Call Center Interview Questions and Suggested Answers

June 15, 2012 • written by

Beginners are often afraid of call center interview questions. I get message like how their brain turns off when they enter the interview room.

The most common question that I receive is “what are the correct answers to the following interview questions?”

The objective of an interview is for the call center recruiter to find out if you have the qualities they are looking for in a call center agent.

Unfortunately, new applicants have opposite goals when they get to an interview. They tell me they want to get hired but they also want the interview to be as short as possible and speak as little English as possible. That’s the thing. If that’s your goal, you probably achieved it already except you don’t get the job that way.

The interviewer wants to know if you can speak in English, ask questions, handle unknown questions, give instructions and tell stories. That’s it. Your interview questions will likely test all of those at one point.

So when they ask you those random questions, you’re not really supposed to know the answer in advance, you’re supposed to know how to answer questions you don’t know the answer to. Even if it means just clarifying the question, to make sure you understand what they mean, acknowledging the question by saying that’s an interesting question and telling them its the first time you’ve ever had to think about it and asking for a minute or two to think about it or maybe read up on it.

Do not try to guess the right answer.

You’re not in a game show. It’s not your answer that passes you or fails you but how you answer.

There are no right or wrong answers here because the answers would depend on who you are. The key is asking yourself the questions in advance and deciding on the answer before a call center interview.

Before I begin, here are my objectives in an interview.

  1. Get my interviewer to smile.
  2. Get my interviewer to laugh.
  3. Get my interviewer to tell me a story.
  4. Get my interview to be around 30 minutes to an hour.

Crazy objectives? Well that’s why I often get to the final stages of the call center interview.

It’s true that I go to sixteen interviews to find my target job but only five of those fail but that’s mostly because I object the previous four objectives. So yeah. Try to remember the four objectives when you go to an interview.

One of the common problems I see is that people wait for the question before they start thinking about the answer.

In a call center job, preparation is key and knowing a lot of the answers beforehand saves you a lot of time and makes you sound more credible when you give an answer.

I don’t recommend giving a memorized answer. Instead, it’s important to know the gist or the main points of your answer before an interview.

Don’t just give an answer in an interview. Learn to elaborate and expand about any of them. You are not a beauty pageant contestant. Justify your answer and or tell the story behind it.

Remember to try to form a bond with your interviewer.

Call center interview questions to prepare for:

Tell me something about yourself.

Start with your name, where you’re from, what you did for work and something random like a positive trait or what you do on your free time.

What are your strengths?

I recommend picking a few strengths that’s job related or if you’re a bit more adventurous like me pick one that’s totally not job related and explain why it’s important to the job. I’m good at giving love advice to friends so I’m used to listening to a problem, asking for important details and offering solutions.

What are your weaknesses?

You can pick a current one that you’re working on or a past one that you overcame. Always provide a solution to a problem. Your job whether they’re hiring you for customer service, tech support or sales is to provide solutions to a problem. Practice working on solutions to your weaknesses. Write it down so you can explain it better.

Why you want to work in a call center?

I would like to upgrade to a higher pay. I know this industry has high turn over (or a lot of people quitting) and I figure that if I do well there’s an opportunity for me to get promoted and earn well. I don’t mind working night shift or weekends or holidays. I enjoy talking to people over the phone. I enjoy talking to foreigners and learning more about their culture (never say to improve your communication skills. If you do I’ll hunt you down and torture you and kill you slowly. Always be confident that your communication skills is good enough and is improving by the minute).

Here are some other questions:

Why should we hire you?

On your notebook I need you to list down twenty positive traits that you have. On another list, include ten accomplishments that you’re proud of. On another list write down ten nice things people tell about you. After you complete the list, mark the answers that are job related. You can get creative and pick an answer. You can expand on your answer.

What do you have that other applicants don’t? (What’s your advantage over the other applicants?)

Pick one from your list. I suggest you pick one that you consider a disadvantage and frame it as a perk for them to hire you. I sometimes share a story about how I only had one year in college and had to go look for work at an early age.

I thought about what I could offer as an advantage over degree holders. I noticed how a lot of people stop learning and updating their skills as soon as they earn their diploma. They’re graduates after all in their own words. So I worked harder than anyone I know at learning and updating what I can do. The Kevin they’ll interact with a year from now will be far different than the Kevin they’re seeing. I evolve by reading, attending workshops, being mentored and doing experiments. I’m not afraid to spend money to make myself a better person. I pick up skills I’m interested in and I’m interested in picking up skills. Each skill I gain can contribute directly or indirectly to your team.

