About Ask Se7en

So you want to apply in a call center? Or you probably already have and have failed for the past couple of attempts and you cant figure out why?

For a newbie, applying in a call center or BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) is a major [major] challenge. What sets it apart, and perhaps what adds to this challenge is the structured measurement of an applicant’s communication skill.

I’m a  veteran in the call center industry, before my exposure to customer service, I was a radio disc jockey for five years in the FM band. This experience led me to believe that applying in a call center was “chicken feed”, but to my horror, the first three attempts resulted to a depressing failure. I could not understand why.

I remember after this three failed attempts, I ordered myself a tall latte, sat in a corner of Starbucks and began to analyze my performance from the interviews. I used my experience in interviewing applicants for the radio jock post (when I was still a Program Manager) in this self-examination phase, and this is what I realized: consistent grammar and pronunciation problems, poor diction, limited vocabulary, and provincial intonation and accent. I realized, too, that the contents of my responses to the interview questions were nothing more than a stab in the dark, it was empty, unmotivated, and therefore unconvincing. The negative streak only ended after I realized what my faults were and WORKED ON THEM, and I had to work on them fast if I wanted to land a job. The end of this story is that I got my first call center work and had been in the industry for the past nine years.

I am a frequent visitor of  the call center forum on http://www.pinoyexchange.com, and I realized that there are just too many applicants out there who are in the same plight as I was – relentless in their intent to find a job but repeatedly fails. The forums they go to offer very little advice, if not a complete background or the steps they need to take to land that elusive job.

This blog series aims to help by providing answers to questions and if possible, practical solutions to problems faced by a lot of candidates while applying in the call center industry. You can also reach me via  iwannabeacsr@gmail.com. The easiest way to reach me is by leaving a comment on ASK SEVEN or right below any post.




18 thoughts on “About Ask Se7en

  1. Hi Rona.

    My suggestion is to prepare, and it’s simple.

    1. List down tricky questions.
    2. Prepare a response for them.
    3. Since there is no guarantee what question will come up during the interview, be ready to mix and match.

    Preparation is only half of it. In reality, the interviewer is not measuring the quality of your response, he is checking your responses for grammar and pronunciation lapses, diction, and your ability to get out of sticky situations (we deal with that everyday while talking to customers).

    How do you fail in a tricky interview question?

    – bad grammar
    -bad pronunciation
    -inability to speak straight and confident English
    -groping for words (poor diction)

    Finally, when it comes to tricky questions, there is no right or wrong answer, there is you being able to provide an response confidently and flawlessly.

    If you can overcome this hurdle, you will be a great CSR.


  2. Hi Seven! Just wanna ask tips how to get over those tricky questions often asked by interviewers like “how do you describe the color blue to a blind person” anything like that. Mostly po kasi may ganyan silang tanong na parang hindi naman related and often we are not prepared for that. Thank you in advance po.

  3. Hi Dave. Thank you for visiting my blog and for the appreciation.

    You really do not need to re-apply. All you need to is to inform your recruiter that you had an emergency in the province. If this application is still within six months, then it is fresh. I hope you still have the recruiter’s number. If you don’t have it anymore, pay him a visit and tell me that you were already offered a job and you are ready to begin.

    Hope this helps.


  4. hello se7en
    this is a very informative blog you run here! i have learned a lot about call centers by reading your posts. i just have a question if you dont mind.. last september 2015 i applied at CVG for a tech account and got hired. i was given the JO which i signed. (i still have my copy but mine has no signatures) and asked to undergo medical. i did and passed the medical and was asked to go to this new hire orientation thing. the thing is i had a family emergency back in my province that time and i was unable to attend since i had to go back to my province to take care of said emergency. i did recieved a text msg from cvg asking if i would still want to continue since i wasnt able to attend the orientation. and yes i wasnt able to notify them that i will miss the orientation and aswell i was not able to reply to their text message. now that im back here in manila and ready to work i was just wondering if i can still apply to that same center coz im afraid they might have blacklisted me or something. what do you think? thanks se7en more power to your blog!


