Call Center Interview Questions and Answers for Beginners

You don’t have to fail your call center interview every single time. Whether you’re a first time call center applicant or a returning one who failed before, I especially wrote this post for you: call center interview questions and answers for first timers, with examples.

Tell me something about yourself.

Most applicants answer by giving out their address, age, birthplace and other personal information. Unfortunately, this isn’t what the interviewer wants to hear. Instead, she wants to know what it is about you that makes you a good fit for the job. Therefore, talk about the work experiences you’ve had that are related to the job description of a call center agent.

Previously employed? Talk about your work experiences.

You might ask, what if your previous job experience wasn’t related to call center?  Simple. Highlight the skills you learned from your previous job and relate it to the skills required in a call center. Find the connection.

Example:

I graduated a two-year vocational course in Computer Programming.

After graduation, I worked as a saleslady and a cashier for 6 months, and service crew for 9 months. As a service crew, saleslady and cashier, I made sure that each customer received the best service possible, the foods were served fast, and the store was cleaned inside and out. As a cashier, loose change were ready for a hassle-free transaction. As a saleslady, every customer who walked in the store were made to feel welcomed. Even those who didn’t buy.

I think what makes SM so successful is their emphasis on excellent customer service. That’s certainly what I learned and I’m thankful.

Fresh graduate? Talk about your accomplishments in school.

I’m Anna. I just graduated from a two- year Computer Programming course last month. I’ve been wanting to start my career here in _(insert company name_).

Since I don’t have a job experience yet, I wanna talk about my life in school. My favorite subject was English but I also did well in Math. As a student, I’ve been lucky to work as an editor-in-chief in our school. With the help of my English instructor, I supervised a whole team of fellow students and brainstorm with them. It’s not always easy though. I had to deal with deadlines and gather new ideas on what to write. But I take pride of my ability to handle challenges in school.

I know that being a call center agent could be stressful, but I’ve also had my fair share of stress in school. I know I can handle it. It won’t be easy, but I will.

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What if you had no accomplishments in school?

You went to school . You graduated successfully. That’s something. You were responsible enough not to waste your parent’s money. You have a sense of responsibility. Employers love that.

Although I wasn’t an honor student when I graduated, I’m still proud to have successfully finished school, especially that I found Math very difficult. I may not be a genius but I’ve never dropped out of any subject just because it was difficult. I didn’t want to waste my parent’s money. Now I wanna make them proud and get a promising career. I’d like to start that career with (insert company name).

Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.

The interviewer simply wants to know the person behind the formal attire. He’s facing a stranger with just a piece of paper in hand to tell them who that stranger is. The paper isn’t enough. He needs to know more about you. And you need to tell her something about yourself that makes you memorable. Consider the following:

  • hobbies and interest.
  • skills
  • experiences
  • dreams and goals
  • anything positive about yourself

Example 1:

I am passionate about helping underprivileged people and those who are in need. Twice a year, I volunteer to a foundations raising funds for children who can’t afford to go to school as well as help with goods distribution whenever a calamity strikes in the country, as you know typhoon happens a dozen of times a year and some of those typhoons sometimes wreaks considerable damage. I also love hairdressing so much that I would do it for free. Although I wouldn’t call myself a professional hairstylist, my friends and families always come to me for a new haircut from time to time.

Example 2:

I consider myself a movie junkie when it comes to horror movies. I just couldn’t get enough of it and I can name 100 horror movies right now as we speak. (Smile.) The best I’ve ever watched so far was The Shining. It was an old movie but was excellently directed. After I watched it, I couldn’t sleep nor go to the kitchen. But more importantly, it does help a lot with my goal to work in a call center. Not the horror, but the English part of it. (Smile) Aside from becoming a call center agent, I guess horror movies are my lifetime goals.” (Smile)

To know what not to answer read about this question in details, click here: Tell Me Something About Yourself That Isn’t On Your Resume.

Customer service questions

Call center customer service job interview questions are questions designed by interviewers to test out applicants’ problem-solving and customer handling skills. The questions are related to customer service, asking about your previous work experiences and your opinion about a certain customer scenario.

Example:

Do you think it’s okay to say no to a customer? Why or why not?

Point:
No.

Reason:
If the customer is always right, then company policy might as well not exist. I’ve been dealing with customers face-to-face for 3 years and most of them have their fair share of unreasonable demands.

Explain: (by providing an alternative)
However, in some cases, I believe in the power of one-time exceptions. For example, a customer was overcharged for a service she didn’t use. Then someone from the company might issue a one-time exception, exempting her from the charge.
The next time it happens, the customer will be reluctant to raise the subject again and will instead pay for it. She’s been given a chance.


Point: So no, I don’t think customer is always right.

