If you think that a phone interview is easier than a face to face call center interview, think again. You may not have to look the interviewer in the eyes, but trying to use only your ears and mouth without your eyes is just as challenging (if not harder) as facing your interviewer. So if you've got a phone interview scheduled, here are my tips on how to pass a call center phone interview.
Screening phone interview (for city applicants)
If you've ever been to a big call center recruiting hub before, I'm sure you'll agree if I say that the whole place was a mess!
Applicants everywhere, holding their folders and resumes, struggling to get a seat and waiting for their names to be called. Now, imagine that multiplied ten times. That's what happens if they don't interview some applicants over the phone. It's ten times messy.
When they conduct the interview over the phone, they can weed out those applicants who aren't just qualified for the position. The purpose of this type of phone interviewer therefore is to save the recruitment team's time and sanity.
Once the applicant passes the initial phone interview, they are then invited for a walk-in final interview to the company's office.
Why can't they just conduct the final interview over the phone as well? Some companies do, especially if the applicant has a solid call center experience under his belt. However, there are still companies who prefer to do it face to face, at which point, the initial phone interview is just the beginning.
Provincial phone interview (for provincial applicants)
For instance, a certain applicant lives in Mindanao but the company only own branches in Luzon and Visayas.
Normally, in the the old days, companies ignore these applicants and only hire people from the city. But times have changed. The headcount demand for new employees are rising, they need all qualified employees they could get.
Therefore, they now accept applicants from the province and interview them over the phone.
If the applicant proves to be a good fit, they conduct another final phone interview. If the applicant passes, the company pays for the applicant's plane ticket, food and accommodation going to the city. Everybody wins.
What's the difference?
The screening type of phone interview is easier of course. Since the interviewer can reject the applicant anytime without risking the company's money, the interview isn't too hard. It's also shorter as they'll still have to talk face to face the second time.
For provincial phone interview, however, where the company has to pay for the expenses to get the applicant to the city, the recruiter has to make sure he's making the right decision in hiring. If he happens to hire someone who's only barely or poorly qualified, then he's wasting the company's money.
How to pass a call center phone interview.
1. Ask someone's help to act as your interviewer
This might sound silly especially if you're not used to talk in English over the phone. However, make no mistake of ignoring this advice. Of all tips, this is the most important.
The trick is to make sure you get the hang of it, listening to someone say in a formal tone, "Hi, this is_____ from ABC Company. I'm calling about the application you sent online..."
For someone who doesn't hear this everyday, this can be quite nerve-wracking. Hearing someone practice and speak it to you before the actual phone interview already gives you a better chance of passing the interview.
2. Record your voice.
Wondering whether you sound confident and persuasive when you speak in English? Are there lots of fillers like "uhms", uhs, and "okays"? Are you speaking it with clear accent and pronunciation? Poor speaking tone and fillers are a no-no in the call center.
Recording them makes you aware of all those instances and helps you minimize or totally avoid them once the interview comes.
Hearing your own voice in a recording feels weird. (Been there, done that.) However, if it increases your chances of landing a job, so give it a go!
If you want to improve your English, here's a detailed guide. Read: How to Improve Your English Accent and Land a Call Center Job.
3. Prepare the following:
- Charge your phone and get a great reception.
- Prepare a pen and paper in case of info to take down during the call.
- Keep a copy of your resume in case the interviewer asks about the date of your previous employment.
During Your Interview
1. Clear all distractions.
Before the phone interview, someone from the company will text and set the time for your interview.
Make sure that at least 30 minutes prior, you've cleared the room of every possible distraction: TV, kids, neighbors, anyone or anything that might cause you to lose your concentration.
2. Keep an outline of your answers on a piece of paper.
Some of us aren't born great speakers, even over the phone, especially when nervous.
Keeping an outline, (not memorize the word by word answer) helps you avoid mental block and gives a reliable map on what to say next. Most applicants' problem isn't because they don't know what to say but how to speak the thoughts in their heads and organize them into words.
Not that the interviewer can see you, but because the interviewer can hear you. You see, when you smile, it actually affects your voice.
If you haven't noticed, try this experiment: Make two recordings of your voice saying, "Hi, how are you?" The only difference is with the first recording, smile your warmest while you're saying it, while with the second, don't. After that, listen to both recordings and hear the difference.
You'll notice that the recording with the smile on it has more warmth and confidence, whereas the other sounds monotonous and plain. Call center trainers don't advise agents to smile over the phone when talking to customers for no reason.
4. Thank the interviewer
A simple, "I really appreciate your time in talking to me today and thank you so much for the opportunity," will do. When you say it, say it with a smile and it will sound genuine.
What if the interviewer catches you at a bad time?
There are some call centers who call without schedule. If they do, and they catch you in a bad time, don't hesitate to tell them it isn't the good time to talk. Tell them you'll be glad to set a schedule for phone interview.
If they don't call again, lucky you, you just spared yourself an very unorganized company. No worries, as long as you have the skills, you should be able to get yourself a decent interviewer who respects your time.
What are the questions during the phone interview?
Interviewers ask the same questions like in a typical face to face interview. Click this link for these common call center interview questions to know how to answer each question.
- Tell me something about yourself.
- What is your idea of a call center, contact center & BPO?
- What is your edge among other applicants?
- Situational call center interview questions
- Why do you want to work in a call center?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Imagine you have a pen in your hand right now. Can you sell it to me?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.
- How would you describe colors to a blind person?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- How do you handle stress?
What if English is your problem?
These posts should help you with your English:
- So You Wanna Work in a Call Center But Your English is Bad?
- How to Improve your English Accent and Land a Call Center Job
To summarize the whole point of this post: fluent English + right accent + preparation = sure pass. Hope this helps. Goodluck!