5 Questions To Ask During Every Interview

In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about recruiting. In addition to having recently discussed the topic on the radio show I host, I’ve also been reading about various educational initiatives to get new people interested in the mortgage industry. As more people from various backgrounds and with various skill sets consider entering the industry, we may have to approach interviewing potential candidates in new ways. Of course, there will be specific questions you’ll have to ask candidates about they role they are applying for, but are there more general questions you should as everyone?

Yes, I think there are. If you want to take advantage of this coming influx of talent into the industry, you’ve got to ask questions that force people to reveal their attitudes and intentions. That’s what the interview is for. It gives you a sense of the applicant that you can’t get from a test score. Here are some questions I think you may want to ask to everyone who wants a position in your company…

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What is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness? While this question may seem cliché, it’s important because it tells you not only how the applicants see themselves but also reveals the extent to which they’ve thought about their professional development. Don’t look for any particular answers. Almost anything can be both a strength and a weakness. What really matters is how the candidates answer the question. If they emphasis their continuous improvement of both their strengths and their weaknesses, you’re probably looking at a winner.

Why are you leaving your current employer? Or, why did you leave your previous employer? You want to make sure you aren’t the rebound company–that you’re not just a temporary stop because they couldn’t make it work with the last company. You also want to be made aware of any potential problems. On this one, you’ll want to listen to what isn’t being said.

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Why are you interested in working for this company? Here is where you give the candidates a chance to demonstrate the research, or lack thereof, that they’ve done on your organization. Look for answers pertaining to their desire to help an organization grow or opportunities for them to advance. But, whatever the answer, look for evidence that they are really invested in working for you and they aren’t simply applying because you’re hiring.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now? There are countless benefits to hiring employees for the long haul. You’ll save time and money on hiring and training. Also, employees’ skill sets and knowledge of the industry naturally develop as time goes by. The longer employees stay with you, the more productive and effective they will be in your company. Look for candidates who see themselves moving up or around in your company.

Of all the candidates applying for this position, why should we hire you? This is the candidate’s final pitch. It’s his opportunity to demonstrate that he is confident enough in his abilities to vouch for his own work. Obviously, a touch of humility is always nice. But, at the end of the day, if the candidate cannot sell himself over the rest, how can you be expected to buy? The best candidates should be able to answer this question without skipping a beat.

About The Author

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David Lykken has garnered a national reputation as a visionary, entrepreneur and business leader within the mortgage industry. He has also become a regular guest on the FOX Business News with Neil Cavuto, Stuart Varney, Liz Claman, Dave Asman and others. He has been a special guest of Governor Mike Huckabee on FOX News’ #1 weekend rated program “Huckabee”. He has appeared several times on the CBS Evening News, Bloomberg TV & radio, NPR and many radio shows. On matters related to the economy, housing and mortgage lending, David is frequently quoted in leading newspapers across the country as well as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. Additionally, David has his own national weekly radio program called “Lykken On Lending” that can be heard each Monday at Noon Central time by going to www.LykkenOnLending.com . As co-founder and Managing Partner of KLS Consulting doing business as Mortgage Banking Solutions, David Lykken has over 37 years of management experience as an owner/operator with in depth expertise in real estate finance and housing. His knowledge and skills comprise a unique blend of technology and business strategy. Above all else, David loves helping business owners and executives navigate through extremely difficult business circumstances helping them overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles while rediscovering themselves and their passion for life and living. Dave is married, has two daughters and currently resides in the beautiful Hill Country of Central Texas near Austin, Texas. David received a bachelor's degree in 1973 year from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.

Technology Slippage

The MBA’s Technology Conference just passed us by. Other than the special events, such as the awards ceremony presented by Progress in Lending, there was very little excitement building up to the meetings. Yes, the topic for the first general session was one that interested many people since disruptive technology has rapidly become a part of the technologist’s lexicon, but beside this, there didn’t seem to be a lot of new exciting advances to discuss. Unfortunately there really should be.

One of the largest gaps still existing in technology is the support that is needed by risk management, most specifically in the areas of regulatory compliance and quality control. These areas, which are now the focus of regulators, investors and consumers have had little, if any, technological breakthroughs in since the emergence of automated underwriting. While there are some companies that have developed internal calculations for such issues as high cost loans, the reality is that the result still have to input into another system for inclusion in the overall loan analysis.

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Such issues as the “Ability to Repay” (ATR) and “Qualified Mortgages” (QM) are still primarily evaluated by individual underwriters who are subject to making mistakes no matter how hard they work at getting it right, or how many times it is checked. Another issue that has been with us for years, is HMDA data. Regardless of how many validity and quality checks built into the HMDA geo-coding programs, the fact of the matter is that numerous errors are still found in the HMDA data. These programs don’t check for such things as manufactured data or loans that are not included in the LAR. A recent study by the Mortgage True View’s HMDAnalysis program found that the total number of loans submitted on the LAR matched the number in the LOS system, but unfortunately few, if any, of the dates of origination and decision actually matched what was in the LOS or loan files. This analysis also showed that, on average, lenders approved loans with income of around $48,000 for every $100,000 loaned. However, some lenders required as much as $66,000 per $100,000 and one lender was as low as $17,000 income for each $100,,000 lent. Why do lenders not know this before they submit their LAR’s? Where is the technology to test this data before it is submitted? Is there any wonder we have to contend with all he accusations of unfair lending practices?

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Of course, Quality Control programs are not any better. They still are basically an automated checklist that individuals must complete in order to conduct the loan file review. We continue to use paper documents to reverify the information included in the loan decision process and provide a subjective analysis of the results. Of course, agency requirements preclude many changes to this process, but surely there are some advancements in technology to not only speed the process but make it more objective. There are risk models in existence today that evaluate operational mistakes to the probability of default but are not being used because there is no technology to support them. There are sampling programs that are run independent of the QC process that exclude the possibility of providing management with information that tells them the issues found in the review are not just random mistakes, but real process issues that need to be addressed, which would allow them to focus on the things that will improve their operational efficiency instead of chasing random error issues.

Technology has proven to be a valuable part of the mortgage lending programs. However, if those involved in technology can’t come up with some advanced support for managing risk, it will become nothing more than window dressing and lenders will, out of necessity, look for that disruptive technology that can handle their problems.

About The Author

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Rebecca Walzak
rjbWalzak Consulting, Inc. was founded and is led by Rebecca Walzak, a leader in operational risk management programs in all areas of the consumer lending industry. In addition to consulting experience in mortgage banking, student lending and other types of consumer lending, she has hands on practical experience in these organizations as well as having held numerous positions from top to bottom of the consumer lending industry over the past 25 years.