For more examples, read this: How to Answer Customer Service Job Interview Questions.

Why should we hire you?

Choose one strong quality and effectively support why you possess that quality.

Example

I’m a professional employee. I have no problem separating work from personal matters. You don’t have to worry about me getting upset and hanging up the phone just because the customer is yelling at me.

I’ve developed a thick skin in these kinds of situations. As a service crew, saleslady and cashier in SM, I’ve dealt with customers face to face every single day. Whether they’re happy or unhappy, everything happens face to face.

I can’t say taking phone calls is going to be easier. But I’m sure I can handle it.
What is your edge among other applicants?

The key in answering this is to emphasize your advantage over the other candidates which will help you stand out from the rest. It’s the differentiation that you should focus on. Here’s how to craft your answer:

  1. Create a list of the job’s required skills.
  2. Create a list of your strengths that match the job description.
  3. Blend/ combine the job’s requirements and your strengths.

Here’s a sample answer for an applicant with prior job experience the PREP format to answer: Point, Reason, Explanation, Point,

Point:

The reason you should hire me is because I am very thorough with my job and an expert in the customer service field. Customer Service is what I’ve been doing since I was 18, I’ve encountered different types of customers, and I know very well the common frustrations that customers deal with when calling Customer Service.

As a CSR, I feel unproductive when customers repeatedly call Customer Service because the previous agent didn’t give the complete info. It’s bad news for the company and the customer. As an agent, I make sure to avoid this problem.

Reason

Explain why being an expert in customer service is important.

Because as a customer who have called many customer service hotline before, I can say that only very few of them offer excellent service. And I don’t want to be one of those agents who just go to work, eat lunch, and look forward to the end of shift. I do what I’m paid to do.

Elaborate/ Explain

Explain why you think excellent customer service is rare by telling a story based on experience or a realistic scenario that the recruiter could relate to.

For example, one of the most common issue I notice that most agent have is this: when they tell customer no, they wait for the customer to ask for the alternative resolution instead of revealing it as soon as possible.

They usually go on and on describing how and why the customer is doing it wrong, why the solution she’s asking isn’t possible, but doesn’t provide another option until the customer asks, “Okay, now what?”As a result, they’re leading the customer to focus on the problem now, and on the resolution later, or not at all. This is bad if the company is aiming for a higher customer satisfaction and a short AHT (average handling time).

Point

Reiterate the first point to bring the point home.

So the reason you should hire me is because you will never encounter those problems with me as your CSR. I’ve dealt with customers and clients in North America and Australian clients (insert the continent of your past customers) before and I know they expect nothing but first class customer service from something they pay for. And the way I make sure of that is to never let a customer hang up the phone dissatisfied or more confused than they were when they dialed the call.

Don’t have a a related job experience? Click here to see a sample answer for a fresh graduate applicant with no job experience: How to Answer: What is Your Edge Among Other Applicants?

Why do you want to work for our company?

The idea is to explain the good things about the company. Remember, not just any good things. It needs to be specific, NOT generic. To do this, a good Google research can save you. Or if you know some friends who knows the company you’re applying in, it’s time to ask them now.

Before I decided to apply here, I did some research about ePerformax. I had a neighbor who work here as a call center agent, and she told me how she loves your company so much. Here’s why: you care about your employees.

First, you have a program allowing your new hires to be eligible for promotion for early as 3 months. Second, you have a Concierge department who helps agents with their typical struggles—like finding a boarding house, lending them umbrellas and towels during a heavy rain, even bringing their dirty laundry to the shop for them. Third, you talk to them when employees have personal problems and even offer an advice.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

If you have plans leaving the company soon, or even in the next 5 years, don’t tell the interviewer that. The company wants employees who stay for as long as possible. So give them that.

If I’m lucky enough to be a part of [company name], five years from now, I’d like to see myself promoted to a higher position, probably become a team leader to ensure the quality of work from my team. I find that I get along with any types of personalities so I’m definitely looking forward for a position where I constantly interact with people.

But I also do great with tasks that require me to sit alone in a cubicle. So basically, I could accept  just about any position. The only thing for sure is I want to advance my career here at [company name], and not just in any other company. Your company is definitely my first choice.

Sell me this pen

This question tests your selling skills for sales representatives. Even if you’re applying for a customer service, interviewers still love to ask this.

As you can see, this looks like just any other pen. Except that it’s not.

This pen is equipped with a grammar checker. This means everytime you misspell a word or compose a wrong grammar sentence, the pen lights up in red and automatically changes your writing to its correct form. This means misspellings and grammars are the least of your concern as it this will take care of the job for you.

Not only that, making mistakes in your writing is not a problem. And you don’t need a white-out either. This has a special ink that can be easily erased using its tip. The result? A clean paper without the trace of the previous error. In short, you save money.

