As a Branch Manager or Loan Officer, you’re looking to advance your career or find a better fit for your talents. We get it and want to help you find that new position by providing guidelines for interviewing in the most effective and powerful way possible over the phone and in-person.
In Part 1 below, we give you guidelines for an effective general approach to that first interview.
Part 2 is a separate article, and in it we list 10 of the most commonly asked interview questions and provide you with the best answers/approaches to those questions.
Before you begin Part 1, remember this central principle:
Your goal for the first interview is to get to the second one!
Guideline 1: At the Beginning of the Interview, It’s Not About You; It’s About Them!
Right from the start of any interview, the hiring authority is looking at you to answer the central question in their mind: Beyond all your skills and experience, are you a good fit for our organization?
Obviously, every company wants a talented and successful Branch Manager or Loan Officer, but not at the price of throwing sand into the gears of their organization due to ego or other problems. So, this means that your first order of business is to…demonstrate that you’re a team player!
To achieve that goal, conduct due diligence on the company well before the interview. Seek information from a variety of sources – Google, former employees, branch managers and loan officers who are in the know, etc. Find out what the company goals and principles are, their areas of specialty, etc. Then put all that information together. That way, during the interview you can demonstrate to the interviewer that you have an in-depth understanding of his or her company – and are the consummate team player.
Guideline 2: Focus on the Value You Bring to the Table.
Before the interview, sit down and write out a list of the valuable accomplishments, skills and attitudes you bring to the company.
Writing them down will help you create a thoroughly positive portrait of your abilities as a branch manager or loan officer. The list should include tangible accomplishments like production numbers, etc., and intangibles like the ability to create long-term customer relationships, contribute to teamwork, etc.
Then, use the items on that list during the interview to demonstrate your commitment to bringing value to the hiring company. Again, it’s what you can do for them!
Of course, avoid any topic that creates a bad impression in the hiring authority’s mind! These subjects include:
- Complaining about current or past employers.
- Any personal issues (divorce or separation, the need to make money quickly, drug or alcohol issues, etc.)
- Reluctance to accept training or lack of commitment to learning, etc.
These issues are “red flags” to the interviewer and will get you eliminated from other consideration. And, since they have so much potential to create negativity, avoid talking about these subjects as well:
- Sexual orientation, etc.
In short, keep the focus firmly on the business at hand, and you’ll have a successful interview.
Guideline 3: Save the Money Talk for Later.
It’s always tempting to talk money, but the first interview is definitely not the time to do it, if you can avoid the subject. Such talk leaves the impression that you’re interested only in compensation and not actually committing to the team concept.
And, equally important, don’t forget that there’s no advantage to discussing money this early in the process. If you ask for too much, you might turn the interviewer off; on the other hand, if you ask for too little, you leave money on the table.
Of course, an interviewer is likely to ask you about compensation because it’s a method of eliminating unsatisfactory candidates. Your best response is to, again, focus on the value you bring to the company by saying something like: “I’m much more interested in long-term prospects with the firm. If you feel I’m a good fit for the job, then I’m sure you’ll make me a fair offer.”
If the interviewer persists in getting an answer, then tell them what your current compensation plan* is while emphasizing that you’re seeking to advance your career in a way that will benefit both the company and you.
*Be honest and don’t embellish your numbers because the interviewer will ask for proof in the form of pay stubs, W2s, etc.
Guideline 4: Ask for the Next Interview!
Assuming you find the company a good or great match, conclude the interview by being politely assertive about asking for the second interview. This is a great idea for two reasons: 1) It obviously improves your opportunity to get to the next step; and 2) it shows the company that you’re not afraid to ask for business from realtors, referral partners, or borrowers!
So, end by saying something like this: “I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me, and I especially like what I hear about this opportunity and the company as a whole. I’d definitely like to meet with you in person about it!”
Now, go on to Part 2 to see how to effectively answer the ten most commonly asked interview questions.