Tips On How To Handle Difficult and Hard To Understand Clients


Hi Se7en. I’ve been reading your blogs, and I need your advice. I’ve encountered two types of clients, and I’m having a hard time dealing with them. One is the always-angry type, and the other is difficult to understand because he talks too fast. I am a first-time freelancer, and I don’t know how to handle these types of clients. Help me please. – Arjit

How do you deal with an angry-sounding client?

For anyone with call center experience, this is part of the new hire training. After months of talking to customers, understanding a client becomes second nature; this could be difficult if you’re a first-time freelancer with no experience rephrasing and checking for understanding. But don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.

The first thing you need to understand when talking to a customer is they have two kinds of needs:

  1. The Emotional Need

Customers must express their feelings. Their most common emotions include happiness, anger, frustration, and sadness. Because they had to put in a lot of effort to use or enjoy the product or service, the customer is emotionally invested in it. Customers want to express their emotions to others to feel fulfilled and satisfied with themselves. To successfully deal with any customer, any CSR (or, in your case, a freelancer) must first acknowledge the emotional need; this is where EMPATHY comes in.

What is EMPATHY in customer service?

Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the action or capacity of understanding and expressing the state of mind of another.” When confronted with this situation, the CSR or freelancer should put themselves in their customer’s shoes; this is where EMPATHY comes in.

Examples of situations requiring empathy:

Customer: “My husband just died, and I’m still grieving. I can’t deal with all the business letters right now. I’m looking for a freelancer who can respond to all these business emails.”

Freelancer: “I’m deeply saddened to hear about your loss. I can only imagine what you’re going through right now, but don’t worry, I’m here to help, and I’ll handle your business correspondence while you go through the difficult grieving process..”

Customer: “I am furious right now. I have been calling your customer service hotline because we have an emergency, and I needed your help to restore my service.”

CSR: “Mr. Johnson, please accept my apologies for the inconvenience. I’d be upset too if I was in an emergency and couldn’t reach the people who should be assisting me. But I’m here now, and I’ll be happy to help you with your problem..”

When talking to a client, it is necessary to address the emotional need of the customer first, for two reasons:

(1) If you fail to acknowledge the emotional need (via an emphatic statement), it will come up again and again in the latter part of the conversation, and it will impact the efficiency of your issue resolution.

(2) When you connect with your customer on their level by addressing their emotional need first, you sound more human.

In the call center industry, customer service representatives are given the training and coaching to handle these situations. Some centers include this as part of their scorecard. If a CSR fails to acknowledge the customer’s emotional need with an emphatic response, they are invited for a one-on-one coaching session and possibly a demerit. Regardless of how harsh this may sound, you must understand that using emphatic statements is a VERY USEFUL TOOL when speaking with a customer. Why? Because it effectively addresses the customer’s emotional need, you, the CSR or Freelancer, can get right to work without interruption.

  1. The Business need

The easiest part is addressing the business need; you have the tools and training for this, and most of the time, the problem is simple to resolve. The customer’s business requirements will be determined by the product or service you or your company provides.

Here are some examples:

  • The customer would like assistance in extending their current contract
    • Obtaining a new product or service
    • Reporting an outage
    • They have a few issues preventing them from fully utilizing the benefits of the product or service they purchased.
    • Buyer’s remorse or dissatisfaction

What can you do if the client is hard to understand?

It is often difficult for clients to speak slower and more clearly, partly due to habit and partly because they believe they are speaking clearly and that you understand them; this can happen when they are rushed or don’t know how to communicate effectively with their words.

Here are five tried-and-true methods for ensuring that your client’s instructions are completely understood:

  1. Request that your client speaks more slowly. If necessary, apologize for the inconvenience and inform the client that you are documenting the instruction and ensuring that nothing is missed to meet or exceed expectations.
  2. When the client pauses to check for understanding, restate what they said based on how you understood it; this is an excellent opportunity to determine whether you genuinely understood the instruction and for the client to correct you if you did not.
  3. Record the conversation. This is a simple but effective method because it allows you to go over the instructions again. Before you press the record button, make sure you have permission from the client.
  4. Use phrases such as “I apologize for missing that. Please repeat that.” You can also say, “Your audio is coming in and going out. I didn’t catch the last bit.” You can also be truthful and say, “You were speaking too quickly. Could you please repeat the last part? Thank you very much.”
  5. If at all possible, discuss the instruction via video call. This way, the client sees you and can tell you have a question based on your reaction or facial expression.

Allow me to address another critical issue that many freelancers find intimidating: being truthful with the client. Being honest with the client can be challenging at times because we are afraid of being criticized, ridiculed, rejected, or judged as “slow-witted”; this insecurity can harm our professional image. Remember that you are in a professional relationship with your client, and they expect you to listen, understand, and ask questions. They are not in a  business relationship with you to mock you. However, suppose you fail to ask relevant questions because you are afraid, and you end up with the incorrect or low-quality output. In that case, you will not only irritate the client for wasting their time and money, but you will also lose them, and they will leave you a negative rating and review.

Communication is essential. Aside from the issues mentioned above, you should openly communicate any issues or concerns with your client as a freelancer. However, avoid bombarding your client with questions every hour. The best way to approach the numerous problems is to collect and document them first, then request a meeting (alternatively, email it to them); this should give the client time to address the issues you encountered while working on the project.

Here is my final piece of advice. Never start a project if anything is unclear, from the contract, the fee, the work instructions, or the expected output; you must communicate these concerns before you begin, all for the sake of clarity and professionalism. I’ve always believed in “doing the right thing the first time,” and this is where paraphrasing and asking relevant or clarifying questions come in handy.

Thank you for reading my blogs, Arjit, and I hope I was able to assist you.


Se7en

How to Deal with BURNOUT as a Freelancer


Freelancers are constantly on the go, and it can get exhausting; this is why they should learn to avoid Burnout.

There are many ways to stay healthy as a freelancer, but the most important thing is to take a break. It’s not uncommon for freelancers to work up to 12 hours a day for days on end without any time off, leading to Burnout.

Working without breaks is common for many people nowadays. We think that if we work long hours, we’ll get more done, but in reality, it has the opposite effect. Besides being a risk to our productivity, working without any breaks can also risk our health.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a general feeling of exhaustion, in which one has lost the ability to complete their work. It often feels like you’re in an endless loop of tasks and deadlines with no end in sight.

Freelancers are more likely to experience Burnout than people who work for an organization because they often work for multiple clients simultaneously and with no breaks in between. Their income is inconsistent, and they have to deal with more stress than people in the 9-5 workforce.

Freelancers also have less support than employees do from managers or colleagues. They might feel like their job is not fulfilling all aspects of themselves, and they may lose focus on other areas of life that bring them happiness.

How to lessen Burnout when you are freelancing

Many factors can lead to Burnout. Common causes of freelancer burnout include lack of opportunity for growth, staying in the same place for too long, and not having enough control over your work.

A mismatch between what you imagine freelancing to be and what it is, or what your expectations are, and the reality of working as a work-from-home freelancer, can cause Burnout.

There are many ways to lessen the chances of Burnout when you are freelancing. One way is by continuing to learn new skills and continually learning about new skills, which will help you stay motivated over time because you’ll never feel that you have mastered your craft.

3 Ways to Prevent Burnout as a Freelancer

If you spend most of your waking hours working on your projects or other people’s projects, and you’re in a less-than-ideal work environment, expect Burnout to happen sooner than later. Here are three ways to prevent that from happening:

1) Set boundaries – Freelancers should set boundaries for themselves and stick to them. It is essential to take breaks from working and not feel like you have to do it all. Make sure that you are taking care of your physical health and mental health by eating well, exercising, and sleeping enough.

2) Get social support – Freelances need a support system that takes care of their emotional needs and gives them business advice and the possibility of collaborating on specific projects. Although collaborating simultaneously on different projects might sound like an added workload, often it can have refreshing effects and help us avoid a feeling of Burnout.

How to Deal With Burnout If You’ve Already Got It

Burnout is a natural response to prolonged periods of stress triggered by an imbalance between the demands and resources that a person has in their life.

It is essential not to ignore Burnout if you are experiencing it. The more it gets worse, the more severe it will become. It would help if you tried to find ways to cope with your work and take some time off for yourself.

Focus on things that make you happy, whether hobbies or relationships with family and friends; this will help you balance your life and regain control of it again.

Here are some things that you can do to avoid Burnout:

1. Determine the root cause of the burnout and take steps to prevent it from happening again.

Burnout is a complex condition that has many causes. It can result from stress, prolonged emotional or physical exertion, a feeling of profound personal failure or inadequacy, lack of support from colleagues or family and friends, too many demands on time and energy, or a sense of alienation.

There are some questions you can ask yourself to do this:

-Do I have too much work/too many tasks?

-Is my workload too challenging?

-Do I feel like I’m not good enough at my job?

-Do I have a poor work/life balance?

-Am I working on projects that are outside my area of expertise?

As soon as you can identify the root cause of the issue, it will be easier to find a solution and deal with the problem.

2. When you’re tired of doing the same thing over and over, add some variety to your work routine.

It can be hard to change or switch up your work routine when you feel exhausted from doing the same thing repeatedly. Here is my advice: Do something different. Change up your work routine when you are feeling exhausted from doing the same thing over and over again. Relocate or rearrange your work area now and then.

You can try taking a break for lunch or coffee breaks, occasionally take your dog on a walk, or take on tasks that are entirely different from what you typically do.

3. Make the most of your downtime by focusing on self-care activities such as hobbies, socializing, or meditating.

You stare at the screens for hours on end. We don’t have much physical or mental space to do anything else. That’s why we need to take some time off from our work and focus on self-care activities like hobbies, socializing, or meditating.

The benefits of these activities are immense. They can help us relax and release the tension we feel in our muscles and minds. They can also provide us with a creative boost to return to work with a fresh perspective.

4. When all else fails, seek the assistance of a professional therapist or coach.

In extreme cases, there may be a need to seek professional help. When an individual is experiencing overwhelming feelings of distress and danger, they might require immediate intervention. With a therapist or coach’s expertise and guidance, people can start taking steps to feel safe again. Professional mental health practitioners will often work with the person to develop coping strategies in their everyday lives.

In extreme cases where people suffer from debilitating depression, suicidal thoughts, or other symptoms that interfere with their daily lives, they may need professional psychiatric treatment.

After finishing this article, I suggest you stand up, take a break, and do something else.

Seriously. Take a break.

Here are some helpful tips on how to conquer your nerves and show emotion during an interview


Many people get nervous during interviews or have difficulty showing emotion, which is the key to any reasonable discussion. One of the best ways to conquer these nerves and show emotion is by being yourself. It’s also crucial that you know how to answer common interview questions and talk about your skills, knowledge, experience, and qualifications confidently. The interviewer will see that you are confident in who you are and what you can do, which will help break down any barriers between you two.

Who are Nervous during Job Interviews

Interviews are a stressful event. People feel nervous before and during an interview for many reasons.  The most common reason for this is fear of failure. Fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, and fear that there may be something better contribute to the habit.

Others may feel nervous because they are worried about what will happen if they don’t get the job, such as how they will make money to support themselves or their family members.

The stress of an interview can cause anxiety and nervousness in people, which can affect their performance. As a result, interviewees often are not sure what to say and how to say it. They may feel as if they have nothing interesting about themselves to share, or that they’re the least qualified person in the room. The best way to combat these feelings is by being prepared.

According to Louis Pasteur, chance favors the prepared mind. This means that preparedness leads to better outcomes than being unprepared.

A job interview is the first impression a company has of you, so it is important to prepare in advance. You should make sure to research the company and know what they do. It’s also important to review your resume beforehand and come up with examples of how you can contribute to their success. Bring a list of questions that you want answered about the position and always dress appropriately for an interview.

Why You Need to Show Emotion in a Job Interview

Showing emotion at a job interview is very important to the overall success of that interview. It’s an opportunity to show your personality and what makes you different from other applicants.

The most important part of a job interview is showing your personality. Research has shown that people are more likely to hire those who they feel connected to and emotionally invested in. As such, showing your personality during an interview is essential to your success in getting the job. The person interviewing you will want to get a sense of who you are as a person and how you’ll interact with their team. They want to see that you have the skillset for the job, but they also want to know if they can see themselves working with you on a day-to-day basis.

