14 Common Call Center Job Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
February 10th, 2017 Written by: Molly Masterson
Providing outstanding customer service is paramount for all companies — with 76% of consumers saying they view customer service as a “true test” of how a company values them, according to a 2015 Aspect report.
As a result, companies are looking to staff their customer service call centers with highly-detailed and friendly employees who can provide that outstanding service, as well as thrive in a fast-paced environment.
Masterson Staffing Solutions has years of experience connecting talented individuals with various call-center job opportunities. So, if you’re preparing for a call center job interview, we’ve compiled some of the most commonly asked questions you’ll likely to encounter — as well as tips for successfully answering them.
General Interview Questions
Regardless of the industry or job title, all job seekers will likely encounter the following interview questions:
1. Tell me about yourself.
This question is usually the opening ice-breaker. Take this time to highlight your accomplishments, strengths and previous job experience, while also mapping them to some of the specific desired qualifications outlined in the job description.
Be professional, but also show some personality. Beyond your experience and skills, interviewers are also trying to determine if you’ll be a good cultural fit. Your answer should be something like:
I was born and raised in Mankato, Minn., and graduated this May from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a major in communications. Interacting with people and solving their problems is what motivates me. I’m always trying to fix things for family and friends, much to their chagrin. That’s ultimately what drove me to my past part-time positions in retail.
2. Why did you leave your last job?
Honesty is definitely the best policy here, but avoid disparaging your former employer. Some great responses could be:
- I wanted a new opportunity where I could learn new things and grow my career, but also where I could work more directly with people.
- I wanted to find something more challenging where I could perfect and develop new skills.
3. Why do you want to work for our company?
Interviewers want to understand your career intentions, as well as know if you’ve done your company research. Share something you’ve learned about the company’s mission, values or reputation, and tell interviewers why it’s important to you. Your response could sound something like this:
During my research, I discovered that your company really values training and ongoing learning for your employees, and as someone who loves to learn new things and be challenged, this is important to me.
4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Once again, match your strengths to the preferred skills and qualifications in the job description to reinforce that you’re a strong candidate. When it comes to weaknesses, look for ways to turn them into strengths. For example, you might say:
One of my greatest strengths is my ability to learn fast on the job and teach myself different skillsets. And while I don’t have much experience in customer service, I think my ability to learn will help me overcome that obstacle quickly.
For more ideas on the skills you should highlight, check out the seven skills we believe every call center agent should have.
5. What questions do you have for us?
This question not only gives you the opportunity to learn more about the position and the company, but also the ability to promote your skills and desire to become a part of the team.
Compile a few questions while doing your company research. Some questions you may want to ask, as well as some potential follow up responses, are:
- What would a typical day look like for me?
Response: I’ve been exposed to both structured and unstructured work environments, so I feel like I can easily adapt to this kind of work day.
- How many people would be on my team?
Response: I’ve been a part of both small and large teams, so this seems like something that is right up my alley.
- What does your timeline for hiring someone look like?
Response: That sounds great. I’m available to start in two weeks.
For more general interview questions and tips, Read 14 Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions & How to Answer Them.
For Call Center Agent Job Seekers
Whether this would be your first or next position as a call center agent, you can expect many of the following questions:
6. What’s your idea of a call center?
If you have no previous call center experience, interviewers will use this question to gauge your familiarity with the call center environment. Use this opportunity to not only highlight the actual function of a call center, but also the role call center agents play in providing quality customer service.
You should also pay special attention to what kind of call center you are applying for. Inbound call centers field the customer calls placed towards a business and your time will be spent addressing customer questions and concerns. Whereas in outbound call centers, you will be responsible for dialing customers and prospects to collect survey responses, schedule sales demonstrations, perform telemarketing, and more.
For example, if you’re applying for a customer service call center position, your answer might be:
To me, a customer service call center is the frontline of all customer interactions. It’s the job of call center agents to listen and understand customer concerns while also providing helpful information. At the end of the day, customer service call centers need to create satisfied customers with every call.
