Whether you need to scale a call center team or reduce agent turnover, you want to onboard the best employees for the role. Asking the right call center interview questions is crucial for screening unqualified candidates and building capable teams.
So, what questions should you ask, and what answers should you look for? If you’re struggling to recruit strong performers or aren’t sure where to begin, you’ve likely found that structuring a successful interview is more challenging than it seems.
In this article, we cover essential interview questions for call center jobs. We’ll walk through example answers and red flags, so you can improve your hiring process, find the ideal candidates, and build a better inbound or outbound call center team.
To begin, here’s the list of our top call center interview questions, which we’ll then break down in greater detail:
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- Why are you looking for a new role?
- Can you tell me about your experience working in a call center?
- How do you define good customer service?
- Can you walk me through dealing with an angry customer?
- How do you respond when a customer asks something you can’t answer?
- How do you react to constructive criticism?
- What’s your leadership style, and how do you motivate your team?
- What’s your strategy for thriving in a high-pressure environment?
- How do you deal with underperforming call center agents?
- Do you have any questions for me?
2 icebreaker questions for call center candidates
Before launching into more in-depth topics, begin with a couple of general interview questions to build rapport.
Can you tell me about yourself?
This open-ended question is a great icebreaker. It allows candidates to introduce themselves and share a brief overview of their experience. The structure and length of their response help you understand the candidate’s career path and goals.
Is the response too brief or not very detailed? Consider it an indication that the candidate lacks experience or confidence. That may not be an issue for an entry-level role, but for a supervisor role, a short answer is probably a red flag.
Is the answer overly long and confusing, with no real narrative? Then they likely don’t have a well-defined career path. For a manager-level hire, that’s potentially a bad sign.
Ideally, candidates have prepared an elevator pitch that sums up their past experience and hints at their future goals. It should clarify their interest in the role and tell you whether they would be a good fit.
Why are you looking for a new role?
As a hiring manager, you’re likely seeking agents willing to commit to their jobs and grow in their roles. This question can reveal a candidate’s commitment levels and show what they’re truly looking for in a job.
When candidates respond, listen for signs of negativity or lack of commitment. Answers like, “I don’t like my boss,” or “My job is too boring,” are red flags and suggest the candidate wouldn’t be a good fit for a support team.
Instead, listen for answers that reflect a desire to learn, grow, or improve. Responses like, “I’ve worked in call centers for 5 years, and I’m eager to gain leadership experience,” or “I’m looking for a call center that motivates and rewards employees to do their best work” are probably good signs.
You also want to confirm that a candidate’s career goals match those your company aims to provide to employees. If they align, you can feel more confident that the candidate would be a good fit.
5 interview questions for call center agents
Next, take time to assess candidates’ technical and soft skills. These customer service interview questions can demonstrate how candidates approach customer success and whether they’d be an asset to your workplace.
Can you tell me about your experience working in a call center?
Candidates’ resumes can give you a basic overview of their experience. However, asking candidates to explain what they know and what tools they’ve used can help you assess their technical skills and customer service knowledge.
If a candidate neglects to share specific examples or relevant skills, give them additional prompts. Ask them to talk about the call center software and customer relationship management (CRM) tools they’re familiar with and the types of call centers they’ve worked for previously.
How do you define good customer service?
This question sounds simple, but the answer can be surprisingly revealing. Its purpose is to show you how well candidates understand one of the core tenets of the job and how well they can communicate it.
On a basic level, candidates should be able to define the term correctly. Great candidates should be able to share examples of high-quality customer service they’ve provided. An ideal response should balance their empathy for customers with their understanding of the need for efficiency.
Can you walk me through dealing with an angry customer?
Both outbound and inbound call center agents are likely to encounter customer complaints frequently, and they need to know how to manage them effectively. Candidates’ answers can help you assess their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
If a candidate expresses annoyance with customers or mentions escalating disagreements, then consider it a red flag. Ideally, you want to hire empathetic agents committed to customer success and providing a positive customer service experience.
Look for candidates who use the STAR method in their response. Great candidates should walk you through these four steps:
- Situation: provide critical context
- Task: their responsibility as an agent
- Action: the steps they took
- Result: the final outcome of their process
How do you respond when a customer asks something you can’t answer?