  5. Hi, se7en. I would like to share my first job experience, and that was in the call center industry. At first, I didn’t go through the process of job hunting. What I did was to practice. I read forums and blogs. I even maximized Google search that’s why I stumble upon your blog. I remember reading “Learning English the Hard Way”. I told myself that that was insane! If I’ll be doing that kind of practice, for sure it will be hard for me. But then I tried absorbing the lesson and practice that you went through. Though I didn’t speak English at all times, what I did was I practice answering interview questions I found on the web. I jot them down, even the hardest ones. I repeat my answers all over again, repeat the questions, ask myself again. It may seem crazy but that’s where I build my confidence to face dreaded interviews. The time I knew that I was ready, I still didn’t job hunt. What I did was to search for all the preparations that I need in an interview, like what to do and what not to do, right grooming, proper hand shaking, and a lot more. And that was when I told myself that I am ready!

    I applied as a walk-in applicant to one of the call center in Pasay. I am an undergraduate, zero experience. I’m really nervous at that time though I have to compose myself. The first step was an initial interview. I remember that right after the interview, the recruiter discussed my strengths and my areas of development. If I’m not mistaken, that was STAR method because there are questions like “What did you do to avoid that situation to happen again?” and “Discuss a time when you have to say sorry”. The recruiter told me that I pass the interview, next thing was an interview again with the Product Manager, and the last was Versant and that’s where I had the difficulty. I repeated Versant 3 times. I was losing hope by then. It was really hard (for me)! Bu then on the last attempt, I hit the score! I finished 8 pm together with the happy thought of a job offer the next day. I was really happy that time.

    To cut this long story, on my fourth month, I was in and out of the clinic, like every week I had to see a doctor because of mouth infections. I remember coughing every time I talk to customers, and that’s when things went really difficult for me. I filed an immediate resignation and now, I like to pursue a career in Human Resource especially in Recruitment. Though I’m not a graduate, there are companies that accept associates.

    What tips can you give me? Thank you for reading my long, long post. Hihi. And btw, thank you so much se7en, though I don’t know you personally, you’ve enlightened so many aspiring applicants and employees through your blog. And again, thank you in advance!   

  6. Hi. I’m not familiar with the company, unfortunately. However, I am familiar with what the recruiter did for you by coaching you and giving you a chance.

    As a recruiter, when I see a potential in an applicant, I give tips, coach them, provide them time to practice, and come back after sometime. If the candidate is really NQ (Not Qualified), he is either told directly or just given a letter and sent home.

    I understand how you feel about being depressed, what I don’t understand is why you feel small (?). Did the recruiter insult you publicly? Because that can make anyone feel small. It’s all about perception.

    You want that job? Here is what you need to do:

    1. Follow what the recruiter said by studying your weaknesses and practice the tips given to you.

    2. It’s alright to feel down, you’re human. Most of all, do not neglect or fail to see the lesson. Lesson here is: you need to make
    the cut, so find out why you didn’t and solve it.

    3. Yes, keep applying. It’s not a smart move to just focus on six or ten companies, you need to have more options. However, make sure your skills are aligned with the position you are gunning for.

    Finally, don’t go back to the recruiter if you didn’t practice what he advised you. You will just fail again.

    Hope this helps.


  7. Hi Se7en. Are you familiar with the Survey Sampling International (formerly Opinionology) company? I had my first job interview with them a week ago. After the interview, the interviewer said that the problem about me was my pronunciation of words and my reading accuracy. She said that I sounded so scripted while reading and that my English sounded so regional. But she also pointed out that the good thing about me was that I am good at expressing and communicating myself in English. After that, she told me that she will give me two-three weeks to train myself then comeback to their office for another assessment. She even gave tips on how to improve my English and on how to achieve an American English accent. She kept my resume for profiling purposes. What was that means? Am I already rejected? Am I not qualified to their company? Should I find another job and forget it? You know I keep on practicing at home hoping that I will pass the assessment after three weeks. That was my dream job and my dream company. I lost my confidence after that interview. I felt so small and a bit depressed at home. I am hoping for your answers. Thank you!

