First Interview Tips for Mortgage Branch Managers and Loan Officers – Part 2: How to Answer Nine (9)
Great mortgage companies are built with exceptional people!
While we can’t guarantee you will be asked these questions in the first interview for a mortgage sales management or loan officer position, being prepared can show that you are the right person for the opportunity.
Remember, your goal in the first interview is to get to a second interview/corporate visit, which leads to an offer, and finally your acceptance to a better career opportunity. The questions you may be asked are often meant to determine if you are a good cultural fit and potential asset to the company, communicating poorly could eliminate you from moving forward.
Below are 9 interview questions mortgage sales professionals are typically asked and recommendations on how to answer them. While these are suggestions on how to answer the questions, in all cases, your answers should be personal to you and truthful.
1. Can you tell me about yourself?
While this may seem simple, it is important that you give a focused answer. Do not provide your complete educational and employment history. Instead, focus on qualities that show you are the right fit for the company. Discuss your passion for the business, strong work ethic, desire to learn and grow with the company, leadership skills, and prior experience/success that will be beneficial for the new opportunity.
2. What do you know about the company?
This question is often asked to gauge your seriousness about the opportunity and willingness to be prepared. Failure to do any background research on a company prior to the interview is very unprofessional and lazy. You don’t need to memorize the mission statement or senior leadership bios; however, you should have a basic understanding of the company’s business model and goals. I recommend being ready to answer how you and the company are a good fit. Share personal examples like, “I’m really impressed with the support and infrastructure in place to help mortgage sales professionals close loans in a timely manner.” or “I really like the entrepreneurial business model and opportunities to advance my career.”
3. Why should we hire you?
This is the question you are hoping for, as it is an opportunity to sell yourself. Remember to be confident, yet humble. Individuals who come across as arrogant and egotistical usually are viewed as potentially problematic or high maintenance. Your answer should focus on being able to deliver results, being a long-term asset to the company, that you will fit into the culture and work well with others, and that you are a better hire than any of the other candidates. Again, companies want to hire people who are passionate about their career, so you should have a great answer about why you want the opportunity and why the company should hire you.
4. What are your greatest professional strengths and weaknesses?
This question is often asked to allow you to sell yourself. However, it is also meant to identify any red flags, reveal your character, and test your honesty. Share your true strengths and weaknesses. Do not say that you don’t have any weaknesses; we all have them, and doing so will come across as if you are hiding something, lying, or egotistical. An example of how to answer the weakness question is: “One weakness I have is that I can be impatient at times.” While being impatient can be a weakness and answers the question, this trait sometimes is viewed as a strength and shows you care about your business and have a sense of urgency. When discussing your strengths, focus on qualities that are appropriate for the opportunity, such as your passion for the mortgage business, ability to network/building relationships that will result in a successful referral-based business, and your excellent sales and communication skills. Ideally, provide specific examples of how you’ve demonstrated these traits in business.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question is asked to see if you’re a good long-term candidate for the company. When answering it, be honest about your goals; don’t try to tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. They are going to be listening to see if you have realistic expectations, ambition, work ethic, and if the opportunity matches your career and business goals. If you are self-sourcing business from referral networks, a good answer would be, “I would like to grow my referral business 20-30% a year and take advantage of opportunities to advance into a producing manager role within the company.” A poor answer would be, “I would like to stop originating and manage a team of originators.” The first answer is realistic and shows passion for the business, a strong work ethic, and is aligned with most companies’ business model. The second answer is rarely successful and is often a reflection that the candidate has lost their passion for the business and is lazy.
6. How do you source your business?
This is a straightforward question interviewers ask to make sure you are a good fit for the company’s business model. It is important to answer this honestly. If you prefer to work in a leads-based model, find a company that is focused in this strategy. If your business is self-sourced, find a company that has the ideal infrastructure and support for you. If you want to change from one to the other, know what the positives and negatives are, be focused, and clearly explain your goals and business plans.
7. What is your year-to-date and last full years closed loan volume and income?
Know your numbers and be honest. You are in the mortgage business and should be able to provide these basic numbers. Failure to do so is usually worse than providing truthful poor numbers or embellishing your production and income. Understand that most companies will require proof of income (recent pay stubs and prior years W-2) along with production reports in order to provide an employment offer to you. Lying about your numbers will usually backfire on you. Just as you want to be able to trust the mortgage company to perform as promised, the senior management wants to trust you.
8. What is the reason you are leaving/considering a change?
This is a difficult question because you want to share the challenges at your current company without being too negative. There is very little to gain by bashing your current or previous employers. Doing so is usually a “red flag” for the potential employer. Instead, keep it short, simple, and try to frame the answer in a positive way; “I’m looking for a company that is committed to closing loans in a timely manner” is much better than saying “My company's underwriting and processing are awful. They never hit closing dates and are killing my business.” Another example would be, “I’m looking for an opportunity to advance my career, earn additional income, and/or grow a profitable branch office.” is much better than saying “This company keeps screwing me over and costing me a ton of money and referral partners.”
The first interview is also your chance to get to know more about the company and determine if the opportunity is right for you. Ideally, you’ll discuss many details about the company and specific opportunity throughout the interview. However, toward the end of the interview, you are often asked:
9. Do you have any questions for me?
This is a great chance to show your interest in the opportunity. Answering with a “No.” or “Not at this time.” may reflect that you aren’t interested in the opportunity or professional enough to engage with the interviewer. A simple question about what the interviewer likes about the company or the company’s growth plans can go a long way. However, a really good question to ask is: “If we are able to come to an agreement on employment, what would you like to see me accomplish in the first 90-180 days?”
This will show that you care about the company and being a valuable asset to the team. Furthermore, if you like the answer, it will tell you what you need to focus on in the second interview.
Loan Academy is an independent mortgage recruiting and consulting company. We specialize in connecting exceptional managers and loan officers with leading mortgage companies that maintain a culture of excellence, trust, and transparency.
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