How To Interview Call Center Candidates

With an average of 26% of front-line agents replaced annually, call centers have one of the highest turnover rates of any industry. That means that effective candidate interviews are key in finding the right talent and minimizing turnover.

To get a better idea of how to effectively interview call center candidates we turned to Portland company Ruby Receptionists. Recently named Fortune magazine’s #1 small company to work for in the U.S., Ruby Receptionists provides virtual receptionist services to more than 2,300 small businesses throughout North America. Below is our conversation with Ang Gray, a site director who oversees the interview process for Ruby’s call centers. Read on for a number of tips on interviewing call center candidates.

What are your top tips for interviewing candidates for a call center position?

We look for strengths in potential Ruby candidates. Our service focuses on creating meaningful connections, so we look for someone who loves helping people and enjoys finding common ground with everyone they interact with.  We hire based on personality and passion, and we’re willing to sacrifice experience for the perfect fit.  You can always give employees more training and teach them new skills, but it’s much more difficult to change someone’s attitude.

Do you use any role-playing techniques during interviews or screening?

We adapt each interview to the individual, but we may include role-playing type questions geared to gauge a candidate’s judgment.  Since we include tutorials in our training program around phrasing, we’re not looking for a “right answer,” but more for the predisposition to go above and beyond and a genuine interest in other people. For example, we may describe a scenario with a frustrated caller or ask them how they’ve handled situations like that in the past. If they see it as a perfect opportunity to knock someone’s socks off, that’s a great sign!

What are some of your go-to interview questions for these candidates?

One of my favorites is “What is your biggest accomplishment so far?” This open-ended question gets the candidate talking about their passions and gives me a view into what she thinks is important. This also helps me see if they are aligned with our mission, vision, and core values.

What strategies do you use to figure out if a candidate will do well in your training program?

The interaction I have with them after they have seen the job firsthand can indicate how well they will do with our training program. Our training program — and the virtual receptionist position itself — can be challenging and fast-paced, but also extremely rewarding and fun for the right person.  If they look frazzled and overwhelmed or have little to say about the experience of shadowing I would see a red flag. However, someone who is energized, excited, and can’t wait to try it out is someone I would be thrilled to bring onto the Ruby Receptionists team!