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… 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.


Call Center Initial Interview, what do they measure?

This was initially posted on 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?