How to best prepare for a call center interview
Interviewing for a new job can be a nerve-wracking experience. You want to make a good impression and make sure that the position suits you. This article is here to help you navigate a call center interview and make the most out of the opportunity.
Getting ready for a call center interview ahead of time
To be better prepared for your call center interview, you can do some research ground work. If you show up the day of, unprepared and uninformed, then you’ll seem like a dilettante and aren’t likely to get hired. Conversely, if you walk into the interview well-informed, it will make you feel more confident and the interviewer will be sure to pick up on it.
Learn about the position
Before you come into the interview, be warned: the interviewer will certainly ask you a variant of the classic, “why do you want to be a call center agent?” opener.
The most straightforward job interview questions can be the trickiest ones to answer honestly and successfully. Think about why you applied for the job in the first place, and why you feel you would be a good fit. Are you looking to learn new skills? Hone existing ones? Work remotely? Attain stability and earn a promotion to a more qualified position? All of these are valid goals which reflect what attracted you to this position. Expressing them during the interview will demonstrate drive and direction.
It’s also an opportunity to light-handedly showcase your skill set. If you enjoy the human aspect of customer service, the thrill of the chase that comes with sales, or any other specific aspect of the job which highlights a skill of yours, now’s the time to mention it. But don’t be ham-fisted about dropping hints of your own prowess, it’ll come off as conceited.
Learn about the company
Do your homework on your potential new employer ahead of time. Seeming well-informed about and invested in the company you hope to join goes a long way.
The interviewer might ask, “why do you want to work with us?” and you’ll need to have an answer ready. Looking into the company’s business, mission statement, long-term goals, or organisation will tell an applicant a great deal about them. Think about what motivated you to seek them out rather than their competitors. Don’t be sycophantic, but be honest about one thing that motivated you to seek employment with them.
A call center interview will appraise your skills
Part of seeing whether or not you’ll be a good fit for a given call center will be an evaluation of your technical proficiency and your ease with new technologies.
Are you technologically savvy?
Increasingly, call centres are moving away from traditional setups and towards more flexible VoIP call center software. As a result, you might not need to work a traditional hard phone, but you’ll need to use the call center’s particular software instead.
Not to worry, you’ll be trained on its usage. Nevertheless, the interviewer might ask you some questions about basic computer proficiency, such as typing speed or your familiarity with common text processing, CRM solution, or help desk software.
It’s a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable with this type of software before the interview. Even if you don’t know it like the back of your hand, don’t worry too much. Every call center uses different tools which you’ll have to get the hang of, what’s important is your willingness to learn and improve.
Do you work efficiently?
Aside from your technological skills, a call center interview will be an opportunity to measure the efficiency of your work methods. The interviewer might ask you the following questions:
- “Are you able to multitask?”
- “Do you know how to listen actively?”
- “Can you work on several projects simultaneously?”
The idea here is to get a feel of your work ethic, and your ability to operate quickly and efficiently. Call center customer service requires you to think about a solution even as you listen to a customer’s problem, to stay ahead of them and lead the conversation. Be it support or sales, your call center agent post will require you to be proactive, autonomous, and productive.
Do you know the industry?
Whether you’re interviewing for an outbound (sales, in a word) or inbound (support, in another) position, you’ll need to be familiar with the product or service the company in question provides.
The company will train you to fully understand their product, of course, but any experience relating to their field or industry is a plus, and you should showcase it accordingly.
A call center interview will consider your personality
The second role of a call center interview is to determine whether you are personally suited to the post of a salesperson or support agent. Given the expense of both time and money required to train a new agent, call centres are careful to select applicants that seem competent from the outset.
Do you have the right disposition?
There are certain traits which recruiters look for in a potential hire. These qualities are common to all successful call center agents, and will be sought after during a call center interview. These include patience, empathy, attentiveness, and solid communication skills. Therefore, the interviewer may present you with the following challenges:
- A written test of your attentiveness, deductive reasoning, and capacity for retention.
