From Loan Officer to Credit Investigator: 19 Common Mortgage Job Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

May 9th, 2018 Written by: Molly Masterson

Loan originations are reaching a new high in the post-recession era, according to Magnify Money. With more loans and mortgages being approved, lending institutions need more quality mortgage job seekers like yourself to join their team and keep up with demand from homeowners.

But before you can snag an attractive job offer at a top employer, you need to make a great impression in your job interview — and interview preparation is key to providing the most sought-after answers.

If you want to leave the best impression during your interview, take our advice garnered from interviewing hundreds of mortgage professionals as a financial services recruiter. Whether you’re a loan officer, processor, underwriter, servicer, or credit investigator, we gathered the common mortgage job interview questions you’ll want to prepare for, as well as how to answer them.

General Job Interview Questions

Regardless of the position you are interviewing for, there are some common job interview questions you will almost always be asked. Find out how to answer a few of those questions down below.

1. What do you know about our company?

To see if candidates have done their research or are interested in the company, interviewers will often ask candidates what they know about the business. Answer this question by sharing what you’ve discovered about the company in your research. Definitely touch on what the company does as a whole, but also on what makes them unique. Is there a niche focus area they highlight on their website’s “About Us” page? Has something they’ve done recently been in the news? If so, call that out in your answer and share why it aligns with why you want to work there.

  • I know that XYZ Financial is focused on providing simple, helpful financial tools to their clients, allowing them to save, borrow, and transact finances with confidence. I think that vision aligns well with my skills and experience.

2. Why do you want to work here?

Employers want candidates who want them back. If one party isn’t happy with the match, chances are that the job will be short lived. For your best chance at receiving the job offer, explain to your potential employer all of the reasons that you want to work for them. However, avoid answering with generic reasons like wanting a better salary or benefits. Instead, take a specific approach with reasons that relate specifically to the company.

  • XYZ Financial’s training program really caught my eye. It shows that the company really invests in their people as well as their clients and that is the kind of environment I want to be a part of.

3. What are your greatest strengths? Greatest weakness?

Here, employers are looking for how you can fit into the role and the various job duties. When answering, make sure to tie your strengths to the different required and desired skills the employer included in the job description. And when it comes to your weaknesses, be honest about where you hope to improve. For extra bonus points, highlight a strength or skill that you do possess that helps you overcome those weaknesses.

  • I’m a great listener and communicator, which helps me provide a great customer experience as a Loan Servicer. I would say my greatest weakness is only having a couple years of experience in the mortgage industry. However, as a fast learner I can learn the ropes and adapt very quickly.

4. Tell me about a time where you were challenged. How did you overcome it?

Show employers that you can handle tough situations by describing a time where you overcame a challenge. Whether you helped solve a disagreement or stepped into a new role, describe the steps you took to get through it and what you learned in the end.

  • With one of our underwriters leaving the team, I had to step into that role while we found a replacement. I dove in right away and focused primarily on details like credit, risk, and loan structure to ensure our loans were profitable for the business. Ultimately, this experience strengthened my lending knowledge and prepared me for any role in the lending industry.

Common Questions for Loan Officers

Below are interview questions you may be asked as a loan officer given their unique role in the company.

5. How would you bring in business when the market is dry?

Responsible for attracting new borrowers, employers want loan officers that can bring in new business in a variety of circumstances. Let employers know that you can think outside of the box to attract new clients with a range of ideas.

  • If the market is dry, I would look at my existing client list for new upsell, cross-sell, or referral opportunities that might be lurking. For example, I’ve approached existing commercial clients to see if they’re in the market for additional properties or in need of other financing services.  

6. What are three skills you think a good loan officer should have?

To make sure that applicants understand the requirements of the job, employers may ask what skills you think are necessary to be successful in the role. When answering, make sure to reference the skills they listed on the job description to show employers that you’re a great match for the role.

  • To be a successful loan officer, I believe you need strong sales or marketing experience, exceptional communication skills, and good decision making. Without those skills, I think it would be very difficult to attract new business and sell different mortgage structures to clients.

7. What sets you apart from other loan officers?

This is another way of employers asking why they should hire you. Be honest and be compelling. Share a quality or experience you possess that other candidates won’t bring to the table. Explain what makes you a rare candidate.

  • Other loan officers I’ve worked with in the past struggle to meet their deadlines. With strong organizational and time management skills, I’ve never missed a deadline and can submit loans for processing on time.

Common Questions for Loan Processors

If you’re applying to be a loan processor, here are some sample job interview questions you might be asked.

8. What is your experience level with reviewing and filing loans?

To gauge your knowledge of loan processing, employers will often ask which tasks you’ve done in the past. Give employers a good idea of your experience level by describing the primary duties you carried out as a processor in a previous position. If you don’t have previous experience to fall back on, make sure to express your interest in gaining that knowledge in this position.

  • In my last role, I carefully proofed hundreds of mortgages and recorded them with the correct government entities. This process ensured that all of our mortgages were accurate and organized in the event of an audit.

9. How proficient are you with Loan Prospector (LP) and Desktop Underwriter (DU)?

Loan processing is a technical job that requires specific knowledge and skills, including underwriting software and other tools. To provide employers with an idea of how well you know those tools, let them know how often you’ve used them in the past and why they were helpful. Don’t have experience with those tools? Mention your computer skills or fast-learning abilities to show that you can adapt.

