As an underwriter it is very important to be analytical. Tell the hiring manager the ways in which you showcase your analytical skills.
Underwriter Interview Questions
Do you consider yourself to have strong research skills?
As an underwriter it is very important to be analytical. Tell the hiring manager the ways in which you showcase your analytical skills.
"I am a highly research oriented individual and consider it a vital skill for being a successful internal underwriter. I would consider myself most research oriented when I am presented with a brand new case, or client. I always want to start the analysis of the loan with the correct foundation."
What do you dislike the most about being an underwriter?
The best way of answering this question is to be positive and not to say anything that makes you appear like a pessimist. You should appear to be interested in this profession on a whole and make the interviewer feel that this is not just a few days stop for you. Its your choice for a long term career.
"Sometimes there are times when the work comes to our desk in bulk and becomes a bit difficult to manage. But it is as necessary as any other and with better planning and time management skills it can be easily managed. As an underwriter, I work as hard as I can to get it done, quickly and correctly, and not dwell on any negatives."
What has been your biggest disappointment as an underwriter so far?
A typical example may be a project that required a great deal of activity and then was cancelled, a lost sale, even a failed business venture. The important part of this question is your ability to show how you gained knowledge and grew from the disappointment.
Don't talk about any personal loss that you may have incurred or about anything funny in here. The interviewer is not looking for an emotional outburst but something that helps in acknowledging your decision making and problem solving skills. Also, anything that might make you sound like an arrogant or a negative person is a big no.
Also, try not to dodge the question as it might end up resulting in a negative comment from the interviewer.
"I have always worked hard in my whole career for ensuring that we get the best clients for our organization but this one time I was really disappointed when we lost one of our big accounts to a competitor because they got a better deal with them. This took me by surprise as this was a really old account and they always used to renew with us only. Although this deeply saddened me but I decided that instead of being sad about losing this one, I would rather focus on bringing changes in our strategy and focusing on getting some new clients. As a result of our efforts we were able to acquire some big accounts and since then we have always ensured to review our strategy on a regular basis to see if there is any scope for improvement."
Give an example of a time when you made a mistake because you failed to actively listen to a supervisor.
Failing is normal, natural. No candidate can answer this with a 'it has never happened.'
Be honest on this one, and present a short summary of your example. As is the case with other questions, the importance is to indicate how you learned and developed from making this mistake.
Active listening is just listening and saying 'yes or OK' and not asking for clarification, confirmation of what you think you heard, or at a minimum, summarizing the instructions.
As a student, this may be that time that you wrote an entire essay only to find out you were supposed to write a one-page summary.
"When I was a trainee I was asked to perform a simple task of collecting data of our clients and I spent two days in doing that. When I submitted my final report I realized that I had made a mistake and had collected the wrong data. The reason was that although I was paying attention there was a part which I could not listen to the instructions given by my senior clearly and since I was new, I hesitate to ask questions. He bought this to my knowledge and I admitted my mistake and apologized and collected the right information. Since that day I make sure that I listen to everything and ask questions if anything is not clear. I have learned that if you hesitate in asking questions if things are not clear you will end up making mistakes which will be even worse than the hesitation in asking questions in the first place."
Do you have strong computer skills? Which programs are you most experienced in?
As an underwriter you may be required to use several high level software and programs. In addition to standard office tools, be prepared to show your skills in job specific tools and other skills that you have (web tools, scripting, programming, etc.). Don't sound over-confident but an answer that exhibits confidence in this scenario is highly appreciated by the recruiting managers. What is important is that you have a conceptual technical knowledge that helps you in solving the problem at hand and communicate it effectively to the stakeholders.
"I am well versed in using SQL and SAP and have the basic knowledge of Netsuit and Microsoft Dynamics along with Excel. I am capable of analysing several complicated cases using these and also of communicating the results to the clients."
Share an experience you had in dealing with a difficult person and how you handled the situation.
This is quite a common question for an interviewer to ask as they want to hear if you can describe a work colleague conflict and how you handled it. They are also looking to see how you handle working with changing personalities in a team environment. Talk about how you reached your ultimate solution and any lessons you learned from that.
Describe the situation and how this person was difficulty. It is important to indicate the how/why they were difficult. Examples might be conflicting objectives or project goals, they had a different management or work style, etc.
Then describe how you dealt with it. Example might be taking time to sit with this person 1:1 and walking through the project elements, how the two of you needed to work on specific areas for mutual gain.
