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How to Interview a Switchboard Operator

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Hiring a new switchboard operator can be a taxing task. Demand for switchboard operators is declining with the increased use of automated phone systems. Turnover is high in the field, however, so your posting of an open position is likely to accumulate a decent-sized pool of potential candidates for the job. Be sure to specify certain requirements that you expect your new employee to have, such as a high school diploma and whatever amount of previous experience you’d prefer. Once you’ve accumulated a pool of applications, it’s time to conduct interviews for the position.

Review all applications for the position. Discard any applications that do not meet your standards, such as applicants without the prerequisite amount of training or experience you specified when you posted the job opening. For example, if you specified that you will only consider applicants with two years of previous experience, but some applicants list no previous experience in anything like switchboard operating, discard their applications.

Choose the top candidates for the position based on your specified qualifications and arrange interviews. The number of candidates you interview depends on various factors, including the amount of personal time you want to dedicate to interviews. How you pick the top candidates depends on what you are looking for in your prospective employee. If you don't want to have to train someone on the job, your top choices will probably have a lot of experience in switchboard operating, for example.

Choose a few questions to ask each interviewee before the scheduled interview time. Switchboard operators deal almost exclusively in customer service, so you may want to select some questions relating to customer service. For example, asking interviewees questions about what they think good customer service consists of, and what they would do in a situation with an angry caller, will help you get a feel for their personality and fit for the job.

Conduct each interview, asking your pre-selected questions and other questions as you see fit. Jot down answers if necessary to help you in your selection process later on. Ask additional questions depending on the characteristics of each interviewee; for example, if a candidate seems unsuited for the job based on attitude or friendliness, ask him why he feels qualified for the job. Switchboard operators spend long hours answering and directing phone calls, so someone who seems surly and unfriendly may not be a good choice for the job.

Select your top choice of the candidates you interviewed and offer the job to that candidate. This decision should be based on a combination of qualifications and personality. If the most qualified person you interviewed doesn’t seem like a good fit for your organization, don’t hesitate to choose a less qualified individual who is a better fit. Since switchboard operators typically receive the majority of their training on the job, choosing a less qualified individual will probably mean some extra time on your part training them, so be prepared for this possibility when you make your decision.


Be punctual, polite and professional during each interview. You’ll most likely hire one of these people to be your new switchboard operator, which means you’ll be in some kind of managerial position over them. Maintaining a professional demeanor is important in terms of earning respect from your first interaction with your new employee.