  • I am proficient in using LP and DU as I frequently used both tools to assist in analyzing our borrowers and their level of risk.

10. As a loan processor, how would you spend your work day? Take us through an average day at work.

Walk employers through your experience as a loan processor by describing your workday in a previous role. This shows them that you understand the job duties of a loan processor and also gives them a peek at how you operate.

  • To start my day, I would first prioritize my schedule so I can work on key accounts first and foremost. From there, I would proceed with processing each loan carefully, looking for potential mistakes, typos, or inaccuracies. Once finished with processing, I would ensure that each loan is filed with the correct entity, double-checking my work as I go.

Common Questions for Underwriters

For specific underwriter interview questions, check out the questions down below.

11. When reviewing a loan, what areas would you be most concerned with?

Responsible for crafting the loan structure, employers need and want a knowledgeable underwriter on their mortgage team. To show that you know what you’re doing, tell employers the top three things you look for in borrowers and how it impacts your mortgage structures.

  • I follow the three C’s of underwriting: credit, capacity, and collateral. If a borrower has those three qualities, they’re less likely to default. This ultimately reduces the risk of the mortgage and makes profitability more achievable for the lender.  

12. Tell me about a time where you suggested a new mortgage structure. What led to your decision?

Once again, this question is aimed at determining your knowledge level with different loan structures and figuring out your decision making process. For this question, we recommend using an example from your previous work history as this gives employers an inside look into your experience level and how you work.

  • I had a mortgage cross my desk that had a loan-to-value that was a little too high for the property type. To reduce the loan-to-value, I suggested a larger down payment.

13. What is risk layering?

This question is pretty straightforward and is asked to make sure you understand the financial and lending industry. When asked to define standard industry terms, it’s important that you explain them clearly and confidently.

  • Risk layering is when a borrower has multiple risks across their credit, capacity, or collateral. For example, if a borrower is investing in a condo as a rental property, has a self-employed renter, and a high LTV, there are several risk factors that would cause a lender to be cautious. While the borrower has great credit and a decent capacity, the layers of risk are too great for the collateral, providing enough cause for the loan to be denied.

Common Questions for Credit Investigators

If you’re a credit investigator, you might be asked some of the questions we included for you below.

14. What do you look for when analyzing an applicant’s credit? Walk me through your process.

As a credit investigator, it’s important that you know where to look as well as what to look for to uncover any potential risk in borrowers. Indicate to employers that you know what to look for with your approach to credit analysis by explaining your own process.

  • They need to demonstrate an ability to pay off debt and have enough liquidity to make payments. I’ll also research for additional items like non-sufficient funds fees to see if borrowers have a history of poor financial management.

15. How is risk assessment calculated?

Let employers know that you’re familiar with risk assessment by explaining how risk assessment is scored and how it can help lending institutions.

  • Risk assessment is calculated by taking the expected or potential loss and multiplying it by the probability that the loss will occur. A risk assessment score helps quantify a borrower’s risk and potential impact on the lender, making it a really helpful score for denying or approving mortgages.

16. Tell me about a time you discovered a risky applicant. How did you handle it?

Identifying and finding risk in potential borrowers is only half of the job for a credit investigator. Once identified, there’s still the matter of helping the loan reach the approval or denial stage. If you’re asked this question, speak from your experience and share what your recommendations were for the underwriter or loan officer.

  • I discovered a borrower that had a little too much credit card debt. Their other assets made them a decent borrowing candidate, but to offset the risk, I recommended to the underwriter that the mortgage was restructured to an FHA loan to protect against a default.

Common Questions for Loan Servicers

As a loan servicer, make sure you prepare for your interview with the following questions.

17. Tell me about a time where you had to service a difficult customer. What did you do?

Considering that loan servicers provide customer service to borrowers, employers want to know if you can effectively handle their accounts, no matter how difficult they might be. Using a time from your previous positions, tell employers about how you’ve handled difficult customers in the past. While you need to stay honest, make sure you paint the customer in a decent light. As a servicer, it’s important that you show empathy with customers even when they’re unreasonable.

  • I had a customer seeking out an extended grace period for their mortgage payment. I explained that I understood where they were coming from and encouraged them to make the payment as soon as possible to reduce the chance of receiving a late fee.

18. Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer.

As one of the most customer-facing roles, show employers that you can and have made a customer’s day before. If you can think of a specific time where you went the extra mile for a customer, explain what you did and how it was unique. Struggling to come up with something? Your example doesn’t have to be from your time as a loan servicer, it can be from another position or even from another industry.

  • I had a customer call in near the end of our business hours. Instead of asking her to call back while we were open, I stayed on the line with her until all of her questions were answered. I was late to dinner that night, but it was worth it!

19. What do you feel makes for a good customer experience?

While some professionals can follow protocol and handle customer inquiries, that doesn’t mean they’re providing a great customer experience. Only individuals that are passionate about customer service and understand what makes good service can provide it to customers in spades.

  • I believe that accurate listening and understanding customer pain points are the most important for the customer experience. Without those two things, customers won’t feel valued and you won’t be able to give them the help they’re looking for.

Prepare. Practice. Perform.

Job interviews are naturally stressful situations, but if you can follow these interview do’s and don’ts and answer the above questions with honesty and confidence, the job offer is yours for the taking.

After you crush your interview, a good thank-you note goes a long way. View these post-interview thank-you letter tips to make sure your note leaves the perfect impression.

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