Hiring the right talent for a call center can sometimes feel like a thankless job. While call center work requires a unique and specific set of skills, getting candidates who will stick around can be a challenge. According to a study by Cornell University, the average call center sees about 33 percent employee turnover per year.
This is a high number, especially if you look at the training and onboarding costs of the average hire. The typical call center can spend up to $4,000 hiring a new worker and then an additional $4,800 to train this new employee. If your call center is constantly churning through employees, your organization is losing revenue to replace workers.
There has to be a better way to recruit call center talent willing to stick around. The right candidates need to be quick on their feet, have top-notch communication skills, and be willing to go the extra mile for customers. They also need to see value in the position, which is what will really get them to stick around and overall improve your retention rate and overall company culture.
It’s all about hiring the right people, and hiring the right people is all about asking the right questions. Whether you’re connecting with a candidate in person or connecting in an online video interview, asking the right questions is essential in isolating the perfect employee.
Here are six interview questions to ask candidates to ensure you get call center talent with the right stuff:
Question #1: Why do you want this job?
One of the major mistakes made in call center recruiting is just filling seats with warm bodies. Sure you need candidates with particular skills, but you also need candidates with specific career aspirations. These are the candidates who will take pride in the job instead of setting you back thousands in hiring and training.
This question might seem basic, but the candidate’s answer will reveal a lot about their personality, passion, and drive. Whether your interview is in person or through video interview, make sure to pay special attention to nonverbal cues and body language to ensure the candidate isn’t just telling you what you want to hear.
Question #2: What skills do you hope to develop in this position?
The best candidates for your open call center positions are those people who can see the job actually adding to their already impressive list of career skills. These are the people who will be looking forward to a career in management, leadership, sales, or customer service.
These candidates will be able to clearly link how the skills needed for the position connect to their long term career objectives. Candidates who can see the job as adding value to their career aspirations are the kind of employees who will add value to your call center — and maybe even transition into another role in the company instead of flying the coop.
Question #3: How would you calm down an angry customer?
As an employee at a call center, your candidate is going to need to be able to deal with angry customers. This situational interview question will allow you to evaluate how well candidates can deal with people, how developed their communication skills really are, and whether they’ll ensure your call center maintains positive relationships with customers and clients.
Question #4: Give me an example of a time you had to think quickly on your feet.
Call center life is all about being adaptive, flexible, and thinking quickly on your feet. This situational question will force the candidate to tell you about a time they had to respond quickly and efficiently to a situation. Listen carefully to the response and pay special attention for how this quick thinking might have affected others, since your new hire will always need to put customers first.
Question #5: Give me an example of a time you’ve made a mistake. What did you do to correct the mistake? What did you learn from it?
Everyone makes mistakes, the important thing is that we all learn something valuable from our errors. As a newbie call center operator, your candidate is bound to make some simple errors. What’s important, however, is the candidate’s ability to bounce back from a mistake with more knowledge.
In the interview, whether the candidate is across the desk or on the other side of the webcam, pay attention to how they answer this question. If they seem nervous or panicked, this might not be the best employee for a high-stress environment like a call center. If the candidate starts to shift blame for their mistake onto someone else, they have the wrong kind of personality to deal with customers who can sometimes be volatile. The best candidate will own up to their mistakes fully and explain how these errors in judgement have made them a better employee.
Question #6: What would you change about your last job?
This is another question to help you evaluate how quickly the candidate is able to think on their feet. Everyone has something they wish they could change about their job, and this question gives the candidate the opportunity to share. Good candidates will be the ones who have clearly thought long and hard about how their former workplace could be improved and who focus their answer on innovative fixes.
Bad candidates will waste this opportunity by ranting about their former employer. Not only is insulting a former workplace bad business etiquette, it’s also a bad sign for their impulse control when dealing with uncomfortable situations. After all, you can’t hire an employee who might fly off the handle with an angry customer.
Finding great talent likely to stick around in your call center isn’t always easy. Thankfully these six interview questions can help you weed out the loyal superstar hires from the candidates likely to leave for greener pastures.
What are some interview questions you ask call center candidates? Share in the comments!
About the Author
Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring solution that allows staffing professionals to collaborate with their clients around video interviews. Find out more about using video interviewing for call center recruiting and connect with Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.