So you have no call center experience and it's your first time taking Versant? Not a problem. Versant is actually easier than you think— if you know the loopholes around it. Here's a complete guide with a sample audio.
What is Versant?
It's a computer program designed to measure non-native English speakers' fluency.
Yes, that's right. Versant isn't a human being. It's a computer program, which happens to have the authority to judge how humans should speak.
You might ask, "why can't just real human beings conduct the test instead of a computer?"
They do. There's a different test called Berlitz where a real human talks to the applicants and rates their English. Unfortunately, it requires more time and money, which not all call centers are willing to spend.
Instead, they use Versant, a dumb software.
Versant, a dumb test?
When looking for excellent English speaker applicants, Versant isn't the most effective tool to use. It's dumb. Later, you'll find out why.
But let's stop talking about that. Let's talk about you, let's talk about how you can take advantage of Versant's loophole.
5 stages of Versant test
Between stages, Versant's voice will instruct you on what to do, so don't worry about getting the instructions wrong.
Stage 1: Read
You'll be given a paper. On the paper, are sentences with each corresponding numbers. The Versant's voice will give you a number. Your job is to read the sentence that corresponds to that number. Super simple.
2.) Listen and repeat what you hear.
Versant will state a whole sentence. You need to repeat exactly what it says.
3.) Answer close-ended questions.
Close ended questions only requires straightforward answers, like yes or no.
Oliver is going to the market, will he bring a basket, or a laptop?"
Of course the answer is basket. But if you say laptop, it usually won't matter as long as you pronounce it well. I would, however, discourage you from doing that if you perfectly understand the answer.
4.) Arrange the jumbled words in a sentence.
Oliver/ to the market/ went/ with a basket full of apples.
There are two possible correct answers here:
Oliver went to the market with a basket full of apples.
Oliver, with a basket full of apples, went to the market.
Just to point out how dumb this test is, I've heard from a lot of tenured call center reps that you can say an exactly different sentence and still pass.
If you can catch and arrange it in time though, the better. If you can't, compensate by focusing on pronouncing the words correctly.
4.) Narrate a short story
Versant will read you a short story around 3-5 sentences. You have to retell the story. Don't memorize the exact words used, but memorize the sequence and understand the story. And then in your own words, retell the story.
6.) Answer open-ended questions.
The difficult version of number 3. Instead of close-ended questions, you'll answer open-ended ones. This means you'll answer the question, and you'll explain, explain, explain.
What's more, you should talk within 30 seconds, and other questions, for 40 seconds.
Within this period, do not stop talking. You can pause, but do not stop. I recommend you talk a little bit slower than you normally would.
When I was in grade 3, I would try to impress my teacher with my long English sentences.
We went to the farm to harvest some fruits.
We went to the farm to harvest guyabano, jackfruit, mango, durian, banana, starfruit, star apple, and many, many more fruits.
Instead of "relatives", I said, "uncle, aunt, cousins, nephews, niece, grandfather, grandmother, etc.
I know that's a no-no when talking to an interviewer. But with Versant, it's not a bad idea, especially if you're nervous and running out of options.
Again, I don't recommend that you rely on this, but if all else fail, use this as your last resort.
Tip #1: Versant cares more about your accent and pronunciation,and less about your grammar.
Ignore this and you won't pass.
You have a better chance of passing Versant if you speak the right accent and pronunciation even with incorrect grammar, than if you speak with right grammar but wrong accent and pronunciation.
If the grammatical error isn't so severe, there's a chance Versant will still understand the thought of what's being said. But if the accent and pronunciation are wrong, Versant cannot make sense of it at all.
If you think you need more improvement on your accent, check my tips on how to improve your English accent here.
Tip #2: Avoid dead air at all cost.
The right and best way to take Versant is to answer everything correctly. But in case you panic, remember this tip: do not fall silent, because that's the 100% surest way to fail.
Come up with something to say, anything, as long as it's English. Even something unrelated to the questions.
Also, try to mirror Versant's intonation. If the statement is a question, repeat it like a question. If it's exclamatory sentence, repeat it like an exclamatory.
Tip #3: Your volume matters.
Think of it like a karaoke. Bahalag yabag basta kusog. You'll likely score higher if you sing loud, even if you're out of tune.
The same with Versant. If the volume of your voice is enough for the Versant software to hear you, you're good. But if it's barely audible, it will register as dead air. Remember, dead air isn't an option, unless you want to fail.
Tip #4: Sit as far as you can from the other applicants.
I've tried taking Versant with another applicant sitting right next to me. It was disturbing. My attention kept diverting between my test, and my seatmate's answer. If you're alone taking the test, that's perfect. If not, (which is usually the case), sit down as far as you can from the others. You're gonna be talking loud anyway, so you're sparing your co-applicants some pain.
Tip #5: Talk slowly.
Not only does it helps you with the 30-40 seconds requirement, it also helps with your pronunciation. You'll enunciate each words clearly.
Tip #6: Fillers are a no-no.
Fillers are"Ahh, uhm, kanang, ano" etc.
Getting rid of them is hard but once you're used to talking without unnecessary words, your English will improve big time. The good news is, the more you practice, watch English movies, and read more books, it's easier than you think.
How much time are you willing to set aside to practice everyday? How bad do you want this job? It all boils down to that.
An Actual Versant Test Example (with Audio)
Since you stayed this long, here's a bonus for you. An actual recording of a Versant questions.
Click the "CC" at the bottom right part of the video so you can read the subtitles while you practice with it.
Keep in mind though, that the interviewer might decide to listen live to your Versant test so if you want a sure pass, work for it.
I hope this helps you with your Versant test. Goodluck!
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