Initial Interview (phone)

A phone interview is a second step in the recruitment process. Once you receive a call from an interviewer, this means that you resume has already passed the initial screening (aka paper screening), you partially meet the need for the job post, and what is left now is to get a glimpse your language skill.

Once you have submitted a résumé online (or left it at the office receptionist), it is best to assume that you will receive a phone call. Be ready.

An initial interview over the phone is short, mostly less than 5 minutes. For this reason an applicant is under extreme pressure to make a positive impression.

Questions may vary, but the most basic are:

  1. Tell me something about yourself?
  2. Why do you want to work in a call center?
  3. What is customer service to you?
  4. How do you understand the call center industry?
  5. Tell me about your work experience?

The recruiter may also ask you to read from a newspaper or a book, or he may ask you a random question geared towards testing ability to think quickly.

The secret to passing an initial interview is to prepare for it. That is, you need to research about the company you are applying for and have a general knowledge of the job you are applying for (this information is usually found on the job ad). This is due diligence, and is often necessary; you do not want to answer “I don’t know” or “I have no idea” when the recruiter asks  “What do you know about our company?”

Despite the required preparation,  do not sound as if you are reading from a script. When a recruiter detects  a rehearsed response, he will challenge you by asking an out of this world question (aka WTF question).

Remember what I mentioned at the beginning of this article: when you send a résumé online, it is best to assume you will receive a call from a recruiter, therefore, answer professionally . “Hi, this is Seven, may I know who’s calling?” sounds better than “Heloh, sino toh? Bakit ka tumatawag?

When the call comes in, DROP WHATEVER IT IS THAT YOU ARE DOING. If you cannot hear the recruiter due to background noise on his or your side, say so, then call him back. You may not get a chance to talk to him again if you don’t.  As a general rule, get a commitment that either you or him will call back at very specific time. If you are unable to take his call (say, you are in the middle of an emergency), simply apologize and thank the recruiter,

When you are able to take the call:

  • find a quiet corner
  • clear your mind
  • LISTEN carefully
  • speak clearly
  • if the recruiter speaks too fast, politely ask him to slow down
  • if you did not understand what he said, ask a clarifying question and confirm understanding (“The line was garbled, you were asking me if… I correct?” In call center practice, this is called paraphrasing or re-stating the concern and is an effective tool when dealing with a hard to understand customer.
  • Speak in English from beginning to end. Observe proper grammar, pronunciation, diction, and intonation.
  • If a question is difficult and you are not ready, take a moment to think, use the re-state technique. The few seconds of re-stating gives you the much-needed time to think about the answer.
  • Always have a ready reading material (in English) nearby.
  • Never fake an accent. Gone are the days when call centers are looking for someone with an American accent (there is no such thing by the way), most call centers are looking for someone with a “neutral accent” (trainable).

Remember that in an initial interview, the aim is to SELL YOURSELF, therefore, all your responses should be crafted in such a way that it will allow you to exhibit your skills, talents, and experiences.

If you pass  the initial interview, the recruiter is going to invite you for further testing. DO NOT GIVE A FALSE COMMITMENT. You might be blacklisted.  If you are not available on his proposed schedule, negotiate for the next viable one. If you cannot make it, call or SMS the recruiter and ask to be rescheduled at least two to three hours before your appointment. Below is a suggested format:

Hi. This is Seven. I was interviewed by (name of recruiter) last (date of interview) for the (name of the post), I’m scheduled to take the test on (date and time), sadly, I cannot make it due to (reason). May I ask to be rescheduled?

The details provided above makes it easier for the recruiter to find your résumé and reschedule you. Professionalism dictates that if you have a change of heart or will no longer be available for testing, tell the recruiter to either put you in active file (if you still plan to apply in the future) or that you are no longer interested.

You will know if you have failed the initial interview, he will just use the generic line “Allow us 24 to 48 hours to evaluate application, and if you are qualified for the post, you will hear from us.” This is an automatic sign that you have failed the interview and should move on (Remember what I said before, if you passed, you will be invited for further testing.)

Always save the number of the recruiter.  If you are en route to the recruitment office and are lost, you can always call or SMS the recruiter for help/direction.

When the interview ends, pass or fail, do not forget to thank the recruiter for calling and interviewing you, this is being professional and matured. Also, don’t hesitate to ask questions or clarifications (specifically about directions to the recruitment office), there is nothing wrong with being thorough.

Good luck on your application.

Comment below if you have any questions.

One Day Recruitment Process – what you need to know?

