How Do I… Recruit the Best Agents?


Our expert panel explain how to make sure you are hiring the best people.

Assessments offer a more rounded view of a candidate’s ability

Candidates are prone to take the path of least resistance. Getting the balance right between obtaining the information you need and meeting candidate expectations is critical. The assessment needs to be relevant, fair, time efficient and offer a quick result.

Objectivity is critical! “Gut feel” may still have a part to play, but well-devised assessments offer a more rounded view of a candidate’s ability.

Here are some tried and tested options:

  • Competency Interview – A necessary staple of the assessment process, but you need assessors who can separate those with genuine ability from the more transient habitual interviewer.
  • Group Exercise – As volume is often essential, a well-devised, easily administered exercise offers the opportunity to observe a number of candidates together. Make it fun – it doubles as a great icebreaker.
  • Role Play – A bit of a knee trembler for many candidates, but it’s the nearest available option to giving someone a “feel” of the type of call they will be taking and an opportunity to see how they cope.
  • Psychometric Testing – Rarely used at front-line level as it can be too costly and often not timely enough to be used most effectively as a support to the interview.

Focus on behaviour rather than contact centre experience

Seeking functional competency by concentrating on those with contact centre experience is too blinkered in today’s market.

Think about a behavioural-based model – Who are our best people now? What traits do they share? How can I best use my assessment to identify these people? How do we assess against our values?


Lorne Stigant

These are the questions you need to be contemplating.

Sell your company to your potential recruits

In today’s job market, the rules of engagement have changed. Tell candidates why they should join your ranks. Offer a positive experience – one candidates will tell friends about.

Sell to them, but be open, honest and refreshing. If you aren’t getting results, make a change.

With thanks to Lorne Stigant at Cactus Frontline

Complete your internal search first

Most employers always consider internal talent before looking to recruit externally. Is there someone internally who is 80% right for the role and would represent a good development opportunity?

This helps not only in engaging your employees it also ensures that you do not waste external candidates’ time.

Keep your recruitment process as short as possible

With the employment market improving, candidates – especially in specialist roles – are being offered roles in increasingly shorter periods of time.

To ensure you don’t miss your ideal candidate, keep your recruitment process as short as possible.


If using agencies or internal recruitment to recruit, map out the process and organise the manager’s diary. When briefing the role, book all of the steps into the manager’s diary, set a deadline to receive applications, book time to review CVs (maximum of 2 days after the application closing date), book time for interviews no more than 1 week after review.

By mapping the process, you give yourself maximum opportunity to get your perfect candidate.

Understand what the market is paying

There are many sources of benchmarking information around, not least from specialist recruiters. If you are not paying the market rate you are unlikely to get your perfect candidate especially as the recruitment heats up.

If you are paying what the rest of the market pays, you are not going to be able to entice candidates from their current employers. If you need specialist skills, you often need to pay 5-10% above the candidate’s current earnings to get them to make the move.

Prepare for counter-offers

With the employment market reaching levels not seen before the crash, we are experiencing more and more counter-offers from current employers. You should be prepared for this from the very moment you first engage with a candidate.

If the candidate’s experience is less than amazing throughout and the details are correct, including the package, it is possible a counter-offer is going to be accepted.

Never rest on your laurels in expecting a candidate to join you until the day on which they start working for you.

Barrie Brown

Barrie Brown

Explain the benefits of building a career with your company

Interviews are a way for you to assess the candidate but also for the candidate to assess if you are the right organisation and manager for them.

Don’t let your recruitment process be a one-way communication – tell them the benefits to them of working for you and building a career with your business.

With thanks to Barrie Brown at CCA

Give the candidate an experience of what it would be like to work for you

Businesses should give the candidate an experience of what it would be like to actually work for them throughout the various stages of their job application.

Mark Conway

Mark Conway

Companies should also be more creative with their job descriptions and interview processes.

Those that have mastered this tend to secure the best talent within the market and create a great work environment. The other benefit is staff retention – once people start to work there they don’t want to leave!

With thanks to Mark Conway at CCP and PACT

Only use personality profiling if you know what the results mean

Only use personality and behaviour profiling if you are experienced and knowledgeable about what the results mean.

Also, make testing part of the candidate’s experience. It’s all about their journey these days – make it positive!

Check applicants have basic literacy and listening and keying skills


Use skills testing to check that applicants have basic literacy and listening and keying skills. These agents should be able to hit the ground running after product and system training.

You should also use the same testing platform post training or induction to give you and the individual confidence that they are ready to go live, check your testing provider for accreditations, experience and references, and assess your own teams to create benchmarks and spot any training needs.

Don’t frontload the application process with irrelevant tests

Don’t frontload the application process with too many or irrelevant tests. They become a barrier to the applicants and your drop-out rate will increase. You could be missing out on future talent.

Also don’t rely on personality assessments alone – these are not an indication of job success, just a person’s natural preference.


Amanda Davies

Ask your provider and agents for feedback

Don’t assume one size fits all with assessments – what works for one centre may not for another. Ask your provider and agents for feedback about the content and the process.

Also, don’t use assessments to screen people out without further contact or feedback, applicants deserve to hear back from you. Remember, they could be future customers.

With thanks to Amanda Davies at ISV Software

Prepare an honest presentation about a “typical day”

It can be all too easy to sell the values of the brand and culture, while forgetting the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day job you want someone to do for the medium to long term.

We often ask potential employees, in advance of a 2nd interview stage, to prepare a presentation on what they would expect within the first 3-6 months.

For example, the challenges and opportunities, what a typical day looks like, the training and support they will need, as well as what they will most like, what might frustrate them and what they may least like about the opportunity.

We find that giving the individual the time outside of an interview to really think about the role and what it will entail might actually help with any future commitment. The excitement and allure of a new role can sometimes cloud the reality of the daily job.

Michelle Ansell

Michelle Ansell

Your potential recruits should listen in on some calls

Given that most contact centres have the ability to listen in on calls, I would recommend a chance to call listen (or set up some pre-recorded role plays of calls, if live calls are not an option) to really help them ‘live the experience’, warts and all.

With thanks to Michelle Ansell at Douglas Jackson

What do you do to test your agents during the recruitment stage?

Author: Megan Jones

Published On: 24th Jun 2015 - Last modified: 2nd Nov 2017
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  • Don’t forget the importance of aligning potential employees that best fir the type of work you are offering.
    An organisation needs to be honest with itself. Why go through time and expense attracting agents who are great at generating ideas and challenging the status quo as an example, but then putting them in an organisation that does not have the culture or maturity to facilitate these people and ideas. Eventually you will have a disengaged workforce who will leave. Recruit honestly and in line with what you can offer.

    Danny 6 Aug at 14:25
  • Get your Team Leaders/Supervisors involved

    Good Team Leaders/Supervisors have great insight into exactly what is needed to be successful as an Agent in your business, they know which behaviors will benefit the team dynamic, and the personalities that will thrive in your culture. They know what behavior delivers high performance in your organization.

    Bryan Schneider 26 Aug at 15:18