- A test of your oral expression and fluency.
- A role-playing exercise with a pretend caller, to observe your ability to close a sale, solve a problem, or otherwise handle a realistic customer service situation.
If the interviewer asks you to walk them through your way or greeting a customer, or making a sale, or answering a question, don’t get flustered. Remain calm, polite, and err on the side of formality. Introduce yourself, understand the customer’s needs, and cater to them as best you can.
It can be daunting to be tested on the fly like this. The important thing to remember is that your unpreparedness is what is being tested, not your polish. The interviewer isn’t trying to confuse you or catch you out. They simply want to get a feel for your natural phone presence, not for your academic knowledge. There will be plenty of time to train a successful applicant later; during the call center interview the objective is to show that you are efficient and promising.
Can you perform well under pressure?
Working under pressure is an integral part of customer service. Therefore, a call center interview will try to get an idea of how well you do when faced with a complex and pressing issue.
The interviewer might role-play with you, or ask you a variant of the following questions:
- “How would you cater to an angry customer?”
- “What would you do to calm down a customer who is shouting?”
- “How would you help a customer who is refusing to take your advice?”
- “How would you react to negative feedback?”
Again, your potential employer isn’t trying to catch you out. While there are some phrases to avoid when faced with an angry customer, the interviewer isn’t going to immediately disqualify you if you don’t perform perfectly. They want to see if you can remain calm and efficient under pressure, and if you have the inter-personal skills to defuse a conflictual customer service situation.
The skill to turn an irate customer into a happy camper is an invaluable one. Lower your voice and tone, bring the customer down to your own level of intensity to regain control of the exchange.
Are you a team player?
A call center interview will also be an opportunity for the employer to gauge how well an applicant will mesh with their existing team.
When asked whether or not one is a team player, no matter how trite and expected the question, an applicant may hesitate for a moment. You don’t want to say you don’t work well with others, but you also don’t want to be too unctuous. Simply answer that you require minimal management, but look forward to being part of a team.
If part of the call center interview involves seeing your desk or meeting the rest of the team, take advantage of it. It will help you navigate the next step of a call center interview: evaluating mutual compatibility.
Evaluate your mutual compatibility
A call center interview is the opportunity for both the applicant and the employer to mutually evaluate one another. This evaluation goes both ways: the employer must pass muster in the applicant’s eyes as well.
How do you like the company culture?
While every employee brings a small piece of the whole to the table, a company’s culture is still more than the sum of its parts. Company culture is the every day rhythm and dynamic of a company. Concretely, this affect work ethic, morale, habits, norms, and much more.
Employers are growing more and more conscious of the importance of fostering a healthy company culture. In fact, this is a more delicate endeavour than one might think. When thinking of joining an organization, consider whether the company’s culture suits you and whether you would thrive there.
How’s employee morale?
You can get a shrewd idea of a business by looking at how its employees fare. An interviewer might ask, “why did you leave your previous post?” to get an idea of whether or not you have a history of being difficult to manage or are willing to bad-mouth a previous employer.
The opposite consideration should be on your mind as an applicant. Signs of poor management can be visible in the staff’s attitude. Warning signs such as high employee turnover, low morale or low investment, and lack of internal promotion opportunities should tip you off that this particular employer might not be all you’d hoped.
Do your goals mesh with the company’s?
One of the most commonplace interview questions is “where do you see yourself in five years?”. This is because the potential employer wants to get a feel for your drive and your direction.
Take the opportunity to ask yourself that very same question, and more precisely, whether you feel this post could be a stepping stone to the goals you’ve outlined. Do you want stability? The potential to climb the ladder? To refine your abilities and learn new skills? No employer will want to take on an applicant they don’t feel will be an asset in growing their company. That makes good sense. But don’t forget also be discerning as an applicant. Pick a post which will help you attain the goals you’ve set for yourself, and that’s exactly what a well-prepared call center interview can help you determine.
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