Failed in 11 call center interviews…help!

Head in Hands

Dear Seven,

I’ve been reading your posts from and I have to admit, you seem knowledgeable on the aspect of getting into the call center industry. Well, here goes. I just arrived from the province some two weeks ago and in that short period, I have been to 11 different call centers, and so far, I haven’t passed any. Out of 11, 6 “big” call centers failed me in the initial interview, and 5 companies dumped me during the final interview. I can’t seem to understand why I’m failing. The bad part about is I don’t get any feedback from the recruiters – they always seem to be so in a hurry to hand over the regret letter. It’s depressing me because I’m running out of options, money, and time. Any advice? Btw, I read in your blog that you are a Bicolano too. I am from  Tabaco, Albay.


Dear Alex,

Your desire to continue despite 11 rejections is genuinely admirable, I would have given up on the 5th attempt, but you just kept going.

First, you need to understand that the initial interview in a call center is nothing more than a measurement of your communication skills. Therefore, your failure is an indication that you need to check your comms.

Before joining the call center industry, I was a radio jock for 5 and a half years. Because my English-speaking ability is self-taught, I have to admit that I needed formal training; this is why my first three attempts in the call center industry were a complete failure. I had consistent problems with

  • pronunciation: Th (soft and hard), p/F, b/V
  • wrong accent on the wrong syllable
  • diction
  • Filipinoism (transliteration)
  • Grammar

Tip: Call center recruiters train in listening for consistent problems in grammar, diction, pronunciation, accent, and intonation.

In the blog entitled Learning English The Hard Way, I shared that it took me six months to fix how I spoke (not so much with how I write, so please bear with the grammar problems here). I wanted to become a DJ, so I took it upon myself to learn English properly. Therefore, it was not difficult for me to determine what I needed to improve on. I wasn’t ready for the big call centers, but since I needed a job, I took on an outbound sales account in a small, humid boiler room call center in Mandaluyong. Aside from earning, I needed an opportunity to hone my speaking skills, this time, with proper direction. My American Team Leader noticed my strong desire to learn, so he coached me on the many aspects of American pronunciation, told me repeatedly to “listen to myself,” and fined me for every transliteration I committed. It was fun. Too, he invested time and effort in teaching me about the concepts of “customer service” in the call center setting.

Now, let’s talk about customer service. Many accounts in the call center industry are tedious. You can ask anyone who has handled a telco, financial, or tech support account. They will not hesitate to tell you that the only way they survived is to understand customer service (theory or practice) thoroughly. I suspect that you may have ventured into the call centers whose accounts require a heavy background in customer service, hence, the failure.

Please understand that recruiters are matchmakers. Their company, client, or account has a specific demand for what type CSR can best serve them and only those who match the said profile will get the job offer. For this reason, my constant advocacy is to always prepare for an interview. You need to read and understand the job requirement, research the company, find out their business and customer base, prepare answers to interview questions, and let someone knowledgeable evaluate your responses for you.

This preparation is also accurate for the final interview; you fail because you are unprepared for the questions. Therefore, the secret to winning this battle is to jot down possible questions and prepare responses for them. List down possible questions; this way, you will not be surprised when they come out, and you have a ready answer for it. It’s never really about memorizing the answers; it’s about understanding them and mixing and matching them depending on the question asked.

Here are  a few tips when you are preparing your responses to these interview questions:

  1. Every open-ended question is an opportunity to sell your skills and competencies, so do not fall short of mentioning them.
  2. Flaunt accomplishments that are related to the post you are applying for.
  3. Help the recruiter see that your experiences match the job requirements; if this is not the case, then exhibit the skills and competencies you have learned that can be useful for the said post.

The Final Interview is where everything becomes tricky. Recruiters use what they call “Targeted Selection,” it is an interview method that determines your past behaviors, and the fundamental precept here is what you are in the past is what you will be in the future. Most of the questions are open-ended and would start with something like “Tell me about the time when…” or “Can you tell me about an experience when you…” My suggestion here is to Google these types of questions and prepare an answer for each of them.

Again, remember two things: recruiters are matchmakers; they are trying to determine if you have the skills and competencies required by the post. Therefore, if you say, “I’m sorry I have no experience in that aspect,” in a Behavioral Interview, you tell the recruiter that you are not qualified for the posts and deserve to receive the reg. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

I hope this helps. Btw, I am from Daraga, Albay.


4 responses to “Failed in 11 call center interviews…help!”

  1. .Your thoughts motivated me so much, Thank you Sir
    Preparation for an gives more chances to answer unexpected question, Its a Multi-mind enhancer for those who wants to enter the CSR.=D

  2. You are so interesting! I don’t think I’ve read anything like that before.
    So great to find another person with a few unique thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing
    that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!

  3. It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this useful info with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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