Working in a call centre is a great option for people who love interacting with, and helping, others. Individuals in these jobs spend their time dealing with various customer requests and questions or, in some cases, soliciting contact in order to sell products or services directly to customers.
A call centre is usually a fast paced and competitive environment to work in, where the call centre executive needs to radiate a positive company image to each and every customer - or potential customer - they speak to. This article will explain how to approach an interview for one of these positions, and provide some example questions to think about.
The first task is to actually receive an invitation to interview. Working with a recruitment agency will help a candidate to identify vacancies, and create effective applications in order to secure an invitation to attend for interview.
Once an interview is arranged, candidates should be careful to thoroughly research the background of the company for whom they wish to work. They should take time to consider who their target market is, and try in advance to imagine some of the challenges that the company may be facing.
Candidates should arrive for the interview with 15 minutes to spare, and dress smartly to make a good first impression, offering a firm handshake, and trying to maintain eye contact in a friendly and natural way.
Further information for candidates
Call centre executive jobs are best suited to individuals who are naturally extroverted, warm and friendly. Individuals should not be afraid to display their personalities during the interview, but it is also essential to show an ability to listen carefully.
Show passion for the job, and try and speak in a clear voice. Mention any previous experience of working directly with customers – whether in a call centre or not – and do not be afraid to ask questions of your interviewers if you are unsure of anything. Sprinkling answers with real examples of times when the candidate has helped customers in previous roles will add authenticity.
Try and work out in advance whether the role is likely to involve any selling, or is simply focused around assisting customers. Also consider whether you will be working solely with one company’s customers, or handling outsourced calls for multiple external companies.
Do you have any experience in a call centre?
Give full details of any call centre jobs that you have previously done, even if only very short temporary work. If you have never done any call centre work say so and then go on to say why you would like to work in a call centre. By volunteering the information from the start you will come across as enthusiastic.
Why do you want to work for us as a customer service advisor?
Working in a call centre is essentially working on the front line of customer services. You have to be passionate about helping people and say that you respect the company’s values and products. You must, of course, research the company well beforehand because they will follow this up with a specific question about their products or values.
Do you enjoy communicating with people?
The only answer to this is that you love talking to people and that you are also a good listener. Say that your ideal job involves talking with people to help resolve problems and to provide support and information.
Give an example of how you have used your communication skills beneficially in a previous position
Try to be inventive and honest here. If you have not done any call centre work you could talk about experiencein meetings, discussing strategies with colleagues. If you have done any voluntary work, especially if it involved speaking with people on a regular basis, this is a good time to mention it.
How would you deal with an irate customer on the phone?
To deal with an irate customer you must remain calm and be polite. Listen to the customer’s complaint, take notes, and then reassure the customer that the company will make every attempt to resolve the problem. Apologise to them directly; the apology should be from you (“I am really sorry ...”) and not an apology on behalf of the company (“the company is sorry ...”). Remember that as far as the customer is concerned, you are the company.
How would you tell a customer something that they will not like?
In these cases you must be polite and professional. You can open by saying that you are sorry to have to inform them that the information you have for them is not good. Speak calmly and then provide the customer with an opportunity to reply; take notes and raise any serious concerns with a team leader before progressing.
How do you feel about meeting goals and targets?
The best answer is to say that goals and targets provide you with focus and that you enjoy the challenge of being the first in your team to reach the set goals. Also say that targets help to foster healthy competition within a team.
How do you make sure you meet your targets?
Say that you stay focused on the job and stay organised to ensure that you all tasks are completed within good time. If for any reason a target may not be attainable, you will raise this with your team leader to see if there are available resources elsewhere.
A team leader will always appreciate being alerted to the risk of a target being missed because they have their own targets to meet.
Are you able to cope well under pressure?
You must be able to work under pressure in a call centre. Explain that you thrive when working under pressure and that you are able to focus on a task well when there is a tight deadline.
Can you multi-task? Typing while talking, for example?
You have to be able to do this, so say that you can. If you have never done this you must start practising. You can practice by typing replies while having a conversation with family or friends.
Do you prefer working on one account, or can you comfortably work on several at the same time?
The answer for this question depends on the role. It would be safest to answer that you can comfortably work on several accounts at the same time, but feel that when you can focus on one account you are able to provide a higher quality service.
Give an example of a time where you’ve gone out of your way to provide great customer service or help someone
Ideally you should have a real work example for this. Describe in some detail what happened and what you did to ensure that the customer was satisfied. The question allows you to speak from personal experience too; maybe you have volunteered to help a friend or relative in a difficult situation.
General interview questions
- Why did you leave your previous position?
- What do you know about our company and the customers you will be dealing with?
- What are your relevant strengths and weaknesses?
- Why should we employ you?