So you’re a complete newbie and you’re wondering if you have what it takes to qualify as a call center agent. Is basic English enough? Do they accept high school graduates? What if you’re not good with computers? How fast should your typing speed be?
Look no further. This article is a detailed list of minimum qualifications for call center agents.
Table of Contents
Have basic computer knowledge
At the bare minimum, to qualify as a call center agent, you need to know how to perform basic everyday computer tasks like the following:
- Browse the web, know what a browser is, and how search engines work
- Basic knowledge of Microsoft applications like Word and Excel
- Use basic computer applications like Notepad and Calculator
- Know the most common keyboard shortcuts like Copy and Paste
- Know what a computer is, its basic parts, and their functions
Since you stumbled on this article, I’m sure you know how to do all these.
But if you haven’t used a computer/laptop in your life and have only been using your phone, then the concept is similar. If you know how to use a mobile phone, then you won’t have much trouble understanding how computers work. Find a course or someone to teach you the basics in a week or two and that should do the trick for you.
Additional requirements based on the account/campaign.
- Typing speed: Some accounts might require that your typing speed is at a certain speed. For this, I created a video showing how to speed up your typing speed without looking at the keyboard.
- For technical accounts where your main task is to assist in troubleshooting their device, technical knowledge is required.
At least graduated high school
Accounts like banking and healthcare usually require applicants to be at least college-level while retail, Telco, food delivery (and others) may accept high school graduates. It mainly depends on the complexity of the tasks.
Are you at a disadvantage when you’re a high school graduate? Yes, but only a little bit. If given the choice, I think recruiters would still lean towards college-level applicants but it’s entirely possible to get hired even if you’re a high school graduate especially if your communication skill is decent.
18 years old and above
As long as you’re of legal working age, you’re qualified to apply.
Can work night shifts and shifting schedules
Most call center accounts in the Philippines are from the US. This means you’ll most likely be working night shifts. If the account is big enough to operate 24/7, then you may have to deal with shifting schedules (night shifts for a whole month/week, day shift for the next).
This will not be easy. The human body is designed to sleep at night and work at daytime, but with proper time management and discipline, you could achieve some level of equilibrium with your schedule.
Can speak conversational English
Language proficiency, in essence, is the degree to which a speaker can speak a language and be understood in that said language. It takes into consideration 4 categories: grammar accuracy, language range, pronunciation, and fluency.
For a simple explanation, here’s a video I made explaining it with a 1-4 rating.
But if you need a more detailed rating, here are Berlitz’s proficiency levels. Berlitz is one of the most common language tests that call center companies employ to test their applicants’ language fluency (along with Versant and SVAR).
Berlitz Level 1 | CEFR A1:You can introduce yourself and ask other people simple questions about themselves – for example, where they live, how they are or what things they like and you can also give your own answers to these types of questions. You can take part in a simple conversation if the person you are conversing with talks slowly and helps you by repeating things.
Berlitz Level 2 | CEFR A2.1: You are able to understand and communicate general, simple messages. You can cope with information that is expressed clearly, and hold simple conversations. You are able to describe daily activities at home and at work using a range of simple expressions and sentences. You can ask for and understand information relating to daily activities, such as shopping or booking a holiday or hotel.
Berlitz Level 3 | CEFR A2.2: You can understand the general essence of a conversation on familiar topics, both in social and business situations. You can initiate, maintain and end a conversation. You are able to take part in simple discussions, give simple professional instructions, highlight a problem and present a solution. You can express congratulations, agreement or rejection or make complaints.
Berlitz Level 4 | CEFR A2.3: You are able to understand information on familiar topics in the relevant context and to hold a conversation about general topics. You are able to make professional contacts, give your advice and make suggestions. You can carry out more complex activities, such as exchanging goods or cancelling orders. You can write notes, messages and personal letters, for instance, to say thank you for something.
Berlitz Level 5 | CEFR B1.1: You can hold conversations on a range of situations and topics. You can explain or describe things in context. You can ask and respond to questions in the workplace. You find it easy to give general instructions for work processes. You feel comfortable in familiar situations with people or in a professional environment. You can discuss the quality of a product or a service, for example.
Berlitz Level 6 | CEFR B1.2: You can communicate competently and effortlessly in many professional and personal situations, and can find different ways of expressing the same thing. You can deal with a variety of topics in the appropriate manner. You can easily take part in conversations with several native speakers. You can discuss a project and express suggestions, opinions or ideas, for example. You can conduct long telephone conversations or make travel arrangements effortlessly.
Berlitz Level 7 | CEFR B1.3: You can express different points of view and can defend your ideas in a discussion. You can understand native speakers’ proverbs. You are able to master challenging situations or, for example, settle any differences of opinion. You use the correct vocabulary and can cope in the majority of professional situations. You can give presentations, summarize facts and also use the given language in complex situations.
Berlitz Level 8 | CEFR B2.1: You can communicate efficiently and correctly in challenging activities and situations. You can effortlessly take part in all conversations in a social and professional environment. You are, for instance, able to give a professional presentation in a meeting or a sales presentation. You can express yourself with ease using different nuances and can also understand speeches on challenging topics well.
Berlitz Level 9 | CEFR B2.2: You can communicate efficiently with various audiences on a wide range of familiar and new topics and fulfill all language requirements whilst doing so. You take part in discussions and meetings confidently and competently, can express different points of view and can defend your ideas. You use correct, detailed expressions. You write all texts, such as emails or business letters, without any errors.
Berlitz Level 10 | CEFR C1: You can express yourself spontaneously and fluently, without searching for words. You understand challenging texts effortlessly and can grasp complex terms and connotations. You can use and implement the language effectively and flexibly in your social and professional life. You express yourself clearly, in a structured manner and in detail with regard to complex and difficult matters.
Berlitz Level 10 | CEFR C2: You understand everything that you read or hear, effortlessly. You express yourself very spontaneously, fluently and accurately. You make subtle nuances of meaning clear even in complex circumstances. You can produce challenging reports, articles or specialist texts. Your language skills largely correspond to those of an educated native speaker.
To pass the Berlitz test for call center, you’d usually need to score at least B1. However, it is not uncommon for companies to accept applicants below B1. It depends on the account/campaign you’d be working for.
Some companies don’t even employ the Berlitz test at all and only conduct regular sit-down interviews.
This is where your preparation comes into play. Depending on the efficiency of your preparation, it’s highly possible to pass the interview even if your actual Berlitz score is below B1.
If you can carry a smooth enough conversation with the interviewer, you’re in. You can make that happen with a reasonable amount of preparation for the most common call center job interview questions.