Hiring top performing call center agents
Illustration by Eric Jackson

A well-developed agent profile will allow you to understand what makes an ideal candidate before you begin the hiring process.

It’s important to have a keen awareness of what you’re looking for, says Kevin Hegebarth, VP of Marketing and Product Management at HireIQ Solutions. “This is where predictive analytics really comes into play,” he says. “Know which types of assessments, interview questions, behaviors, elements on a resume, etc., are actually forward-looking indicators of good performance.”

For instance, are your job listings and descriptions current and do they highlight the relevant job qualifications? “Oftentimes, I’ll see a job listing that states, ‘Must have a bachelor’s degree’ or ‘Must have an associate’s degree,’” he points out. “Is that really essential to this type of job? Or are there other attributes that will be better forward-looking indicators of first-call resolution or Csat? Test for the things that are indicative of good performance in those areas. They’re not always obvious, so create an assessment methodology to help uncover those types of indicators.”

Once you have identified the characteristics that make your top performers excel at their job, it’s important to clearly define what those are so that everyone involved in the hiring process is working from the same page, advises Mark Murphy, founder of leadership training and research firm Leadership IQ, and author of Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting Star Performers with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude. For instance, many hiring managers look for candidates with the right “attitude.” But what does that really mean?

“Take a look at Southwest Airlines vs. The Ritz-Carlton—both do a great job hiring for attitude, but their attitudes are very different from one another. One is ‘ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.’ The other is ‘fun and sense of humor.’ Those are not the same attitudes,” he explains. “Make sure that your leaders are in agreement about what you’re looking for, especially if there are multiple hiring managers involved.”

Murphy adds that it’s also important to understand the attributes that your low performers have in common. “You’ll discover a core set of characteristics that generally predict failure in your organization,” he says. When conducting interviews, make sure that you don’t hire people who have the characteristics of your current low performers. “If you do nothing else than eliminate the bad hires, you would end up, just by definition, doubling your number of high performers, which is a pretty good outcome for not a lot of work,” he says.