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27 professionals share their favorite call center interview questions

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The Team at CallMiner

July 19, 2022

contact center call center interview questions
contact center call center interview questions

Call centers rely on their agents to handle customer inquiries, successfully resolve customer issues, properly represent the brand, deliver superior omnichannel customer experiences and more. That’s why it’s imperative to hire top-notch call center agents who possess the right skills to deliver excellent service. But the hiring process can be complex, and it can be challenging to differentiate truly great candidates from those who interview well, but aren’t an ideal fit for your company.

Hiring isn’t the only crucial process when it comes to managing a call center workforce. It’s also important that you deliver ongoing training and coaching feedback so your agents feel supported and satisfied with their jobs. Happy employees are more productive, have lower turnover and deliver higher levels of customer service.

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Employee satisfaction starts with hiring call center agents who are the best fit for the job – and for your company. That requires asking the right questions to get accurate insights on how candidates really feel about working as a call center agent, how effective they are at handling difficult callers, and how well they fit in with your existing team.

To learn more about the best questions to ask to identify candidates with the traits and skills you’re looking for, we reached out to a panel of call center managers and business leaders and asked them to answer this question:

“What’s your favorite call center interview question?”

Read on to learn what our panel had to say about the most effective call center interview questions you can put to use when interviewing candidates.

Erik Hansen

@RightPeopleDK

Erik Hansen is a management consultant at the Right People Group.

“The best question to ask candidates in an interview for a call center position, in my opinion, is to…”

Give them a hypothetical customer service scenario and ask them how they would handle it. This will give you insight into their problem-solving skills, communication style, and overall attitude.

Sharon Dylan

Sharon Dylan is the Co-Founder of Management Help LLC.

“My favorite questions, and some of the most important ones, are…”

How willing are you to work on a graveyard shift?

Are you also willing to work on a changing schedule, perhaps every two weeks?

These questions may seem very simple, but the candidates’ answers will spell their hireability chances. Being a call center agent has its perks, like a good salary and good medical insurance. However, it comes with a cost. Since the company I was working at before services subsidiary companies from all over the world, some of our employees have to man the graveyard shift in order to cover all time zones. Hence, if the applicant can vouch for their stamina that they can work the graveyard shift, then there is a higher chance that they will be hired. These questions also allow me to look at the willingness of the applicant to work under pressure, hence, these questions are very important for the hiring manager.

Trevor Larson

@nectar_hr

Trevor Larson is the CEO and Founder of Nectar.

“I want a call center employee who is able to handle difficult customer service inquiries and complaints in a calm and professional manner…”

I am especially interested in knowing what they would do if they encountered a situation in which a customer was extremely unhappy with the product or service they received. Would they be able to diffuse the situation and come to a resolution that would satisfy both the customer and the company?

The answer will give you some insight into how the candidate would handle difficult situations, what kind of problem-solving skills they have, and whether or not they would be able to keep calm under pressure. This is important information to have, as it can help you determine whether or not the candidate would be a good fit for the job.

Jeff Mains

@jeffkmains

Jeff Mains is a 5x Entrepreneur and CEO of Champion Leadership Group LLC.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

What kinds of call centers are you familiar with? Highlight the differences between them.

Inbound contact centers are more common than outbound call centers. In the inbound form, employees receive phone calls from consumers and answer their inquiries, requests, and demands as quickly as possible. Typically, outbound call centers are centered on the associates who make phone calls to clients to solicit their business or sales, such as banks phoning their customers. Additionally, help desks are also used to give technical assistance.

Jonathan Zacks

@GoReminders

Jonathan is the founder and CEO of GoReminders.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

How would you deal with an angry customer on the phone?

It's something that every agent is going to have to face at some point, so there is little point in trying to pretend that every caller is going to be gushing with praise. We are looking for empathy and sincerity, but more than these qualities are required for resolving these contacts. We need an agent who can remain calm and focused under pressure and maintain a professional attitude at all times. A genuine desire to help resolve the issue and prevent escalation, as well as the ability to act as the face of the company throughout the contact, will be vital if they land the role.

Jonathon Reckles

@CDOnePrice

Jonathon Reckles is the Vice President of Marketing and Customer Success for CD One Price Cleaners.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

Is there a difference between customer support and customer success? And if so, please explain what the difference is.

This question gets to the heart of whether or not the candidate understands the difference between proactively connecting with customers to meet their needs (customer success) or simply reacting to customer issues to solve their short-term problems (customer support). We are always looking for customer success agents that are interested in proactively working with customers to achieve their goals rather than simply reacting to their issues.