Think about this scenario: you just lost your job (or is about to), bills are piling up, your family member needs medicine or an HMO coverage ASAP, and money is thin. You scan the newspaper, visited an online job site and found a few companies who dangles the following on their ads:

  1. Salary
  2. Sign in Bonus
  3. Weekend Rest Day
  4. Day shift
  5. One Day recruitment Process

It sparks your interest, you prepare your résumé and start planning around what you read, that if it is a one day process, you’d be able to get a job in a day or two, worst case scenario, a week. So you set out to apply and as your wait for your interview, minutes turn to hours, and the next thing you know, your final interview is scheduled a week or  two later. ‘Anyare sa One Day Process? Nakaka-inis diba?

What is One Day Recruitment Process?

Two things:

  1. It is an efficiency program that allows the recruitment department to process candidates  in the shortest time possible.
  2. It is a marketing maneuver for attracting more applicants who are desperate to get a job ASAP.

As far as process is concerned, recruiters are required to follow the recruitment flow, that is:

  1. Paper or online screening.
  2. Initial interview (phone or face to face)
  3. Testing/Call Simulation
  4. Final Interview
  5. Job Offer

Some companies follow a time limit for each step. For example, a phone or face to face initial interview should not be longer than five minutes (some recruiters are so good they already made the decision to fail or pass you within 30 seconds). Testing should be anywhere between 30 to 50 minutes. Finally, the final interview should be within 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the company to stick to the “one day processing” guideline.

Why does the processing time change?

Although structured, the recruitment process is not a perfect science. It is affected by a lot of factors which could lengthen (or shorten) the processing time. What are some of these factors?

  • You are blacklisted (shortens the time)
  • One or two recruiters called in sick.
  • There is an overflow of applicants (more than what the recruiters can handle, especially during the peak season – After the release of the 13th month pay, after graduation, or after the release of a major newspaper ad, during a very popular job fair)
  • During the interview, the recruiter wanted to fail you but saw that you are trainable and may endorse you for another interview (so you need to wait, again).
  • The recruitment department holds an urgent meeting (this happens a lot).
  • You were scheduled for an interview, unfortunately, the interviewer from operations is out of the country/in a meeting/has a death in the family/insert reason here, so you need to be re-scheduled.
  • The account you are being evaluated or applying for has a far off start date, is not hiring, or is just pooling for candidates.
  • The waiting game is a part of the recruitment process.

As an applicant, there are several things we need to remember:

  1. Do not expect to be processed in one day. Remember, expectation leads to frustration. Frustration shows your impatience. Impatience is seen by recruiters.
  2. Bring food (sandwiches, juice, chips, and gum to freshen your breath). If you need to find a restaurant for a full meal, tell your recruiter. Keep your breaks short during the waiting time – you do want to be there when the recruiter finally calls your name.
  3. Do not plan to visit several companies in one day, unless you have a succession of failures (in which case you need to ask yourself why).
  4. Be patient every time, all the time. Always remember that you are being watched – by the CCTV, the recruiters, other applicants, and the receptionist (she is a spy, you know).
  5. If (and only if) you pass the initial interview, ask the recruiter what the next steps are and how long each step will be. Also, ask if there is a possibility that you will need to stay beyond 5PM (this way you can make plans for food, transportation, etc)
  6. Spend time chatting with other applicants who’ve already been through the process, this way, you can understand how easy (or hard) the rest of the steps are and you can mentally and psychologically prepare for them.

It’s true that the line “one day processing” can often be misleading. However, knowing how the process works and what factors should be considered will arm us with more than enough patience as we go through the recruitment process. Finally, I have always believed that we need to keep our expectations in check. My experience has taught me that just because someone is not meeting my expectation doesn’t mean he or she is doing a poor job.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to message me.


Is Call Center Work really stressful?

Hi Se7en. I am currently job hunting. Karamihan sa mga company na ina-applyan ko are call centers. What really scares me is the stress level. Totoo ba yon? I mean, stressful ba talaga? Pano ko iiwasan na ma stress? Also, sabi mo sa blog mo almost 13 years ka na sa industry, how did you survive that long? Akala ko kasi pang trabahong fresh grad lang ang call center.


Hi Marian. Thank you for your email. It’s true that I’ve been in this industry for 13 years (going 14). When I joined the call center industry years ago, I had the same opinion, in fact, sabi ko sa sarili ko “ito na lang ba ang kaya kong gawin?” This kind of unhealthy, immature, misdirected mentality led me to a negative attitude towards my work made me unhappy. Literally, I had to drag myself to work everyday.

When i turned 30, I realized that I had nothing – no career development, with little management and leadership skill and competency. I searched deeper and realized that the problem was not with the work or the company, it was my perception towards the work, the industry, and the fact that I perceived it as future-less. In order to change my situation, I needed to change my mindset. When I did, everything changed.