One way to show your personality is by showing emotion and enthusiasm. You will be more memorable than someone who is stone-faced, and it will make the interviewer feel like you’re in the room with them.

Ways to Express Yourself in an Interview

Hiring managers are looking for specific answers in an interview to determine if a candidate is a good fit for the position. The more detailed explanations and details you provide, the better.

The following are ways to express yourself in an interview:

1) Assertiveness: Hiring managers want to see that you are confident and assertive enough to go after what you want, take on assignments, and be successful. It’s important not to come off too aggressive or timid in an interview because either one will give them a wrong impression of your personality.

2) Communication Skills: During an interview, communication skills are critical because they show how well you will work with others and communicate with stakeholders outside of your immediate team. Communication skills include being able to articulate one’s thoughts effectively, listening carefully when someone

Actions You Should Avoid During the Interview Process

One of the most important aspects of a job interview is making a good impression. If you forget to arrive on time, or fail to smile, avoid these mistakes and go into the interview with confidence by arriving ahead of time and being personable.

Another thing that can hurt our chances of getting the position is the simple act of not being in proper attire or looking uninterested. It is important to be aware of these things so they don’t end up costing us an opportunity at something we want.

It is also important to note that: don’t offer your hand if the interviewer doesn’t offer theirs first. They may be shy or have some sort of infection and not want to shake hands with you.

Finally, don’t stand up during the interview and cross your arms in front of your chest. These are both signs that indicate we are feeling uncomfortable or threatened by what is going on in the interview and should be avoided at all costs.

Conclusion: How to Get Rid of That Jitters and Land the Job

If you ever feel like you’re not good enough for a position, the best thing to do is believe in yourself. You are qualified to be there, and that’s why you applied. Don’t be afraid to go for it! If anyone can’t see your worth, it’s their loss. Employers will always be searching for someone with your skillset and determination, so don’t let them pass you up!

I’m back after years of hiatus!


Hey guys. How is everyone?

I haven’t updated this blog in years, and I feel obligated to apologize to many people. First, there were many questions and messages that I did not respond to. Second, after re-reading all of the posts on this blog, I am horrified by how incorrect everything is – from sentence construction to grammar, word choice, and even punctuation. I had forgotten my login and password for this blog, and it was only recently that I could recover them. What was the first thing I did? To revise and republish everything. I can’t believe I’ve been subjecting you to this lousy writing for all these years. Please accept my apologies.

In December of 2016, I left the call center industry. I stayed in the United States for several months to take a long, well-deserved vacation. When I returned to the Philippines, I went home to the province and stayed for a while, doing business. I lost my business when the pandemic struck, and I’ve been out of work ever since. I’ve been looking for a work-from-home job for months. My jobstreet is active, and I’m registered with other job sites, including freelancing sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Despite this, I’m still unable to find employment. It’s understandable given how many people are looking for work, but I’m not giving up hope just yet. I’ll keep going.

My other option is to return to Manila, but given my circumstances, this is nearly impossible. I am a stay-at-home dad because my wife is studying for the bar exams in November 2021, and I am assisting my father-in-law with this business. Aside from that, I am my daughter’s homeschooling guide. So, honestly, the best recourse is to keep finding a work-from-home job. The sad part? I keep getting rejected.

My background as a broadcaster, and my long stint in the call center industry means nothing in the world of freelancing. I’m new, and I’m constantly being ignored and rejected. In my Upwork profile, for example, I have sent out 80 proposals and received several rejections. The trick is to establish a credible job history. Still, as long as I don’t have any accomplishments to back me up, I’ll be ignored.

Today, I write not to give advice. Perhaps you can give me the direction I need? Maybe you know of a work vacancy that I could try applying for? I’m starting to feel a wave of desperation here, and I pray I’d be able to find work soon.

If you read this post, please let me know if what you think in the comment section.

God bless.

Got A Question?


Hi All. I’m unable to check this blog, much less, respond to our queries here. My apologies.

For urgent questions, please shoot me an email: iwannabeacsr@gmail.com.

You can also chat with me via Google Hang Out using the same email address. Mas mabilis pa yon.

 

Se7en

Initial Interview (phone)


A phone interview is the second stage of the hiring process. When you receive a call from an interviewer, it implies that your resume has already passed the initial screening (also known as paper screening). You partially meet the requirements for the job posting, and all that remains is for you to demonstrate your language skills.

Suppose you have submitted your résumé online (or left it with the office receptionist). In that case, you should expect to receive a phone call. Prepare yourself.

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 that you read from a newspaper or a book, or he may give you a random question designed to evaluate your ability to think quickly.

The key to acing an initial interview is preparation. You must research the organization and have a general idea of the job you are applying for (this information is on the job ad).  Studying about the company is called due diligence. It always helps to impress the recruiter. The last thing you want to do is to say “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, STOP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING. If you can’t hear the recruiter because of background noise on his or your end, tell him and call him back. If you don’t, you might not be able to talk to him again. As a general rule, get a commitment that either you or he will return your call at a specific time. If you cannot answer his call (for example, because of a medical emergency), apologize and thank the recruiter.

When you can make 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 didn’t understand what he was saying, ask a clarifying question and confirm your understanding. Example: “The line was jumbled, you were asking me if…..am I correct?” – this is called paraphrasing or re-stating the concern and is a typical call center practice. It is an excellent tactic when dealing with a difficult-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 give you the much-needed time to think about the answer.
  • Always have 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).

The purpose of a first interview is to SELL YOURSELF; designs your responses so that you can demonstrate your abilities, 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. My name is Seven. I was interviewed by (name of the recruiter) last (date of interview) for the (title 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 make it easier for the recruiter to find your résumé and reschedule you. If you are no longer interested, tell the recruiter.

If you fail the initial interview, the recruiter will say, “Give us 24 to 48 hours to review your application. If you are qualified, you will hear from us.” – this indicates that you had failed the interview and should proceed to your next interview appointment with another company. (Remember what I said before if you passed the interview, the recruiter tells you.)

Permanently 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 mature. Also, don’t hesitate to ask questions or clarifications (specifically about directions to the recruitment office); there is nothing wrong with thoroughness.

Good luck with your application.

Comment below if you have any questions.

One Day Recruitment Process – what you need to know?


Consider the following scenario: you have recently lost your work (or are likely to lose it), your expenses are piling up, a family member urgently requires medicine or HMO coverage, and money is tight. You read the newspaper, went to an online job site, and discovered a few organizations that advertise the following:

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

It piques your curiosity, so you prepare your résumé and begin planning around what you’ve read, figuring that if it’s a one-day procedure, you’ll be able to obtain a job in a day or two, at worst, a week. So you apply, and as you wait for your interview, the minutes change to hours, and before you know it, your final interview is planned for a week or two later. ‘Whatever happened to the one-day process?’ Diba nakaka-inis?

What exactly is the One-Day Recruitment Process?

There are two things to consider:

  1. It is a time-saving program that helps the recruitment department to handle as many prospects they can, as quickly as possible.
  2. It’s a marketing ploy to attract more applicants who are keen to secure a job as soon as possible.

In terms of the procedure, recruiters must adhere to the recruitment flow, which is as follows:

  1. Screening on paper or online
  1. The first interview (phone or face to face)
  2. Call Simulation and Testing
  3. Job Offer Following the Final Interview

Some businesses set a time limit for each step. A phone or initial face-to-face interview, for example, should not last more than five minutes (some recruiters are so good they already decided to fail or pass you within 30 seconds). The duration of the test should be between 30 and 50 minutes. Finally, the final interview should take no more than 20 to 30 minutes, allowing the organization to adhere to the “one-day processing” policy.

Why does the processing time change?

The recruitment process, while planned, is not a flawless process. It is affected by many factors that can lengthen (or shorten) the processing time. What are some of these elements? The recruitment process, while planned, is not a flawless science. It is affected by many factors that can lengthen (or shorten) the processing time. What are some of these elements?

  • 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)
  • The recruiter wanted to fail you during the interview 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 have an interview schedule. 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. Recruiters see impatience.
  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. 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 5 PM (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 to consider 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 they are doing a poor job.

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

Se7en

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.

Marian

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

When I turned 30, I realized I had nothing – no career development, management, leadership skill, or competency. I dug deeper and discovered that the problem was not with the job or the company but my perception of the industry. It had no future, in my opinion. I needed to change my mindset to change my situation. Everything changed when I did.

That’s when my career came into play. I started thinking about the long term. I began by considering what I needed to improve on (leadership and management) and asked all of my TLs to aid me (I still do that today). Bottom line: if you want to change the situation, you must change your way of thinking. Otherwise, you will be stuck in a never-ending stream of resignations and applications.

There is indeed stress in the call center. In fact, as soon as you decide to sign a job offer, you must accept the fact that there will be stress, regardless of the account. If you don’t take this reality, you’ll be sick and tired,  demotivated, and ready to give up. There will be stress everywhere you go. Sometimes the stress from where you came from is far worse than the stress from where you went. Straight from the frying pan to the fire, ika nga nila. This is why call center employees are paid more. The more complex the task, the higher the pay (sadly, volume (or the number of calls you take) is NOT a determinant of higher income).

What do you do when you’re stressed? You can’t get away from it. You confront it squarely. So you face it with information and a solution. This is how I deal with stress: I am stressed because there is a problem. There is a problem because there is a process gap, a lack of communication or understanding, or a behavioral issue.  Keep the 80-20 rule in mind (otherwise known as the Pareto Principle). In layman’s terms, this means that the source of 80% of your problems is caused by 20% of something – find out what that 20% is and solve it, and the rest of the problem will collapse.

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

Hope this helps.

Se7en

 

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.

Lovely

Hello, Lovely. Thank you very much for your email. I hope you don’t mind if I respond here instead. I indeed respond to questions as long as I know the answer (hehe), but it is also false that I am always online; I sleep as well. Haha.

Now, back to your question. Yes, background checks are a requirement not only in the call center industry but also in most businesses in any industry. A background check is a way for the company to ensure that you are who you say you are. Remember that the company will entrust you with their resources, train you, and so on. As a result, the information on your resume must be “true and correct.” It is also a deterrent to criminals and job hoppers.

There are several methods for conducting a background check.

  1. The company contacts the references you provided on your resume over the phone. They may also contact the companies listed to ensure that you worked there.
  2. Home visits are frequently used by multinational corporations, BPOs, and call centers with a financial account. They hire a third-party investigator to confirm your home address. The investigator will also inquire about you among your neighbors (especially about your character).
  3. When they need information about your academic records, they will use registered mail.
  4. “You are what you post,” according to social networking sites. As a result, some companies now include your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts in their background checks. You’d be surprised at how much your social media accounts reveal about your personality, attitude, and behavior.
  5. Your BIR and SSS company history – This is illegal under the law. The BIR and the SSS are required by law not to disclose your employment history, even to your current employer.

Your character references are significant in your job search. This is why some businesses are particular about the type of reference they require. As an example, consider one colleague, one friend, and one HR representative.

Your character reference must:

  • know you and your work ethic, attitude, and behavior, and 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.

Thanks.

Se7en

Final Pay Processing (When Can I get My Money?)


Hi Seven. I’m planning to resign from my current CSR post. Being a first timer in the BPO industry, I don’t know how long the processing of the final pay will take and this concerns me because my family and I need the money. I’m hoping you can respond ASAP.

Jeff of Makati

Hello, Jeff. Thank you very much for your email. I hope it’s okay if I post my response. I’m sure there are others out there in the same situation as you. I’ve been in your shoes before. When I left from my recruitment position at a call center in Makati, I didn’t take into account how long it would take me to find another employment, and as a result, I lost a lot of stuff (and people). But I won’t get into the nasty details.

Let’s talk about the process then.

First, make a plan for your resignation. When your manager accepts your resignation, he will notify HR. Assume you’re delivering a 15- or 30-day notice. In that case, you might already expect your income to be withheld (immediate resignation means your salary will be held immediately). Having said that, several employees (including myself) would file for resignation after the distribution of salary, so that the money could be utilised and the worst-case scenario could be avoided. You are aware of your financial circumstances, so consider whether 15 days of income will suffice to tide you over till you start your next employment.

