I’ve never been wrong when I have a bad feeling about an interviewee. In any interview or resume scan where I felt even the slightest inkling of trouble, I was always right. The employees did not do well. Some became nightmares.
Why would I even hire candidates who worried me? If you ask that question, you have never worked in a call centre. When you have to hire new phone reps, you don’t hire one at a time. You hire a whole class, because they will be put through a three week training program before they ever hit the floor. We often needed groups of up to 25 people.
This whole process is expensive, so you’d think we would want to hire the best candidates. The problem is we are culling applicants who have offered to work in a call centre. It’s a crap job, so we often attract lazy and desperate people. The only real exception is students. They need to work odd hours at easier jobs to pay their tuition. I’ve had great luck with students over the years.
If we already had dubious candidates and we needed to pick upwards of 25 of them, we were talking a different recruiting ballgame. Instead of trying to pick the best candidates, we were trying to eliminate the worst.
This proved easier in some recruiting rounds than others. There were times when we desperately needed bodies, and none seemed good. So we tried to find the least detestable options. This meant we sometimes hired people that gave us the willies.
After each interview, I would bounce my opinion off the HR person conducting the interview with me. We had two HR people we worked with. One was often on the same wave length as the team leaders and would let us say no when our alarm bells were screaming. The other one, not so much.
HR Person Two would push us to take people we really didn’t want. I suppose she was being more realistic. We couldn’t say no to everyone. Sometimes though, she would have been better off listening to us. We ended up with a few nightmares. They caused a lot of destruction before we could push them out the door.
When the company was really starting to tank, we couldn’t even fire our own employees. We needed approval from some HR person in a different province who never worked a call centre. She just didn’t understand how call centres work. Of course they have high turnover. They are filled with lunatics.
This new policy meant we had to keep one employee who showed up in the police blotters of our own newspapers. Nice, right?
We also had to keep two brothers who fell asleep at their desks, had pants around their knees and spent shifts writing indecent rap lyrics instead of taking client calls.
I guess my main point here is to trust your instincts as a manager. I have felt positive about a few employees who did not turn out well. But I have never been wrong when my instincts tell me no. And if you happen to manage in a call centre that forces you to take bad apples, you have my sympathy.