Off the Hook: How to Find Employees That Are Great On The Phone

After speaking to a customer service representative on the phone recently, I was reminded of one of my hiring tips. I know some of you reading this would love to be hiring right now rather than shrinking your staff. But when hiring is back on your agenda, make certain you get the best possible employees. Here is my laundry list for hiring smart to start:

Hire the attitude. You can do that by utilizing behavioral interviewing, which I hope is pretty much the standard for your hiring practices. Ask questions that will help you determine how this candidate will behave. You want to know more than just what they have done previously. Pose specific customer situations and get their opinions on how they would handle those scenarios.

When you are down to the last few candidates, bring them in and have them actually observe the job you're interviewing for. Give them real life experience and a sense of your specific job expectations. This will also give other team members a chance to react to the potential new recruit. Then use those team members in the final selection process. The more your current team members are involved in hiring, the better the chance that new employee will get on board faster.

Tell the candidate the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give them the real story about working at your company. Eliminating surprises is a good thing and can minimize turnover. You don't want a great new employee to have buyer's remorse.

Do some of the interview on the phone. This is the hiring tip I referenced at the beginning of this article. This is important if you have "customer facing" team members who spend quite a bit of time with customers on the phone. Test your candidate with a call to hear their "phone voice."

Remember, when you deal with someone one-on-one, you have the advantage of the entire package - the smile, eye contact, gestures, and posture. Those can make a great difference in how this person is perceived. But none of that is available when interacting over the phone. So call the candidate, listen closely, and think how that voice and tone would represent your organization. I find most companies do not practice this as a hiring technique. Use it and you and your company will stand apart from your competitors.

Hiring is easy, getting the right person is not so easy. Take your time, involve others, get creative, use your gut and you might just "get lucky."

Lisa Ford has over 20 years of experience presenting to businesses, associations, and government. She designs content personalized for each audience and the challenges they face. Her presentations focus on customer service, leadership, teamwork and change. Her most recent book is Exceptional Customer Service - Going Beyond Good Service to Exceed the Customer's Expectations.

Published: September 14th, 2011

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