The overall success of any portfolio depends greatly on efficient processes and having the right people to execute on those processes. Anyone who carries the responsibility of maintaining a thriving and successful loan portfolio needs to ensure that the department is adequately staffed with the proper collection professional(s), regardless if it is handled internally or via a trusted outside partner.

If I’ve learned one thing in my 20-plus years in the collections industry, it’s that it takes a certain type of person—with the right characteristics—to truly succeed as a collections professional over the long-term.

At Servicing Solutions, we take the process of hiring qualified collections professionals very seriously, and I believe it’s one of the many factors that set us apart. Our aim with every hire is focused on finding talented and professional individuals that seek a flourishing career and have a “customer-obsessed” mentality.

With that in mind, here are some of the key characteristics we look for when hiring qualified collections professionals.

  • A passion for serving others: We want people with a frame of reference that is based on how they can provide service to others, from assisting a peer in need to a genuine desire to advocate for their customers. I look for this quality as they discuss their motivations and strengths.
  • Competitive in nature: One way to identify this is discussing their background in team sports, and paying attention to their desire to win, pride, teamwork, effort and results. For those that didn’t play sports, I often ask if they consider themselves a competitive person…and why. It’s not hard to spot the passion of someone competitive in nature.
  • Good listener: When interviewing, this is an easy one to spot. Is the person answering the question you asked? Answers that are unrelated to the question show a lack of comprehension or interest, which will likely be present during customer interactions. Above all else, watch out for the person who is telling you what they think you want to hear rather than answer the question you asked.
  • Empathetic: I use several questions to gauge their ability to be empathetic. Their answers make it easy to identify their empathy, or lack thereof…a key skill for any effective collector.
  • Good negotiator: This is a sum of all the parts…the ability to be empathetic and put themselves in others shoes, the ability to remain positive, patient and find a collaborative solution to the situations being presented all play into being a good negotiator. A common scenario I use to identify the level of skill in this area is telling the candidate that I am out of work and cannot pay. Where they take the conversation from there can be enlightening.

When looking to build out your collections team or identify a servicing partner that will experience sustained success, keep the above characteristics in mind.