Telephone role plays, multiple-choice questionnaires, skill testing: from one call centre to another, candidates are subjected to a whole series of ordeals. . . or to a simple interview! One thing is certain, though—the shortage of labour doesn’t guarantee a job.
Call centre recruiters are far from unanimous on the best method of recruiting, since each company has its own selection process. Requirements and steps therefore vary by centre—while the National Bank of Canada just conducts interviews, others, like CAA, have a whole series of written questionnaires. Here is a small overview of the various tests you might have to take before being hired in a call centre.
VERBAL SKILLS, THE CORE OF THE TELEPHONE AGENT’S JOB
Regardless of who your future employer is, you will undoubtedly first undergo an oral test in the form of a telephone interview. Makes sense, since the telephone will be your main tool! “I check the CV and the person’s bilingualism, then I chat with the person to get an idea of his or her delivery and sociability,” explains Anne-Marie Battista, recruiter for CAA Québec. In addition to your interpersonal skills, this first contact will also serve to check your availability and technical skills for a position that also requires specific qualifications (e.g. computer support, mechanical assistance).
If you are selected, you will usually be asked to come in for a face-to-face interview, which will take place individually or in groups. At Belron Canada, Martine Desjardins invites candidates to come in one at a time to apply by answering behavioural questions related to three key skills at Belron Canada: customer focus, focus on results and ability to work on a team. For example, “Give an example of a situation you handled that you were very proud of.” Note that these questions can also be asked in the very first telephone interview.
Group interviews are more about checking out your teamwork skills and resourcefulness in unexpected situations. At CAA Québec, for example, you will simulate potentially conflictual calls. You will be asked to explain to a (pretend) caller stuck for three hours in a snowstorm that he still has two hours to wait for the tow truck to get there…
CHECKING BOXES, NAMING BRIDGES
Due to the ongoing shortage of call centre personnel, written tests are not as common as interviews. Many recruiters use psychometric questionnaires to assess reasoning, communication skills and emotional intelligence, however. Belron Canada uses the Kolb model to determine applicants’ learning styles. Do they need to be assisted? Do they learn more by thinking or doing? This information is crucial for the trainer, supervisor and coaches in their interventions with the agents.
Finally, you will sometimes have to take a short practical “exam” to prove your job-related skills. CAA Québec does this, where your basic geography skills will be put to the test. To guide drivers—your daily task—you should know the names of the bridges that link Montreal with the South Shore. Now all you have to do is to prove it in writing!