The job that will ruin your life: The Beginners Guide to Working in a Call Center.

Barcelona info undercover journalist report!

“Do you want to form part in an innovative, dynamic, progressive, mind-blowing and hyper-ventilating team?”

This article could be an advertisement for a call center company, but it is not. This is a guide how to survive inside a concrete-glass cube, where boredom or heartless workload is part of your day to day routines.

Where to start?

how to find a job in barcelona

Internet is obviously the best place to look for a call center job in Barcelona. Infojobs, Monster, Infoempleo, and are good job sites to start with. Also Facebook’s country related pages are great places to find open call center jobs. Just take a look and find out yourself!

How to apply?

how to apply

Filling out an application is easy. Job sites have ready-made and easy to fill forms in their pages. In the job site you also need to attach your CV. The CV is mainly used for checking out, that you’re not a) underage or b) over-educated.

Waiting for the interview.

Waiting for an interview

After sending your job application, it is time to wait for the first contact. If you applied through a job agency, like Manpower or Synergy, they will contact you one or two times by email or phone. After the first contacts, they’ll ask you to come to visit their office. If the job offer came straight from a call center company, you’ll have to deal first with the company’s HR zombies.

The Interview.

job interview

The only real value of a job agency is making sure that you are real human being and that you have an EU passport. After the first check you’ll be directed to the Office for a real interview. Normally you’re interviewed by an HR officer or by one of your future bosses. I prefer the bosses because the HR people’s questions are sometimes difficult to understand. The interview questions vary from which animal would you like to be, to questions about your real interests in the future. The questions are depending which recruiting trend is hip right now. Just be calm and don´t be “yourself”. Acting different and having new ideas is bad news; call centers are not looking for personalities. They are looking for digital age factory workers and heartless human robots with a tunnel vision.

Finally I got a Job!

work training

Great, now they start to “train” you. One trainer of mine tortured me for seven long days with bad jokes and drinking stories. The second trainer had started his English lessons 4 months before our sessions. It was just goofy when the trainer had to teach us with complicated technical English vocabulary.

Watch out! During training period they evaluate you constantly. Be sharp, ask questions and never ever play with your phone. They hate that. You can wear a swastika t-shirt and be fine with it, but if they catch you up with a phone, you’re dead meat. Usually they train you one or two weeks and you’ll learn absolutely nothing. They know it. Just cooperate with them and you’ll be OK.

When the real work finally starts.


After they kept you on the edge for one or two weeks, you start the real work! Depending of the product and your language, either you work like a donkey or you don’t have nothing to do. There is a big difference on a work load between different nationalities. For example a blond Scandinavian agent needs to answer only a few calls per day for a Pirelli car tire company. In comparison an English agent needs to take so many Hoover vacuum cleaner calls during the day, that he doesn’t have enough time to take a proper shit.

If they don’t give you nothing to do – depending of the company policy – you can read books, play computer games, chat with other idle ones, count airplanes (my record is 81), or write articles! If you’re not so lucky, you don’t really have any other choice but talk on the phone from nine to six.

How to handle the team leaders.

team leader

The first weeks in a call center are the hardest. Usually you got the job in the first place, because there is a new project starting. If you have bad luck, also your team leader starts working for the first time. When you notice that your new team leader is lost and the leader don’t know whats going on, don’t make the mistake to mentioning it. Keep your mouth shut and stay under the radar. It is not a Gene Kelly movie. A good Team leader understands that you’re new. He or she remembers how it to work on a phone whole day. Bad leaders always deny that they have any prior call center phone work or chat screen experience. If you get a good or bad team leader, the best advice in both cases is to stay always under the radar.

Tier two – The Manager level

project manager

Inside a call center management hierarchy, the second level, the “Tier 2” , begins above the team leaders. The second level is occupied by, Quality Managers, Senior Agents, etc. These are the people you need on your side. So skip the Team leaders and make friends with the higher level. You won’t regret it.

Project manager has the punishment power. He or she is the one who you meet officially only twice – First time, when you sign the contract and Second time when you are “released” of it (or if you free yourself). But if you are lucky and get the Project Manager in your radar, just smile, and if possible – say hello. He or she has no idea who you are or why you are even smiling. But it is always better to show your sunny side to the real power inside the company.

The job really sucks! How to relieve the pain?


Sooner or later your job starts to be literally a pain in the ass. Don’t get depressed. You can make your job more pleasant easily. Communicate with your team, make them laugh and make friends. New friends are much more valuable than your stupid work on a phone, talking to strangers or even the €€€ figures on your pay check.

Alcohol and other substances.

10) Alcohol and other substances.

Last but not least, most of your colleagues drink alcohol. Some of them drink and take drugs during the working hours. One college of mine takes half a bottle of wine for breakfast, two glasses more at the first break, and 2 to 8 glasses during lunch hour. And he is the top salesman.

If you decide to walk the dark side, chew gum, use eye drops and stay under the radar.