7. Why do you want to work in a call center?
Illustrate your knowledge of a call center’s atmosphere and the unique demands you’ll face in the position. For example, you could say:
I’m excited to work in a fast-paced environment that will challenge me to use all of my skills to solve problems and improve the customer experience. I love flexing my communication skills and interacting with customers.
To learn a bit more about what it’s like to work at a call center, read our answers to the six most common questions job seekers have about working in a call center.
8. What is your idea of quality customer service?
Interviewers want to know what you think quality customer service is and how you would deliver it. Your response could sound something like this:
My idea of quality customer service is being able to provide customers with friendly, professional service that not only solves their problems or answers their questions, but also leaves them feeling satisfied with the service they received.
9. How would you handle a call from an angry customer?
Angry customer calls are a reality for any call center. Tell interviewers the steps you would take to de-escalate the situation and solve the problem. Be detailed in your response and emphasize that staying calm and empathetic during the call will be key to coming up with a solution the customer will be happy with. For example, you might answer:
I think the first step is to stay calm and express to the customer that you understand them. I think it’s also important to remember that it isn’t personal, and the best way to de-escalate the situation is to work towards a solution.
10. Are you able to work with multiple phone lines?
If you have previous call center experience, answering yes to this question should be easy. In addition, tell interviewers how many calls you handled during a typical day. For those without previous experience, highlight other positions that required multi-tasking skills. A response might be:
While I haven’t worked in a call center previously, I have juggled customer service while I was working in retail. Handling multiple customer returns each day involved a lot of multitasking with our inventory system, communicating with the customer, and accessing our POS system.
For Call Center Supervisor or Manager Job Seekers
11. How many people have you managed in the past?
Whether you’ve managed just a few employees or an entire team, expand on the management techniques you’ve used and the skills you’ve honed through your experience.
I managed a team of five in my last position, and I loved being able to offer advice and train them into better employees. To help motivate my team I frequently placed goals in front of them that they were incentivized to reach. I found this increased their motivation and their performance.
12. Tell us about a time when a customer call was escalated to your attention. How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
Share a story that shows how you were able to solve the problem and improve the customer experience. In addition, tell interviewers how you used that experience as a teachable moment for the entire team.
We had a customer call in that was very upset, and the agent brought it to my attention. The key to solving the situation was in listening to the customer and offering to refund her order. I then explained to the team that even if you have more calls to get through, it is more important to take the time to listen and understand the customer. And if you still aren’t able to reach a solution, forwarding the call to me is the right thing to do.
13. Tell us about your experience in onboarding and training new employees. What does your process look like?
Interviewers want to know how you will efficiently and effectively set new employees up for success. As you walk them through the process, some good items to touch on are:
- Setting expectations
- Delivering hands-on training
- Evaluating new employee progress
- Ongoing training
For example, you could answer with something like:
My training style is very hands on and visual. I like to do the step for the employee the first time, allowing them to observe the task. And once they have my example to follow, they can complete the task with my supervision and advice. I also like to provide ongoing training by periodically checking in and having refresher training.
14. How would you address performance issues with your employees?
Be detailed in the steps you would take to have the conversation with employees, and the solutions you would offer to help them make improvements. Share an example of how you’ve handled a similar situation in the past to show interviewers you’re up for the task. Your answer could be something like:
When I have an employee that is struggling, I will first schedule a one-on-one with the employee to see where the issue may be stemming from. Once I have a better idea of what’s causing the performance issue, I will give the employee a detailed plan for them to get back on track. We will then work on the plan together to ensure that they have a better understanding of the performance expectations and execution.
Are You Ready to Ace Your Interview?
Interviews are nerve-racking, but taking the time to prepare thoughtful answers to some of these commonly asked questions will calm your nerves and boost your confidence. To help you earn the job as an agent, discover more about life in a call center or check out our seven must-have skills for call center agents.
If you’re looking for more interview preparation tips, view our Job Seeker Tips section.