Best Interviewing Questions

“I have just been hired as a supervisor in a call center and am responsible for hiring. What are the best questions to ask when interviewing to know if the applicant is qualified?”

A great deal depends upon whether these people will be taking orders (incoming and therefore the emphasis is on the applicant’s customer service skills) or attempting to sell a product (out-calling or cold calls that require a high level of selling skills). Each requires, not only a different skill set, but also a different mindset.

Then try behavioral interviewing instead of the gut feel approach

This is gut feel: “Mary seems right for the job…so let’s hire her.” However, when she came on board, she didn’t perform and had to be let go. Mary may look good on paper or even interviewed well but she did not have the specific skills and traits that were needed for the job. Therefore, the hiring process started all over again.

Now take a look at behavioral interviewing. It focuses two very important elements of the interviewing process:

  1. Identifying the required skills and traits that are needed to be effective for the particular position.
  2. Asking the right questions to obtain a behavioral example of a specific skill or a specific trait you are looking for.

Behavioral example questions typically start out with the following phrases to encourage the person to talk about their experiences in a non-threatening manner.

  • “Tell me about a time when….”
  • “Give me an example of….”
  • “How did you….?”

An order-taker needs to “be nice” to the customer, have good listening skills and be able to react quickly and accurately to a complaint or request, Here are potential questions.

  • Tell me about your most difficult call and how you handled it?
  • How have you dealt with a customer who was very nasty? What was the result?
  • After a difficult call, what do you do to prevent that call from influencing the way you handle the next caller

The sales person needs not only to develop a rapport with the caller but also influence his or her behavior… to say yes…to buy. Here are potential questions to get at their sales ability:

  • What was your most difficult sale or most challenging customer and how you handled it?
  • What steps do you take to prepare for a sales call?
  • Tell me about a time you dealt with a “thinking-about-it” customer.

Smart Moves Tip:

Behavioral interviewing is a technique that focuses on an applicant’s skills and traits, not on a manager’s gut impressions. The rationale for asking for behavioral examples is the notion that the best predictor of what individuals will do in the future is what they have done in the past. Therefore, you ask an applicant to describe a specific event that shows in detail how she did something or handled a problem or dealt with a specific situation. Also see Smart Hiring: Seven Best Practices and Are You Selecting the Right Leaders?

What’s been your experience with behavioral interviewing either as the interviewer or the interviewee? In other words, “Tell me about a time….

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