  8. Hi Grace. I’m not sure what advice you need me to give you. You already know the risks involved in hiding, lying, or neglecting to share important information so your recruiter can make an intelligent decision on your job application.

    Remember this Grace, anything you achieve by stealing, lying, or cheating is never worth keeping. Whatever accomplishments you achieve here will never be satisfying, plainly because you do not deserve it.

    Now, this is me talking, I value integrity more than anything. I am an undergraduate and I have never hidden this truth from any of the companies I worked for. I have achieved career in this industry because I worked hard for it and richly deserved it.

    What i am saying is this: don’t be like others who are confortable with lying just to get around.

    It’s up to you if you want to rectify your error. Of course, whether you lie or tell the truth, you will face consequences.

    Good luck


  9. Hello again Se7en. 🙂 I’m about to go to the 1st company for a job offer later. However, Ilied to them about my school records, what Itold to them was I am a college undergrad..And my educational attainment.was untill 2nd yr college. Well in fact, i never stopped.from studying. I’ve read a comment on one of your blog here, regarding the background check. If all companies conduct background checks,what might be the possible end result of lying about my educ. Attainment? Or do you think I will just tell later in my job offer that i only lied just to get the job. Because my friend’s advices me that most call centers refuse to hire students, that’s why I did that. Well I’m just a newbie in this so Ididn’t know that there is a background check anyway.

  10. Hi Grace. If you already have made a choice on the first company and you’re already in, then I don’t see anything wronf in turning down the second one. 🙂


  11. The company called me earlier, and I was told to go to their office tomorrow for the job offer,but I need to pay 180 for the medical requirement, bec. It is not covered by the company,she added. 🙂 Other company called me awhile ago to inform me about my final interview but I refused to go because I just waited the 1st company’s call. Do you think i did the right think? Just want to ask about your opinion. Thanks! 🙂

  12. Hi Grace. Usually, “don’t call us, we’ll call you” means you failed, but if he added that it had a “positive feedback”, you might as well wait (but don’t expect and keep job hunting) for his call; the trick is not to wait after just one or two interviews. Job hunting is a numbers game especially if you are a newbie.

    Also, please make sure you learn from each interview and adjust to the learnings accordingly. Evaluate where and how you failed and make sure you don’t do it again. Think about the queations and how you responded, consult with a tenured call centet employee, etc.

    Hope this helps.


  13. Hello Se7en 🙂 I just want to ask, if the final interviewer told you that expect a call for tomorrow and don’t try to attend any final interviews tomorrow, does that mean that I passed all the processes? I’m just curious about it because I’m just a newbie in applying for a job. The interviewer also said to me that my final interview with him had a positive feedback.

  14. Hi Judy. I was amused when I saw your comment, partly because you want to learn but you want to set a lot of conditions on the learning, you’re willing to focus and absorb, but the simple act of watching American movies you’re not able to do. You mentioned you are looking for formal training, but this I tell you: Formal classroom training isn’t enough. Most TESDA and English training participants fail because they do not realize the importance of 24/7 practice, they speak in the vernacular as soon as they leave the training room. You need to support it with practice, more practice, more reading, more listening to American movies (note: I didn’t say watch), etc. Personally, all of these simple steps are proven – I learned and changed because of them. I had to get rid of all the psychological and mental blocks in order to put a framework on the learning that I needed to do, and because I couldn’t afford any formal training back then, I resorted to asking friends and colleagues for help.

    You want to learn? Use very avenue you can find but don’t forget to put a structure. I can’t recommend any training for you because I don’t know any. One thing I can tell you is the call center language trainings in the call centers I worked for help reinforce my learning and helped me establish the foundation I have now. The learning never stopped. Even today, I learn about language and I continue to be amazed, to be corrected, and to self-correct.