Second, before you resign, make certain that (1) you have already accepted the new position, (2) your job offer has been signed, (3) you are sure of the exact training schedule, and (4) it will not be during the last 15/30 days of your employment with the company (which will force you to go on AWOL, and that is usually bad).

Your salary has been put on hold for the next 30 days. You will be processing your clearance on the last day of your employment with the company. This means that it must be signed by your boss, someone from IT, facilities, finance/accounting, and HR (you also need to return company-owned items like the HMO, your ATM, headset, etc.). It is preferable for you (or anyone) to have your clearance handled on the last day of work; this way, all of the signatories are easier to find (if you’re lucky, they’re all in one spot).

Your final payment will be handled within 60 to 90 days of submitting the clearance to HR. A word of warning here: some organizations cannot meet their promises (which is likely why you are leaving); so, do not plan on how you will spend your final payment until you have received it.

Once you have the check (hurrah!), you need to find out if it is for:

  1. For Deposit Only – You need to deposit the check to your bank account and will have to wait for a few days for the check to clear.
  2. For Encashment – party time! (But you need to go to the bank branch where the check can be drawn. Bummer, right?)

This may sound cliche, but in situations like this, it is true what they say: chance favors the prepared mind; hence, you must plan if you do not want to find yourself in a difficult financial situation just because you did not consider the timetable.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need more information.

Se7en

The Call Center Bond


Hi Seven.  Ano ba talaga ang bond? Bakit may ganon? Pano maiiwasan yon? Anong gagawin kung sinisingil ka? Makukulong ba ako? 

James R.

Hi James.

I got your email yesterday, and since your questions are fascinating, I thought I would just turn my response into a post. This way, we can share the info with everyone.

What is a bond? 

A training bond is nothing more than a contract that says you will be paying a specific amount if you leave the company (whether by resignation or by absconding) within a particular period. For example, I worked for a company in Northgate, and we had a training bond for six months. If I left before that, I would be liable to pay Php 20,000.

Why is there a bond?

…because a lot of people abscond. Attrition is a severe threat to a company’s investment. When a person gets hired, the company will spend for their onboarding, training, etc. Therefore, to recover this cost, the company has to make sure the person stays so that his “working hours” can be converted into income.

Similarly, when the company sends an employee abroad for training or education, they need to sign a contract binding him to the company for several years (usually two).

How does a bond work?

As mentioned above, it is a contract. It is binding as soon as you sign it. If you leave before the end of your “bond,” you will be held liable for either the full or a pro-rated amount. In the example I used above, the Php 20,000 is divided into six months, so if I decided to resign on the 4th month, I would be paying Php 6666.00 (Php 20,000/6 months = Php 3333.33).

If you didn’t attend the training at all, are you still liable? 

Technically, if you already signed the contract, you are.  However, the counter-argument is  I didn’t even attend the first day of training. What company investment am I wasting? (except perhaps for the recruiter’s time and the piece of paper I signed). By the way, when you do not attend the first day of training, that correct term is NO SHOW, not AWOL.

In the above case, what should I do?

Call your recruiter before the first day of training and tell them you are backing out. That is responsible and professional. This way, the recruiter can give your slot to another candidate.

I already went on AWOL, and now I am receiving letters.

Naturally, you are fully aware there is a bond; you went on AWOL, the collection letters will follow. It really depends on the company if they take your absconding seriously and take you to court for breach of contract. Most companies will just let it go –  the cost of litigation is more expensive than just hiring another one. In my 15 years in the industry, I have never heard of an employee going AWOL and being dragged to court or having their wages garnished. I’ve heard of former employees who needed clearance and COE from the company and had to settle just to clear their name (or to get it over with).

Am I still liable if I get terminated?

Technically, you are not liable, especially if the cause of the termination fails to meet the metrics. To avoid the bond, you will be held responsible if you fail on purpose. Of course, the company has the burden of proof.

What if I need to get my clearance from my former company where I went AWOL? 

You need to visit the company and settle the balance. Sometimes, you can even negotiate it. Bottom line, you signed the contract, which gives you the obligation, and if you want/need the clearance for your next employer, you need to settle the balance.

I don’t have any money, how can I pay for it?

Why did you go on AWOL in the first place? As mentioned above, if you need the clearance, then you can make a payment arrangement. After all, how can you settle a loan if you don’t have a job right?

How can I avoid the bond?

Simple. Do NOT go to a company that’s known to have a bond. If you have no idea if there is a bond or not, use the internet to research information. After all, as an applicant, you must conduct research. This is a part of your due diligence a responsible human being whose goal in life is to have a career instead of floating around. Also, please DO NOT ask a recruiter if there will be a bond or not – this is a wrong question, and whether you are qualified or not, you will fail. Why? It is a clear sign for a recruiter that you have no plans of staying or developing a career.

Ultimately, the decision to go on AWOL from a company where you signed a bond will haunt you and cause you inconvenience but will you get incarcerated? I very much doubt it. Most of these companies would rather focus on running the business and ignore you (eventually). Then again, why court the disaster of being seriously hounded for a contract you agreed to in the first place? Be professional. For whatever reason, stay for your arrangement, use the time to learn new skills and competencies, and leave when the time is right.

If you have any questions or clarifications on this article, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. If you have a story to tell, please don’t hold back.

Hope this helps.

Se7en

10 Tips To Help You Survive the Call Center Industry


You’ve tried and tried to get a job in the call center industry, and eventually, after many failed tries, you got in. Is it time to rejoice? No. You’re still not out of the woods. As a newcomer to the call center sector, the first six months to a year of work is your break-in period. Some people acclimatize easily; nevertheless, many do not survive.

Now that you’ve made it in, the next task is to stay. The question is how, correct? Here are a few items I’ve collected throughout the years.

  1. Get away from those who complain and give bad advice.

Their initial reaction to their work schedule, pay, scorecard, team leader, company, and overall job is adverse. They’re not difficult to find. Their attendance record is a classic indicator of this. You can also observe their habits and mannerisms when taking calls – do they bang the mouse a lot? Curse a lot when the customer doesn’t understand them? Choose the people with whom you associate with caution.

  1. Talk to your Manager/Team Leader.

Never be afraid to talk openly with your manager; in fact, you should be the one to initiate them. Understand your manager’s personality, how he thinks, what irritates him, what’s good and evil in his book, and what he expects from his agents. More importantly, ASK YOUR MANAGER FOR ADVICE. Don’t wait for a coaching session to ask him this. Right now, ask him if he has a minute, and then tell him: “Sir, I am a newcomer to the call center industry, and while I enjoy my job, there are a lot of things I need to learn. I want to succeed, to reach the level you’ve attained, but I can’t do it alone. I’d like to seek your advice.”

  1. Learn everything that you need to learn.

This may appear to be overly general, but it contains a hidden gem. Everything you need to know about the product, process, systems, customer service, call handling, scorecard, company culture, policies, and procedures begins when you enter the company. Your Learning doesn’t end. This means that once you’ve mastered your current job and everything associated with it, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the next level. You will eventually need to know about leadership and management.

  1. Be different.

Whether you admit it or not, you live among people who only want to survive (I log in and out). You can be unique here. More game-changers are needed. People who want to advance in their careers through tenure. It’s so easy to switch companies – BE DIFFERENT. Try something new – STAY. This benefits your career, education, and finances.

  1. Perception management.

Remember that you will be watched and listened to from the day you start to the day you leave. Your leaders will constantly criticize what you say and do. Your daily interactions with them will affect how they perceive you. Speak as a complainer, and you will be ignored, but speak as a solution provider, and you will be consulted 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: contribute to the solution, not the problem.

  1. Motivate yourself

What makes you get up, drive through horrendous traffic, work all day, then go home exhausted? You have great Motivation if you can answer this with an inspiring reason. You have a problem if you pause long or say, “That’s a good question.” Work requires Motivation. You will be void of direction, desire, joy, or satisfaction without it. Motivation is the wind in your sails. A little motivation helps you get through the most challenging part of your career. It’s the one who keeps you going when everyone else tells you to quit.

  1. Take things personally.

And by this, I mean being fully responsible for what you do and are accountable for. When you take things personally, the first thing you do when something goes wrong is asking yourself, “What have I done that may have contributed to this problem?” Then you ask, “What can I do to improve myself so that this does not happen again?” Taking things personally allows you to develop, improve your skills and competencies, and find your way. Take things personally when the caller is angry – that is, “How can I assist this customer in resolving the problem? Not only will he be pleased, but I will also reduce my AHT, handle the case efficiently and effectively, and increase my CSAT.”

  1. Don’t be a HONDA

A HONDA is a word they use to describe people who log out ON THE DOT; they have no reason to stay because work is a prison for them. As a result, the top of the hour implies freedom. People who have a sense of purpose, Motivation, and a career goal stay a little longer.  Why?

  • To help a struggling colleague.
  • To discuss issues and concerns with their team leader.
  • Simply to bask in the glory of another successful shift.

He stays because he wants the confines of his job.

Finally, here is the article’s main point: Whether you agree with me or not, the term “survival” is used for or by people who are in the wrong place, situation, or time, necessitating the need for “survival tips.” If this is the case, you must carefully consider your options. Inability to accept your current reality spells trouble in the long run. If you are new to the call center industry and need to survive, a mindset shift is in order. If you’ve been working in the call center industry for more than a year and are still struggling to make ends meet, my question is “why?”

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

The Grass Is Always Greener Everywhere Except Where You Stand


Hi Se7en,

Im Jake, 25 yo, Management graduate and a licensed Professional Teacher (took units in Education). Been with the industry since 2009, joined multiple companies and i considered myself as a hopper but also a high performer. Not until with my current which I’m staying for almost 1.5 years now(which is a rare feat).hahaha Been out of your blog for almost a year and a half too and It’s my first time to visit your blog again. Im sorry. ;) Now, i need your expert advise as I’m planning to resign in this Industry 1st quarter of 2014 for good.

I have several questions in mind before handing my resignation letter to them. Is there life after working in BPO? What are the possible industries that you can recommend which can be a good place to start? Do i need to declare all those job experiences I’ve had which is irrelevant to the position I’m applying in? What is the best way to defend gaps in your employment?

I need a brand new start. A totally new start without me depending on BPO/ITO. I’ll wait for your response. Thank you and more power.

Sincerely,

Jake

Hi Jake. I admire your desire to ask questions and conduct research before filing for resignation — that is the correct course of action. Before I answer your inquiries, I’d like to know why you stayed on at this position for more than a year. How is your scorecard looking? What types of accounts do you handle? What is the reason you stated that you need a fresh start? You also stated that you want one that does not rely on BPO/ITO? I’m not sure what you mean. Are you starting a business?

I will wait for your response.

Se7en

With regard to staying on this job, Are we talking about in general or with my current? Generally speaking, its because of the high compensation and other benefits. If its about with my current, i would say an accomplishment and a challenge for staying that long. By the way, thats the longest in my 4 years next is 8 months, 5mos and others just barely after 2mos then i went awol.

Scorecard: No problem. Agent of the month for months, no tardiness and absenteeism issues.

Account: customer service for B2B account. In house. We manufacture and support our own products.

The reason why i wanted a new start because of the ff: its get boring, routinary and no longer challenging. Sorry for the term. I dunno what right term to use. I dont mean to be rude. :) I feel like my professional development is getting stagnant. No upskills training. Promotion is slow. Though my managers keep saying “you have a bright future ahead of you.” In my head Until when i will wait for promotion?

About the BPO, what i meant was i dont want to depend on working in BPO/ITO industry alone. Looking for an industry that is different where im used to.

Thanks,

Jake

Hi Jake. Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment. When I saw your post, I immediately thought that it deserved a post in my blog. There are a few issues that I’d like to respond to, and in the process, answer your question and share information with the public as well.

There are four things that I noticed from your post:

  1. Your perception about tenure and promotion.
  2. Your personal and career development is based on your company and your leaders.
  3. It’s greener on the other side of the fence.
  4. Your perception about what “challenge” is.

