for this should run for 1-2 minutes. It is your chance to sell yourself to the recruiter by banking on your qualifications and skills. This will also mark the start where they will be assessing your oral English communication skill which is the primarily important skill you should have to pursue a call center career (especially for voiced accounts). You can perfect this part by doing a pre-interview practice, and better if you had written a script which you should have memorized already by the day of the interview.

What to write in the tell-me-something script? Kyle advised to do it in the following order, if applicable: personal background, family background, educational attainment, work experience, seminars/trainings, skills, and hobbies. You can also change the order as needed, or if appropriate, you can add another item. You should close the script with a positive ending like, “If you will hire me, I want to start as soon as possible.” This line expresses your eagerness and interest to work in their company which will add to your points of getting hired.

When answering the following questions, use the power of positive scripting. Believe me that it really works! You can say something not-so-good using positive scripting which, more often than not, will lessen the gravity of its negativity, or if it’s really your day, it could transform the negativity of your answer into a positive one. It is all like playing a court game where you need to win the case by your own words.

One more thing, though. Be confident and make them feel you mean every word you say. Interviews are simple marketing game wherein you are selling yourself. Just think of the prize: a job. Now here is the first part of my list of questions that are most likely asked in an interview.

Questions for Qualifications

The list below is likely to be asked to call center virgins, although some of them can still be asked to someone who has already a call center experience.

1. Do you like talking to different people and personalities?

People who want to work in call center should be capable of dealing with different types of people. Every caller is different from other callers, given that they are calling for the same issue. In this question, your answer should be yes. It is better if you can relate a successful or fine situation where you had talked with a group of people of different personalities.

2. Have you sold anything over the phone?

In call center industry, every work or account is involved with selling, whether it is a sales account or not. For sales accounts, obviously you need to have competitive selling skill to get hired. For non-sales accounts, selling is still part of the job because you need to sell satisfying customer service. In this question, if your answer is yes, you need to support your answer with experiences you had before in selling over the phone. Your selling experiences are not limited to previous call center experience for a sales account. You can also include situations like taking an order over the phone for a fast-food business and the like in which you were able to convince the customer to add a dessert or an item.

If your answer is no, that is no problem. This is where you can use positive scripting. Instead of saying no, give a situation where you had closed a sale. You can say, “I was able to close an important sale before which was not over the phone but the impact it had for the store I was working with was amazing.” And you can add more details to explicate your positive selling experience.

3. Can you speak other languages other than English?

Other than English, there are call center companies which cater to other non-English countries. If your answer is yes, that is a plus but not a requirement unless it is specified on the job posting.

4. Have you ever been in a situation that involved problem solving?

There is no other answer for this question but a yes. The challenge here is for you to impress the recruiter by relating an actual situation in your life where you had used your problem-solving skill well. Call center job is, more often than not, about problem solving.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This is a tricky question. You can cite a long list of your strengths as long as they are related to a call center job. How about your weaknesses? What can you say that will not lose your points? Always remember that it is foolish to answer a no to this question. Be real. Everyone has their weakness. If you would say no, or that you cannot think of a certain weakness on the spot, it will only make you sound as if you are lying or worse, you will get a minus in oral communication skill. What you can do is you can settle for safe answers like not work-related items. For example, you can say, “Smoking is my weakness. Every time I see a stick, I feel like wanting to smoke right away.” For girls, you can say shopping as your weakness.

Another way to answer this question is by using the power of positive scripting. You can make a positive trait to sound like a negative one and still, it will have a more positive impact. How is that? That is simple. Instead of just saying that you are hard-working, you can say this, “I am too hard-working that sometimes I don’t have time left to have a night life.” This is a very smart answer for it does not only help you to provide an answer to the question instead of just saying a no but, it has also added a point to your score. Just be creative and yet honest.

6. How do you handle pressure?

A work in a call center is in the midst of a very challenging environment. They are many stats you need to achieve while you maintain the quality of your calls. You think of so many things at the same time because there are also deadlines you need to consider. So it is really important for the recruiter to know if you can work under pressure effectively. Of course, this question needs a yes for an answer. To make your answer more convincing, support it with actual experiences you had in the past.

Qualifications are still in question in the following list, but this time it is more likely to be asked to someone who already had a call center experience.

1. What can you contribute to the company, knowing the basics of being a call center agent?

Tell about your previous job, what you do and what you have learned. It is wise for you to bank your answer on your experience as a call center agent before. Like you can say that there will be no problem for you to work on night shift and holidays. There will be no culture-shock issue. If they will hire you, you can say that you can help first-timers in training and nesting. There are many other good answers to this question, just be creative.

2. How do you handle an irate caller?

What I was told by my previous trainers is this, don’t take it personally. Callers are not mad at you but to the company. Keep a polite attitude. Try to know the reason why the caller is irate in the first place. Get clues from the words the caller is saying. Look for alternatives. Do not promise anything that cannot be delivered for it will only aggravate the issue. Lastly, as much as possible, end the conversation on a positive note.

3. Why we should hire you?

Basically you need to tell your qualifications for the job. I remember when I applied for agent post for directory assistance and was asked with this very same question, my mind had a quick recall of the video they had in the lobby which was being played over and over again. Prior to the interview, I was memorizing as much as I could all the information about the company posted in the lobby as well as what was being said in the video. The video was saying this, “We don’t just hire agents, we change lives.” So I answered the question with this, “You should hire me because I believe you guys that you can change lives. Change mine.” Then I added my other qualifications for the job. I don’t know what was with my answer but I could remember the smile on the face of the recruiter that day and I got the job.

It will be a great pleasure to me if the provided answers and tips above can help you as guidelines to answer your interviews. But don’t limit yourself with them, be creative and try to personalize your answers. I always advise to prepare a script and practice a mock interview to increase your chances of getting hired.

There is more to this list under different categories. I will have them posted here real soon.


  1. Hi

    Tks very much for post:

    I like it and hope that you continue posting.

    Let me show other source that may be good for community.

    Source: Call center interview questions

    Best rgs

  2. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Interview Questions & Answers:

    Best rgs


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