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Top 10 Interview Questions to Ask Your Next Loan Officer Candidate

Loan officers are the face of your bank. They play a key role in creating and nurturing relationships and growing the asset size of the bank. Hiring for this role can be daunting and like any business development position, the consequences of hiring the wrong person can significantly hurt your bottom line. Since the loan officer role is highly visible to your customers and prospects, a bad hire not only hurts your growth, it also tarnishes your brand.

Competencies and Job Fit

In addition to hiring for skills, experience, and culture fit, it’s important to hire for the competencies that correlate to success in the role. Wikipedia defines competencies as a set of demonstrable characteristics and skills that enable and improve the efficiency or performance of a job. Think of competencies as indicators of job fit. If the candidate has the competencies that correlate to success in the role, they stand a much greater chance of being a good fit because they have the skills needed to be successful.

When hiring a loan officer, the top competencies that correlate to success are business development and customer service. The best way to understand how a candidate measures up is to conduct a behavioral interview with questions designed to target these competencies.

Hiring Top-Performing Loan Officers

We put together a list of interview questions to help you ask the right questions in your loan officer interviews. These behavioral interview questions target the competencies that correlate to success in leading officers. Asking these questions, and knowing what to look for in the candidates’ answers, will help you uncover past behavior in a similar context, which helps you more accurately assess whether the candidate is a good fit for the role.

Under each question is a recommendation to guide you on what to look for in the candidate’s answers. You can also use these recommendations as prompts for follow-up questions to gather additional information.

1. “Describe the most difficult loan you worked on recently. What was the situation, and what did you do?”

  • What to look for in the answer: Do they have the courage to deal with obstacles and challenges? How do they handle and overcome setbacks? Look for the reasons why someone didn’t want to do business with this candidate and how the candidate overcame that roadblock.

2. “Tell me about a business development opportunity that you thought was lost – but that you turned around. What was involved in the recovery?”

  • What to look for in the answer: Look for persistence and the ability to stick with situations even when they get tough. What are their initiating behaviors? How do they persuade people and win them over?

3. “Describe your greatest business development accomplishment at your current bank. What factors contributed to your success?”

  • What to look for in the answer: How big was their accomplishment? What is their idea of “big” and does that match yours? Listen for details about their sales process and how they build and close new business. What is their process for qualifying a prospect? Look for relationship-building and persuasiveness skills.

4. “Give me an example of a time when your choice of timing was crucial in successfully completing a sale. Take me through what you did.”

  • What to look for in the answer: Look for sales experiences and knowledge. Do they take the initiative? Can they read the customer and understand buying signals? Do they have sales instincts? Did they have to be prompted or did they drive the sales process on their own? Were their sales instincts correct?

5. “Give me an example of a time when you did more than was required in your job. Were you recognized for this extra effort? How did that make you feel?”

  • What to look for in the answer: Look for initiating behaviors, someone self-directed, self-motivated, and who will go the extra mile.

6. “Give me a recent example when your concern for the customer’s needs went beyond what was expected.”

  • What to look for in the answer: Look for their desire and ability to take care of their customers, as well as their customer-service orientation, responsibility, sense of duty, and initiating behaviors.

7. “Tell me about a situation when the customer’s expectations were a significant surprise. What did you do?”

  • What to look for in the answer: Look for flexibility and adaptability. Can they turn a negative situation into a positive?

8. “Tell me about a time when your product (or service) knowledge or industry knowledge provided an unsuspected benefit to your customer. How did that come about?”

  • What to look for in the answer: Looking for consultative sales skills and customer empathy. Do they have these skills? What is their process for identifying the “need behind the need?”

9. “In recent memory, what has been the toughest customer challenge or request that you have faced? What was the challenge, and what did you do?”

  • What to look for in the answer: Look for their ability to manage relationships, have critical conversations with customers, and provide win-win solutions for the customer and the bank.

10. “Describe a time when you had to change your approach with a customer because your initial efforts were unsuccessful.”

  • What to look for in the answer: Look for adaptability, flexibility, problem-solving skills, commitment, and persistence.


Need help or want more guidance on hiring for job fit? The ZERORISK Hiring System is a pre-employment assessment tool that measures the competencies that correlate to success in the role you are hiring. Our advanced hiring technology assesses your candidates in a matter of minutes and produces a fully customized behavioral interview guide specific to the competencies for the role. Request a complimentary assessment today to try it out for yourself.


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