That’s when career  stepped in. I began to look into the long term. I started with looking at what I needed to improve on (leadership and management) and asked all my TLs to guide me (I still do that today). Bottom line, if you need to change the situation, you need to change how you think, else, you will get stuck in an endless stream of resignations and applications.

As for stress in the call center, it is true. In fact, as soon as you decide to sign a job offer, you need to embrace  the reality that there will be stress, whatever that account is. Failure to accept this reality means  you will be wallowing in it – dizzy, demotivated, and wanting to quit. Thing is, everywhere you go, there will be stress, sometimes, the stress where you went is actually far worse compared to the stress of where you came from. Sabi nga nila, from the frying pan, straight to the fire.  This is the reason why call center employees are paid higher – the more complicated the task, the higher the pay (sadly, volume (or the number of calls you take) is NOT a basis for a higher pay).

What do you do with stress? You don’t avoid it. You face it head on. Well, you face it head on with information and solution. This is how I behave towards stress: I am stressed because of a problem. There is a problem because either there is a gap in the process, there is lack of communication or understanding, or it is behavioral (people).  When facing the problem, remember the 80-20 rule (otherwise known as the Pareto Principle). In simple terms, it means that the source of 80% of your problems is caused by 20% of something – find out what that 20% is and solve it, then the rest of the problem will collapse.

Finally, you need to learn which battles to fight and which ones to ignore or let go. Lifehacker wrote a wonderful article about that here.

Hope this helps.


The Low Down on Background Checks

Hi Seven. My best friend told me about your blog and that you answer questions regarding the call center industry and that you’re always online to respond. May question ako: totoo po ba talaga ang background checks? I mean, do companies really spend time, money, and effort just to find out who you are?

TIA for the response.



Hi Lovely. Thank you for your email. I hope you don’t mind if I post my reply here instead. It’s true that I respond to questions, so long as I know the answer (hehe), and it is not true that I am always online, I sleep too. Haha.

Now to your question. Yes, background checks are a fact of life not just in the call center industry but in most companies in any industry. A background check is the company’s way of ensuring that you are who and what you say you are. Remember, the company is going to trust you with their resources, provide you training, etc, therefore, it is imperative that the information you provided on your resume is “true and correct.” It is also a process to deter criminals and job hoppers.

There are several ways of doing a background check.

1. Over the phone – the company calls the references you provided on your resume. Sometimes, they also contact the companies listed to ensure that you actually worked there.

2. Home visitation – often employed by multinational companies and BPOs or call centers with a financial account. They hire the services of a third party investigator to confirm your home address. During this visit, the investigator will also ask your neighbors about you (especially about your character).

3. Registered mail – this is used when they need to get information about your academic records.

4. Social Networking Sites – “You are what you post.” This is why some companies now include your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts when doing background investigation. You’d be surprised how your SNS accounts reveal so much about your personality, attitude, and behavior.

5. Your BIR and SSS company history – Not a lot of companies are doing this but some, especially those who are big on integrity would compare your BIR and SSS list of companies and your resume. Depending on how serious they are, they can pull you out of training or nesting and terminate your employment.  By law, this is illegal. Both the BIR and SSS are mandated not to reveal your work history even to your current employer.

Your character references play an important role in your job hunting effort. This is why some companies are very detailed about the type of reference they request for. An example would be 1 colleague, 1 friend, and 1 HR rep.

Your character reference must:

  • know you and your work ethic, attitude, and behavior and can give concrete examples of each aspect when needed.
  • be confident and authoritative.
  • know  they are your character reference.
  • must expect a call anytime.

Let me know if you need more information.





10 Tips To Help You Survive the Call Center Industry

You’ve tried to land a job in the call center industry and finally, after so many attempts, you got in. Is it time to celebrate? No. You’re not out of the woods yet. As a first timer in the call center industry, the first six months up to the first year of your work is your break-in period. Some people are able to adjust easily, quite a few, however, fail to survive.

Now that you got in, the next item in the agenda is to survive. The question is how, right? Here are a few things I’ve gathered over the years.

1. Get away from complainers and people who give bad advice.

These are the tenured call center employees whose first reaction to everything is negative – from their work schedule, their pay, their scorecard, their team leader, the company, and overall, their job. They’re not hard to spot really. A classic sign of this is their attendance record. You can also check their habit and mannerisms when taking calls – do they bang the mouse a lot? Curse a lot when the customer cannot understand them?  Choose the people you hang out with carefully.