Even the most detailed call center script or knowledge center won’t have the answer to every customer question. Asking this interview question can help you understand how candidates handle curveballs during customer calls and if they can keep their cool.
One response you don’t want to hear is anything along the lines of, “I just make something up.” This response is a red flag and reflects a candidate who probably won’t be able to follow your customer service playbooks.
Instead, an ideal response should reflect a candidate’s willingness to find an answer. Look for candidates who tend to say something like, “I don’t know, but please hold while I find out,” and who have a process for getting the correct answer.
How do you react to constructive criticism?
Even the best customer service representatives and outbound sales reps could stand to improve in at least one area. However, not all employees respond positively to negative feedback. Asking this question can help you weed out these candidates.
Pay attention to candidates who appear unreceptive to constructive criticism or don’t have a clear process for applying supervisor feedback. They’ll likely struggle to improve their level of customer service.
Instead, look for candidates who are adaptable and willing to accept criticism. Great candidates typically have processes for internalizing supervisor feedback and turning it into an actionable plan.
3 interview questions for call center supervisors and managers
If you’re only hiring new employees for standard call center roles, you may want to skip ahead to the next section. However, if you’re interviewing more experienced candidates or hiring for supervisor roles, add the following questions to your list.
What’s your leadership style, and how do you motivate your team?
When you seek a supervisor who can manage team members effectively, you need a candidate with strong leadership and communication skills. This question can help you find a candidate who understands how to set objectives, lead by example, and provide feedback when necessary.
Great candidates tend to have systems for leading employees and cultivating customer service skills. An ideal response should incorporate the STAR method and include real-world examples of successful attempts at leading teams to provide better customer satisfaction while reaching higher goals.
What’s your strategy for thriving in a high-pressure environment?
Call centers can be high-stress workplaces and affect even the most capable managers. Candidates’ responses can reveal their experience level in customer service positions and whether they can maintain positive work environments.
Responses that focus more on disciplinary measures are likely red flags. Ideal responses should highlight a candidate’s conflict resolution and decision-making skills and their ability to mediate disagreements and act decisively.
How do you deal with underperforming call center agents?
Call center managers should know how to reward great customer service and handle team members who don’t meet their goals. This question helps assess candidates’ analytical skills and proficiency in implementing new systems.
Ideally, a candidate’s answers reflect their experience measuring performance and using productivity data to quantify agent output. Great responses should also detail how a candidate supports team members and helps them benefit from available resources to improve their skills.
The ONE question you should ask all candidates
Before ending the interview, make sure to ask one final question. This one separates average candidates from great ones, even if they appear similar on paper.
Do you have any questions for me?
This question might seem like a friendly way to wrap up an interview. But in practice, it reveals whether candidates have prepared to interview you about the company and the role.
If candidates don’t have any questions, consider it a sign they aren’t taking the opportunity seriously. They probably aren’t curious about how this role could support their professional or personal growth.
Ideally, good candidates respond with multiple questions on topics you have yet to cover. Listen for open-ended queries that prompt you to share more about the role or overall company trajectory.
Here are a few examples of questions entry-level call center candidates might ask:
- Can you walk me through the daily responsibilities of this role? How would a typical day look?
- How do you measure success for call center agents?
- What are some of the growth opportunities available for this role? How quickly do agents usually get promoted?
Candidates for supervisor roles should also ask specific questions about the role and the company’s strategic plans, such as:
- What would you expect me to accomplish in my first 90 days in this role? What KPIs (key performance indicators) would you set for me?
- How many clients or agents would I manage in this role? Do you expect that to change, given the company’s growth plans?
- Are there any reasons you think I wouldn’t be a strong candidate for this role?
Next steps for managing call center employees
Asking the right interview questions is essential for hiring the best agents and building a better call center.
The next step is choosing the right employee management software to track agent performance and improve team productivity.
If you’re looking for a way to manage call center employees, Time Doctor can help. With our time tracking software, you can monitor employee attendance, gain productivity insights, and get the workday data you need to improve performance. Discover how the Time Doctor platform provides real-time visibility into employee activity and generates actionable insights that can help you increase productivity by over 30%. Book a demo today.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.