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Screening Questions

Agent Hiring

Jul 01, 2002

What questions do you use during the interview process to screen customer care professional applicants? Thank you. -- April Schwendeman


  • Posted at 12:00AM on Aug 1, 2002

    When creating interview questions for customer care agents, you're likely to see the best results if your refer back to your job description or your list of required skills andcompetencies and attempt to develop questions which will uncover the candidate's proficiency in each of these areas. Rate and rank the required skills - for example, customer-focus, sales ability, problem solving skills, technical proficiency, verbal communication, ability to offer acknowledgement and empathy - and then use them as a springboard to create your questions and to determine how many questions you should ask and how much detail you're looking for in a particular skill area. You may, for instance, determine that in your center "problem-solving ability" is a top-ranked priority. In this case, you would want to include questions that uncover the candidate's problem-solving ability early in the interview process (during the phone screen, perhaps) and delve into the topic more deeply with multiple questions covering different aspects and illustrations of the candidate's "problem-solving ability" during subsequent face-to-face interviews.

    Finally, I recommend that you use behavior-based questions, in which you ask the candidate about specific experiences from his past which illustrate his ability to demonstrate the skill in question. Behavior-based questions reveal not just what a candidate knows (and may or may not be willing to do) but what he has actually done in the past. Countless studies show that past performance is the best predictor of future performance; most professional recruiters and human resource experts and psychologists concur. Examples of behavior-based questions include, "Tell me about an experience when you were trying to solve a difficult problem for a customer which required you be creative or go outside of established company procedures" and "Describe a customer who had an unresolvable problem. What steps did you take to resolve the problem for him? and "What steps do you take when you were required to troubleshoot problems? Tell me about a time when it led to a successful result."

    Good luck!

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Aug 1, 2002

    Here’s a couple of question we use – we always do a phone interview first – since there job will be communicating on the phone. In the phone interview - I try to be as informal as possible – since I want to hear their voice tone, energy etc…

    1) How do you go about handling a upset caller ?– If you could walk me through the steps you would take

    2) In dealing with different types of calls and personality – what do you think is the most important quality you have that will help you succeed at this call center?

    3) Can you tell me about experience you had when you called a call center ?

    Hopefully this helps. -- Charlotte Baptie

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Aug 1, 2002

    April, we have a standardized form that we use during our interview process. Each question is designed to provide us with a specific piece of information about a candidate; for example, the first question is "Allowing 5-7 minutes, give me an overview of your career focusing on accomplishments, challenges and reason for job changes". While we're interested in the candidates past jobs, the response to this question identifies how articulate and well-spoken a candidate is.

    -- Peggy L. Brandt, Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Dec 1, 2002

    We use a behavioral interview guide with questions in the following competencies:

    • customer focus
    • reliability
    • work standards
    • analysis/problem assessment

    We rate the candidate on the above competencies and their overall communication skills. Interviewers all use the guides and take notes. This asures that a fair, consistent decision is made. -- Kim Johnson, Peoples Energy

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Feb 1, 2003

    The question I use that lets me know the most about the candidate is, "How do you say 'no' and still have the customer feel like they received excellent service?" -- Rick Rietow, Medtronic Inc.

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 1, 2003

    Could you please give answers that you think are ideal for the screening interview form as indicated in response #2, as well as response #1, as I intend to use them during my interview. Thanks. -- Sanyu

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Nov 1, 2004

    This string has been going for a while partly because it is an important topic to hire superstar agents into your center.

    I will add a subtlety to the interviewing topic that may be worthwhile to your hiring process. Consider using two types of interviews -- the "screening interview" and the "selection interview."

    The "screening interview" focuses only on the most minimum qualifications -- if the applicant can not pass the most basic conditions of employment, it makes no sense for either you or the applicant to continue. It is a waste of everyone's time and money. Examples of this type of interviewing might be "Are you willing to work from 3 pm to 11 pm?" (assuming this is the job opening), "do you have reliable transportation to get to our center?," "are you willing to take a drug test?" (assuming this is part of your hiring process). If an applicant doesn't pass any of these basic issues, think of the time you and the applicant will save by ordering these types of interview questions first!! I would suggest that these types of questions be asked in a phone interview for everyone's convenience.

    The "selection interview" gathers in-depth information. This is what most people think about when they use the interview. Rebecca Gibson gave excellent detail on how to develop these questions and the format in phrasing these selection interview questions.

    Add "screening" interview questions to save time and money.

    Good luck. -- Malcolm C. McCulloch, Ph.D., LIMRA International

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