Interview Preparation and Planning Tips Part Three: Underwriter Interview Questions

Posted on February 11th, 2011 by Stacey Sprain
Stacey Sprain
About The Author
Stacey Sprain - As an NAMP® staff writer, Ms. Stacey Sprain is currently a NAMP® member in good standing, and is a NAMP® Certified Ambassador Loan Processor (NAMP®-CALP). With over 15+ years of mortgage banking experience, Stacey is also a Quality Control Manager for a major mortgage lending institution. If you would like to become a volunteer writer for us, please email us at: contact@mortgageprocessor.org.
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If you’ve been following along with this series, you know that last week I provided some things to consider when creating an organized interview process. I also shared my personal list of processor interview questions. This week, I would like to share my underwriter interview questions with you. If you are looking for underwriting assistance, feel free to pick and choose from my list of questions to create your own customized list of standard underwriter interview questions.

The more questions you ask, the more thorough the information you will obtain to evaluate the candidates and make the best hiring decisions for your department. Be sure to ask a line of questions that will allow you to determine if the interviewee’s background and experience will be the right fit for your needs. Never hire in a hurry based on fast decisions because those tend to be decisions you end up regretting no matter how desperate the need for help!

GENERAL QUESTIONS TO GATHER BACKGROUND & EXPERIENCE INFO

How did you hear about/what do you know about our company?

How long have you been underwriting?

What brought you to underwriting- Can you explain/summarize your career path to date?

What types of loan files have you most recently underwritten?
•Conventional?
•FHA?
•VA?
•USDA?
•State-Specific?

Would you say that the majority of your experience has been underwriting to a single lender’s guidelines or are you used to dealing with multiple lender’s guidelines?

•What lender guidelines are you most familiar underwriting to?
•Has the majority of your experience been underwriting for retail or wholesale lending environment(s)?

What range/area have you typically underwritten for to date?
•Are you used to underwriting for multiple states, sometimes far outside your home range?
•Are there a particular list of states you are most familiar with underwriting?
•How do track such state and region-specific property issues and topics?
•How would you enter a situation where you might receive a file to underwrite for a state you have never underwritten for?

Are you used to keeping track of multiple websites, logins, passwords used for daily underwriting duties?

Has your underwriting experience included daily or weekly file quotas regarding a specific number of files you have been expected to underwrite on a regular basis?
•Can you explain a bit about any quotas/volume expectations you’ve experienced to date?
•Have you felt the expectations were fair or have you run into concerns/issues?

Describe the hours of your typical work week:

Are you available to work extra hours in the evenings or on weekends if/when needed?

Do you feel you are organized when it comes to multi-tasking and balancing a high-pressure workload?

How do you prioritize your daily workload/How do you keep track of things you need to do?

Explain your current system of workflow- walk me through a file from start to finish:

How do you deal with poorly processed submissions received in underwriting?

Do you have any problem launching complaints and/or communicating in regards to poor file quality or what you feel may be training needs for particular processors?

How do you deal with conflicts as you run across them in underwriting?

What types of questions or other needs do you commonly rely on support personnel to assist you with?

What do you find are your biggest challenges in regards to underwriting?

What do you feel are your greatest strengths?

What is do you enjoy most about underwriting loan files?

What is your least favorite part of underwriting loan files?

CONVENTIONAL-SPECIFIC QUESTIONING

If applicable, when did you last underwrite a conventional file?

Do you have experience underwriting high-balance conforming loan files?

•If so, when did you last underwrite a high-balance file?
•If so, are you completely comfortable underwriting high balance loan files?

Do you have experience underwriting non-conforming/jumbo loan files?

•If so, when did you last underwrite a jumbo file?
•If so, is/was there a maximum amount you are/were authorized to underwrite?
•If so, what types of overlays applied for jumbo underwriting?
•Are you completely comfortable underwriting jumbo loan files?

Are you comfortable navigating and utilizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac websites and selling guides?

Do you know where to find and utilize the DU and Loan Prospector User Guides?

How well do you feel you know Fannie and Freddie AUS systems?
Have you dealt with DO/DU or LP and with mainly investor-specific custom DU/LP AUS?

How do you stay current on important Fannie/Freddie updates and changes?

How many well-processed conventional loans do you feel are fair to expect be underwritten on a daily basis based on your underwriting experience to date?

FHA-SPECIFIC QUESTIONING

Are you currently authorized to underwrite FHA loans?
•If so, how long have you been underwriting FHAs?
•If so, when did you underwrite your last FHA loan?
•If so, what is your CHUMS id?
•Have you underwritten FHA purchase?
•Have you underwritten FHA newly constructed properties?
oAre you familiar with/comfortable with new construction less than 1yr requirements?
•Have you reviewed and underwritten non-HUD approved condos for spot loan approval?
oAre you familiar with/comfortable with spot loan reviews and approval decisions?
•Have you reviewed and underwritten manufactured housing for FHA?

