Are you a rockstar people person? Have others told you that you have remarkable soft skills such as patience, organization, effective time management, a solid work ethic, and creative thinking? If so, you might well consider interviewing for a job as a call center representative.
With over 3 million customer service representatives employed in the U.S., there are positions available in almost every industry.
One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview is to review common questions you might be asked. By reviewing questions and answers relating to work at a call center, you will be ready to ace your interview.
Try to personalize your answers with examples from your previous experience at work, school, and volunteer positions.
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
Hiring managers tasked with placing new employees in available call center jobs need to make sure that their candidates have the patience to deal with anxious or difficult customers. Successful job applicants must also prove that they are capable of handling a high-stress, fast-paced work environment with equanimity.
Your goal in answering these questions should be to prove that you aren’t the sort of employee who is going to add to their rate of staff attrition. You can best do this by displaying enthusiasm for customer service, showing a strong interest in their call center operations, and proving that you have the skills and qualifications necessary for success in this job role.
How to Answer Common Call Center Interview Questions
Your first approach in answering common call center interview questions should be to think of times when you have demonstrated the skills necessary for this position: a strong customer service orientation, good conflict / dispute resolution talents, and grace under pressure.
Consider using the STAR interview response technique as you practice answering the questions posed below. In this approach, you describe a previous Situation you have experienced similar to that presented in the question. Then, you elaborate upon the Task or challenge involved, the Action you took in response, and the Results of this action.
Call Center Interview Questions and the Best Answers
When you walk into a job interview for a call center job, you can expect to field questions about your people skills, your conflict resolution capabilities, and why you are the ideal candidate for this sort of position.
Have a look at these sample answers for inspiration as you decide how you yourself would answer these common questions.
Examples of the Best Answers: People Skills
Here are some answers to the call center job interview question "Do you have good people skills?"
I like working with people, and I have been told that I have good people skills. My previous manager rated my communication skills at a 9 out of 10 in my last performance review. I think I communicate effectively and in a pleasant way.
Why It Works: This candidate lends credence to her answer by providing a quantified achievement: her impressive performance rating. It’s fine to “toot your own horn” by sharing significant accomplishments. This isn’t bragging; it’s information that will set you apart from your competition.
I get along well with most people I meet, and people find me easy to talk to, so I think I have good people skills. When I was in college, I volunteered with the alumni association to make calls for donations. I got along well with the alums I talked to and was very effective at obtaining donations.
Why It Works: This entry-level candidate, lacking much work experience, effectively leverages his volunteer experience to show how he has gained phone communications skills similar to those required in a call center role.
Throughout my career, I have always worked in customer service, and been known as a people person. I enjoy working with others toward a common goal. In one of my first jobs, I learned how effective it could be to work as a team when I was in a group that was handling calls on a recalled item. We were able to share our strategies and improve customer satisfaction by 30% in a 3-month period.
Why It Works: The candidate provides a tangible example of multiple relevant skills: teamwork, creative problem-solving, conflict resolution, and customer service. Better yet, she supports this with a key accomplishment quantified with a percentage.
Good people skills include the ability to relate to others, and to problem-solve. I was able to use both of these skills effectively during my internship at XYZ Company. Part of my job was to greet clients upon arrival at our offices and determine which sales associate would be the best fit for their needs.
Why It Works: Here again the interviewee explains how he has honed two important skills, even as a college student, during an internship.
Examples of the Best Answers: Difficult Customers
Another frequently asked question you may be posed is, “How do you handle difficult or escalated customers?”
When clients have issues, I use a calm tone of voice to gently educate them about our company’s services and policies. I also know not to take their anger personally, even if they are verbally abusive. Instead, I sympathize with their position and assure them that we’ll come up with an effective solution for them.
Why It Works: This candidate demonstrates her understanding of good customer service practices, including her ability to put herself in her client’s shoes, relate to their concern, and partner with them to resolve their issue.
I begin our discussion with an apology—something like, “I’m sorry to hear about this issue. If you will please answer a few questions for me, I’m sure that we can resolve it to your satisfaction.” Nine times out of ten, this immediate apology serves to quickly defuse their temper so that we can work out a solution together.
Why It Works: Leading with an apology is a proven strategy at call centers, often listed in “best practices” manuals. If you have call center experience, be sure to describe the common “best practices” you have been taught.
I use active listening strategies to gather as much information as I can from escalated customers, letting them have their say without interrupting them. Then I summarize and repeat back the details they’ve told me so that they’ll know I’ve fully understood them and am eager to assist them.
Why It Works: This is another example of an established call center procedure, frequently utilized because it builds rapport with callers immediately.
I let them know from the very beginning of our conversation that they have my full attention—and I try very hard not to put them on hold, since this will only frustrate them more. If it turns out that I’ll need to research their issue with another department, I ask their permission to put them on hold, telling them that I very much appreciate their patience while I work to resolve their issue.
Why It Works: This candidate shows that she understands how *not* to respond to customers, which is just as important as what *to* say.
Examples of the Best Answers: Why Should We Hire You?
Finally, a general question that almost always comes up in any interview is, “Why should we hire you?” Try to emphasize your people skills when answering this question.
My people skills have allowed me to excel in call center work. I can empathize with my callers, and I listen carefully and try to resolve issues as simply and effectively as possible. At my last position, I received recognition for my work with customers – which made me even more excited about providing excellent customer service.
Why It Works: Not only does this answer depict the candidate’s relevant skills, but it also clearly demonstrates his enthusiasm for this type of customer service work.
Some people burn out quickly in call center customer service jobs, but I’ve been doing this successfully for five years and wouldn’t want to work in any other field. Maybe it’s just because I really enjoy talking and listening to people, but I find that it’s personally rewarding, at the end of the day, to know that I’ve actually helped people while providing a positive image of our company.
Why It Works: This response is savvy because it addresses a hiring manager’s major concern: that a new employee will burn out and will have to be replaced. The interviewee also shows that she’s eager to represent her employer’s brand.
You should hire me because I’m a born problem-solver – I love the intellectual challenge of figuring out how to fix issues. Part of this is being able to calmly communicate with clients to gather information about problems. Successfully resolving trouble tickets makes me as happy as when I’ve finished a Sudoku puzzle in record time.
Why It Works: The answer works because it pinpoints a desirable qualification – problem-solving – enhanced by a touch of personal humor.
One of the things that has helped me the most in customer service is that I’m bilingual in English and Spanish. This allows me to serve a wider range of customers than call center representatives who are monolingual.
Why It Works: Bilingual command of two languages is a huge plus when one is applying for call center representative jobs. If you are bi- or multi-lingual, be sure to mention this in your interview.
Tips for Giving the Best Answer
Offer specific examples of situations where you have used these skills: These examples can be drawn from professional work experience, internships, volunteer or community work, or extracurricular experience (especially if you’ve served in a leadership capacity).
Practice and repeat: Before your interview, frame your own answers to the questions presented here, then practice them in front of a friend (role-playing the part of an interviewer) or the mirror. This will help to counteract any nerves you might feel going into the interview. It’s also a proven strategy for preventing becoming tongue-tied.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Why shouldn’t we hire you? Best Answers
- How do you feel about working on a team? Best Answers
- What can you contribute to this company? Best Answers
ANTICIPATE COMMON QUESTIONS. As a candidate for a call center representative job, you will be quizzed about your people skills, your ability to deal with customer complaints, and the skills you would bring to the position.
DEMONSTRATE STAYING POWER. One of most difficult challenges faced by call center managers is employee attrition. Prove that you have what it takes to stick around for the long haul.
SHOWCASE YOUR UNIQUE QUALIFICATIONS. These include foreign language skills, long-term customer service / call center experience, and / or a record of high work performance ratings.