Taylor Goucher

Taylor Goucher is the Director of Client Services at Connext Global Solutions.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

How many tennis balls can you fit inside of a Boeing 747 airplane?

This is my favorite because it’s unique and forces the candidate to think critically and present a creative solution. There is no wrong answer, but it helps look at how candidates think about problems and how they address them.

James Diel

@textelnow

James is the CEO of Textel.

“One of my favorite call center interview questions is…”

How do you handle an escalating situation in which an upset customer seems inconsolable?

Though most call center queries are for customers in a reasonable mood with minor issues, you’ll often run into people who are emotionally reactive and upset. Whether they’re upset about the subject of their call or just having a bad week, a great customer service representative can diffuse the situation and end the call on better terms with the best resolution possible. It’s easy to be a great call center specialist to great customers, but how you treat the problematic ones is far more telling.

Margaret Templeton

@SERVPRO

Margaret Templeton is a Customer Care Center Manager of SERVPRO.

“In call center interviews, I like to ask…”

Can you please tell me why I would not hire you?

This type of curveball question has two purposes from an interviewer's perspective:

Recruiters want to gain a balanced view of candidates during an interview, which includes both their strengths and limitations. This question can help uncover some of the candidate’s weaknesses.

Hiring managers want to see how candidates handle themselves with their backs against the wall and in a situation that forces them to think on their feet.

Scott Spivack

@MedicalCredit

Scott Spivack is the Marketing Director at United Medical Credit.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

How would you handle an angry customer?

This is an important question because most customer support representatives are good at favorable discussions, but the main test lies in handling uncomfortable situations. That’s where your emotional intelligence steps in. So, if a representative can glide through that situation and provide value to an angry customer, that’s gold for any business. Ideally, that’s what every business needs.

Jared Stern

@upliftfunding

Jared Stern is the Founder & CEO of Uplift Legal Funding.

“Here’s one of my favorite call center interview questions…”

‘How can you possibly enjoy working in a call center?’ is a brilliant question that helps you understand a candidate as a whole.

This will help you gain insights into the candidate’s understanding of the call center industry. It will help them understand their outlook on customer satisfaction. Call center jobs can become mundane and boring. This question will also highlight how a candidate will innovate work for themselves.

Werner Jorgensen

Werner Jorgensen is the Sales and Marketing Manager of Heatxperts.

“One of my favorite call center interview questions is…”

What would you do if a customer becomes abusive during a call?

This is a situational question and one that is very effective in gauging several of a candidate’s traits.

A customer getting abusive during a call is very common for call centers. This is why we need agents that are patient, polite, decisive and have excellent problem-solving skills. These are some of the core traits of a call center agent. Agents need to be patient with customers even if they get abusive or stop listening to the agent. As such, we look for candidates that can show us how they will handle an abusive customer with the utmost care and solve their problem without escalating the situation.

William Donnelly

@thanks_lottie

William Donnelly is the Founder of Lottie.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

How would you describe quality customer service?

This is the easiest yet most tricky thing to ask a candidate. That’s because it allows us to hire the best of the best for the vacant positions. Often, interviewers tend to answer it from just one

perspective, while we’re looking for a well-rounded potential hire.

It’s not about just answering client queries—customer service is the heart of the business model. It focuses on consistently being present for the consumers around the clock. This positively reflects on the brand image, as there is a resourceful team supporting people in times of crisis.

In some cases, employees may need to empathize with consumers to improve the conversion rate. As a result, the quality will speak for itself and reduce turnover risk.

Meera Watts

@meerawatts

Meera Watts is the Founder and CEO of Siddhi Yoga.

“One of my favorite call center interview questions is…”

Why do you want to work in a call center?

This question may appear simple, yet it can provide a clear picture of an individual's personal goals and ambitions. This will assist in determining whether the candidate is appropriate for the job role. As an organization, you want someone who can develop trust and interact with customers, and their response can help us figure that out.

Lisa Ragland

@SERVPRO

Lisa Ragland is a Customer Care Center Manager of SERVPRO.

“Here’s one of my favorite call center interview questions…”

What can you bring to the Customer Care Team that no one else can?

When asking this question, I’m looking for:

  • Knowledge of the company and its goals
  • Unique skills, qualities and qualifications the candidate may have to increase the effectiveness of the team, and;
  • Ability to make a positive impact on the team

Patricio Paucar

@NaviMarketplace

Patricio Paucarvis the co-founder of Navi.

“One question that can be extremely revealing both with experienced call center candidates as well as first-timers is…”

Tell me about a time when you dealt with one of the angriest people you’ve ever encountered, preferably a customer, but it doesn’t have to be.

Tell me why they were angry and how you handled the situation.