Let me explain:

  1. People often believe that they deserve a promotion because they have held the same position for a long time, are competent at what they do (as evidenced by their scorecard), or because they make a lot of sacrifices to do more. This mentality is wrong. Being good at what you do or exceeding your scorecard’s expectation does not make you a promotion material; it simply confirms that you’re good at what you do, period.  Getting promoted is an entirely different ball game. You need to exhibit the qualities, skills, and competencies of a leader and a manager (if you’re asking yourself what these qualities, skills, and competencies are, it means you have a long way to go).
  2. Many people labor in the false notion that personal development within the firm and their jobs is heavily reliant on the organization and its executives. A person who wants to be a leader (and get promoted) will not wait for the organization to provide him with the necessary training or exposure. He conducts research, watches leadership videos, discovers the concepts, skills, and competencies, and then lives them. This makes him a viable candidate; as a result, the company notices that he exhibits the skills, thus, making them perceive that he is ready for the next level.
  3. Many people assume that to succeed in their jobs, they must start over somewhere else; yet, once they do, they discover another pasture with greener grass, and they find themselves hopping from one valley to another. What’s the issue? Except where you stand, the grass is ALWAYS greener. What they attain is not advancement; this is called “pabarya-barya mentality.” They don’t see is that if you stay, you develop a career, which leads to tenure, achievement, fulfillment, success, and money.
  4. Finally, many people believe that once they have reached a certain level of efficiency and effectiveness in a specific function, they have reached a dead end: there is nothing more to learn. Thus, creating a vicious cycle in which, instead of continuing to improve the skills and competencies they mastered, they leave to find another skill by starting from scratch, not realizing that they were in a perfect position to begin with. People that think this way tend to be hoppers for a long time until they know it’s too late.

Let me be completely honest with you, Jake. I’m not quite sure that you lack challenge in your job; the issue is YOUR MINDSET.; you don’t recognize it. You are in an excellent position to develop the abilities and competencies, but you don’t remember it since your priority is money, not a career. You do not need to change jobs or pastures to realize your ambition; instead, you can use your existing company/work to build the essential abilities, live it, and get acknowledged. It takes some time. Leadership is not something you learn overnight.  If you can’t see this, you’re not ready. Leaving your job today will not get you anywhere, nor will it help you advance; you will become a job hopper (as you have been for the past few years). Remember that professional advancement is more than just being promoted; it is also about boosting your value as an employee to become more viable and desirable. You accomplish this by ascending the corporate ladder, expanding your understanding of the company’s business activities, and demonstrating to the executives that you are a valued asset due to your efforts.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Se7en

Notice to Explain (NTE)


Dear Se7en,

The company that I work for has a strict attendance policy. What happens is that for every incident of tardiness or absence, there is a corresponding point, the total points that a person can have is 8 and if you reach that, by policy, you are subject to termination. My recent absence has bumped up my points to the max and I am really worried about my status here. I want to keep this job and I love this company. Thing is, I do not know what to do or how to do it. Although my TL has been very understanding, I am really upset at HR. My TL advised that HR will be sending me a Notice to Explain and there, I will be required to respond. Am I going to be terminated? Please, I really need your help.

Marko

Dear Marko,

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I would be distraught if I were in your case, but being upset is the last thing you need. Let me tell you why.

First and foremost, I am aware with the attendance point system you are referring to; the organization I work for use the similar way to address attendance concerns. Second, you must understand that it takes several instances of tardiness and absenteeism to reach the eighth point. Third, as long as it is less than 8, your TL can assist you. However, because you’ve exhausted it, your TL has no choice but to give way to the process. Keep in mind that termination begins and ends with you. Your TL’s responsibility is just to document the incident, and in this scenario, he has no alternative but to defer to HR because this is technically out of his hands.

You wouldn’t want to be angry right now. If there is one person who deserves your anger, it is you. Remember that HR, your TL, or the firm did not ask you to be late or absent; you opted to be late or absent based on the circumstances at the time of the incident. However, you cannot use the circumstance as an excuse because what is at stake here is your capacity and commitment to maintain your end of the bargain – to be there at work when you are required to.

What will happen?

Typically, when the final straw has been drawn (by you), your TL will be obligated to provide HR a report outlining the infraction, the number of points incurred, the date, and so on. Following the evaluation and validation of the record, you will get a NOTICE TO EXPLAIN (NTE), to which you must respond in writing within 5 to 7 days. The NTE will go through your attendance infraction and ask you to explain why you have 8 points, and because this is a terminable penalty, you must include an appeal as to why they should give you another chance and where you need to focus.

An employee’s tendency when he is in this situation is to play the blame game, hate his TL and HR, and, more often than not, fail to look deep into himself to find out what caused the problem. The same hatred will push them to think that they no longer have a chance, so either they misbehave more at work, become disrespectful and unprofessional, or worse, would go on AWOL. Of course, this type of response only results in an escalated situation, resulting in the person losing his job. However, the NTE means you still have a chance to explain yourself; you’re still with the company, after all.

HR will schedule a hearing after receiving your response. Several leaders (not your manager) as well as an HR representative will be present. During a hearing, the panel will present the case to you, and you will be required to defend yourself. They will then assess if you are worth retaining or letting go. The worst error you can make here is to blame your flaws on someone else (blame your TL, blame your health, the situation at home, or the company policy). This will demonstrate to the panel that you have no acknowledgement of your responsibilities and no regret for what you have done. Playing the blame game will result in your termination.

What can you do?

The first thing you should do is relax. What’s going on is the effect of your actions. As a result, you must confront it squarely. Second, instead of disliking and worrying about the bad repercussions, put your energy into composing the explanatory letter and an appeal. If your letter is persuasive enough, the hearing may not even be required.

When writing the Letter of Explanation, remember the following:

  • The objective is to KEEP THE JOB.
  • It is an appeal letter, not merely an explanation. As a result, the general tone of your communication should be one of regret.
  • Use work-related examples to demonstrate why you should be retained (assignments given to you by your TL, the outcome of a project, your scorecard, CSAT results, commendations, awards won, citations, etc.).
  • Demonstrate remorse. There will be no blaming. There will be no projection.
  • Discuss your company’s ambitions over the next few years (e.g., I was aiming for a Team Leader post within the next two years, and I am currently in the process of working with my Team Leader to improve my skills and competencies, etc.).

As I stated earlier, if your letter of explanation is satisfactory, the hearing may not be required; nevertheless, if the hearing is required, do not be concerned. Remember that the hearing is a necessary step in the process; it is an opportunity to explain your circumstances and demonstrate your worth. Follow the same steps as before, but this time you’ll be able to SHOW them how honest and remorseful you are. Admit your regret, acknowledge your obligations, and the worth of your work, and then ask for a chance to keep your job with a vow to improve. Here, you must sell yourself by displaying the precise facts presented in the letter (consistency is crucial), by describing your scorecards, project results, an endorsement letter if possible, and so on. By providing details about your work, you demonstrate to them that you are a person who achieves outcomes, that you are enthusiastic about your profession, and that you are valuable.

Remember, the panel’s priority throughout the hearing is to hear your side of the story, NOT to dismiss you. Your managers would have fired you by now if they wanted to.

When I was in this situation some years ago, I said during my initial statement at the hearing, “I want to sincerely thank everyone for being here to listen to my side of the story.” At the same time, I’d want to apologize for taking an hour of your time to come here instead of concentrating on your tasks to help the company succeed.

To summarize a long story, they gave me a chance. Months later, one of the panelists (a manager from a different business unit) said she would never forget me or that hearing. Despite the enormous pressure the procedure causes, she has never seen anybody thank and apologize to the panel “for being there.” “I realized right there that you were different, that you will be ascending the corporate ladder and had to be given a chance,” she said.

Marko, as I’ve mentioned, you can be upset, but you need to re-focus your energy on the task at hand. You aren’t terminated yet; however, if you fail to prepare for your letter and the upcoming hearing, you might as well resign. It is an option, but why settle for quitting when you can give it one more fight? After all, if you win this bout and are given a chance, it’s like being born again.

Let me know if you need more help.

Se7en

When you are offered a job you don’t want…


I’ve received a lot of question related to them being evaluated for a post which is different from what they applied for. Case in point, James applied for a back office account but was evaluated and offered a job for an inbound customer service account. Another candidate, Amiel was applying for the email account but was endorsed to an outbound collections account. Why does this happen? What can you do to avoid it?

1. Remember that a recruiter is a match maker. He/she has several accounts he/she is evaluating you for and his/her priority is to put you in an account which he/she thinks best fits you based on the skills and competencies you have.

2. Remember to read about the company’s accounts/business units. You need to make the recruiter understand that you are applying for a VERY SPECIFIC position and that you should be evaluated for it. Make him/her aware that you know they have other accounts and that you are comfortable with the account/queue you are applying for. You need to say this in a friendly and professional way, that is, if you have the courage. Remember that  YOU ARE BEING EVALUATED, say this only if you are willing to waste time, money, effort, and opportunity and that your need for the job is not paramount. If you are the type who REALLY needs a job, then why be choosy?

3. Learn how to holistically evaluate a job offer. It’s not just about the basic salary, it’s about establishing a career so you can have the money you are aiming for. Keep an open mind when the recruiter tells you that you are qualified for a different queue and will be evaluated for such. When you pass and are being offered a job, take a look at the culture of the company, the opportunities for promotion or side-movement (growth is not just up you know), the job itself, the company mission and vision, the basic pay, the health and welfare package, employee engagement, etc. If you need a day to decide, tell the recruiter. Be professional enough to call the recruiter the following day to advise him/her of your decision.

There are several reasons why you are not being offered the job you are gunning for:

1. You are not qualified for it.

2. You are over-qualified.

3. Your asking is too high.

4. No more vacancy.

5. You are fit for another account.

Only accept a job that you think will be beneficial for you IN THE LONG RUN (not just because you need to get paid ASAP). When you take on a job, you goal is not just to get paid but to develop a career, to look at retirement, and if the job isn’t something you know too well you will not like, there is no point in accepting it. If you decide to accept a job because napipilitan ka at kailangan mo talaga, learn to love that job by removing the mindset that the job is temporary. It’s really all about mindset. It’s also about being able to discipline yourself to be loyal to the company you work for.

 

Hope this helps.

Se7en

Termination, it starts and ends with you


????????????????????????????????????????A very close friend and colleague of mine got terminated recently. It was combination of bad decisions after another, and eventually, when the HR process was applied, it resulted to the inevitable termination. When this news reached me, he has already incurred unexcused absences, forged a med-cert, and when the notice of hearing was sent out, Murphy’s Law played its part (one of his family members was in the hospital) and he failed to attend the meeting. Right then and there, a panel of Team Leaders and the HR representative decided that it was time to let him go.

In truth, I am very concerned for this friend of mine, plainly because his wife just had a baby (their first), and being a father and a husband myself, I know how it feels when you have your first-born – every single penny counts, not to mention the medical insurance provided by the company. The other part that concerns me greatly is the fact that we have been in this company for two years, as such, we have earned the mastery of what we do for the business – a veritable source of that elusive ability to negotiate a better pay or post in the next company. With the termination on his record, he will be forced to either hide the company from his resume, or if he decides to come forward with it, he will have to find a reason convincing enough for any recruiter to let him into the next step of the process, let alone offer him a job.

When one gets termed, everything becomes complicated.

As what I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I’m not alien to termination. However, the difference between my case and the rest of the world was that I had documentation to justify my action. Therefore, come job hunting phase, I decided to tell the truth that my employment was severed on account of attendance issues.  The decision to tell the truth cost me several good companies, and when I finally got the job, it was the sweetest accomplishment.

Why did I tell the truth? A few things:

  • My skills and competencies are much too precious for me to hide.
  • I needed a better paying job and hiding the skills and competencies would mean I have to start from scratch (again).
  • I didn’t want the added stress of lying, and if found, getting terminated again.
  • I have the gift of gab, I’m known for talking my way out of difficult situations, not just because I have the skill for it, but because I can deliver.
  • My research has taught me how to create a positive spin on negative situations.