How many well-processed FHA loans do you feel are fair to expect be underwritten on a daily basis based on your underwriting experience to date?

VA-SPECIFIC QUESTIONING

Are you currently authorized to underwrite VA loans?
•If so, how long have you been underwriting VAs?
•If so, when did you underwrite your last VA loan?
•If so, what is your SARS id?
•Have you underwritten VA purchases?
•Have you underwritten VA cash out refinances?
•Have you underwritten VA IRRRL?
•Have you underwritten VA newly constructed properties?
oAre you familiar with/comfortable with new construction less than 1yr requirements?
•Have you underwritten manufactured homes for VA?

How many well-processed VA loans do you feel are fair to expect be underwritten on a daily basis based on your underwriting experience to date?

COMPUTER/TECHNICAL-RELATED QUESTIONING

How would you rate your computer skills on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being highest?
What weaknesses do you feel you possess regarding computer skills?
•Have you ever used Outlook for email correspondence?
oAre you comfortable relying on and utilizing email for regular correspondence and communications?
•Have you ever utilized dual monitor screens?
oIf so, are you comfortable using two monitors in your daily workflow?
•Are you comfortable navigating and utilizing the internet and web on a regular basis?
•Do you know how to set up and utilize favorites?
•Do you feel you are a good “investigator” when it comes to hunting down the answers to particular questions that come up on occasion?

How do you prefer to communicate with processors during the underwriting of their loan file? Email? Phone?

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONING
How comfortable are you with documentation standards and requirements regarding automated underwriting via DO/DU and LP?

•Do you refer to the DU and LP user guides on a regular basis?
•Have you ever read the guides cover to cover?

How confident are you with reviewing file documents such as bank statements?
Paystubs? Appraisals? Tax returns for self-employed income calculations? Tax returns for investment property income/losses?

How confident do you feel with reviewing and making hard decisions on appraisals?
•Are you experienced with utilizing outside systems to assist with validating collateral values? If so, what systems do you utilize and/or are you familiar with?

How confident are you in making crucial decisions while still recognizing when something is outside of your authority or comfort level?

Do you/have you relied on reports to track your underwriting pipeline? Do you have experience pulling reports regularly to determine if files have aged past expiration and this need to be cancelled, withdrawn or denied?

Need FHA Training? CLICK HERE: http://www.FHA-Classes.org

FRAUD/MISREPRESENTATION QUESTIONING

Have you encountered fraud/misrepresentation in any file(s) you were responsible for underwriting?
•If so, explain how you handled the situation and the outcome:

What kinds of things have you found are the most influential indicators of potential fraud/misrepresentation?

Are you familiar with the top 5 or so most commonly fraudulent states in the country- do you know which states are included in the list?

Can you explain what types of fraud training and education you’ve experienced to date?
•When was your most recently attended fraud training/education session?
•Did you find it informative/useful?
•What if anything did you learn?

Can you explain what types of things in a file might lead you to seek out further information to rule out a suspicion of potential misrep/fraud?

Has your experience to date included the use of any additional fraud detection tools or software? If so, please explain:

CHALLENGE QUESTIONS

Within the office, how do you feel that the rest of the staff view you and your role?
•If we were to talk to others who work around you, what do you think they would say about you?

What was your reason for leaving each of your past employers?

•Which did you like best and why?
•Which did you dislike most and why?

Explain what makes you different and/or more valuable than other persons I may interview?

Why should I consider hiring you to fill this role in the underwriting department?
•What might you be able to offer that we may not find in other candidates for this position?
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I recommend ending the interview with a statement such as the following which will lead you into your review of the written job description you prepared following the advice of article number one of this series:

“Thank you, I appreciate all the information you’ve given today. It will be very helpful in the decision-making process. Now let me explain to you exactly what I am looking for in this role and what YOUR responsibilities would be…”

I also suggest including some verbiage opportunities such as the following based on your conversation thus far with the candidate:

“This is an area where I suspect you may struggle, experience challenges/weaknesses that we can work on”

“This is where I feel confident you will shine”

“This is/these are the next steps in this process”

“You can expect a call or email from myself or someone else by _________.”

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Be sure to record thorough notes regarding how the candidate answered your lines of questioning and be sure to include comments on the applicant’s appearance and personality during the interview. These things will help you specifically remember the candidate in the future if you should have a stack of resumes and interviews to conduct before making the hiring decision(s).

Next week we’ll talk about formatting an orientation and training plan for the new hire(s).

Need FHA Training? CLICK HERE: http://www.FHA-Classes.org

SOURCE: Published by NAMP® Publishing Group, a division of the National Association of Mortgage Processors (NAMP) (http://www.mortgageprocessor.org)


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