Newsletter - Learning Matters - No.14

Recruiting for Telephone-based Roles

This training tips bulletin covers the following areas:

  • How to test the telephone communication skills of potential employees
  • Using a Telephone Interview Form
  • Other ways to test suitability for the role

For telephone-based roles (telesales, telemarketing, customer service, sales support) an excellent telephone manner is vital.

Avoid costly recruitment mistakes by screening out unsuitable applicants before face to face interviews. This is achieved via a Telephone Interview which forms the first stage of recruitment.

Testing Telephone Skills

If your customers make contact with you (or you with them) over the telephone, telephone skills are initially the most important consideration when recruiting. It is amazing how many companies ask for written applications from people who are applying for a telephone role.

If you are recruiting Telephone Salespeople or Customer Service agents, it stands to reason that if an individual can 'sell' themselves convincingly over the telephone to a prospective employer, they may also have the right attitude, aptitude and skills to sell your products.

Conducting Telephone Interviews

Telephone interviews last 5 to 10 minutes, during which time a decision is made as to whether the applicant should go through to the next recruitment stage, i.e. formal interview. You have several options for dealing with unsuccessful applicants:

  • Send unsuccessful applicants a letter of rejection
  • Tell applicants at the outset that you will only be letting them know if they have been successful, i.e. if they don't hear from you, they were unsuccessful
  • Tell them at the end of the call that they have been unsuccessful

Questions to Ask During the Telephone Interview

Click on the link for a Telephone Interview Form:

Guidelines for Successful Telephone Interviewing

What we are trying to assess in the informal telephone interview is the applicant's conversational style.

We are judging the applicant on their voice tone, manner, ability to handle and clarify questions, 'think on their feet', their listening skills and overall manner. The chances are that if we like them, so will our customers.

It may seem harsh to reject an applicant on the basis of a short telephone conversation but remember that your customers form an impression of your business very quickly and this is often based on a telephone call to one individual. You need people who are able to project the right image very quickly.

Other ways to test suitability at interview

Apart from formal interview questions, you may wish to set the applicant a task such as gathering information about your competitors and presenting it back during the interview. (Give them approximately one week to complete this, prior to interview)

Numeracy and literacy tests can also be used to assess suitability for specific jobs, as can typing / keyboard skills tests.

You may wish to ask the applicant to take part in a role play, to assess their sales skills but do make sure you put them at ease and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Role play is known to instill fear into the hearts of grown men!

Role play needs to be properly thought out and well structured for it to work well in interview situations.

Finally, here's a thought for those companies who successfully recruit Telephone Salespeople, Customer Care staff and Telemarketers… but only to find that they leave soon afterwards.

As part of the interview process, take the applicant into the department and let them sit and listen to some 'live' calls. No matter what you tell them in the interview about what the job will be like, this is reality. Let them spend about 30 minutes chatting to the people doing the job, then ask them afterwards for their feedback. It may be necessary to brief the team beforehand just to make sure they are their usual positive selves!

At this early stage you may get people dropping out of the process because they've discovered that the job wasn't what they had envisaged. Far better for this to happen now than when you have already employed them. You will also be ensuring that the people accepting the position are fully aware of the type of calls they will be required to handle and therefore in the best position to start the job with a positive and receptive attitude.



Learning Curve - Reading, Berkshire, England: +44 (0)118 987 5683 moreinfo@yourlearningcurve.co.uk

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