How to Interview Call Center Candidates
It’s great to be friendly with the people you work with. Being compatible with workmates is very important. But, in the end, businesses need people who can get the job done. Managers should keep that in mind as they interview job candidates, and they should focus on understanding candidate skills rather than trying to get to know interviewees.
However, the latter type of interview is popular at the moment, says Jason Dana. He’s an assistant professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Management. And he’s done research on the effectiveness of college and job applicant interviews.
“Employers like to use free-form, unstructured interviews in an attempt to ‘get to know’ a job candidate,” Dana told The New York Times. “… interviewers typically form strong – but unwarranted – impressions about interviewees, often revealing more about themselves than the candidates.”
Dana adds that: “The key psychological insight here is that people have no trouble turning any information into a coherent narrative…. People can’t help seeing signals, even in noise.”
To avoid this common trap, Dana suggests that organizations structure interviews so that all candidates receive the same questions. That has been shown to make interviews more reliable and modestly more predictive of job success, he says.
“Alternatively, you can use interviews to test job-related skills, rather than idly chatting or asking personal questions,” he adds.
That’s what Basecamp does, says Jason Fried, the company’s chief executive. The web-based project management tool company considers good writing skills of paramount importance for its employees. So it asks candidates to write about themselves.
“That’s our initial filter — are you a clear thinker and a clear writer?” says Fried. “Then there’s a lot of writing throughout the hiring process. We’ll take the finalists, pay them to do a project for us. And I ask them to write up their thought process, and then we talk about it.”
Call center managers should use targeted interview questions and testing as well, suggests Steve Facey. He’s vice president of sales and general manager at 3C Contact Services. The goal here, he says, is to assess communications skills and composure in stressful situations.
Facey suggests call center interviewers ask candidates how they have handled challenging situations in their lives and how they would respond to irate customers.
Better yet, he says, managers can role play with job candidates. The manager could serve as an irate customer. The candidate would, of course, be the agent.
This can help interviewers assess candidates’ ability to quickly identify problems. It can offer insight on how quickly candidates hand off callers to colleagues. And it can be an indicator of a person’s ability to work under pressure.
Edited by Erik Linask