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How to Hire and Recruit for Call Centers & Customer Service

Posted by Jessica Miller-Merrell


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With a greater focus being placed on customer service and a trend in slimming down to create a more efficient workplace, there has never been a more important time to recruit the right employees. Call centers and other customer service employees are critical to the success of any company. When dealing with customer-facing employees, a company will want to make sure it’s hiring smartly and efficiently.  Call center employees must possess certain qualities in order to be successful in a high-demanding phone-centric environment.

Remaining Calm Under Pressure

One of the key skills in a call center is the ability to remain calm under pressure and to be confident while communicating clearly. A call center employee is usually the first point of contact when an issue arises with a customer. The ability to converse with an angry customer, calm him or her down, and communicate in a clear and efficient manner should be the top skill you look for when hiring this type of employee. Without these skills, a customer could be lost for life.


Whether you are working for an airline, a warranty company, or a cable service, there is usually always something that can be up-sold. Candidates with a sales background or those with qualities that allow them to relate to people easily and effectively are usually a perfect fit for a call center employee. Being driven financially, tolerant of rejection (because there will be a lot), and excited about the challenge of closing a sale are key traits of a sales-minded individual.


When it comes to working at a call center, being present is more important then ever. Most schedules are centered around high call volume times, when it’s important to have enough representatives on the phone to take care of customers. Showing that they can follow through on their commitments, be on time, and show that they’re a reliable person are all part of the traits desired in call center employees.

Now that we’ve given you some examples of the types of employees you should hire at a call center from a recruiter’s perspective, here are a few guidelines to follow during the hiring process.

Don’t Accept High Turnover Rates

One of the biggest reasons call centers tend to have higher turnover rates is because recruiters think that this is acceptable. The environment of a call center isn’t necessarily the chosen career path of a graduating college student, but that doesn’t mean recruiters need to settle. A study conducted by Patricia Cane Smith back in the 1930s stated that “There is no such thing as a boring job, rather there are repetitious jobs that some people don’t adapt well to.”  Although it was conducted nearly a century ago, this study is still referenced across the board in the industry.

Recruiters need to work better at hiring candidates that fit into the call center mindset. A more recent study shows that the majority of call center representatives remain in their jobs because of work relationships they do not wish to break. Anything you can do in your call center to emphasize social bonding, carpools, peer-to-peer recognition, group lunches, or other activities will work in your favor at decreasing turnover numbers, while also improving the work environment. Hiring candidates who are likely to settle into this type of work is far better in the long run then hiring someone that might have a better degree or more experience, but may be less likely to want to stay for the long term.

It’s important to know that in a call center, high turnover is only an issue if the recruiters don’t hire prospects that fit the model. Not everyone is going to be a good fit, and some candidates may be over-qualified. This is why focusing on the skills, hard and soft, needed for the job is especially important when it comes to recruiting for call center and customer service positions.

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About Jessica Miller-Merrell


Jessica is listed as the 2nd most influential recruiter online and as the 8th most powerful woman on Twitter. She is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, a how-to business guide for Twitter users. She also writes for a number of leading publications, including Fortune, HR Magazine, SmartBrief, and HR Executive Magazine.

2 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Carmen March, 16, 2013

    Even though the people working in call centers are not hold in high regard by neither the recruiters, nor the people that use their talents, you have to realize it’s a pretty difficult job that is not fit for everybody. Finding the proper ones that will not crack under the tension, and also have the right mind set for great customer service is a bitch.

  • Brandon Phillips March, 22, 2013

    With all the outsourcing that happens today in this particular field, just having the proper recruitment process is hard to accomplish. All those things that you right in the article are things to look for, but a system to keep track of how the recruitment goes, and, if possibly, an automated system to sort through all the candidates is paramount.


Guest March, 22, 2013