If they struggle to answer, ask them if they’d be willing to roleplay the scenario. If they’re not willing, it's unlikely they can handle the pressure of a call center. If they agree, you get to see them in action. In any of the scenarios, you’ll have a much better sense of the person sitting across from you.

Brandon Adcock

@Nugenix

Brandon Adcock is the CEO of Nugenix.

“If the candidate has experience, I always ask…”

What is your most impressive customer service moment?

The trick to this is that I’m not expecting the candidate to have an encyclopedic memory of their every customer interaction. This question actually measures how the candidate really feels about their job and how they define exemplary customer service.

When we love something, we tend to remember the good times and forget the bad, and vice versa. Interviewees that answer with positive customer interaction like their job more and view customer service as a way to ensure customer satisfaction. Interviewees that answer with a negative customer interaction—even if they solve it—are more likely to dislike their job and view their role as silencing complaints.

Tim Clarke

@seoblog

Tim Clarke is the Director of Sales and Marketing at SEOBlog.com.

“One example of a problem-solving question is…”

How do you define quality customer service?

For a call center to be thriving, it must provide quality customer service from helpful, kind, and knowledgeable representatives who maintain a strong reputation for the organization. As part of your answer, you should describe your experiences of treating customers with respect, resolving conflicts, and prioritizing their needs. In the case of those without much experience in customer service, it can be helpful to answer this question in terms of how you want to be treated.

As important as it is to know and state the skills and traits of a good customer service representative, it is also equally important to discuss specific instances where you used those skills and demonstrated those qualities. In this way, the hiring manager will realize that you possess plenty of experience in customer service. It would be beneficial to discuss the skills involved in customer service if you lack much prior knowledge. The most crucial thing to remember when talking about work examples is not to bring up negative experiences.

Regardless of the circumstances, you should explain what quality customer service looks like, why it is valuable to the company, and how it is delivered to each caller.

Cayla Thurman

@rizereviews

Cayla Thurman is the Business Reputation Consultant at Rize Reviews.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

Tell me something about yourself.

There is probably no better call center interview question than this one, and interviewees rarely prepare for it. As it stands, the question seems straightforward. However, how you answer it will determine how the interview goes. Interviewers can likely guess whether you are a good candidate or not from just this simple question, so please do not take it for granted.

The most common answer to this call center interview question is the applicant's resume, such as their name, address, and school details. Avoid this mistake. When asked this question, you are considered to answer with more information not found in your outline. Why would the interviewer want to learn about your name, age, and address when this detail is already on your resume?

A perfect answer to the call center interview question would be to converse about your pursuits. When you talk about hobbies, remember that you are also giving the interviewer information about your skills. For example, if you say that you play sports like basketball or baseball, this tells the interviewer that you are competitive. If you say that you like to play chess, you're analytical.

Mike Toney

@cardonationctrs

Mike Toney is the Customer Service Director at Car Donation Centre.

“Here are my top 3 interview questions for call center jobs…”

  1. How will you turn down a customer’s request?: Starting with a tricky question that can depend upon the situation. Turning down a customer’s request in a call-centre job should be a tricky one since you’ll need to persuade them without losing your customer. You should know how to say “No” to a customer, without actually saying No.
  2. Are you open to working overtime & working night shifts?: Working night shifts in call centers is quite common. Instead of simply replying with a yes, you should convey that you’ll be readily available whenever management needs you. This statement will express your willingness to come in handy whenever the need arises.
  3. How do you ensure that you’ll provide quality customer service?: The statement of providing quality customer service should quickly demonstrate your overly-helping nature and kind behavior that will win customers for your company. You should prove your customer service capabilities or even provide an example when you went out of your way to help a customer.

Tim Davidson

@cartitlelenders

Tim Davidson is the President of Car Title Loan Lenders.

“My favorite call center interview question is…”

Why did you leave your previous job?

Almost every interview contains this question. It’s always advisable to have a convincing response prepared for this question, regardless of why you left your previous job. You must adopt a positive perspective. Suppose you were seeking growth but your previous job was unable to offer you new horizons. Alternately, you can explain that you are more interested in the products and services offered here and that you believe you can do better here. Never disparage your previous employer or company; it will make you appear unprofessional. Your interviewer is more interested in how you will fit in with this company than why you did not fit in with the previous one.

Lee Cottle

@playvoxcx

Lee Cottle is the European Director at Playvox.