If you’re a nurse

(call centers hate nurses because they’re the first ones to leave when they get offers to work abroad) tell them you’re used to night shift or difficult situations and if you’re not afraid of blood you’re sure you can take on providing solutions with TLC (tender loving care) over the phone.

If you’re a single mom

Tell them that being a mom is a full time job that requires two people and you were able to deal with putting out crisis on a regular basis. Being a first time mom requires learning and adapting to a lot of life and death situations and the fact that you’re still a mom can say that if you did that successfully teaching someone a solution over the phone is no sweat for you. Plus, taking care of a baby is mostly night shift. While you’re at it you can tell them that you’re going to get to see your little angel (or devil) more because you’ll be working at night and you’d get to play with them a bit after you wake up and he or she gets back to school.

Pick one and play with it. If you’d like to contribute your story to others, send me an email and I’ll post it. My email is call center training tips at gmail dot com

Why shouldn’t we hire you?

I don’t know. I think I’ve clearly explained that I’m a good match for the job because I’m (insert five to ten reasons) and I don’t really think I can prove that unless I start working for you. Seriously. Give an answer. Just throw them an answer.

You processed me for (x hours) if there’s someone better and you don’t have enough slots for the job and you’d like to take your chances on that person then by all means. But the fact that I got this far tells me that there’s something in me that you want in a call center agent/customer service representative/sales person/ or whatever the position is.

I don’t know. I think you’re more qualified to answer that question than me. You see I don’t have experience working in a call center but I made it this far. At the moment do yous see any reason why I’m not a good match?

Be creative and have fun. Be unforgettable.

What’s your expected salary?

Be honest and creative here. I tell them how much I’m expecting. I know that the offer is around fifteen to twenty thousand per month and some additional perks. Did I get that correctly or do you offer more?

Why did you leave your previous work?

Never tell them anything negative about your previous work. Tell them things you’d like to gain by working in a call center like higher pay. New and exciting opportunities. A new environment. Exposure to a different kind of people (young, positive, fun think of something).

Why would you want to shift to a different industry?

Same reasons as above. It looks exciting. The pay could be better. It might be a perfect match for me because…You can think of your own answer.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I heard the promotion in a call center if you’re not a job hopper is quite fast. In one or two years I could be a team leader or a trainer or a QA (quality assurance). I don’t know what’s next but I’m sure I’ll aim higher when I get there. I heard that unlike most local companies as long as I get my work done really well and I learn to lead there are opportunities for me here. I don’t know the details about this company. Is my expectation correct? (Smile and wait for your interviewer’s answer. You’ve sold yourself now it’s their turn to sell your company). The key here is you have to let them know that you have ambition. Don’t just say I want to take your job, of course they won’t hire you.

How do you manage stress?

It’s simple. I smoke and I’m done. This was my previous answer. I don’t really smoke anymore. So I’m thinking of a better answer. I stay positive, think of solutions and understand that thing will turn out well and I have an opportunity to make things better. If you think that’s too much of a Miss Universe answer. Here are more practical answers. I take care of myself well. I go to spas and get massages. I make sure I play or party hard after I work hard (make sure you express that you don’t go drinking every night after work or do drugs). I sleep eight hours a day. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy food. I know these influences how my brain responds to stressful situations. It’s cliche but a sharp mind requires a healthy body.

What do you think is an advantage of working for this company?

I like the fact that..It’s close to my house. Pays well according to the advertisement or I heard some good things about this company. Be honest about your answer. If you don’t know, tell them that you don’t know and start asking some questions. Asking questions show that you’re interested.

Spend some time thinking about these things. I recommend writing them down and ask yourself if your answers are good enough. If you were hiring yourself as a call center agent, would you pick yourself for the job. If not, what do you think would be a better answer?

Do you have any other questions for me?

Here’s a secret, in a call center interview the recruiter is secretly counting how many questions you asked in an interview. Why? That’s because a call center job involves asking questions 90% of the time. Whether you do sales, customer service or tech support all you’ll be doing is asking questions. So that’s actually another test. They test your interest in the job and they test your communication skills by the number of questions you asked during the interview. So if you ever got this question at the end. This is to remind you that you should be asking a lot of questions.

Additional Interview Tips:

  1. The longer the interview the better for you.
  2. Confirm that you understand the answer.
  3. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that it’s your first time being asked the question and you need a minuter or two to think about it. Ask questions about the question.
  4. Include stories about your answer.
  5. Don’t take it seriously.

In summary:

  1. Ask yourself the questions.
  2. Write down the answer.
  3. Be honest and be creative.
  4. Deliver with confidence and elaborate.
  5. Try to form a bond with your interviewer by asking some questions.

How do you answer questions before. How will you answer questions now?

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