The job hunting part wasn’t easy. I got turned down several times and with these incidents piling, my bills were too, plus, I was receiving an immense pressure from my wife to land a job fast.  I was so tempted to rethink my strategy (of honesty), and on the very day that I decided to implement the lie, I decided that I will tell the truth one more time, and if I still fail, then I will tell a lie in the next company. Lo and behold, the recruiter and the hiring manager gave me a chance (and this isn’t one of those pipitsugin companies), and I was to start the following week.

A few things that I’ve learned in this experience and I’ve shared them with my colleague who got fired recently:

  1. Getting a job is harder than you think, therefore, if you already have one, be mindful of your attendance and overall performance. Notice that the company has several policies in place which are designed to “give you a chance” before you reach the termination phase. Depending on the company policy, you will be given coaching, then a verbal  warning, a written warning, suspension, then a hearing for the termination case. It takes several incidents for you to reach the last point, which means that it’s you who is at the helm here and your manager and the HR is merely completing the process which you started.
  2. Don’t ignore the HR process except when you’re trying to get fired (believe me, some people are stupid enough to aim for this). I’m talking about the Return to Work Order, the hearing, etc. The process is put in place to give you a chance to explain yourself and if the reason is grave enough to warrant a chance of retaining your job, then it’s a chance you don’t want to miss.
  3. When you foresee a situation which has the potential to affect your employment, immediately consult with your manager and the HR. Seek for opportunities which will allow you to lessen the impact – SL/VL/emergency leave or if there is a chance for you to go on an extended period of absence without losing your job, grab it. The objective is to keep your employment, at the same time addressing your personal issues at home. It is true that you need to separate personal with work issues, but some work-affecting issues (illness, family conflict, etc) must be known, at the least, by your manager. He or she needs to understand what is going on in your personal life so he will not judge you unfairly.
  4. Don’t fake illnesses, or the documents for it. Companies are now smart and diligent enough to check with hospitals, clinics, and they will verify if you actually used your HMO card.

Remember, getting terminated from your job isn’t something that your manager or your company would wish to happen to you. They trained you, they invested on you, and they are concerned about their attrition, hence, it is imperative that they give you several chances to change your bad behavior. Therefore, getting terminated from your job is actually a decision you are making, little by little, with your actions. Your manager’s function is to keep a record of and manage  your behavior at work. As soon as you cross the line, the process starts.  It starts and ends with you.

Failed in 11 call center interviews…help!


Head in Hands

Dear Seven,

I’ve been reading your posts from Pinoyexchange.com 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.

Alex

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.

Se7en

Top 10 Interview Question and How To Answer Them


If there is one thing I have learned about job interviews, it is that they are competency-based. They develop interview questions to assess if an applicant is a good fit for the job by comparing his responses (together with his work experience) to the skills and competencies required for the position.

If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that I strongly encourage preparation (read: research), which includes determining what competencies are required for the post, attempting to decide what questions given during the interview, AND preparing responses that the candidate must know and understand (but not memorize) and mixing and matching is based on the questions asked.

What are the standard interview questions, and how best to answer them?

  1. Tell me something about yourself.

This is not an invitation to talk about yourself aimlessly; instead, the question assesses your work attitude and behavior. You MAY talk about some personal matters. However, it would be beneficial if you had some direction; that is, your goal should be to discuss your distinctive qualities as an employee or student, such as honesty, integrity, professionalism, and even your philosophy.

  1. Why do you want to work here?

This is a question that needs thorough research. Before the interview, study the company’s history, business type, mission and vision, accounts (if accessible), and culture on their website. Knowing about the company makes you appear interested, as though you did your homework and are eager to acquire the job.

  1. What do you know about the call center industry/agent’s work?

You are not a professional (yet). As a result, the recruiter/employer does not expect you to know everything, but a basic understanding of the business or the task involved is required. Naturally, failing to achieve that expectation fails.

  1. Why should I hire you?/Why should I not hire you?/What sets you apart from all the other candidates outside?

This question determines a good fit for the job based on the abilities and competencies listed in the job description. The second question is deceptive due to the word “not,” yet the answer remains the same. The question is, how can you ensure that you can provide a satisfactory answer to this question?

  1. Research the required skills and competencies for the position.
  2. Make a list of your skills and competencies. Compare it to the requirements.
  3. Study the interview question. Make a planned answer. The bottom line of your response should be that you possess the necessary competencies and skills.

Because they lack work experience, it is often difficult for recent graduates to provide a straightforward answer to this issue. I propose the following:

  1. Research the necessary abilities and competencies.
  2. Think about your experiences while you were still in school: organizations you joined, meetings you attended, honors you received, advocacies you held, and so on. Prepare a list.
  3. Compare your list to the job’s required abilities and competencies.

Then, write a response to the interview question to demonstrate that you are qualified for the position because, even as a student, you showed the necessary abilities and skills.

The preparation described above will enable you to respond to the question with total confidence and ease.

  1. Why do you want to work in a call center/as a call center agent?

DO NOT answer this question with “because of the compensation,” no matter how honest you are. Remember, your goal is to “sell yourself” and pass the interview. Discuss how well this position matches your skills, competencies, and experiences. If you lack experience (as a recent graduate or newcomer), discuss how close it is to your professional and personal goals and beliefs and how you envision yourself succeeding in this field. The goal is to convince the interviewer that YOU ARE PERFECT FOR THIS JOB.

  1. Why did you resign from your previous company?

This question has multiple answers, and the only tricky part is if your reason for leaving is negative (disagreement with the boss, predicting termination, going on AWOL, etc.), regardless of the reason, BE POSITIVE. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if your stint was short or lengthy (as long as it wasn’t a series of short-term employment that gave the appearance that you were a job hopper). Tell the recruiter what you realized while working at that position, what you (positively) acquired by quitting, and that you are ready to move on. One example of good response is the employee’s previous firm achievements. He is now prepared to take on a more substantial, more challenging assignment and achieve more accomplishments.

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Responding to these questions is a bit difficult. We Filipinos try to avoid boasting; on the other hand, we don’t want our flaws exposed for fear of being judged unfairly.

Remember what position you are applying for; if it is a call center position, emphasize communication, customer service/focus, friendliness, attention to detail, and so on. As for the weakness, choose one of your strengths and make it appear as a problem – for example, “I am so devoted to my work that I become frustrated when I don’t meet my objectives.”

  1. What is your expected salary?

Remember, this isn’t the bargaining stage yet. The key here is to understand the industry standard. You don’t want to give too much, which will make the interviewer think the company can’t afford you, but you also don’t want to give too little, which will leave you with no space for bargaining. Find out what the going rate is for the position, then say it. When you say the amount, be confident; don’t be shy, and don’t be too proud. Being enthusiastic about your predicted wage indicates that you are aware of yourself, your experience, as well as your self-worth, talents, and competencies.

  1. Can you work on weekends? Shifting schedules? Do overtime work? Graveyard shifts?

The recruiter expects that you know the industry you are applying for; therefore, the BEST answer here is a VERY CONFIDENT YES. Do not sound doubtful. Remember, you are  the one job hunting. (If the work schedule is not acceptable to you, why did you submit your resume in the first place?)

  1. How do you see yourself five or ten years from now?

It is tempting to respond, “I envision myself getting married, having kids, two cars, and a house on a hill,” but this is not the appropriate response for this question. You’re in an interview; concentrate on the job you want. The answer must be work-related; for example, developing an exceptional performance basis for promotion, being promoted, and so on. The more explicit the plan/vision, the better; this indicates that you have the right direction in your life, plans for your profession, and aim to stay for the long haul.

While being interviewed can be nerve-racking, if you are well-prepared, you will react to questions with confidence and ease. Again, read and comprehend the competencies required for the position for which you are seeking. Google interview questions and write down your sample replies; if you’re still hesitant, have someone look at it; know and comprehend the responses you prepared but don’t memorize them. Prepare to mix and match your prepared answers depending on the recruiter’s questions.

Would you mind leaving a comment if you have any other questions that you found challenging or have any suggestions for responses to the interview questions listed above?

I failed the (behavioral) final interview…why?


I lifted this from www.pinoyexchange.com’s Call Center Forum, from Code_Red16.

Had an interview a week ago. But the interviewer’s question still bugging me. Here: (we’re like talking for half an hour already then she skipped to the final interview, so the behavioral questions started and since I’m a fresh grad, she couldn’t ask me something about my work experience. so for the 1st question she asked me *something like this* instead)

“Tell me a time in your college days when you had a mistake that resulted to a failure for the whole group.”

-I told her several things, like when we didn’t meet the deadline for a project because of me. When we were scolded because of me…pretty usual for her i guess, coz she rejected it all.
-I said that’s all i could think of and the question’s vague and tell her to give me an example. *in the politest way i can*
– Then she said she can’t ask further questions because I couldn’t answer. That means i failed and i can re-apply after a month.

I was like, WTH! What mistake should I have been fabricated for her to be satisfied?! Oh well, the hell i care! I’m still upset tho, knowing that i might encounter the same question again. Help!

My reply:

I’m not sure what preparations you made before the interview, but your experience is a classic example of “an unprepared applicant.” Unfortunately, your response, even to me, was unacceptable and will result in an automatic failure.

A behavioral interview is a method used to develop a more thorough understanding of an applicant.  It relies on a combination of open-ended questions and detailed scenarios to evaluate an applicant’s honesty, reliability, discretion, and maturity. These aspects are considered necessary in the workplace setting where confidentiality is essential. The goal is to determine whether or not an applicant could be trusted to handle confidential information honestly. “This is why I keep repeating (in my blog) that an applicant needs to prepare before the interview, especially for the behavioral part where the core competencies are effectively measured.

I had had trouble answering behavioral questions when I was a newbie applicant, so I hunkered down and took the questions seriously, studied the items measured, and wrote answers for them. (Please visit my blog, I wrote an entry there, and it can help you.)

Please search the internet for these behavioral questions and prepare responses for them – think of situations, tell the story. And remember the PAR format (someone already commented on it here). Remember, too, that you cannot skip a behavioral interview question; you have to answer it even if you have no such experience; again, use the PAR format if you don’t want your response to sound pointless.

I hope this helps.

How to evaluate a job offer


Seven,

I’m a fresh graduate and a first time applicant in the call center industry and I’m trying to decide between the four job offers given to me. I was not allowed to bring the document home, but I was able to take note of the details. Thing is, I am very confused now. I am unable to decide which offer is best. It would help me a lot if you can give me a personal insight on what to consider when given a job offer. Thanks in advance.

Jason

Dear Jason,

Thank you for sending me an email and for visiting my blog.

I’ll tell you up front that I’m quite meticulous when it comes to deciding whether or not to accept a job offer. I spend a significant amount of time conducting research and comparing the results to a precise set of boundaries and expectations. If the outcome is satisfactory, I will accept the offer.

You are fortunate to have received four separate offers as a beginner; others receive none. When I originally applied to work in the call center industry 15 years ago, I had multiple failed efforts. This encouraged me to continually improve my customer service, language skills, and professional maturity. When the last company I worked for went bankrupt more than a year ago, I embarked on a job-hunting spree. As a result, I was presented with ten different job offers. I was perplexed, too, given how close and juicy the offers were. As a researcher, the desire to make the greatest decision led me to find the Ben Franklin decision-making technique. I strongly advise you to follow the link and read the complete essay.

Now to your question.

