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.