Inside the Quality-First Contact Center

Lessons Learned in Hiring Nearshore Contact Center Agents

A highly skilled agent with a rotten personality can do more harm than good. Here's how we identify the best nearshore agent candidates.

The most important people at Callzilla are those on the front lines, staffing our nearshore contact center in Bogota.

These are the agents who connect with the customer, and become the face of our client to their end users. Making sure we hire exactly the right people is crucial to our success as a nearshore services provider.

What do we look for, and how do we make sure a candidate has those qualities?

Hiring Nearshore Agents is a Group effort

First, it's important to get more than one person involved in the interviews. The supervisor needs to be there, plus someone from the next higher level on the organizational chart. I think it's overkill to have a vice president or senior director involved, at least at first, but we need perspective from at least a couple of layers of management.

Every candidate brings a unique mix of skills and personality. Skills are important, especially if the job is technical or highly specialized. But skills can be taught. Personality can't. A highly skilled agent with a rotten personality can do more harm than good. So when I evaluate those two aspects, personality far outweighs skill.

How can a new hire be fully committed to the company if we don't show we're fully committed to the new hire? We want our new agents to become part of the family.

Bring the Candidate in One More Time

Not everyone interviews well. Job interviews put a weird kind of pressure on all of us, these stresses can be quite different from the pressures they’ll face on the job. For this reason, I think it's important to have a minimum of two rounds of interviews, even with the candidates who feel so right that you want to hire them instantly. For the others, it's even more important to bring them back so we can get a feel for who they are. It doesn't always happen right away.

This begs the question of what to trust more, analytics or gut feelings. Gut feelings and first impressions are important, but there has to be some quantitative measure of strengths and weakness. There must be criteria, an evaluation or a test that we can put a score to.

Place your Bet on the Best Candidate

When all of the interviews are complete, it's time to make a decision and not waffle. Some places like to hire people on a temporary basis to start. They want to see how the person does for 60 or 90 days, then decide whether to make it a permanent hire.

We feel that's a culture killer. How can a new hire be fully committed to the company if we don't show we're fully committed to the new hire? We want our new agents to become part of the family.

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Topics: Call Center Agents