I mentioned that when I am given a choice, I set my own limits, which become the basis of my expectations. What are these limits, work-wise:

  • Salary – is it competitive? Is it better than my earlier salary? What about appraisals? When and how often?
  • Health and Welfare– Who is the HMO provider? What is the feedback on this HMO? What is the Maximum Benefit Limit? Pre Existing Condition Limit/coverage? How many dependents are covered? When is it given (Start of employment? Six months later?)
  • Allowances and Night differential– Is the ND competitive?
  • Vacation/Sick/Emergency Leaves available– How many VLs/SLs? When are they available? How are they filed? What is the notice period before claiming a leave? Are there days we are not allowed to file for a VL?
  • Work schedule – What time is the shift? When are the rest days? Is it on the weekend? Is it a split RD?
  • Workload – What type of account? Concerns within the account? Account attrition? Number of calls taken per day? Will there be selling/up-selling? Is it a pioneer account? If not, what batch do I belong to?
  • Training – How long is the training? Schedule? Does it have a certification? What is the pass/fail rate for the certification?
  • Scorecard – What are the KPI’s?
  • Career Development – What kind? How is it implemented? How many have been promoted? To which positions?
  • Management and Leadership – What is the culture and style of the leaders?
  • Tenureship and attrition rate of the account (if info is available) – Will I belong to a new batch/team, or will it be to re-fill the empty posts? (an indication of high attrition?) Why did they resign?
  • Retention program? – is there any? (details are typically withheld by recruiters)
  • The image, stability, and culture of the company– Is it environment friendly? Always business-like? Pro-employee? Pro-management? Is the company viable? Stable? Did it change its name in the past? Declared insolvency? Is it a call center? A BPO? A captive site? A Fortune 500? A nobody?
  • The facilities and amenities – Do they have vending machines? Concessionaire? Smoking area? Gaming and internet kiosks? Sleeping quarters?
  • Security – Is my travel to and from the office safe?
  • Proximity to my residence – Will I be spending more than what I will earn? Is there free and safe parking? Do they provide parking and transit allowance?
  • Friends – Do I have any friends or relatives working there?

It may appear to be a lot, but each of these criteria is equally important because they will make or break my tenure and career advancement in that company. More importantly, I’ve moved on from making my decision solely on the basic salary; after all, there’s more to job than just money. In my experience, I’ve made poor decisions based only on the money offered. I end up resigning because I am unhappy with the work, the company, and so on.

I strongly advise you to look beyond the perks and consider your medium and long-term goals. Consider whether you will be happy in this company if you give it your all. Can you picture yourself rising through the ranks? What are your life’s priorities? Again, using the Ben Franklin decision-making approach, the answers to these questions will help you decide.

I wish you the best of luck in this new chapter of your life; I’m confident you’ll enjoy it. Remember that the decision you make about the job offer is simply the beginning of your journey; what you do with yourself in the meantime will determine your success or failure.

Hope this helps.

Seven

Funny Lines from Applicants


When I was still a newbie recruiter, my boss asked me to collate responses from applicants, not to be laughed at, but to be used as a sample for a training material – something that belongs to: WHAT NOT TO SAY and HOW NOT TO SAY IT during an interview.

Btw, the reactions/comments insterted are not mine.

Here is what I collected:
1. I am a flexible and I am perseverance person (when asked to describe her personality)

2. I want to learn more English words. (when asked why he wanted to work in a call center). [Damn! Read the dictionary!]

3. Do you have any extra ordinary positions that I can take for granted (Roughly Translated: Meron po ba kayong ibang position na pwede ko’ng apply-an?)

4. “Ten” (When asked to count from 1 to 40 to measure her articulation)

5. “Kelan Po?” (When asked to count from 1 to 40 to measure her articulation)

6. “I would choose IRATE CALLERS, Sir.” (Answer to the question: If you will change the COLOR of the world, what would it be and why?)

7. “I want to entertain and satisfy customers” (hmmm….interesting concept…so…what are you wearing right now?)

8. “I want to expose myself to the customers.” (Answer to why he wants to work in a call center”) – Flasher ITO!

9. “Is there an opening for a call center?” (Oh so you want to become a call center now huh?)

10. “Hi. Good afternoon, my name is _____, and I’M a call center from the Philippines.” (solohin ba)

11. Chocolates, boys with tongue pierce.” (An applicants answer to the question: What are your weaknesses?”

12. “I think Grade 3 and 4 students are very childish!” (Answer to the question: What do you think is the most difficult part of teaching Grade 3 and 4 students?)

13. “Haller???!!!??? (knocks on the table) THE SALARY!” (Answer to Why do you want to work in a call center?)

14. “I’m a married person, I have 2 children, the same boy”

15. “It’s a colorful world.” (Describe the shirt you’re wearing.)

16. “It’s a boomed industry.” (So all agents are now dead, I guess)

17. “I like to explore other people” (ay sus…maniac ka ano?)

18. “I want to explore myself more.” (Answer to why do you want to work in a call center. bagay sila ni #17…)

19. “Hu u? How did you get my #? Text me back, huri. Send me load.” (Text from an applicant who failed to accept my call. The audacity of an applicant can sometimes appall you.)

20. “I was scheduled for an exam this morning….I wasn’t able to make it…because I WAS TONSILITIS.”

21. “Hi Maam, do you have an opening.” (Lokong to ah!)

22. “I want to adventure into the graveyard…” (Langya, mahiilig ka sa patay!)

23. “I would like to be a part of the graveyard…” (isa ka pa…thriller… thriller night)

24. “Gd pm sir, im realy Sri Wen u call me I cnt hears clearly coz d a raindrop of d rain is vry noisy. Rgrdng of *** u want 2 knw y u call me?” (A text message from an applicant)

25. “Do you accept walking applicants?” (No, we prefer flying ones)

26. Interviewer: So you’re an undergrad. What year are you in right now? Applicant: Oh I’m just here in the house. Interviewer: No, I asked you what year you’re in. Applicant: Year? I’m 25 years old! ( Nagkakaintindihan tayo pare….)

27. Applicant: Agency ba to? Interviewer: No sir, head hunting firm. Applicant (turning to friend, laughing): Egg-hunting daw pare! (He later apologized thinking that it was a prank call from a friend!)

28. “In the middle of my study at Adamson, my father fortunately passed away.” (FORTUNATELY? ??!!!)

29. “Hello, I just want to inquire about the application resume that I planted in the computer…” (Planted?)

30. “May inaantay ako na trabaho kaya gusto ko lang na may mapag LILIBINGAN.” (Answer to the question “Why do you prefer a part-time job?” Tagalog na yun ha! Mahilig talaga kayo sa patay!)

I applied for this job a few weeks ago but haven’t heard back. Should I follow up?


Kailangan ko ng trabaho…hindi ako mapalagay kasi hindi pa nila ako tinatawagan.”

How can you avoid this situation?

Before the interview:

Prepare. Preparation gives you the confidence to respond to questions and assures that your comments will make or break your chances of getting the job.

Chat with other applicants. Were they told if they passed or failed? Were they given a regret letter, will they have to wait for a call? How long was the interview?

What are the skill and competency requirements of the job? Were they told if they passed or failed? Will they have to wait for a phone call if they get a regret letter? How long was the interview?

During the interview

Observe the interviewer’s facial expressions and mannerisms. It’s not an absolute fact, but there is always that off chance when an interviewer will show an adverse reaction which indicates that your response to the answer was unsatisfactory. If he does, don’t get distracted, the point here is to get a clue if you have a fighting chance. Good luck, though, if the interviewer is poker-faced.

Use your instinct. If you are well-prepared, you will be able to tell whether your response to the question is sufficient or not. If you are unsure how to respond to a question, make a mental note of it and come back to it later. After all, you won’t fail an interview merely because you couldn’t answer one or two questions satisfactorily (the caveat here is if the question you were unable to answer right is vital to the job you are applying for).

Length of the interview. Despite deciding to fail an applicant after only 2 minutes of performance, recruiters will finish the discussion; this is why asking a fellow applicant how long his interview lasted is vital.

After the Interview.

Ask for feedback. Of course, don’t ask the recruiter if you passed or failed – that’s rude and unprofessional. The interviewer will undoubtedly avoid it or decline to answer, primarily if he has not yet evaluated your application. Inform the interviewer that his candid feedback is critical to your development, especially since you are new to the field.

Have a sense of internal “Quality Assurance.” It certainly helps to evaluate your performance after the interview. If you are trying to improve your chances of landing a job, developing internal quality assurance is a crucial habit.

What did the interviewer tell you, and how did he say it. Some interviewers would notify you if you passed (and proceed to give you a job offer), but not if you failed. If not, look out for clues, like if the recruiter starts giving you additional details about the job, the company, and the culture.

Here are a few examples of a “send home” script:

“Thank you for interviewing with us. We will contact you after 24 to 48 hours.”

“We will contact you after 24 to 48 hours. Don’t call us; we will call you.”
“Keep your lines open; we will contact you after 24 hours to schedule the….”

A “send home” script is a part of the process so the recruiter can move on to the next applicant; it’s a strong hint that you failed.

Should I follow up? If you’re confident that you passed the interview, you should. There is always the fat chance that you qualified, but the recruiter misplaced your file, or the recruiter thought he has already called you, or that your resume was accidentally included in the “not qualified” bin by accident.

What’s the best way to make a follow-up?

  1. Call the number the recruiter used (landline or mobile). The best time to call was in the morning when work started and before he goes out to face the applicants for the day. Introduce yourself. Never sound irate because “they did not call you back” as promised, he is not your boy/girlfriend, and they have a job to do. Be polite. If the recruiter is busy, offer a call back at a time convenient to him. If it is a mobile number, go the extra mile by sending an SMS advising you to call regarding the follow-up.
  2. Unless advised that you can, never send an SMS. It’s easier to pick up the phone than to text, especially for a busy recruiter. If you must send an SMS, always introduce yourself and your application details (see FINAL NOTE below) and make a follow-up on your application. Offer to call the recruiter. He will either contact you or respond to your text. Why send the details? It helps the recruiter find your file; he doesn’t have time to play the guessing game, and he might reply with “Hu u?”.
  3. If you are within the area, you can visit the recruiter, but you may have to wait because he might be busy conducting interviews or job offers. I usually do not recommend this route.

Final note, always take time to note the following; it will make it easier for the recruiter to find your file:

  1. Time, date, and location of the interview;
    b. name of the interviewer;
    c. Type or Name of the account you were evaluated for;
    d. The last process you went through (initial, final, job offer, etc.).

I hope this helps.

Job Offers


You passed the examinations and interviews with flying colors. Congratulations! It’s finally time for the employment offer.

The majority of contact centers and businesses offer work via a job offer letter. A job offer letter will include the following in its most basic form:

  • Job title or position offered.
  • Salary, benefits, and perks offered.
  • Instructions to accept or decline the job offer.

A job offer is essential. At this moment, a recruiter switches from evaluator to salesperson. A job offer is essential. At this moment, a recruiter switches from evaluator to salesperson. While it is true that you need the job, it is also true that as a candidate, you must examine many factors such as the basic pay, benefits, the job itself, the schedule, the corporate culture, and a variety of other factors that may turn you off and cause you to decline the offer.

To give you the offer, the recruiter will lead you to a quiet room, ask you to read the job offer letter, then leave you for a few minutes. When he returns, he will allow you to ask questions; what he does not tell you is that, depending on your experience, the offer may be negotiable.

In my years of recruitment, I have never offered to negotiate an offer (we were never allowed to mention it), and I can rarely count the incidents when an applicant would attempt to negotiate, either they accept or decline it. If the applicant is highly qualified, we can raise the basic salary value to a plus three to four thousand pesos – now that is a big difference!

So why am I sharing this? Here at work, I have two colleagues who keep on complaining about how low their basic pay is, and admittedly, it’s because they did not attempt to negotiate out of modesty. A few months down the road, they are unhappy because their colleagues with shorter call center tenure than they are, are better paid. Always attempt to negotiate unless you are a first-timer and are not sure of your actual value yet.

Tip: only attempt a negotiation if you are a tenured and highly skilled call center employee.

If you want to think about the offer, you will have to note the salient points (you will not be allowed to bring the offer letter home). Also, this is the perfect time to ask HR, payroll, benefits, perks, schedule, required documentation, and other pre-employment questions.

Job offers and the salary specified in the letter are ALWAYS CONFIDENTIAL; do not discuss it with other candidates as much as possible – this is where they test your integrity. Allow the recruiter to discuss the compensation offer with qualified candidates when their time comes around.

Because a job offer is not a contract, it is never legally binding. Just because you accepted a job offer does not imply you must stop looking for work. And, because it is not a contract, you cannot hold the company liable if the items offered in the letter are not delivered. A classic example would be a company that offers a free post-paid mobile phone line but then changes its policy because the company’s income no longer allows for the benefit.

If a candidate who has already signed the job offer letter changes his mind, he should contact the recruiter and inform him of the change in choice; this will allow the recruiter to offer the job to other competent individuals.

