Recruiting for soft skills in call centres
With turnover in the contact centre industry of approximately 40% per year, call centre companies often invest heavily in pre-employment assessments with a view that the better the recruitment process, the more likely the candidate will be successful in the role and therefore, they’ll be more unlikely to leave.
And with an average cost of turnover estimated at approx $25,000 per employee (factoring in recruitment, training, induction, loss of productivity etc) it also makes good economic sense to get your recruitment right.
Aside from the expected interviews (which is pretty much a given whether it’s online or in-person), testing as part of recruiting for call centre roles can also include aptitude, technical, and cognitive assessments that collectively, are all designed to find the perfect fit for both the employer and employee.
A Challenge in Call Centre Recruitment
One common challenge in call centre recruitment is measuring and assessing soft skills.
Unlike assessing hard skills, soft skills are more challenging to gauge as they are often subjective and difficult to quantify.
However, since soft skills are vital in customer service, employing the proper techniques to get accurate results is an essential guide for success.
To develop a reliable screening strategy, call centres must identify which specific soft skills are required.
Finding out which attribute converts to high performance is key to effective assessment design, and ultimately, high-quality hires.
Soft skills that build employee performance include listening skills, emotional intelligence, empathy, and critical thinking, to name a few.
As predictors of performance in the call centre industry, it’s necessary to pinpoint which directly affects key performance indicators (KPI) that are important to your business.
Hiring for Soft Skills
When assessing soft skills, recruiters must remember that some attributes are crucial to one line of business more than the others.
For example, a retention team member’s ability to empathise may significantly affect their retention score.
Similarly, problem-solving and critical thinking skills may directly affect a technical support team’s closed and resolved case KPIs.
A task analysis before hiring can help identify what to look for during the recruiting stage.
It can also be useful to look at your existing top performers – what attributes make them so successful?
How to Measure and Assess Soft Skills in Call Center Hiring
Having identified the required skills, it’s time for the assessment design.
Does it matter what’s on the candidate’s resume?
Applicants will use modern resume ideas to highlight their skills, which is an excellent starting basis for the assessment.
However, we must remember that self-reporting hardly gives accurate results…
There must be a more effective strategy rather than just taking resumes at face value.
Even reference checking has its limitations as most people aren’t likely to put down a referee who isn’t likely to say nice things about them.
One of the best ways to measure soft skills is through behavioural interviews using the STAR method.
Developed by DDI, this behavioural interviewing technique allows the candidate to demonstrate when and how they displayed specific skills.
Using this method, recruiters ask the candidate to talk about a situation or task, the action deployed, and the result.
Based on their answers, a recruiter can identify if the candidate possesses the desired soft skills.
3 Behavioural Questions to Measure Soft Skills
Carefully structured behavioural questions are essential to soft skill assessment.
Each question must serve a purpose and focus on the core job competencies.
Below are three examples of behavioural questions to identify specific skills:
1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to deliver difficult news? How did you go about it?”
This helps identify if the candidate is capable of empathising with others.
2. Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
This allows the candidate to give proof of their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
3. Tell me about a time when you fell behind a work schedule or workload? How did you manage?”
This helps identify if the candidate has time-management skills.
Recruiters can then ask follow-up questions to check for consistency and accuracy.
The questions must centre on job competencies identified during the task analysis for this process to be most effective.
Identifying and assessing soft skills through carefully selected methods is one of the key components you must include to improve hiring quality.
And recruiting employees who are the right fit for your business leads to a stronger call centre foundation that will deliver increased results.