There’s nothing easier than getting a loan today. People are bombarded with offers. Billboards, online ads, text messages, phone calls. Everyone wants to lend you some money (for a seemingly great interest rate), so why wouldn’t you accept the offer, buy a new car, head for a luxury holiday, or enjoy one endless night in Las Vegas, and waste it all on playing slot machines?
People love to get into debt. It’s almost a cultural thing. Americans carry an average personal debt of over $90,000. Living in the moment, forgetting about the future–but only until the day when the phone rings, and they have to pay the next installment for their debt, but have no money on their bank account. Or do not want to pay, and prefer to spend their money for something else.
That’s when Debt Collectors enter the game. You will try to get the money for your employer–be it a bank, a money lending institution, ISP provider, car dealer, or any other company that sells something to the customers on debt.
Let’s have a look at the questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting job, which does not require higher education or previous experience in the field from the applicants.
Why do you want to work as a Debt Collector?
Just do not say that you want to help people. That’s the stupidest answer ever, though internet is full of such suggestions… If you really wanted to help people, you would apply for a job in healthcare, social work, education. Or you would sell your possessions, and join some non-profit organization in Africa or Middle East, helping the victims of poverty and war conflicts.
Debt Collectors are not supposed to help people. Your employer expects you to put pressure on the debtor, to motivate them to pay out the debt. Things always start with a friendly reminder, but if that doesn’t work, the distraint warrant is not far from the mailbox of the debtor…
So, focus on your communication and negotiation skills. You do not expect many friendly talks in this job. But you have some guts, you know how to talk on the phone, and believe you will make the people pay. What’s more, you understand that many people are in debt, this job is here to stay, and you see it as a great career choice for someone with your education (high school diploma) and experience (little or none). It pays better than most jobs for people with similar qualification.
How do you imagine a typical day in work as a debt collector?
Two things are most important here: Ensure them that you expect to spend a lot of time on the phone, and show proactive approach to work.
Keeping it on your mind, you can talk about a typical day. Ideally you should explain some system you want to have in work.
You will likely have your master sheet in MS Excel, or some online database, with the names and contact details of debtors, and other details (payment history, demographic information about the debtor, etc). This will be your main working document, and it doesn’t matter whether you will search for debtors, or someone else will update the list.
Anyway, working with the database, you will make phone calls, send emails and letters, and, following a certain set of steps, you will work with each debtor, trying your best to eventually get the money they owe the company, or other creditor.
You call to a debtor who has missed four payments in a row. They start talking about their difficulties and get emotional. How will you react?
There’s no place for emotions in an effective debt collection. Ensure the interviewers that you will stick to facts, and the emotions of the debtor won’t have any impact on your decisions.
There is certainly some procedure for dealing with different debtors. Unless they have some exceptional record with the company, or we speak here about a big client, four missed payments is simply one too many… Your phone call is likely the last one they will get, and legal action will follow.
And that’s exactly what you will do on the call–you will let them speak, listen to them, let them cry. Once they are done, you may show some empathy, but you will simply explain the next steps, and the options they have at the moment–partial payment can be one of them.
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You are calling to the debtor, and sending them text messages. But they are not answering. What will you do in this situation?
Questions like this are your chance to demonstrate that you prefer proactive approach to work, and have some guts. If the debtor is not answering your calls, say that you will call them to work. You are not allowed to visit them at work (that’s forbidden by law), but you can call them, or the secretary, and ask to talk to them.
Such a call will certainly put some pressure on them. The last thing you want to experience as an employee is getting calls from debt collectors to your office. People start gossiping, and the next hing you know is that you sit in the office of the director and stutter, trying to explain things.
You can even take your answer one step further. If you fail to reach them at work, say that you will not mind visiting them at home. And if they do not reply, after everything you tried, you will proceed with a legal action.
How do you feel about working with certain targets each month, such as number of debts or debt volume you should collect?
Whether you like it or not, in most places you will have to meet monthly targets. But these goals are typically realistic, based on historical data–the average debt volume collectors managed to collect in each given month of the year.
Ensure the interviewers that you do not mind having targets. At the end of the day, you didn’t expect to sit in your comfy office doing nothing. And targets help you to try a bit harder, and perhaps earn a nice bonus at the end of the month. That’s the attitude they seek in a good applicant for the job.
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This job can be quite stressful. Some people may be offensive, or even aggressive. How do you plan to deal with that?
The most important thing is to ensure them that you see your job realistically. People won’t be happy to get your calls. Many will hang up, some will start crying, and some may even threaten to do something bad to you. It is all a result of a difficult situations they experience, and the associated emotions. And that’s exactly what you should refer to in your interview.
Certainly, some people will tell you bad things, or they will hang up. But you won’t take these things personally. And you won’t let emotions to interfere with your work. You will simply follow a predefined system of steps with each debtor, trying your best to collect the money. It doesn’t matter what they say to you. And if someone threatens you seriously, you won’t hesitate to contact the police.
Stress also belongs to the job–just like to almost any other one. You count with that, and do not think that it should impact you negatively in a significant way…
Other questions you may face in your interview for a debt collector job
- Some people may feel bad about working as debt collectors. How do you look on your future job?
- Are there any things you should avoid mentioning when talking to a debtor?
- One of our clients has a great record with the company. They were with us for over three years and always paid on time. Now, however, they missed three payments in a row. Will you approach them as you’d approach any other debtor, or will you opt for an individual approach to this client?
- In your opinion, what role does reporting and monitoring play in a job of a debt collector?
- What motivates you the most in this type of work?
- Tell us about a time when you struggled to communicate something to someone (perhaps because they didn’t like what they were listening to). How did you eventually manage to get your message over?
- Tell us about the last time when you had to apologize to someone.
- What does integrity mean to you?
- What are your salary expectations?
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Interview for a job of a debt collector belongs to interviews with average difficulty. You may face some tricky behavioral and situational questions. What’s more, you will have to convince the hiring managers of your readiness for the harsh reality of the job, and sometimes also for the high expectations of your employer.
On the flip side, this isn’t a popular job title, and you typically won’t compete with many other applicants for the position. Which, of course, makes your situation a bit easier…
Try to prepare for the questions, and do not forget to do some research about your future employer. I hope you will succeed, and wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Collection Specialist interview questions – Many questions overlap with the interview for debt collector. Learn how to answer them and improve your chances of succeeding.
- How to overcome interview nerves – Feeling nervous before the start of your interview? Learn how to get rid of anxiety and deliver your very best on the big day.