Finally, although some offers may be negotiable, do not use the higher offer you received from a company as your bargaining chip – you are not in Divisoria, and the “bakit sa kabila mas mataas ang offer?” will not work here. The best bargaining chip is your tenure, experience, skills, and competencies.

If you have questions related to the post above, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

The Final/Behavioral Interview


I once read a thread in which one applicant complained about how difficult and exhausting the final interview was for him. I became intrigued since “tough” is not the ideal term to characterize this process; it will be lengthy, certainly, but it will not be difficult.

Interview questions used to be relatively straightforward: “Why do you want to work here?” and “Tell me about your skills and weaknesses.” and “How can you help this company?” are just a few instances.

Employers nowadays are more interested in how you handled an issue or scenario in the past rather than what you would do in the future. An interviewer will want you to be more precise here, which means that ambiguous replies, running about, or talking your way out of a scenario will not suffice. The interviewer will ask follow-up questions to uncover how your actions that led to the outcome you claimed.

A behavioral interview would typically start with something like “tell me about the time when…”, “Give me an example of when…”, or “give me an example of how you have….”

Here are a few examples:

Tell me about when your manager asked you to do something that conflicted with how you felt.

Give me an example of what you did when you found out that two of your colleagues are not on good terms.

Describe a situation in which you could use persuasion to convince someone to see things your way successfully.

Give me an example of when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.

Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete

How do you prepare for a behavioral interview?

The first thing you should look at is the job description; it will include a list of specific abilities or competences that the employer is looking for; the behavioral questions will most likely be derived from the job description.

Examine your previous work experience in relation to the job description, and then jot down concrete scenarios that correspond to the company’s desired competency/skill. You will be expected to explain how you solved a problem and what happened as a result.

Remember PAR. State the PROBLEM you faced. Outline the ACTION you took to resolve the problem. And then explain the RESULTS you have achieved.

An unprepared applicant for a behavioral interview will almost always fail. I must admit that I did. I could talk my way into a job since I was confident and well-known for doing so. The recruiter was aware that I was looking for scenarios. My attempt to be consistent with what I was “trying” to offer resulted in me shooting myself in the foot; my lack of preparation made me sound inconsistent, unrealistic, and generally foolish. I can only guess what the recruiter wrote on that evaluation form.

Do you remember how you felt after the interview? When you’re wondering if you done a good job or not? One piece of advice if you want to get rid of that feeling: plan ahead of time.

Preparing for an interview is like to going to battle completely prepared. It removes the sensation of doubt; barring unanticipated events (such as the interviewer’s attitude and behavior), it gives you a sense of control and confidence that you will be able to answer questions without fumbling for words or thoughts.

Good luck with your final interview.

Would you mind sharing your stories, comments, suggestions on the comment section?

How to behave during a face-to-face interview


You’re looking for a job in a call center. You’ve gotten through the preliminary phone interview. You now have a schedule for your final interview. The trouble is that this is your first face-to-face interview, and you’re not sure how to act. Allow me to assist you. Here’s a quick guide on how to do a face-to-face interviews.

If the interviewer calls your name, greet them and acknowledge their presence. Make eye contact. Smile. Provide a solid handshake.

Allow the interviewer to take the first seat once inside the interview room. Wait until you are asked to sit. Sit comfortably but erectly. Avoid using the backrest as much as possible; it causes you to slump. Always have your hand exposed to the interviewer, either folded on your lap or resting on the table; this shows that you are confident and have nothing to hide.

Quit fidgeting. Put your hands away from your face. If you feel comfortable using hand gestures in your speech, go ahead and do so, but don’t overdo it. Finally, mute or turn off your phone, not on vibrate. Never answer a phone call during an interview. There must be no outside distractions.

Trained recruiters will introduce themselves and possibly give you instructions if there are exercises you need to do during the interview. Pay attention, nod, but not eagerly. If you didn’t understand a question or an instruction, ask for clarification. Thank the recruiter for repeating the questions before you give your response.

Always direct your answers to the interview. To do this, make eye contact but never stare; this is considered impolite. Avoid glancing towards the wall, the table, your hand, or anything else that suggests you are uneasy in the recruiter’s presence. Trained recruiters can detect deception, especially when the question is factual; avoid looking to your left (upper left corner); this has something to do with your left brain-right brain function. A liar looks left in an attempt to access the creative side of his brain, implying he is making up a story, and so lying.

Most call centers may ask you to read sentences or word pairs to test your pronunciation; this is the most difficult aspect of the initial interview. Your accent and intonation will also be scrutinized. Most essential, failing to recognize your grammatical flaws instantly results in failure. Your best option is to be classified “trainable,” which means that you have pronunciation or grammar faults, but they are either very inconsistent or you are aware of them and self-correct.

When the interview is almost done, the recruiter will let you ask questions, ask away but be relevant. Be concise. Never ask about the salary; in fact, never bring up money, salary, income, or anything else connected to the subject during the interview; this often puts off an interviewer. There will be plenty of time to do that later when are offered the job. Most importantly,  “Because of the salary” is a WRONG answer to the question, “Why do you want to work in a call center?”

By the way, the recruiter will make notes about his comments and observations about you – this is his way of remembering you later when he sits down to analyze the applications he processed that day. The majority of what he scribbles is a mix of what you said and how you said it, especially if it was hilarious. Don’t allow it take your attention away from the task at hand. Also, please don’t distract the interviewer by peeking at what he’s writing; he’s hiding it from you on purpose.

Also, if you see that the interviewer is cheerful, upbeat, or conversational, don’t be afraid to ask for criticism or suggestions on your performance throughout the interview. Inform the interviewer that you are new to the call center industry and want to improve your chances of getting a job. If they are not busy, some recruiters are eager to provide constructive input. Take note of what he says. Later, make a list of your areas for improvement and think about them when you return home. If the recruiter chooses not to provide feedback, don’t take it personally; he has a quota to meet, and there are likely hundreds of applicants waiting outside.

Be professional and do not display any bad attitude when he gives you the regret letter, as upsetting as it is. Simply say thank you, shake hands, and walk away.

If you don’t get the job, don’t sulk in a corner, feeling sorry for yourself. The most important step at this time is to evaluate your performance by asking yourself, “What went wrong?” What questions were asked? How did you react? What was the gist of your reply? Because you already know how to reply to the questions, the ability to self-evaluate increases your chances of securing a job the next time you apply.

A recruiter’s goal is to analyze your job fit, so don’t be irritated if he decides otherwise; don’t ask questions such, “why are you failing me? I’m qualified for this position.” He most likely saw through you and determined that your work attitude, demeanor, ethics, honesty, and so on are questionable, hence, the regret letter. Nothing is personal to him; it’s all in a day’s work. If you succeed in the interview, a simple thank you will enough. Don’t promise him a venti latte just because he gave you a passing grade; doing so diminishes your performance, talent, and ability. You were successful because the interviewer realized that your qualifications were a match for the criteria. Finally, businesses have strict policies against accepting gifts, so don’t bother. Your offer will almost certainly be declined by the recruiter.

The regret letter or the statement “we will call you within 48 hours” is part of the recruitment process; the goal is to move on to the next applicant and reduce the drama caused by failure. As a recruiter, I’ve received threats from applicants who couldn’t take rejection, which confirms my decision to turn them down.

Finally, applying for call center work requires more than having exceptional communication skills. I’ve failed hundreds of tenured reps who talked well simply because they displayed a negative part of their personality, were unprofessional, lacked integrity, and so on. A recruiter’s job is to judge the person he is examining; hence, displaying the negative side of your personality can harm your application.

I’m here if you have any questions or comments. Thanks.

Se7en

Call Center Initial Interview, what do they measure?


This was initially posted on http://www.pinoyexchange.com by etogostocu; he needed help with initial interviews with the following questions:

Tell something about yourself that is not in your resume
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Why choose us among others (“company name”)
Why do you want to leave your company?

He added, “honestly, bagsak ako lagi sa call center pag initial interview (although naga-apply ako para sa non-voice) sinasabi sakin ng interviewer, di daw ako pumasa sa assessment nila ng English chuchu, di daw modulated boses ko…bagito ako sa interview.”

This was my initial reply to him (posted on the same site):

You reminded me of myself 9 years ago.

From a recruiter’s POV:

The purpose of the initial interview is to assess your communication skills, including diction, intonation, pronunciation, grammar, comprehension, and confidence level. Good command of the English language is your “foot in the door.”

Even though you are applying in a non-voice environment, your grammar is being assessed. It gives the interviewer an idea of how you will write, especially if the account requires it.

Other factors come into play here, such as how you responded to the questions you posted above. Your failure will be determined by the content of your response, not by grammar, pronunciation, or other issues (or success).

With your permission, I’d like you to tell us how you answered the questions above; this will give us an idea and allow us to make a better suggestion for you. Don’t be afraid to make grammatical or spelling errors; this is ideal because it will enable us to provide constructive feedback.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t replied since.

Here is a more detailed reply:

Contrary to popular belief, an initial interview is not the first step in the application process. In most cases, it is the second (resume screening being the first). There are two types of interviews: face-to-face interviews, which are mainly done for walk-in applicants, and phone interviews, which are done by recruiters after receiving and screening resumes sent via email or a job-searching portal (Jobstreet, JobsDB, etc.).

An initial interview in a call center is used to assess your communication skills in grammar, pronunciation, accent, diction, spontaneity, and any other information requested by the client. It also gives the recruiter a sense of your overall attitude and behavior at work. If the recruiter notices timeline consistency or short tenures in your resume, they may dig deeper. This is why, as I mentioned in previous posts, good communication skills are your “foot in the door.”

A recruiter’s decision to pass or reject an applicant is heavily influenced by the client’s requirements. However, the majority of recruiters will base their decision on the following:

  1. Your all-around presence. If you come across as too strong or too weak, the recruiter will make a mental note of it, which will be validated during the interview. The best option is to be mindful of your demeanor when entering the interview room, being interviewed, and exiting. One piece of advice: be professional.
  2. Your accent and pronunciation. Recruiters are trained to pick up on even the smallest mispronunciation. Personally, I don’t look for someone who speaks like an American or has a twang (which turns me off, especially if it’s fake). I look for someone with a neutral accent and neutral/trainable pronunciation – in other words, someone without a strong provincial accent. I also keep an eye out for notable pronunciation blunders in TH, long e, short I, p/f, b/v, vowels, and so on (these are just examples, there are more).

What is the definition of “trainable”? He is an applicant who makes the occasional (but not frequent or consistent) error but is aware of it and self-corrects. If the applicant has a provincial accent, can we neutralize it by using language and accent training? If the answer is yes, then we deem the applicant “trainable”.

Most BPO and call center clients prefer a neutral accent so that their customers can understand them.

  1. Your grammar and diction. Some applicants believe that simply being able to speak is acceptable. It should suffice as long as you can express yourself, despite the grammar issues. They can, after all, express themselves. Here’s the truth. Whether you like it or not, proper grammar usage is an essential part of call center work.

I’ve seen and heard of cases where a call escalated or resulted in a negative satisfaction because of incorrect grammar, diction, or even intonation.

  1. Your level of comprehension. Comprehension is a significant problem in the call center industry, where most of the work is talking to customers. Suppose you don’t understand the true message behind the rant. In that case, you’ll never be able to provide an effective solution to a problem. Many customers beat around the bush. It is your responsibility to figure out what they are saying, re-state the issue, and obtain confirmation of understanding.

Here is an example of an applicant with poor comprehension issues:

Interviewer: You mentioned that you are still in school? What year are you in right now?
Applicant: Oh, I’m just here in the house.
Interviewer: No, I asked what year you’re in.
Applicant: Oh year? I’m 25 years old.
Interviewer: (writes down) not qualified.

  1. Content of your response. Many applicants tend to take the question at face value and provide an “as Is” response during an initial interview, perhaps due to nervousness or a lack of knowledge about what is being measured. As a result, the answers to the questions are incomplete, shallow, and thus unconvincing.

In a separate blog, I suggested that an applicant analyze the question, determine the bottom line, and conclude his response with a “value statement.”

Here’s an illustration:

“What makes you different from the other applicants outside?”

