Call center hiring: what does it take to pick the best agents?

Miruna Mitranescu

Call center hiring has never been easy. An agent is expected to excel at their job. They are required to have fitting personality, skills, and motivation.

In most cases, requirements will consist of skill sets similar to these:

  • Exceptional communication and social skills.
  • Professional manners and ability to work within a team.
  • Autonomy and ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to quickly pick-up knowledge
  • Ability to meet established productivity, training, and quality goals, and accept and accumulate feedback.
  • Flexibility in responding to alterations or business requirements.
  • Ability to accept non-traditional work schedules.
  • Excellent presence and promptness.
  • Ability to work with and without supervision and learn on the go.

Yes, they do look pretty clear, but what happens when you have dozens of candidates who meet the criteria? How do you go about pulling off successful call center hiring?

You look deeper.

Sounds familiar?

We have prepared a guide to call center hiring to help you find out what makes a call center agent stand out and excel at their position.

hiring call center agents

Core skills that will make the agent good at their work

Let’s take a look at the core-skills you should look for in a call center agent. Read on.

Adaptability and memory

The agent’s job is to provide an outstanding service to your customers. In order to do that, they must be able to learn and remember everything about your company and the services you are providing. Continuous training’s role is to help them do that, but the skills should be there in the first place.
Ideally, you should expect to find both a hustler attitude and the aptitude of being a good listener even during the interview phase. After a month or two of training and practicing their skills, call center agents should be aware of every single detail about the services you are providing to your customers.

The voice “appearance”

Even though physical appearance does not play any role for this position, there is a physical aspect you need to pay attention too – the voice. You’re not really looking for a golden, radio voice, but there are certain criteria every candidate needs to fulfill if they’re to pass the interview. The impression they leave during the conversation with you should be one of the deciding factors. If someone has an unpleasant voice, stutters or has trouble speaking, as unethical as it sounds, you simply cannot hire them as a call center agent.


Many call center hiring agents overlook this, but it is one of the key aspects of a successful agent. An agent needs to feel bold and positive in order to provide an outstanding service. One does not have time to show their insecurity when the customer is waiting on the other side.


A customer will (usually) not call to say how perfectly satisfied they are with the service. No. They are here to complain. A good agent will solve the problem, an amazing agent will solve the problem while assuring the customer they understand reasons for their anger and frustration. A call center is run by humans, and every customer should feel that.

Attention to detail

Why this? Well, after hundreds of calls that are literally the same, there will be one that looks the same but is completely different. Call centers are efficient if they manage to recognize problems and offer solutions to them without wasting clients’ time.

Autonomy and teamwork

You’d think that these two do not belong together, at least not in the same category, but that’s the trick. When hiring a call center agent, you want them a little bit (or a lot) of both. An agent is taking one-on-one calls and needs to be able to work independently, without being supervised or instructed. One the other hand, a call center is a team of problem-solvers who need to work together to find a solution.

Patience and calmness

Unfortunately, customers that are complaining are not the nicest people at the moment. Some may be sad, others will be frustrated and mad. Whatever is the case, an agent will be the total opposite. Not everyone is able to talk politely to the person who is swearing and cursing, calling names being blamed for something they haven’t done. A skilled call center agent will handle these situations as an expert, leaving the customer satisfied. A client will not apologize, nor do we expect that from them.
An agent will apologize for the inconvenience, solve their problem and ask if there is anything else that needs to be handled.


Call center hiring managers need to find this demeanor in their potential employees. The customer needs to be treated as someone responsible for the company’s success. A simple “thank You” over and over again is required to make sure the customer feels like that.


Did you know that 75 percent of clients complained on the time they’ve spent waiting for an agent to pick up their call? Quality specialists must be quick and proficient. They should work rapidly without giving up the quality of their work. Time is essential to both call center agents and clients. Agents ought to try to be careful and give a quality customer service experience, however, counseling a database for client information, planning callbacks when needed, and changing to a more proper channel for better administration are terrifically critical for sparing a client’s time and energy, and winning their faithfulness.


You don’t want to hire an agent that has trouble being organized. Customer service often requires a person to multitask between talking to a client, accessing database and taking notes.
Yes, it is not easy to recognize whether a potential employee is well-organized or not, but you can pay attention to details like arriving on time, submitting all the required material as well as preparation they’ve done before the interview. If possible, check with their previous employer if they have a track record of being an organized worker.


Not every call will go by the book. Sometimes, a call center agent will need to find a solution that is acceptable for both sides, especially for the customer. A satisfied customer will return or keep using company’s services, If they hang-up on an agent unhappy with their assistance, it is very unlikely that the client will remain loyal to the company.


A company does not accept being at a loss. Sometimes, an agent will not be able to give an offer a customer cannot refuse. However, a customer can think they got what they wanted. Persuading a customer that the company and an agent have done everything in their power to meet their needs will result in a more satisfied clientele.

Language guru

Even if your company offers services in a country where only one language is spoken, an additional language is a great addition in the agent’s arsenal. There are numerous possible occasions where someone will need to deal with a foreign customer, make sure your team has a hero in their ranks.
Did you know that if your call center offers speakers off, for example, French, you’ve just expanded your business to 200 million potential clients.

Red flags to look out for while call center hiring

While finding expected skills and personality traits may be difficult, there are some signs to help you filter the types of employees you don’t want to deal with. This list has five big no-nos to look out for while call center hiring. As soon as you notice any of these, thank them and keep looking for a better choice.

Not willing to learn

An agent needs to be trained. Not everyone has an experience working jobs like this, and that is totally alright. However, if someone does not show the willingness to learn and reach the desired standard, simply show them the door.

Likes to argue

It’s hard to think of any place that likes employees that are short-tempered and get angry easily. Even if there are such places, a call center agency is certainly not the one. Working one-on-one with an already mad and frustrated customer requires calmness, not someone who will join the argument.

Bad-mouthing previous employer

Whatever happened at their previous job should be left behind. If you hear a potential employee complain about the boss they had, it is more likely that the same boss was wronged by that person.

Not sounding professional

If one is not able to impress you with their vocabulary and politeness during a twenty-minute interview, they will not be able to act professionally for eight or more hours a day. You are not a parent and time spent teaching someone the basic manners is usually wasted.

Making excuses

Making excuses before even starting the work is never a good sign. No, dogs do not eat homework, and traffic can be predicted. Your team will do better without people who do this.

No, picking a perfect candidate to strengthen your call center is not an easy task. However, knowing what you’re looking for and what you want to avoid will narrow the choice. Try to recognize who is a talented candidate or who is able to pick-up skills that can be trained in time.
Make sure that you do your part. Provide necessary tools, equipment, and motivation for your employees, as well as occasional training. Don’t let your team get out of the shape.

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