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BPO Sector - Employment & Training



Selecting New Employees

Some one has coined the  word ‘HumanWare’ some time back to describe the most important asset of a BPO company, the people. Companies depend not only on hardware, software but most importantly on Humanware. Software and hardware come only next to people in meeting the customer demands.  Developments in Artificial Intelligence or Speech recognition systems can not substitute skilled contact center executives and back office staff.

Coming to the manpower requirements, identifying the ‘right candidate’ is very important. Hence your recruitment shall take care of Job requirement analysis and the candidate's competency analysis. Let’s discuss an example of a  contact center and analyze how to recruit for this center.

Look back at your requirement:

The onus of getting the right candidate is on the HR department and they can not shy away from this.  Create a Job Definition Form (JDF) that covers all aspects to be looked into for selecting a candidate for the given position/post. Ask the concerned departments to fill in the JDF with out fail. Do not process any request with out complete JDF.

JDF shall clearly address the role. For example, mention  if the job is for a Voice based call center position or for a non-voice based position. If the job is a voice based one, mention which kind of accent is required (such as American or British etc). 

Now the HR team has various options. Approach the manpower consultants or go in for direct recruitment. However, define a strategy for all requirements.  Never give exceptions. All must go through a process.

Be prepared  

Once you freeze on the JDF and number of people to be recruited, plan your schedule. If you need to hire 100 people a month, be prepared to   screen lot of people. Preferably out-source preliminary screening to another company.  A company in Bangalore used to screen 200 candidates per day for their client using an online test developed for the client.  12-15 people used to be short-listed and sent to the client’s premises next day. The client interviews them and probably 3-4 are selected. 


Skill / Competencies to be looked into

When you are recruiting a call center executive, you need to address many issues, including the maturity of the candidate. Some attributes in a person can be improved upon training and certain can not be improved. Psychologists talk about Cognitive and non-cognitive concepts.  Hire a psychologist and define an assessment for the entry level as well as top level.

Important skills to be checked before taking in a call center representative


Good communication

Language skills

Accent understanding

Ability to work in a Team

Basic computing skills

Logical Ability

Quantitative Ability

Numerical Ability


Do not presume


Do not expect  all the selected candidates to take the offer. Many candidates take the offer letter to some other company and bargain for more pay.  Probably the same candidate will have two or three offers and will pick the best offer.  You should also consider your attrition rate when hiring new employees. You need to hire more candidates than needed if the attrition rate is high.


Training is the most expensive part of it all. Hence try to recruit people who can be trained. If you take care of this while recruiting, you will have fewer problems.  We can not teach numerical abilities some one. Hence hire somebody only if they have certain numerical skills.

Training in the areas of Language, accent and client interaction is most critical. Training program should be customized keeping in view, where the candidate is likely to be posted. Involve the real job activity in the training program.

If there is not enough time, at least provide inputs to them about the critical areas.  Provide a simulation of your actual software for training so that they can directly go the call floor after the training. Run mock tests and ask the floor managers to evaluate them.

Beware and be ready!

As a HR person, you are answerable to between many people. The call floor manager wants the best candidates for his team.  Generally they are busy and can not give detailed requirements. Trainers want the best candidates to be sent to them.  It  would be  easy for them to slightly polish good candidates and pass them off to the call floor. But you will find very difficult to get good people.

You need to strike a balance and get reasonably good people who are trainable.  Trainers will find it a bit inconvenient, but then they are paid to train. They may enjoy the challenge of training people with varying abilities. All the concerned parties should meet periodically to discuss hiring policies.

Interview a candidate and review the candidate’s voice recording. Ask all the concerned parties to grade the voice. The criteria should include accent, pronunciation, intonation, pitch, clarity etc. You will be surprised to see different opinions from different people about the same candidate. It is difficult to satisfy all the people. How ever make a process, fine tune it, stick to it and every thing will fall in line.