Evaluate Frontline Contact Center Agents for Coaching
Illustration by Nick Barrett

Rapidly evolving technology and expanding product lines have contributed to an environment in which many frontline agents are finding it increasingly difficult to keep pace with constantly changing tools, processes and expectations. A new-hire’s “coachability” can be a key factor in whether or not he or she can grow and thrive with those changes.

Mark Murphy defines coachability as being able to take feedback, assimilate that feedback, and then anticipate and seek out feedback. Murphy is founder of leadership training and research firm Leadership IQ, and author of Hiring for Attitude: Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting Star Performers with Both Tremendous Skills and Super Attitude.

How do you identify that attribute during a job interview? “Someone who is coachable is able to separate ego from issue, even if the message is delivered in an irritating way,” he says. “They can find the nugget and then try to implement it. They also have a decent sense of what the feedback will be without having to receive the feedback. They generally know how they’ve performed.”

Murphy recommends asking candidates to describe what their former boss would say is one of their weaknesses. “You’ll get a lot of people who will say, ‘They didn’t give me a lot of feedback. You would really have to ask them.’ Or, ‘They never told me what my weaknesses are.’ That’s a red flag because the person is basically saying, ‘I’m not anticipating what my boss’s feedback would be.’”

Another question that will highlight whether a candidate is coachable: What is something you could have done different or done better to improve your work performance? “This question will tell you whether the candidate has something top of mind and whether they’ve actually thought about their work performance, which is a key part of coachability,” Murphy explains.

Can someone who knows how to excel at interviews fake coachability? Not really. The robustness of their response will separate the genuinely coachable candidates from those trying to fake their way through the interview. “The people who have really given it thought will give you in-depth answers. They’re going to talk for several minutes, they will provide specifics and they will tell you what they’ve changed as a result and, ideally, they would even be able to tell you what the results were,” he says.