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5 Ways to Evolve Your Approach to Recruiting Contact Center Talent

 presentationContact center leaders need to make plenty of decisions every day. Between prioritizing tasks, monitoring the queues, and keeping tabs on their employees, there’s certainly no shortage of work to do. Despite the heavy workload, there’s one decision that’s crucial to the success of the contact center above all else – the choice of who to hire.

In most organizations, the contact center is often one of the busiest teams in terms of recruitment activity. Choosing the wrong person to join one’s team can have damaging effects on morale and performance. When contact center leaders employ top talent, the organization benefits greatly, seeing improved productivity, impact, and overall effectiveness. If you recruit and hire the right person, they can help raise the rest of the team’s capabilities as well.

Here are five ways that contact center leaders can evolve their approach to recruiting the best of the best for contact center roles:

Establish the ‘must-have’ criteria

Picture this scenario: the workforce management teams have recommended that additional headcount is required for an upcoming busy season. After going through the proper channels for approval, you’ve been given the go-ahead to hire. Instead of compromising and trying to do a quick fill, consider establishing a high standard for the candidates you want to see.

Whether you are sourcing candidates yourself or working closely with members of a Talent Acquisition or HR team, everyone needs to be aligned on the profile desired. What are the must-haves for this position? If someone doesn’t have a specific skill or experience, agree not to move forward with a candidate. Aligning on that criteria up-front is step #1 to finding top talent. If everyone involved in the process isn’t aligned on the critical must-have skills for the role, then compromises are typically made, which leaders usually come to regret.

Avoid the Post & Pray approach

Too many organizations are trying the same, tired approach to recruiting – posting and praying that great talent will apply. Unfortunately, this strategy means that hiring managers are working with the best of who has applied, not necessarily the best person for the position.

Leverage other ways to get the word out that an exciting opportunity exists on your team. At a minimum, social media posts should be used to target those who might be interested. Video is often another impactful way to connect - record a short video, highlighting what makes the team, organization, and role different. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and over-produced either.

While groups like Marketing might want some corporate branding elements, there are ways to use video effectively without going overboard. Could superstar agents or members of the leadership team record a quick video, posting it on their social media sites to stir up interest? You bet. The sooner contact center leaders realize that posting a boring job description on a website isn’t going to be the big draw to get the best candidates, the better.

Involve high potentials in the revamp process

No one knows more about what the team needs than those doing the work. Ask team members what they think potential candidates need to know about the organization. Hold a focus group, where everyone can weigh in on the best parts of the role. It’s beneficial to have team members review the interview questions, as well. When team members feel part of the process, they are also more likely to have a vested interest in helping whoever is eventually hired be more successful.

Set up a shadow program

Depending on the industry, there could be value in having an applicant sit with an agent as part of the process. Listening to a call alongside an agent could reveal a tremendous amount of information. Far too often, new employees leave the contact center in search of other opportunities, feeling like the position or role wasn’t as advertised. Providing candidates with a real-time view of what the role is like better ensures that the role will be a good fit.

Be sure to also ask for feedback from the agent that was shadowed. Did they feel like the candidate could be someone who would fit in on the team? Could they see them doing the job, based on any comments made? The shadowing doesn’t need to be long, maybe 20-30 minutes at most. Instead of multiple rounds of interviews, adding this time in as part of the process could save a lot of energy down the line.

Include simulations as part of the interview

Some people are good at interviews, but once you get them on the team, you soon realize, that’s where the strengths disappear. There are lots of resources for people to nail their interviews and say the right things. To ensure they can walk the talk and back up what they are saying, including a simulation as part of the interview. Basic typing tests are one thing, but seeing how someone navigates a computer or installs software or troubleshoots, can be game-changing.

There’s also value in having the candidate assessed to see how well they can summarize and take notes during an interaction. With documentation, a critical component for most industries, hiring someone who can demonstrate in real-time that they can listen and multitask in front of you can save you lots of coaching effort once they are part of the team. (Hat tip to ICMI’s Andrew Gilliam for this idea.)


Revamping the recruiting process can take time, but the effort is worth it. Organizations that can shift their approach to be more proactive with recruiting will experience fewer challenges once someone is on the team. Having the right standards for what defines an excellent candidate is vital. When possible, it’s best to avoid compromising and hiring the first person with a pulse. Digging deeper during the interview process by using members of the team for insights with a combination of simulations and shadowing, it’s possible to recruit top talent.