Third, it contains a unique ink that literally no other pen can copy. It’s unique like a fingerprint. If you’re worried about someone forging your signature, this makes it absolutely impossible. If someone attempts it, it can be detected very easily with bare eyes.

I saved the best for last. You see, this is not just a pen that makes your office tasks easier. It can spare you the anxiety. Are you scared when walking home alone? Well, you have every reason to be. But with this pen, it’s going to spare you some security. This is equipped with a flashlight and Taser ready to immobilize an attacker for a good 5 minutes. It’s an amazing multi-purpose technology that doesn’t not only serve the purpose of a pen, but a white-out, a grammar checker, a flashlight, and a Taser.

Why did you leave your last job?

Laid off:

Unfortunately, the company lost a major client so they had to cut back their cost. Since I was one of the newest hires, they had no choice but to let me go. My boss however, can assure you of my performance and she’ll be happy to provide a good reference should you ever need one.

You hated the boss and the job

This one of those times where your only chance of getting alive is to lie. So lie. And lie convincingly.

I decided to leave my last job because I want to seek other opportunities. My job of three years taught me a lot of things and I had a great time. However, since last year, I’ve been thinking about getting into the BPO industry.

Every call center agents I know seem to really stay in this industry and that fact just keeps my interest growing, so here I am now. I’ve had several friends who started from becoming an agent and now they’re managers and team leaders. There’s so much opportunity in this industry that I don’t wanna miss.

There are lots of reasons why you’d leave a job. If you were fired, looking for a better salary, or the company’s reckless fault, click here for the examples and full explanations.

What is your greatest weakness?

Explain what your weakness is but don’t stop there. You want to also let the interviewer know the actions you’ve taken to deal with it.

My weakness is that I’m a bit conscious when meeting new people. I am more of an introvert so if I were to choose between going to parties and staying at home with my books, I’d always choose my books.

Actions you’ve taken to deal with it

But I know that staying at home all the time and avoiding meeting new people isn’t healthy, and the more I do it, the more reserved I become, so I make it a point to accept party invitations from my circle of friends and meet new faces. Sometimes, I even talk to strangers in the street just to practice my social skills.

A story where you handled your weakness well

At first, it was really challenging but the more I do it, the better I become at dealing with it. In fact, I’ve met some of my closest friends because I made the effort to become more social. I still find it challenging from time to time, and I think it’s going to be a part of me, but I always strive to get better at it.

Find out which weaknesses are good and bad for your interview here: How to Answer: What is Your Greatest Weakness?

Why do you want to work in a call center?

For most of us, it’s money, right? No shame in that. Be honest about it. However, it’s very important to emphasize your excellent work ethics.

I’m interested to work in a call center because I need to support my parents in sending my brothers and sisters to school. My eldest brother is already in first year college and my eldest sister is graduating high school this year. This is the reason why I decided to apply . The BPO industry pay higher rates compared to other jobs in the country.

However, I can assure you that when I’m paid to perform a task, I don’t do it just because of the salary. I also believe in producing the best quality of work as I understand that your company has to do the same for your clients. It’s a win, win, win for the employees, your company, and the clients. If one of the three isn’t performing well, then all three lose.

Behavioral interview questions

It’s the “what would you do?”/ “what did you do?” question. You’re given a certain situation, then the interviewer asks you what did you do or would you do if you are in that situation. It could be something you did in the past. Or something that could happen in the workplace- the “what if?” questions.

Example:

Tell me about a mistake you’ve made in your previous job. How did you handle it?

Step 1: Reveal a “safe mistake”

Think about a mistake you’ve made that was not under your control. This way, you’re indirectly telling your interviewer that you did not intend for it to happen.

On my first day working as a cashier in Gaisano mall, I was ₱500 short. When you’re a cashier, you’re supposed to ask coins from customers so you end up changing them with a paper bill and you’d still have enough loose change for the next transactions. I did that. However, I got really confused on my first day and ended up giving more change than I had to.

Step 2: What did you do?

So I asked the help of my roommate, who was also a cashier. And she conducted an exercise for me.

She’d ask me questions like, “How much would you ask from a customer who paid you 100 peso bill with a ₱56.00 charge? Remember, you shouldn’t give out coins if you can avoid it.”


Then I would answer under 8 seconds. She’d tell me if I’m right. And if I’m wrong, she’d explain why.

Step 3: What was the result?

The more I answered her test, the more I got better at giving out change without running out of coins. Until everything became automatic and I didn’t have to worry about negative figures in the report.

If there’s one thing I learned from that experience, it was this: If I have problems, I should never hesitate to ask for help. I could feel bad about it forever and keep making the same mistakes, or feel bad about it, move on, then address the problem. I feel proud that I chose the latter.