As a recent graduate, I believe my above-average GPA gives me an advantage over the other applicants. I studied every day so that the lessons would stick with me, and I actively participated in classroom discussions. I started several student programs, worked with school officials to improve the health and welfare of my classmates, and was the editor-in-chief of the college paper, among other things.

Here is a (very) bad example:

Interviewer: What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
Applicant: “Tequila and Chinita girls????
Interviewer: (writes down) not qualified.

Remember this: While it is true that the purpose of the initial interview is to assess the applicant’s communication skills. It is also true that most of the questions provide them with an excellent opportunity to sell themselves. As a result, the “value statement” comes in handy here. Looking at the above (good) response, you can see that the interviewee did not provide a vague or general description of his advantage over the other applicants. He gave examples and clearly stated that he is “selling” himself as the perfect candidate for the job. As a recruiter, I do not want to forget this applicant so I will write down “The applicant is an achiever, with a sense of commitment, initiative, and involvement.”

Next: Is there a secret to passing an initial interview?

What’s the best answer to “Enumerate three of your weaknesses.”


I’ve read online forums started by people looking for work in a call center. I’ve noticed one common reason for failure: applicants responding to questions blindly, owing to either being too nervous or failing to prepare for the interview.

Many people fail to correctly answer the question “enumerate three of your weaknesses.” This reminds me of a funny TV commercial in which the applicant said, “Chocolates, tattoos, and boys.” I laughed at it, thinking about how such an inept response could jeopardize your slim chances of getting the job. Funny as that TV commercial may sound, you’d be surprised to know that it actually happens in real life.

Think before you respond is always the best route. Better yet, do your homework; follow these simple steps:

  1. Research possible questions.
  2. Research ideal answers.
  3. Using the ideal answers, you found as a model, write your answers.
  4. Don’t memorize. Understand.
  5. Rehearse with someone who can help.
  6. Ask for feedback on how to improve your responses.

Trivia: In my years of responding to questions, “Enumerate three of your weaknesses” is the most challenging question to answer. People who have visited my blog always tend to look for this question first (the second one is AWOL). So, how do we respond to this question then?

Here is a sample:

“Last year, my manager gave me the assignment to become a cluster leader for our team. She observed three things: I was obsessive-compulsive; two, I tend to become a perfectionist; and three, I was autocratic as a leader.

Being the cluster leader, it was my duty to send my cluster-mates our daily stats for tracking purposes. I spent time perfecting the report to make sure that it served its purpose by coordinating with my managers and colleagues to make the dashboard more effective.  This is why my manager observed that I was both OC and a perfectionist. Regarding autocracy, being the man at the helm, it was also my duty to help my teammates recover from any negative impact on their scorecard. We would track and trend a specific metric to pass it, and I would not give up on my teammate until they can succeed. This program immensely helped my teammates, and I received a commendation for it. “

If you noticed, the applicant’s response here is comprehensive; not only did he answer the question, he also took advantage of the chance to “sell himself” by way of a personal experience.

I’ve constantly reminded applicants who ask for help to remember where they are and what they are doing – they are in a job interview, and the goal is to get the job. Therefore, each question is an opportunity to sell yourself by way of “making kwento.”

Here are a few rules I follow when responding to these questions:

  1. Don’t avoid it by saying you have no weaknesses. That’s impossible and ridiculous.
  2. Do not turn a weakness into a strength; the recruiter knows that’s complete bull. Instead, turn power into a liability; this is usually very effective.
  3. Relate how you are working on improving yourself.
  4. Give that weakness a deadline.

Finally, please prepare a response to this question. Seriously. Remember that almost all call centers will ask you this, so there is no point going there hoping to “wing it.” As I’ve mentioned in the past, getting a job in the call center isn’t about hoping and praying that you can bag the job; it’s as simple as you having the skill or not. If you don’t have the skill, why? What are you doing to improve yourself? If you do have the skill, how can you flaunt it as you respond to interview questions?

I hope this helps. Leave a comment if you have questions.

Interview Question: Why did you not pursue your course?


I am a frequent visitor and forum participant at http://www.pinoyexchange.com’s The Call Center Forum. I am a member of the thread “Hardest questions/Tricky questions during interview,” which was established by Dhawnah (IRL, Donna Elarmo). Here’s a question from JuilJuil.

“You graduated with a nursing degree. Why didn’t you pursue that path?”

My supervisor instructed me to hire 150 reps in four weeks when I was the recruitment manager for a call center in Libis. In terms of recruitment, this is nearly impossible. However, because the account requirement was not rigorous, my team and I completed the headcount with a buffer of 30 candidates in case of attrition.

When the training began, my manager casually knocked on my office door and remarked, “Why do we have 30% nursing grads in our trainee population?” When the request came in, there were no specific directions NOT to hire nursing grads or students, was my response. His question stems from the prejudice that nurses/nursing students are untrustworthy when it comes to tenure. Knowing my employer, I assumed his assumption was hearsay, despite the fact that in some call centers, recruiting nurses and nursing students is a no-no; their data demonstrated that the bias is validated. When the proposal was authorized (by him), I informed him that there was no particular request not to hire nursing graduates or students. He bowed his head, defeated. That conversation taught us both a lot.

The truth is that this bias is widespread and does not simply affect nursing grads. This perception, however, is supported by evidence. Furthermore, everyone who changes industries will have to answer the question, “Why did you not continue that course/profession?”

Here’s an example of a reaction that wowed me:

My parents chose the course for me, but if you had asked me at the time, I would have chosen either psychology or management. I knew in the back of my mind that there would be a lot of nurses by the time I graduated, and finding a job would be a tremendous issue. I was correct. I’m glad I finished a course, but I’m also scared that reality has caught up with me, and continuing my studies is not only a pipe dream, but it’s also no longer a viable alternative. My professional change stems from two factors: first, that the call center industry is the most sustainable, and second, since my life philosophy is similar to customer service. I believe that this is the industry in which I would succeed, which is why I am applying as a call center agent rather than a nurse.”

When an interviewer asks this type of question, he is not looking to instantly dismiss you because you have a degree in nursing (or any other school); he is examining your motive for obtaining work. He is looking for any hint that you intend to resign when the next opportunity presents itself. As a result, the focus of your response should be on overcoming this bias.

Also, keep in mind that a recruiter has a quota to fill; if he sees that you are qualified for the work and that you will not abandon ship at the next port, he may fight your case and provide you a job. Finally, an applicant MUST always conduct research, particularly regarding the company’s history and the requirements for the job openings. Some customers are very specific about their requirements; for example, an IT business seeking for a Level II or Level III TSR will not recruit a nursing graduate.

I hope this was helpful.

My First Call Center Experience


Nine years ago, I had a real challenge finding a day job here in the Metro; however, the bottom line was I needed a job, and it didn’t matter if it were a day or a night job. Being in the broadcast industry (who refused to go back), I could get the closest work in the call center industry.

I was having second thoughts. My friend’s opinion of the call center work was not encouraging – that it was nothing more than a glorified telephone operator (I believe this impression persists up to now, ask my wife). I was in for a shock.

My first three attempts at applying in three big centers all failed. The recruitment specialists who handed me the dreaded regret letter never bothered to explain why, and because I’m research-oriented, I needed to find out for myself.

I didn’t know much about online applications then, so the good old Manila Bulletin showed me a vacancy in the Mandaluyong area (I stayed in a friend’s house in Kalentong, so this was convenient for two short jeep rides). The ad was for an outbound call center agent.

The former EasyCall facility housed the recruitment center. A swarm of job seekers stood in line beneath the hot sun, hoping to get a job. The post didn’t say much about the job; it simply stated that they were searching for an outbound sales agent and that the only requirements were a résumé and an NBI clearance. I tried to strike up a conversation with other applicants, but they were just as perplexed as I was. When the recruitment office finally opened, the security guard yelled at all the applicants to form a line before collecting our resumes. Because I arrived early and had the opportunity to befriend the guard, I was first in line for the initial interview.

The hiring procedure was quick. The process includes an initial interview, a brief test consisting of grammar, math, and an IQ test, and a final interview with an American (who turned out to be the principal investor in this operation). I was nervous during the interview and realized that I was talking fast, so I failed the previous call center interviews I had.

As soon as I passed the initial interview and the tests, they endorsed me to the American interviewer, who asked me to read from a script. I agreed when he asked if we could perform a simple mock call. I laughed and felt dumb when the interviewer started by saying “ring-ring.” I read the entire spiel, and he just listened. He didn’t object to anything; instead, he closed the interview by telling me that I start at 9 PM the following day.

When I arrived at the employment site for my first shift, I felt overwhelmed by cigarette smoke. The guard led me to a room full of recently hired applicants from the day before. When each of the 49 of us received a new copy of the script, the training began. Two hours later, we moved to the next room with computers, headsets, and phones; we were all going live.

I felt a wave of nervousness sweep over my entire body. I felt as though I needed to smoke, but there was no time. We wore the headsets and to test the dialer and the amplifier. Then finally, a test call came in to see if the data pop was working. Before we went live, we took a 15-minute break.

That was the most stressful 15 minutes of my life; in fact, it was during that time that I had my first cigarette taste. I didn’t smoke, but I felt compelled to do so due to my stress. I didn’t have the required training. I didn’t have any sales experience. The longest chat I had in English was with the foreigner who just interviewed me, and my exposure to Avaya, the CRM, and a contact center headset was minimal. The worst realization was to sell something that I believed was utterly bogus. My first puff of cigarette made me feel sick. I coughed and gagged, but it helped to relieve the strain.

Thus begins my first job as an outbound sales agent for a resort in New Mexico, selling timeshare. Anyone who worked in such a center will never forget the place’s ragged appearance and feel. On the floor were thin, unpainted plywood dividers and pipes running the operations floor and ceiling length. Literally, a boiler room contact center (I later discovered that this was the building’s executive parking spot).

The center makes use of an auto-dialer with a two-second avail time. You could make up to 250 calls in a single day if you didn’t mind the slave labor. There were no bio-breaks or system auxes – just two fifteen-minute coffee breaks and a 30-minute lunch, and if you arrive late and your sales performance is below average, you will no longer be allowed to go back; only top sellers were granted that privilege.

When you’re on the phone with an interested customer, most of whom are retirees with spare money, you need to establish as much rapport as possible, putting the customer in a yes mode while prepping for the big pitch. If you’re lucky, he’ll take over the call, take the credit card information, and exclaim, “Sale!” This phrase always caused an uproar throughout the floor, simply because you earn spiffs – a solid Php500.00 for each transaction you make. The lesbians on the team usually made at least Php 3,000 per night, so I always wanted to sit next to one and listen to their presentation and learn their selling skills. Their secret? When dealing with the elderly, they had a relentless energy and were superb at saying the correct thing at the appropriate moment.

However, not everyone was lucky. Whether you’re a good seller or not, if you go a week without making a sale, you’ll be fired no matter what the reason. There were no long-term employees or friends. There were no walking papers. The Americans will tell you not to come back next week.  You don’t get to say goodbye to your new friends either; there was never time for that because your first goal was to find work.

No benefits, no SSS, PAGIBIG, or tax deductions were available. If you received  Php11,500 (the going rate at the time), you would receive money in a little brown envelope every week. The American team leader monitored attendance, and it was critical that he knew who we were, otherwise, we run the risk of not getting paid if he didn’t see us. In this boiler room call center, there was no card-swiping or fingerprint access to doors or Avaya, and if you were absent or tardy for any reason, don’t bother coming back. They won’t let you in.  I lasted six months at this job.

Why did I take that job? Because I needed it. I failed my first three efforts at SVI, Sykes, and VXI. Therefore I wanted to get experience to grasp what a call center agent does, confirm whether it was a no-brainer, and figure out why I was failing.

My spirit is unyielding. If there were something I didn’t understand, I would explore it until I was satisfied. The answer to the puzzle of my three-strikes came as a flash of insight; slowly but steadily, I began to comprehend why I had failed. As a result of my self-study, I changed how I applied for work and how I answered during interviews. In one week, I had five job offers.

I found the work environment to be too stressful. I decided that the six months of immersion in an outbound environment was more than enough for me. So, my next stop? Inbound customer service account.