8 Tips For Hiring For Cultural Fit In Your Contact Center

Now-HiringWe’re hiring in our contact center.  Yay!  If you run a small customer service operation like we do, you likely have low turnover and a relatively happy team.  This probably means that hiring is more of a once or twice per year occurrence than once or twice per month.

You also likely have little to no dedicated HR staff in your organization.  This most certainly means that everyone on your staff, including yourself, drops their normal routine and focuses a ton of energy posting, finding, recruiting, interviewing, negotiating, dusting off and updating training stuff, setting up desks, welcoming, training and answering tons of questions before everything returns to normal.  Sound familiar?

Yeah, we’re hiring and that’s the drill.  In this season, I am reminded of the importance of hiring for culture and NOT for convenience.  As I was driving to work the other day I actually started to panic and thought to myself, “I’m really worried we won’t find anyone good. What if we just lower our standards slightly?”  Stop that thinking!  Rushing and hiring a few bad apples can be detrimental to your culture and the quality of your customer service.  Not to mention, they might quit after their first day.  I’ve been there and it’s not fun!

With that being said, here are eight things to consider when hiring for culture in your contact center and ensuring that AWESOME customer service lives on.

  1. Gain consensus- Absolutely involve your team in the hiring process.  Don’t be afraid to interview candidates multiple times and allow leaders in your customer service team to vet them without you in the room.  I’ve been swayed to hire great candidates because my team liked the fit, even though I didn’t.  I’ve also been talked out of hiring people I liked when others did not.  Agreement is important.
  2. Ask “Can I manage/lead/supervise/work with this person?”- I’m a firm believer in celebrating our unique strengths and abilities and see great danger in having a completely homogenous team.  That being said, there needs to be a certain level of teachability and humility in the candidate.
  3. Trust your gut- There might just be something “off” about a person that you can’t pinpoint.  Talk through this with your team and find out what they sense.  This may or may not confirm what you are feeling.
  4. View them through your customers’ eyes- You might be tempted to hire someone who displayed poor written communication or perhaps they mumbled when you spoke with them on the phone.  In your haste to hire, don’t compromise the quality of the service your customers deserve.  There are a lot of nice people out there that have no business interacting directly with your customers.
  5. Communicate expectations clearly- It’s starts with the job posting.  Be sure to describe the job, company and culture well in the posting so you attract the right people.  Make sure the the candidate gets a good feel for the work they will be doing and the people they will be working with.  If they show up the first day and they had completely different expectations, they might walk out before they begin.
  6. Have a little bit of fun- In our call center, we rarely take ourselves too seriously.  If we can laugh in the interview and develop a sense of comfort with the candidate, we know they can work in the environment we’ve created.
  7. Put your best foot forward- Don’t forget that the candidate you are interviewing is interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.  Be kind and positive in communication.  Roll out the red carpet for them when they show up for their interview.  We always offer them a beverage and introduce them to a few folks before we get down to interviewing.
  8. Keep improving- When you involve others in the hiring process, meet with them after each round of hiring and evaluate how you did.  Did you hire your ideal candidate?  How can you improve for next time?

What tips would you add to this list?  Please take a moment to leave a comment below.  Happy hiring!

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Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

5 comments

  • Be careful of #3.

    You’re absolutely right that a gut feeling that a candidate might not be a fit is something to explore. But a gut feeling that a candidate is right can be dangerous?

    How? If you talk yourself into hiring someone who gives you a positive gut feeling even when all other signs say you shouldn’t hire this person. I’ve seen it happen, and it never works out.

  • Great post, Jeremy, and a timely topic as we head into 2015! ICMI is devoting all of January to hiring in the contact center. Would love to share some of your wisdom with our community if you’re up for it. 🙂

  • I am gainfully unemployable, but if I was my first pick would be to work on your team. You are right on the money with all of your points. I especially love #6…but you knew that about me already. xo

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