3 Interview Tips and Tricks to Prioritize Agent Experience from Day One

As we emerge from the longest year ever and companies gear up for the “great rehiring” happening in our post-pandemic world, managers and HR reps have to adapt to the changes in hiring. As much as the workforce has been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring too has changed with the times. SHRM reports that virtual hiring is here to stay. And internal hiring, filling new roles with existing employees, is up 20% since the onset of COVID-19 (and will continue to increase over the next year). Leaders will need to adopt new tips and tricks to interview and hire efficiently in the new virtual workforce, so you can build the best contact center team.

The consequences of a bad hire in your call center can have serious repercussions. As many as 65% of customers say they’ve changed to a different brand because of a poor experience with customer service. One bad customer service interaction can determine customer retention and impact your business goals. So, it’s vital you find agents with the right skills to fit the future needs of your contact center.

But, how do you adapt to the changes in hiring and still make sure your candidates bring the right skills to your team? Let’s explore 7 simple interview tips and tricks to implement in your call center hiring process to find the best agents for your team.

3 Tips and Tricks to Prepare for Virtual Interviews

1. Set up a clear process and communicate with your teams

Virtual interviewing may be new to your team. Video can feel awkward and less inviting. And, it often means you have to change the style and format you typically follow for your in-person interviews. Before you invite a candidate to interview, make sure your talent team and any other contact center agents joining the interview process follow the same procedures.

Get your whole team on the same page about the process of virtual interviewing to make sure your candidate doesn’t feel uncomfortable. You’re interviewing them for a job, yes, but the impression you make is also important when you’re looking for the best talent out there.

If your interviewee has a bad experience, it doesn’t bode well for you. One out of every two jobseekers has had a negative experience during a hiring process. And, 50% of those candidates have declined a job offer because of that poor experience. To avoid losing out on great new hires, document all your process changes in one central location to minimize confusion. This will make your interviewing processes consistent no matter who is on the other end of the video call.

Define processes like:

  • Will there be any skill tests or personality tests sent prior to the interview?
  • What training will you need to deliver to prepare interviewers?
  • Who will lead the questioning during the video interview?
  • Who will communicate with the candidate prior to the interview to set expectations and scheduling?
  • What is the timeline for following up with a candidate?
  • Who will follow up with the candidate (the HR manager? Or the hiring manager?)

2. Deliver a compelling culture pitch virtually

We’re used to the freedom of giving prospective hires a tour of the office to show off company culture. I can remember an interview for a call center job I had in college. The company loved to show off its hip office space, the free beer on tap, and its ping pong tables to entice students to take call center jobs over the summer. It worked for me — the college student looking for a summer gig — exactly the kind of hire the company wanted to draw in.

After this year, though, you may not have a centralized office space. For those switching to remote work or even hybrid work, it’s likely you won’t have the luxury of showing off your fun and inspiring culture to its fullest on a video call. But, that doesn’t mean you have to lose out on showing off your thriving company culture just because the candidate can’t meet in person.

To compensate for the lack of an in-person tour, draft a compelling pitch for your company’s culture that you can deliver over video. Craft a story to show your company’s mission and values and demonstrate how the new hire will further that mission and live out those values.

Use visuals or point the candidate to your social media platforms to offer real pictures of what life at your company looks like. And, gather employee testimonials or have some employees join in on calls to share their firsthand experiences with the company. Stories are a great way to capture why your company is worth working for.

3. Be every bit as professional and impressionable as you would in person

According to experts, it only takes 7 seconds for someone to make a judgment about you. So, if you’re hoping to land a candidate, you need to, as they say, “have them at hello.” Employee engagement and retention start at the very beginning of the relationship with a candidate — before onboarding.

You want your candidates, whether they’re meeting you in person or virtually, to have the same stellar experience interviewing with your company. Video calls are awkward — I don’t know where to look, I’m hyper-aware of what my hair looks like, I forget to smile or offer affirmations to whoever is speaking. Video conferencing isn’t natural and it wears on all of us. That shouldn’t mean your candidates get a worse experience when (e)meeting you, though.

A few tips and tricks to knock your virtual interviews out of the park:

When starting a virtual interview, remember to smile and hold eye contact. Set your computer and your phone on Do Not Disturb to avoid looking away from the interviewee on the screen. Get rid of any potential interruptions. Speak clearly and nod to show whoever is speaking that you hear them and are listening intently. Take notes as you interview to keep track of what processes work and what needs to change in the future.

And, most of all, be gracious with your candidates. If they’re conferencing from home, it’s highly likely that life will interrupt the call (sometimes in the form of a dog barking or kids crying in the background). Life happens in the background of these calls. Make sure your candidate knows you understand this and that the messiness of life at home isn’t going to hurt their prospects if they’re the right person for the job.

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