9 Call Center Interview Questions That Expose #1 Prospects


Hiring agents for your call center can be hard. You publish one job posting, receive a mountain of applications, and your real work doesn’t even start until you identify the most qualified candidates and begin interviewing for the best personal and cultural fit. 

Finding and hiring new employees can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack—it often feels like you’re helpless until you stumble upon the right candidate by sheer luck. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

In fact, there are many surefire interview questions you can ask that will help you uncover the best prospects for your call center. If a candidate answers all of them well, you can be confident they’ll be a good hire.

9 Call Center Interview Questions that Reveal Top Prospects

When hiring a call center agent, you need to ask a few job-specific questions and blend them in with the tried-and-true questions that practically every interviewer will ask. Most prospects know what kind of questions to expect, so this will make it obvious which ones do their homework and show up prepared. 

From there, the way a candidate responds to these nine questions can tell you all you need to know about whether or not they’re cut out for your call center.

How would you handle the everyday grind of call center work?

Working in a call center can become repetitive very quickly.

Each day, agents handle many of the same types of calls from the same types of customers who express the same types of issues and frustrations. At the same time, they also have to do many of the same post-call follow-up work, creating a grind that some people just aren’t cut out for.

When interviewing prospective call center agents, then, it’s important to get a feel for how the candidate handles this kind of repetitive work. Employee turnover rates in call centers tend to be high, and bad hiring decisions are a big part of that.

In general, the better you are at weeding out the candidates who are likely to leave soon after they are hired, the more you can reduce your churn rate. Thus, a candidate’s answers to this question will tell you a lot about how well they will manage the monotonous aspect of the job.

If they make it clear they aren’t interested in tedious days filled with the same work repeatedly, that’s a big red flag. Since the last thing you want to do is start your agent search all over again just a few weeks after onboarding the wrong person, it is better to filter these folks out before hiring them rather than finding this out afterward.

Why do you want to work in a call center?

Many candidates see a call center agent role as an opportunity for growth, while others see it as a mere paycheck. You want people who desire to learn, gain work experience, and grow their skills—especially in customer service.

Of course, most of your hires will not end up being lifers in your call center (at least, not as agents), but having an appetite to grow as professionals means they will likely stick around for a while. For example, they may be interested in moving up the ladder to a supervisory role, growing into a more coveted call center position, or transitioning to a different department entirely. 

When an interviewee gives you a solid and honest answer to this question, you’ll know whether they are a top candidate for the role.

What do you do to improve on your own time?

New agents quickly learn that coasting in a call center is pretty easy. In other words, it’s possible to do the bare minimum and go through the motions each day. Meanwhile, as long as their call center metrics are satisfactory and customers aren’t complaining, their supervisors don’t get on their case. 

The agents you want to hire are not the ones who are content just to get by—at least, not if you want your call center to thrive. Instead, what you should look for are people who are self-motivated to keep learning and improving their skills.

Top candidates will take pride in their professional development and work on it whether their boss pushes them to do so or not. 

Ask candidates how they feel about professional growth. Don’t simply ask where they see themselves in X number of years down—that’s too abstract. Dig deeper and ask them to talk about their long-term professional goals. 

A top candidate will be able to explain what they are doing to grow their career trajectory. They’ll also be able to explain how being a call center agent aligns with their plans.

These self-motivated candidates are the most likely to succeed in the role. 

What’s the worst thing about working at a call center and how would you get through it?

Working in a call center isn’t all sunbeams and lollipops. Sure, there are great days, but every agent can expect to run into tough days and even tougher tasks.

You want to be sure that a candidate understands the day-to-day challenges of being a call center agent. Most importantly, you want to hear their plan to avoid quitting when the going gets tough.

A strong candidate will demonstrate their knowledge of the role and everything it entails, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. A top candidate will go one step further and be able to explain their strategies for overcoming these challenges.

Don’t settle for abstract answers to this question. These can indicate that the interviewee doesn’t have a solid grasp of what a call center agent does on a daily basis. They are also a sign that they aren’t prepared for the reality of their challenges.

What can you tell me about yourself?

Ah, the universal interview question that everyone knows and probably hates. It’s open-ended, and there’s almost never a right answer to it. 

Still, despite its reputation as interview kryptonite, this question is a really good one to ask—but not for the reason you may think. 

Rather than merely reciting all of the work experience, education, and accolades listed on their resume, you are looking for someone who injects their personality into their response. They’ll tell you what they like to do for fun, how they work with others, why they applied for this role, and more. If they make it a conversation rather than a canned response to a canned question, this is a really good sign. 

Personality and cultural fit are just as important as ability to do the actual job. After all, even the most technically skilled person won’t thrive in the role if they don’t fit in with the rest of the team.

Why do you want to join our specific call center?

It’s foolish to think your call center has the only open position in town. Since many call centers offer remote positions, there are probably hundreds seeking new agents at any given time. 

This question aims to see how much thought the candidate put into applying for your particular role. Did they do any research on your company, or did they simply blanket every open call center job notice with an application?

You want candidates who apply because they believe your company fits their professional goals well—or, at the very least, you want candidates who took the time to research your business and make an educated decision before submitting their applications.

Prospects who take the time to do some pre-application research are usually the ones who stay for a while after hiring.

When you’re helping a caller, what’s the most important thing to focus on?

Experienced call center managers have priority lists for what their agents should focus on when fielding customer questions. These lists will obviously vary slightly from call center to call center, but they will always be highly important.

You want the candidates you consider to have similar priorities regarding customer service. Even if it isn’t a line-for-line match, you want them to share your views on what matters. Use this question to weed out candidates whose priorities are wildly divergent, as they aren’t likely to bring consistency to your team’s customer service. 

The best way to see if there is alignment is by asking candidates what their top priorities are when answering a call. Their responses will give you much insight into how well they will fit into your team and how likely their customer engagement will meet your expectations.

What can you tell me about the biggest personal or work-related challenge you had recently and how you handled it?

Working in a call center requires a certain personality type. The people who thrive are the ones who can overcome challenges and manage frequent frustration.

You want to know how a candidate deals with both.

When an interviewee answers this question, you want to see examples of how they successfully managed a high-stress situation, de-escalated tension, and successfully resolved the situation. Even if they couldn’t find a solution, learning how they dealt with adversity is a good indicator of how they will perform on the job.

What questions do you have for me?

Although this is yet another standard interview question, there’s a reason why it gets asked in so many interviews: because it tells you who is prepared and who understands the big picture. 

When an interviewee has real, thoughtful questions for the interviewer, it shows they are an equal part of the meeting and want to make sure it’s the right choice for them as much as it is for you.

When the person you’re interviewing asks interesting questions, it also gives you a chance to provide additional information the candidate may need to make a decision if they are offered the job. Serious candidates might have absolutes in their heads that will influence whether or not they take a role. This is their chance to reveal that information if it wasn’t covered in the interview.

In both cases, thoughtful questions from the interviewee at this stage are a good sign of a top candidate.

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