If you like to talk on the phone, a career at a call center might just be up your alley. There are two basic types of call centers: those that take calls from customers for service or support and those that make outgoing calls, usually for marketing purposes. Pay varies for different kinds of call center jobs; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2010 that computer support call center reps made about $22.24 an hour and customer service reps made closer to $14.64 an hour. When you’re in sales, you can increase those earnings through commissions. To land the best call center gigs, you need to prepare for the interview and speak clearly and calmly to the interviewer.
Maintain Your Cool
Your main job in a call center is dealing with people. Your interviewer will want to know how you maintain a calm voice when speaking with an irate customer. You’ll be asked to give examples of how you dealt with customer problems in the past, so be prepared. If you’ve worked in a call center previously, cite a couple of instances that turned out positively. Tell the interviewer how you kept a calm voice, listened to the customer closely, discovered the problem and solved it to the customer’s grateful satisfaction. Use a similar example from your last job even if it wasn’t over the phone. Talk about how you calmed a customer down in the retail job you held or how you made an unhappy client happy in your last sales job.
Show Tech Savvy
While your primary tool will be the telephone, most likely over a headset, most call centers employ sophisticated computer systems to dial customers, read contracts and find solutions. Your resume should certainly list all the technology that you’re familiar with and include the amount of time you worked on various systems. Be prepared to talk a little more in-depth about your tech savvy abilities and how quickly you learn new systems. Do a little homework before the interview to find out what kinds of software platforms the company uses so you can impress the recruiter with your knowledge.
One question many recruiters ask for any job is, “Why do you want to work here?” Prepare for this one by relying on the research you’ve done about the company. Talk about how you’ve seen the company statistics and how you’ve read about the great contracts the company’s landed. Talk to people who work there and get a feel for their enthusiasm about their employer and share those reactions with the interviewer. “I’ve heard such great things about this company and I want to be a part of your success,” is a great line – especially if it’s true. Explain how your skills and expertise seem to perfectly align with the company’s values and success.
Describe Yourself Glowingly
You’ll want to seize every opportunity you can to talk about your achievements. When you’re asked how your previous co-workers and managers might describe you, be prepared with a glowing list of positive attributes that are important to a call center representative. This is no time for humility. Use adjectives such as organized, detail oriented, reliable, easy-going, persistent and loyal. Talk about your work ethics and how you never missed a day of work in the past five years or how you came into work on crutches after an accident. Stick in a sentence or two about how you moved up into management quickly or how you are solution-oriented and love to talk with your customers.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."