“Some of the best questions you can ask include…”

  1. How do you communicate positively with customers using your voice/ written messages: Communication is a critical success factor in contact centers. Conversations are predominately via calls or live chat messaging, which eliminates the advantage of body gestures in aiding communication. This question will assess how a candidate combats this and utilizes their communication skills to portray a positive experience for the customer, and if they have the ability to keep a smooth communication channel.
  2. What do you consider the most important soft skill to succeed in your profession?: This is a great question because it explores what soft skills they deem most important and the candidate's knowledge of their portfolio, demonstrated by linking to previous experience where those have been used. This question should be leading, so it demonstrates decision and critical thinking skills too. This is also a great question to assess their learning style and understand how your L&D programs can tap into excelling performance in the future.
  3. What metrics do you use to determine if you've provided quality service to a client?: Most contact centers are driven to SLAs. What this question does is assess the understanding of quality service and gives you an insight into their communication styles. It can be linked to a contact resolution question too.

Andrei Kurtuy

@Novoresume

Andrei Kurtuy is the Co-Founder & CCO at Novoresume.

“I love asking…”

What would you do if you could go back in time, and there was a mistake on a previously completed project that led to a disaster? How would you fix it?

This question has two purposes:

First, it's great for gauging the candidate's ability to think critically and reflect on their own work. If they don't have an answer that shows they've reflected on their mistakes or learned from them, then I don't want them on my team.

Second, this question is also helpful for finding out how open-minded the candidate is. If they immediately jump to saying that time travel isn't possible—or that we shouldn't be able to do it anyway—then I know they're not going to be a good fit for our culture.

Craig Konkle

Craig is a recruiter in Good Land Home Buyers.

“One of my favorite questions is…”

What are the most imperative skills of a call center agent?

This will determine if you have any idea about how an agent works, including the important qualities they must have and if you can describe a situation where those skills should be applied. A call center company is usually looking for particular skills, and your answer will reflect how you would deal with a customer in the future.

So how are you going to answer this type of question? You should state at least three primary skills that an agent should possess in order to deliver the best resolution for customer's concerns. The primary skills that an agent should possess are active-listening, multi-tasking and problem-solving.

Whenever someone is talking to you, the first step is to listen to them to properly understand what they are saying. While you're talking to a customer, take down notes about the important details the customer mentioned so you can easily recall your entire discussion. This could help you pull up the right customer information on the system, document their concern and start processing the necessary steps to help them quickly.

This is where problem-solving starts. The moment you understand the concern and immediately take the needed actions on your end, the customer's concerns can be resolved in a faster manner. This is a big help for someone who's experiencing troubles with your company. A call center representative should face all customers with a good attitude and effective skills to provide better customer service that will directly impact how customers perceive your company.

Craig Anderson

@express_dentist

Craig Anderson is the Founder of Express Dentist.

“Questions that assess a candidate's ability to problem-solve and think on their feet are the most revealing…”

For example, a question like, ‘What would you do if a caller was angry and demanding?’ can show whether or not a candidate is capable of diffusing difficult situations. Candidates who are able to stay calm under pressure and effectively communicate with customers are the ideal call center employees.

The most important thing for call center employers to remember is that the interview process should be designed to assess a candidate's ability to perform the essential functions of the job. By asking questions that reveal a candidate's problem-solving and customer service skills, employers can ensure that they are hiring the best possible employees for their call center.

Edith Matos

@drug_helpline

Edith Matos is the Hotline Director for Drug Helpline.

“During our interviews with call operator applicants, the best question we ask is…”

What kind of experience they have with substance abuse, both personal (whether through a friend or family member) and professional (such as working in a rehab center). An operator with personal experience may be more understanding and compassionate, but someone with professional experience as well may have a better grasp of the clinical aspects of addiction. Ultimately, you want to find an operator who callers will feel comfortable talking to and who you feel will best be able to help them.

Someone with experience may also mean that they are already familiar with the resources available to help those struggling with addiction. The operator should be able to provide referrals to rehabilitation centers, support groups, and other organizations that can help the caller. If an applicant already knows about these, then it will definitely put them at an advantage because this is a lot of information that many won’t know off the top of their head.

In this line of work, it's important to have operators who are empathetic and patient, but also knowledgeable and resourceful because we want to help callers as much as we can. Calls can get heavy at times, and we want to make sure that our operators can handle them. With the right operator, we can provide callers with the help they need and hopefully get them on the road to recovery.

Chris Walker

@legiitcom

Chris M. Walker is the CEO/Founder of Legiit.

“Here are the top 5 call center interview questions that you can ask…”

  1. How would you respond and deal with an agitated customer on the phone?
  2. Do you enjoy communicating with people?
  3. How do you ensure that you are able to meet your monthly targets?
  4. Are you able to multi-task and work under pressure?
  5. Why do you want to work as a call center agent at our company?

These questions will guide you in finding the most suitable employee who has the necessary skills and drive for what they do.

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