For more examples, read this post: Call Center Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers.

What is your idea of a BPO, call center and contact center?

Being inexperienced in the call center industry is not an excuse. If you say you have no idea what is a contact center, call center and BPO, then you’re giving the interviewer a good reason not to like you.

Sample Answers:

I suggest that you begin with this statement:

As what I’ve researched online…”

“Before I decided to apply, I researched…”

“According to a friend who is a call center agent…”

Why? Because you want to emphasize that you took the time to research the job description and isn’t just applying to get any job. Interviewers want to hear that you’re applying because you specifically want to be a call center agent.  Extra point for you.

As what I’ve researched online, a call center is where call center agents either make or receive phone calls to answer customer’s questions about products and services or to sell something and conducts surveys.

Before I decided to apply, I researched the employees’ job description in a contact center and I found out that a contact center is where you handle calls, emails and chats to answer customer’s questions or sell products and conduct surveys.

According to a friend who is a call center agent, a BPO is any type of tasks or services that are outsourced  usually from another countries to the Philippines. Examples are call center, which is the biggest so far, and back office tasks like accounting and another office tasks.

How do you handle stress?

Employers want to know how competent and capable you are when dealing with stressful situations. One of the most common reasons why call center agents quit is stress. BPO companies avoid this like a plague. Nobody wants to waste their money training employees who quit after talking to irate customers.

The secret is to reveal in your answer that you already have an own established and proven system to deal with stress. This means you’re an adult who got your priorities straight. Now who doesn’t want to hire that?

Example 1:

I personally think that stress is natural and necessary when learning and improving one’s career. Therefore, I always make sure that I have a way of handling it. 

The best way I deal with it is get my body moving first thing in the morning. I don’t pay for a gym membership but I regularly jog and walk for 30 minutes every morning before I prepare for work. I can always tell the difference when I don’t exercise. My efficiency at work increases but I feel sleepy and just not in the mood to work when I don’t exercise. 

When I’m in a stressful situation, especially at work, I don’t let the stress get the best of me. It’s easy to give in to emotions when you’re stressed, but my job of 2 years as a cashier taught me better.

Example 2:

For example, when I was still a cashier, a customer accused me of giving her the lacking amount of change. She was very demanding and insisted that I give the change right away. Most cashiers would have already gave in to her demand but we have a rule in our department that before giving the money, everything must be calculated and reviewed first.

Nervous as I was, I made sure that I still follow the rules. I stood my ground, reviewed everything, and after 5 minutes, confirmed that the change I gave her was correct. After 5 minutes of insisting that I was a liar, the customer later apologized and said that she put the other half of the change to her other pocket. It always helps to be rational and never let the emotion cloud your judgement.

How would you describe colors to a blind person?

If you think interviewers only ask job related questions, you’re in for a big surprise. Sometimes, they love to ask totally unrelated questions, even the weird ones like this.

Since a blind person has no concept of colors, visually describing it to him is impossible, here’s what you wanna do: Focus on what a blind person has and not on what he doesn’t.

We have five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. If you think about it, he’s only missing one. That means he still has four of them and five if you add the emotion and abstract symbols. A blind person cannot see, but he can hear, smell, taste, touch and feel emotions.

Since he perfectly understands these senses, associate them to colors! Use them as your anchor.

Red

Think of red as something warm and nourishing. Like fire which helps us cook our meals and keeps us from getting cold. Red is also a sign of love and tenderness, like a mother’s warm embrace to her newborn child or that nice feeling you get everytime you hug someone you love. Too much red is potentially dangerous though. It could mean intense anger. It could burn homes, start a fight, and destroy relationships. A bad blood.

Yellow

Smell and taste a lemon and you’ll get a glimpse of yellow. It’s strong but pleasant. It demands attention but gives enough to deserve it. Because it easily captures attention, it’s used on the streets to tell people when, where, and how to cross, to caution unsuspecting passersby about a wet floor or drivers in an accident-prone area. In nature, sunflowers wear it to attract bees, bees to drive humans away and lemons and mangoes to signal they’re fresh and ready to harvest.

To find out the examples for green, blue, orange, purple, white and pink, click here: How to Answer: How Would You Describe Colors to a Blind Person.

As this blog gets older, I’ll be adding more interview questions here. Feel free to message me if you want me to write more about interview questions. For now, you might also like: Weird Call Center Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

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6 thoughts on “Call Center Interview Questions and Answers for Beginners”

  1. I’m impressed by how you answer those interview questions. You just nailed it! Thanks for sharing this valuable insights. I have an interview today

      • Justin! I got the email you sent me. Hope you don’t mind that I posted your message on my Facebook page. Minus your last name and email of course. Again, congratulations. I sent you an email 2 days ago with an advice. 🙂

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