Interview Preparation and Planning Tips Part Two: Creating Interview Questions and Script

Written By: Stacey Sprain

In part one of this series; I advised on the necessity of creating and maintaining written job descriptions for each position within your firm. By creating the actual job description in written format, you’ve given thought to the exact job responsibilities, qualification requirements, experience needs and expectations to lay the groundwork for successful interviewing and hiring. The next step is to take the information you’ve accumulated in the thought process, and turn it into written interview questions.

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Having a standard script in place helps you to streamline and refine the overall interview process and keep your notes and records organized consistently. Some things to consider when creating your interview script and questions:

• Will you conduct only one interview upon which to base a hiring decision?
• Will you conduct a first and second interview?
• Will you involve any other associates or personnel in either the first or second interview stages?
• Is there any sort of written “test” you might wish to administer that might be helpful in thoroughly evaluating and choosing the best candidate for the job?
• Will you require an actual job application or other paperwork such as references be completed at either the first or second interview stage?
• Will the hiring decision be made by one person alone or with the input and feedback of a number of individuals who will need to be involved?
• How much time to you have to fill the position in question?
• How will you divide out the various phases of the interview and hire process on a timeline so that the final new hire will be starting at the exact time you need the position filled?
• Exactly how long do you believe the standard interview and hire process should take? Can you interview, make a decision, extend an offer, confirm a start date and bring the new employee on board in a day? A week? Two weeks? A month?
• How many candidates do you feel you will want to review to feel comfortable that you’ve made the right decision to fill the position? How many candidates are you anticipating will apply?

All of these things need to be taken into consideration when creating and organizing a system for interviewing and hiring. The last thing you want to do is hire someone who ends up going through all of the interviewing, on-boarding, orientation and training processes only to quit immediately thereafter. What a frustrating waste of everyone’s time!

On the other hand, you also don’t want someone to start, take the time on-boarding and training only for you to have to let them go early on due to conflicts or an inability to perform in the position. It’s important you have all of your “ducks in a row” to make sure these things don’t happen. The key is being as thorough as possible with your screening and interview questions.

I like to think of each new employee as a company investment because in truth, that is exactly what each person is. BUT if the company doesn’t have specific interviewing and hiring questions and procedures in place, bad investments are no ones fault but the company’s.

Here is my personal list of processor interview questions I have been asked to share on occasion. I have found these to be a very thorough and successful list of questions that can be slightly edited to apply to a variety of work environments and positions. By using these questions, we were able to hire on one of the most valuable team members in our company. I’ve been distributing this question script ever since.

1. How long have you been processing?
2. Where/how did you learn to process?
3. Were you taught by reading manual and guidelines or did you learn from watching and learning from others?
4. Has your background in processing been with a broker, banker or both?
5. Has your experience included packaging and submitting loans to a single lender or have you been responsible for packaging and submitting to multiple lenders?
6. Have you had to package and submit loans to MI companies for either contract underwriting or mortgage insurance? If so, which MI companies are you familiar with?
7. What is your most recent experience processing
a. Conventional Conforming loans?
b. Conventional high balance conforming loans?
c. FHA?
d. VA?
e. USDA Rural Housing?

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Let’s talk a bit about your work history.

1. Walk me through the flow a of particular loan file as it passed through your desk. At what stage do you receive it?
2. What are your responsibilities/what are you expected to do with it?
3. At what point does the file leave your desk and your realm of responsibility and move on to the next person?
4. Are you responsible for “editing” loan documentation or do you just have to request the documents and pass them on? (Meaning do you know how to edit paystubs, bank statements, tax returns, etc. to check for accuracy, compliance, qualifying etc?)
5. What types of loans did you process for each employer listed?
6. How many loan officers have you recently processed for?
7. What is the highest number of loan officers you’ve ever processed for?
8. What states have you processed loans for?
9. Are you licensed to originate or process in any particular state(s)?
10. Which employer did you enjoy working for most?
11. Least? Why?
12. If you could improve certain elements of your job with your most recent employer, what is it that you would want to change?
13. How do you keep current on federal compliance rules and regulations?
14. Are you aware of state-specific compliance requirements in your own state? Can you name any disclosure requirements that you are aware of?
15. If you are asked to process a loan for property in a state you are not familiar with, how do you learn about state-specific requirements and compliance needs?

What do you feel is your favorite thing about loan processing?
What are the biggest challenges you face in processing?
What would you say is your biggest strength? Weakness?
What would you truly like to learn to do better when it comes to processing?

How do you keep track of all of the various deadlines associated with your pipeline?
How do you determine your daily work priorities?
Do you feel you do a good job of juggling multiple tasks at one time on a consistent basis?
Have you ever learned from a costly or careless mistake?

What lenders are you familiar working with?
Are you familiar with their websites and guidelines?
Is it normal for you to seek out investor guidelines to make sure particular loans meet guideline as you process them?
Are you familiar with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Selling Guides? How well do you feel you know standard FNMA/FHLMC guidelines?
Do you have experience using Desktop Originator? Underwriter? Loan Prospector?

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how confident are you with your knowledge and skill regarding DO? DU? LP?
Do you know where to find the DU and LP guides? Have you read them? Do you refer to them occasionally or on a regular basis?
Does your processing experience include coordinating closings and fundings?
Requesting or drawing closing docs?
Have you ever had to provide files for audits? Explain those experiences and any audit results you can share.
How confident are you with reviewing paystubs to calculate income accurately?

Bank statements? Tax returns for self-employed borrowers? Business returns?
Do you have issue speaking directly with applicants/borrowers to request documentation or follow up for documentation when needed?
As an experienced processor, what do you feel is the role of the loan officer? What do you expect of them? What will you absolutely NOT tolerate from a loan officer? Can you explain or share any experiences and how you handled them?
How do you go about dealing with personality conflicts?

How confident are you in making crucial decisions and knowing when something is outside of your control re: communicating loan officer issues to management?
Within the office, how do you feel that the rest of the staff view you and your role?
Explain what makes you different and/or more valuable than other persons I may interview? What might you be able to offer that I may not find in another candidate?
Why should I consider hiring you to fill this role for my company?

Thanks for answering all of those questions for me; I appreciate you taking the time. Now let ME explain to you exactly what the expectations would be for you if you are the person who is hired to fill this role:

Do you feel that you can meet the expectations I’ve explained? Anything I mentioned that sounds challenging?

This concludes our interview for today. Thanks again for taking the time out of your day to personally demonstrate your interest in our company. Here is what happens next…

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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:

Opinion-Editorial (Op-Ed) Disclaimer For NAMP® Library Articles: The views and opinions expressed in the NAMP® Library articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official NAMP® policy or position. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world application as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of NAMP®. Nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice.