Call centre work can be an attractive proposition for students, part-time workers and those looking to make a little extra cash. The hours are flexible, you don’t particularly need a lot of experience or education and, although you may have to deal with some unpleasant customers, for the most part, you get to help people.
While the questions you’ll face in the interview are relatively straightforward, a little prior preparation can still improve your chances. Therefore, here are the 10 most common call centre job interview questions – with some great example answers to help you out.
1. ‘How would you handle a call from an angry customer?’
No matter what industry or service your employer is in, it’s a given that, at some point, you will have to deal with angry and rude customers. As a result, your interviewer wants to know if you’ll be able to stay calm and keep your cool while your caller loses theirs.
Of course, nobody likes to be spoken to in a demeaning way (especially for minimum wage), but you want to show that you can remain professional and still try to help the customer.
Say something like: ‘I’d let them express their anger, hear them out and take note of any key points. I’d make sure to repeat the problems back and find a suitable solution to their problem within the parameters of company policy. With the confirmation that the problem is solved and the customer is happy, I’d politely wish them a good day and end the call.’
2. ‘Why did you leave your last position?’
This is a standard question in any interview, so, regardless of why you left (or are leaving), you’ll need to have a convincing answer.
The best way to approach this question is to emphasise the positive opportunities that await you in your new role, rather than focus on the negatives of your old one. For instance, you could argue that ‘I’m an ambitious person, and my previous role didn’t offer the same opportunities for growth’ or ‘I have a much greater interest in the service/product here and believe I can make a bigger impact at this company’.
Whatever your answer, ensure that you never bad-mouth your previous company, role or boss. It’s hugely unprofessional, and your interviewer wants to hear about how you align with their company – not what you hated about your old one.
3. ‘Have you ever been in a conflict with your boss?’
Having a disagreement of opinion with your manager is fine (and, in certain instances, even a good thing) – as long as that is all it was. If you were constantly at loggerheads with your last boss, then that’s not healthy, and it suggests that one or both of you had severe communication issues.
Your interviewer wants to know that you care enough to interject when you think something can be done more efficiently, but at the same time, they need to know that you can follow instructions without being a disruptive element.
Say something like: ‘Personality differences are just a part of life and understanding that has helped me to avoid conflicts – or constructively manage them – with all my managers. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are the key to resolving potential conflict, and I believe they are two of my greatest strengths.’
4. ‘Are you prepared to handle a high-pressure environment?’
You could say something like: ‘I am generally a calm and relaxed person, and able to multitask and organise effectively. Therefore, I never get flustered or lose sight of what I am meant to be doing.’ Alternatively, try: ‘I thrive under pressure and believe that working in such conditions brings out the best in me. I prefer to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment as opposed to a quiet, slow-moving one.’
5. ‘Can you handle more than one phone line?’
If you’ve never worked in a call centre before, or any other environment where it’s been necessary to handle multiple phone lines, then don’t worry; this question is more about your ability to multitask (the rest will come with training).
If you have the experience, then explain that you’ve been trained and are competent, while if you haven’t, then say so – but point out that your multitasking skills are exceptional. You can even give a brief example of a time where you’ve had to multitask in order to prove it.
6. ‘What are your weaknesses?’
This is another popular question among interviewers, as not only does it suggest where you might require training, but it also says a lot about your own perception of yourself.
The key is to turn your weaknesses into strengths – although not to the point where it sounds insincere (avoid clichés such as ‘I care about my work too much’, for instance). Instead, demonstrate some self-awareness of where your weaknesses lie, while also showing that you are working on improving them.
For example: ‘Sometimes I can bend too easily when customers aggressively demand discounts or special rates. However, I took some classes in negotiating skills and conflict resolution, and now I feel a lot more comfortable handling such requests in a courteous but assertive manner.’
7. ‘How many calls per hour can you make/receive?’
Again, this question applies primarily to people with call centre experience and, depending on whether your expertise is in telemarketing or technical assistance, your answer may vary.
If you have experience in neither, however, then it’s best to focus on promoting your time management skills (including a specific example). Point out your understanding of the necessity for speed, too; in sales, call centre work is a numbers game, after all.
8. ‘How would you handle a customer who begins to yell at you?’
This ties into your earlier answer about dealing with angry customers. Your interviewer is looking to ascertain whether you can remain calm and professional and continue to try and solve the customer’s problem – all while they call you every name under the sun.
Say something like: ‘The customer is no doubt having trouble with their product and having to wait on hold for technical assistance can be frustrating. I understand this, and thus, I can avoid getting angry because I can sympathise with their frustration. Irate customers are a part of the job, and a simple apology will usually go a long way toward calming them down.’
9. ‘What are your goals?’
The answer to this question depends on, well, your career goals. You still need to show some ambition, though, regardless of if your only target is to collect your paycheque each month and make the rent.
For instance: ‘I plan to work hard and distinguish myself from the others in the call centre. I expect to be one of the top performers within the next six months, and I am aiming for a team leader position by the end of my first year.’
Your goals don’t have to necessarily be so linear, either. For example: ‘I want to push and significantly evolve my sales skills in a competitive environment and prove to myself and others that I have what it takes to succeed in this field.’
10. ‘What do you enjoy about working in a call centre?’
If you’ve worked in a call centre before, you’ll know that turnover is high and that not everybody enjoys the work. You still need to give a positive answer, though.
Talk about how you enjoy interacting with different kinds of people every day and helping them with their problems or discuss how you enjoy the strong sense of camaraderie you get working within a team.
If it’s your first time in a call centre role, you’ll likely be asked why you want to work in a call centre – you can still give a similar answer to the one above:
‘I get a buzz out of helping people, so it’s always enjoyable for me to try and solve their issues each day. Plus, I’m excited about being part of such a tight-knit team, which is always the case with call centres.’
Pretty simple answers, right? At the end of the day, call centre managers want employees who can remain calm and handle conflict well, while being able to follow the company processes for solving issues or selling products. As long as you can demonstrate this, then your interview should be fine – and you’ll land yourself the role in the process.
Have you ever interviewed for a call centre job? What interview tips would you give? Let us know in the comments section below.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 8 May 2017.