Applying at a Call Center- What to Expect

Having worked at a few call centers in my long laundry list of jobs (27 to date), there are a few things I can pass on to people who are considering applying at a call center. If you think you can just drop off your application and then boogy- guess again, sucker! Be prepared for the ambush- and make sure you pee before you leave the house…

Most call centers will have a long ass interview process. This is to obviously weed out the weak of heart, as call centers need the cream of the crop. You will be one among possibly 30 or more people (who have the same, “I can’t believe it’s come to this” look on their faces as you do) sitting in a room just, well, waiting. Some people will be asleep, which will make you wonder what’s going on, when you first walk in to the main desk. You are slightly embarrassed because you dressed up in jeans to bring in your ap and there are people in there who are in their pajamas. What are you walking into? You consider walking out, but the desk gal is already glaring at you, so you figure, what the hell, and hand over your neatly filled out application. It goes on top of a foot-thick stack of aps, and the gal motions you to one empty seat next to a huge guy with dreadlocks, who may or may not be asleep. His sunglasses are too dark to tell. You scoot into the seat quietly, but it makes a fart sound and a skinny bitch 2 tables over giggles. You mouth “F**k yourself” in response and turn your attention to the “EXIT” sign.

After you turn in your initial application, you are told you have to pass a typing test, which you will have to wait to take until the typing room empties of the kajillion people who are interviewing before you. You will be waiting for about a half hour or so, checking in at the desk to make sure they have not forgotten you, and they will tell you to sit back down. You will wonder if you can just leave, but since everyone else is still sitting there, you figure you should, too. You get pissed at yourself because you left your phone in the car- you could at least be playing Tetris. You stare at the huge dude with dreadlocks, wondering if you can stare him awake.

Once a slot opens up in the testing room, you haul ass to get a seat, even though your name wasn’t called out. You will have to wait some more as a call center employee (who is about 10 years younger than you are) logs you in to your typing test (along with about 20 other people). You then are given a typing test where you have 2 minutes or so to copy a paragraph or 2 by typing it onto the screen as accurately as you can. You will panic and forget even the most basic of letters, being suddenly blind to the keys, and curse out loud until someone tells you to shut up. You are not allowed to backspace, it says so in bold letters in the directions. DAMN! About 3 of these said tests will be given, and you will bomb all of them. When you are done, you will go up to the desk and alert the person there that you have completed the typing test, hoping for your results, at which point they will tell you to sit down and wait while they gather results. You will then sit right back where you started and wait about a half hour or so more for something to happen. At least the huge dreadlock dude woke up, but now he’s smiling at you creepily. Skinny bitch is glaring at you too. Oi vay. Eventually the desk girl (who is also 10 years younger than you) will point out your wpm next to your name. Sweet- 38 wpm! Yay!

You may or may not be told who will be interviewing you, but eventually a door somewhere around you will open and someone will call out your name, among about 10 others, and give you all the “come hither” motion with their finger. You and the other people who’s names were called will be guided to a tiny room with not enough chairs, but you’ll take the chair right by the door so people have to crawl over you to fit into the room. Once situated, the person interviewing you (who speaks broken English) will start going on and on about the history of the company you may be working for, what they expect of their employees, and how their pay rate is (a lot of call center pay is commission-based). They will then interview you with the 10 other people present, asking each of you the same generic questions: “Why do you want to work here?” “How do you diffuse a customer issue?” “What do you expect to bring to this company?” etc. After everyone basically repeats the words of the person before them, the interviewer will mark notes in his little notebook then usher all of you out, slamming the door behind him. He is also about 10 years younger than you, you notice.

You will then joke about how retarded call centers are amongst your potential future coworkers, and wonder aloud why all of you were just shoved out of the room after a 30-minute session of basically copying one another. You will take this opportunity to brag about the many other call centers you have worked at and how you just know you will get the job. You will buddy up with one or 2 other people in your “group” and try to point out who is not going to get the job among you. You will also make fun of the other people who are sleeping in the waiting room who haven’t even taken their typing test yet. By now, you have been at the call center for about 2 hours, and all you meant to do was drop off your application. You’re hungry, you have to pee, and you don’t know if you’re supposed to leave or still stand there because the interviewer didn’t tell you. He just shoved all of you out of the room. You’re only still standing because everyone in your group is still there, too. At least skinny bitch and huge dreadlock guy aren’t interviewing with you.

Then the door opens again and you shut up quickly, and the interviewer calls out names again, yours not among them. In fact, 7 people got called back into the room and you and a few others didn’t, so when the door closes behind them and you’re still standing there you all begin panicking about not getting hired. WTF?! In a few minutes the door opens again, the 7 people shuffle out silently, and you are finally called back into the room, however. The interviewer tells you “Welcome to the team!” along with the other people you were stuck outside with, and you are given a few sheets of paper. One is the 3 places you can go for your drug test ( which must be done in 24 hours), 1 is your training schedule (choose between morning or afternoon), and one is your work schedule after you complete training (check days you want to work and times, including part time or full time work). You are then told that once they get your drug test results in a few days, they will tell you when you will begin training. If your drug test comes up negative, you will be officially hired. If positive, then you will be notified and cannot reapply for 6 months to a year. 2 of the people you interviewed with go white in the face and curse under their breath. You chuckle quietly- you knew that dude next to you was on dope!

You thank the interviewer and walk out starving, thirsty, and blinking at the bright sun after being crammed indoors for nearly 3 hours. Of the 11 of you who interviewed together, 4 of you got “hired” but 2 of the people you interviewed with have already tossed their paperwork in the trash since they know they will bomb the drug test. You all go out to the designated smoking area and share a single lighter while you greedily puff the cigarettes you earned after the long ass interview process. You then make small talk and gain little pre-work cliques, stating, “I hope I get to be on your team!” and sharing your potential work and training schedules with one another. If you’re lucky, you get to train with your new found friends. You bum smokes and change for the vending machine out front until you part ways, wondering if you’ll pass the drug test.

You sure freakin’ hope so. You count on your fingers the last time you smoked something, then figure you should be OK. You drive off, giving the call center the bird just because you can and you’ll have to work there for the next few months, then figure since you have to pee anyway, you may as well get that damn drug test out of the way. Then you cross your fingers and hope for the best.