2. Talk to your Manager/Team Leader.

Never shy away from conversations with your manager, in fact, you should be the one to start it. Understand the kind of person your manager is, how he thinks, what irks him, what’s good and bad in his book, and ask him what his expectations are from his agents. More importantly, ASK YOUR MANAGER FOR GUIDANCE. Don’t wait for a coaching session to ask him this. Right now, ask him if he has a minute, then tell him this: “Sir, I am a first timer in the call center industry and I while love the work, there are a lot of things I need to learn. I want to succeed, to reach the level you’ve achieved and I can’t do it alone. I  would like to ask for your guidance.”

3. Learn everything that you need to learn.

This may sound too general, but there’s a gem to it. From the moment you enter the company, everything you need to do is to learn – about the product, process, systems, customer service, call handling, scorecard, the company culture, policies and procedures. Your learning doesn’t stop. The problem begins when you do “blind” learning – learning without direction or when you learn by necessity, meaning, you learn because you need to but you’re not really interested. Learning needs to have direction, a goal, and ultimately, it needs to level up. This means that once you have mastered your job and everything around it, you need to learn the next level. Ultimately, you will reach a point where you need to learn about leadership and management.

4. Be different.

Admit it or not, you are surrounded by people whose goal is just to get by (I login, then logout), just to get paid, or worst, you are probably surrounded by job hoppers – people who have been in this industry for so long and all they do is to find out which company offers a higher pay. This is where you can be different. What this industry needs are more game changers. People who are goal-oriented, whose direction is to achieve growth in their career via tenure. It’s so easy to leave the company and jump to the next – BE DIFFERENT. Do something more challenging – STAY. Not only does this benefit your learning and your career, it also provides –  I am a firm believer that if you work for the career, money and fulfillment follows.

5. Perception management.

Always remember this: right from the day you start-up to the day you resign or retire, you will be watched and listened to. What you say, what you do, how you resolve issues with people and work, your professionalism, your attitude and behavior, (your contribution or lack thereof) and how you speak will never escape the critical minds of your leaders. Your daily interaction with them will form part of how you manage  their perception of you. Speak like a complainer and you will be last in their priority, but speak like you are a part of the solution and they consult with you first. Consider these two examples: “Ano ba yan, kasalanan ba nating mga agent kung humahaba ang AHT, eh an bobobo ng mga customers?” and “Boss, I’ve noticed that the AHT is taking a hit, and as a member of the team, I am very concerned. Is there anything I can do to help?” The trick is simple: be a part in finding the solution, don’t be a part of the problem.

8. Motivate yourself

What makes you wake up in the morning, go through horrendous traffic, do the work day in and day out, then go home tired and sleepy? If you’re able to answer this straight with an inspiring reason, then you have a great motivation. If you paused for a long time or says “That’s a good question”, then you have a problem. Motivation is an important aspect of your work, without it, you will have no direction, desire, joy, satisfaction, and you will find yourself in an endless state of emptiness. Motivation is the wind that blows the sails of your ship and motivation gives you that extra energy to navigate the most difficult part of your career . It’s the one that tells you to keep going when everything or everyone is telling you to quit.

9. Take things personally.

And by this, I mean be accountable for the things that you do and are responsible for. When you take things personally, the first thing you do when there is a problem is to ask yourself “what have I done that may have contributed to this problem?” Then, you follow it up with “What can I do to improve myself to make sure this will not happen again?” Taking things personally allows you to grow, to improve your skills and competencies, and it gives you direction. When the caller is irate, take things personally – that is, “how can I help this customer resolve the issue? This way, not only will he be happy, I will shorten my AHT, handle the case with efficiency and effectiveness, and have a positive result on my CSAT.”

10. Don’t be a HONDA

A HONDA is the term they use for people who logs out ON THE DOT, they have no reason to linger because for them, work is a confinement, therefore, the top of the hour spells freedom. People with direction, with motivation, and with a dream for a career stays a little longer – to help a colleague who is having trouble with his stats, to chat with the bosses, to ask his/her Team Lead if there is anything he can do to help, to confide with his manager about issues, or simply, to relish another successful and productive day. He stays because he finds joy in the confines of his work.

Finally, here’s the real point of this article: agree with me or not, the word “survival” is used for or by people who are in a wrong place, situation or time, hence, the need for “survival tips”. If this is your case, you need to think deep about your situation.  Not being able to embrace your present reality spells trouble in the long-term. If you are new in the call center industry and you feel the need to survive, a change of perception is much-needed. If you have been in the call center industry for more than a year and are still trying to survive, my question is “why?”

Got any more tips? Don’t forget to leave a comment.