National Electronic Payments Month

Interviewing the Next Top Gun

eidson samAs we all know, hiring employees is an expense. While it’s far more cost effective to retain and develop whom we have, turnover and growth make hiring new employees a necessity. Implementing a formal interview process allows an organization to be selective when searching for their next successful collector. Finding the right fit to join your team is important to any organization no matter the industry. Today we are going to discuss a few of the things we do to separate us from our competitors. Being prepared prior to interviewing candidates is a must. Not only are we interviewing the applicant, they are interviewing us. Not being prepared, having a messy office or being unorganized could discourage an applicant from accepting your offer.

We recently revamped our interviewing process and it all starts with pre-screening the applicant via phone interview. During our phone interview we explain the position so the applicant knows what to expect especially if they’ve never collected before. After explaining the job description we ask the following questions:

• What do you know about our organization?

• Why are you interested in collections – or – how many years experience do you have?

• We go over our schedule and ask if they have an issue working our scheduled shift? Being flexible is a plus.

• Do you have means of transportation to get to work?

• Tell me about your computer experience?

• What compensation are you looking for?

We’ve found that pre-screening applicants brings value by ensuring we interview candidates that have the willingness and ability to do our job. So long as the applicant passes our phone interview process we will have them come in for a live interview. The most important part of the interview is the beginning. This is the applicant’s opportunity to make a great initial impression on the interviewer. While not a deal breaker, the first impression is weighed heavily. Showing up late or not being presentable can be detrimental even if the applicant has a glowing resume. During the interview we ask a variety of questions that differ for those with experience versus those without. We ask open-ended questions requiring the applicant to elaborate which allows us to determine whether they are an ideal fit for the organization both personally and professionally. For example we will ask applicants with experience what portfolios they’ve worked, budgets they’ve been responsible for and may even test their compliance knowledge by asking questions off of our FDCPA test or something as simple as having them recite the mini-Miranda. Below are a few additional questions we ask during the interview:

• What motivates you?

• How do you rate your verbal communication skills on a scale of 1-10? Why did you give yourself that rating?

• What would you do if a person on the phone became rude or upset?

• What type of pace do you like in a work environment?

• Describe the work environment or culture in which you are the most productive and happy?

• Provide an example of a time when you were able to demonstrate excellent listening skills. What was the situation and the outcome?

• Share an experience in which you successfully shared a difficult piece of information.

• Describe the last time you got really stressed at work? How did you cope? What happened in the end and how were you able to overcome it?

Interviewing those without experience can be even more challenging. We don’t have the luxury to test their knowledge of the industry so we look for certain attributes that make successful collectors. We want someone who is money motivated but also look for those who have the desire to learn, advance and grow with our organization. Confidence is an attribute that an applicant must have in order to be a successful collector. In addition, being well spoken is important for them to be understood over the phone. And last but not least the applicant must have a positive mental attitude. I’ve always said that consumers have a sixth sense when it comes to dealing with collectors. If the collector doesn’t have the attributes mentioned above it will be difficult for them to find success.

While the aforementioned techniques can help an organization find their next top gun there will always be exceptions. We’ve had applicants who interviewed very well and fallen flat on their face and we’ve also given a chance to applicants who don’t interview well that end up being a top performer.

Sam Eidson is the Director of Compliance for Delta Outsource Group, Inc. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Collectors Association.