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Interviewing In Today's Contact Center

I subscribe to the notion that people are the heart of a business. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said it the following way, “People are definitely a company's greatest asset. It doesn't make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”

If people are the greatest asset of companies, then why do some of us take short cuts when it comes to hiring? Hiring can be time intensive; however I consider it an investment into my business. My business depends 99% on how well an individual can deliver an excellent customer experience (the other 1% of the customer experience is tools, technology, process, etc.). I over-emphasize the 99% because it is the personal, human, employee to customer interaction that will either build or damage my company’s brand and reputation.

Whether it’s a customer service role, a technical role or a management role, I will format my interview into 3 sections; Customer Service, Technical Skills and Personal, and will assess for skills in each area:

Customer Service

I once heard customer service skills described as something “either you have, or you don’t – something your mama taught you”. Some people have a certain knack for delivering excellent customer service. It is hard to fake and we like to find people who have it as part of their DNA.  I will ask the candidate to describe a specific situation where they had a difficult or upset customer and what they did to help the customer in that situation. I look for specific examples, not general statements, and listen for the way they demonstrate their ability to work with customers.

Technical Skills

  • Technical skills refer to tangible skills specific to the job a candidate is interviewing for. This may include knowledge of the IT industry or of a specific software application, troubleshooting skills, sales skills, etc.
  • I will ask open ended questions specific to the technology and let the candidate explain.
  • Depending on the situation, I may invite the candidate to give a demonstration of their knowledge or take an assessment. This may be prepared ahead of time or may an impromptu ask during the interview. Sales managers sometimes have candidates select an unknown item from a bag and asked them to then ‘sell’ the product during the interview. The point here is to test your candidates – they will be tested eventually…


  • During the personal section I will ask the candidate about their short term and long term goals. This helps me to understand who the candidate is, their thought process and determine if their goals benefit my team, department and company. 
  • Some other characteristics I like to determine are if the candidate:

-Has the drive to be self-taught, or if they will rely on others to learn?

-Is coachable and will accept and implement feedback?

-Has done their homework on my company and has put enough thought and effort into the interview process to have questions of their own? 

Other thoughts:

  • I prefer the 'Behavioral Interviewing' model where the individual demonstrates an understanding of the principle or concept by discussing past performance.  Look for them to be specific and provide details.
  •  Use a social setting, when possible, with other members of the team or department. Can the candidate get along well in a group and in a social setting with others? Chances are you will have more than one candidate who is qualified for the job. Often the “tie-breaker” can be whether they are a good fit with the team.
  • Set up some time for the candidate to “job shadow” with a current employee. This can be an excellent way to provide the candidate a comprehensive view of the positions’ duties. Remember it's a 2 way interview, the candidate needs to interview the company just as much as the company needs to interview the candidate.
  • Finally… references. I always ask for and call references.

My hiring process, and that of inContact, can seem extensive and common feedback from new hires is that they have rarely (often never) have gone through such an exhaustive interview process. I want to find the right fit for the long haul and am willing to go an extra mile – sometimes several extra miles – to make sure I bring in the best person for the position. Conversely, most new hires appreciate the process as they have become just as invested in the company as we are in them.

“Employees are a company's greatest asset - they're your competitive advantage.” – Anne M. Mulchay, former CEO of Xerox Corporation

Good luck with your interviews!