    The learning you are looking for is right there…you just need to use it well.


  15. Hi Seven, I am hunting for a job after having been unemployed for 8 months now. I am already in my early 30s. I would like to work in voice customer support (I have previous non-voice call center experience) but I still have to work on my oral communication skills. I am conversant in written (email/chat) but not in oral communication because I am the only person at home who can speak English. It is awkward to even try, when they overhear me practicing in my room, I feel uneasy when I hear them scoffing at me. I don’t think they can sympathize with my reasons for doing it and I sometimes get offended (they are many people living at home btw, at least 3 families) So no one really supports me, even if some of them understand why Im doing it, they can’t even help. I dont have friends either whose language skills are better than mine.

    I read books, watch youtube videos of interest in English (since I dont have access to a TV here in my room) . I am not fond of English/American movies, I think they are a waste of time. I watch some movie when the story interests me, and I absorb everything when I do. As much as I’d want to surround myself with English materials, I cannot not go out of this room!

    What would you suggest that can help me. One thing I really really need is an environment that is supportive, at this age it is not as easy to learn a new language, but I still absorb new things like a sponge when I’m focused. My problem is I can’t focus. What I think will help me focus is a good teacher, no more BS materials I am tired of the training centers claiming to be trying to help.

    I still would like to go into a formal training if you can suggest a good one. I am from outside Manila, I cant find any centers close by. But I am willing to attend any available good training in Manila or Alabang.

    If not, can you suggest any good Filipino speaker I can model so I can check him/her online? I guess I need someone I can imitate or who can inspire me, to keep me companion because I really am ALONE on this. And I’m writing to you because I’ve read something about you said in PEX and here that resonated with me cos I know they are true. And I appreciate your tenure and real world experience as an agent, though I may not agree with everything you say, because I have my own point of view in some matters. But like you, I think I’ve had enough of mediocre, and I want to improve myself. I I hope you can advise me something. Thank you!!!

  16. Dear Anna,

    I’m glad to know that you’re now on your way to attaining your dream. The product training call certification is not your final hurdle – nothing is, career-wise.

    Now to your question. First off, you need to make sure you study the products, processes, and procedures involved in the account you are handling. Use your spare time (breaks, etc) to study different scenarios which will allow you to fully utilize the tools provided during training. Using these tools will allow you better flexibility and more confidence in handling the next challenge – the customer service side.

    If you are a first timer in the call center industry, you will find that you have several challenges on different fronts, it’s trying to be familiar with the following:
    – product
    – process
    – procedures
    – policies
    – what you can do, what you can’t do
    – support group/network as you do your job
    – your company’s culture
    – the people you work with
    – your bosses
    – the call center environment
    – the graveyard shift
    – etc

    Frankly though, all these things can be learned in time, it’s customer service and call handling you need to understand. Most people do not fail the final call certification because they do not know the systems and processes – they fail because they do not know customer service and call handling.

    This is why you need to be familiar with almost everything that you need to learn during training, this way, you can focus on customer service and call handling – it’s what matters. It’s pointless to know everything and not be able to handle a call, agree?

    In your mock call (with your teammates), always use THE MOST DIFFICULT SCENARIOS. Ask your caller (teammate) to be angry, to make demands, etc. Ask tenured call center employees for advice on call handling and customer service, ask for what they say when the caller is irate, etc. Then, practice…practice…practice – at home or at work.

    I am sharing this to you because this is how I learned and I owe my expertise to my trainer who gave us a total scare whenever there is a mock call. We hated it at first but realized how beneficial it was when we were already on the floor – we were confident, experienced, and knew how to handle things. There are a lot of articles you can read online on call handling and customer service, use your spare time to research.

    Let me know how you final test goes. Please also share what you’ve learned. It will help all of us a lot.


  17. hello! im just wondering if you could give me some advice on how to pass the product training call certification assessment? im already on my way to my dream job i hope i could make it this sat! any response will be highly appreciated!

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