If it was with a difficult colleague/boss/client, then describe how you communicated the issue(s) you were encountering, what you proposed to solve the issues, and ultimately the resolution.
What motivates you as an underwriter?
Underwriting is a complex mix of task and process orientation. Processes have to be followed per company and government regulations while the role also is key to getting deals completed for the organization.
Your answer should indicate how your motivations are to add value to the organization by completing your work accurately and under time constraints. You will need to be able to indicate that your motivations match to the organization's needs and the job duties.
"I love working as an underwriter because I feel that by doing this job I am being valuable not only for the organization that I am working for but also for the society. I get to use my analytical skills, critical thinking and decision making everyday. The challenges that I face everyday as an underwriter and the risks that we face is an extra bonus in itself."
Give an example where you have had to challenge loan documentation based on fraud detection processes you use.
This question intends to find out how far does the circle of your knowledge go and whether you are able to make decisions that sometimes want you to go against the decisions of others. Provide an example including the fraud tools or methodologies that you are most familiar with. It is important to not disclose any proprietary tools or ratios that a competitor uses.
"I believe that this is a situation that every underwriter has to face every now and then in their career. To be honest it is our job to deliver fair and justified decisions irrespective of who are the parties involved. I can remember an incident where I was presented with a loan application and it was for some really old client of ours but there were a few discrepancies and it simply didn't pass the few methods that I use for making a decision. I decided to take a stand and got this to notice of the other team members. It eventually turned out that the application did have many discrepancies and could have put us at huge risk had it been passed. It did result in some people getting offended in the end but it was for the benefit of the company and thus my decision was appreciated at a later level."
Give me a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
The interviewer wants to know that you are the type of employee who will go above expectations for a customer. You are willing to do what it takes to make sure that your performance is at its best and your team gets the most out of it. If possible, share what project you were working on, what your basic requirements were, and how you went above-and-beyond. Be sure to mention why you decided to do it for that project to help the interviewer see your drive to be successful in your work.
"This happened when I was working under a senior underwriter and we were working on an important case which could have bought in some real big profit for our organization but my boss got very sick at the last stages when we had to submit our findings and decision. There was no way we could have completed this job without his supervision as I was fairly new and didn't have much experience. It was then that I decided to do my own research and spent the whole weekend in the library and over the internet, going through as many cases as I could and finally I was able to complete that project on my own. That was the first big project of my career that I did on my own and although it was a huge risk that I took, when my senior came back he praised me for my pro-activeness and we also got that client. After all our job is all about taking risks."
If I were to speak with your social circle, what would your friends say about you?
Were you late or absent a lot? Did you get along well with the team? How do you handle tough situations? Refrain from making up answers that aren't true, as you're never sure if they'll make a call to your previous boss. Instead, focus on 2-3 traits of yours that have been highly complimented and tie them in to the role you're applying for.
"It depends on who you talk to. As far as I know I was never late for my work and always got the better of deadlines. Also, I check and double check my work before final submission which means there is always little or no chance of an error in my work."
What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?
Be honest while answering this question. The motive of the interviewer is to find out if you will be a good fit for the organization and will stay with the organization for a long time. The hiring managers are not interested in going ahead with a candidate who doesn't see himself/herself as a part of the organization in the long term or not even for a year for that matter. Thus make sure you state realistic goals which are in sync with the career defined by the company.
"This year I want to learn and grow as much as I can in this profession. I want to gain more and more knowledge about this profession working for a good company like yours."
If hired, how do you intend on making a difference with our company?
Your answer can best be framed along the lines that you are interested in the underwriter role and seeing how you can provide suggestions on efficiencies in the role, opportunities for expanding cross-functional collaboration, being a super user and subsequent trainer of new hires. If you are interested, being a resource for future college outreach/recruiting, may also be attractive to a rapidly growing company.
"First of all I would like to say that I understand the requirements of the company and also that I know what might be the expectations from this job. I would make sure that I add value to the company through my presence and work. Also, if needed I would love to volunteer my services as and when needed for any other tasks including training the interns, giving presentations at some other locations on behalf of the company, doing any voluntary work. I will make sure that I understand the company's culture and become an integral part of it and help it in future growth."
If not an underwriter, what other role within insurance would you like to be in?
This is an opportunity for you to show your knowledge of other roles, either as potential other roles that are open at this time in the company, roles that feed into becoming an underwriter, and roles that work with underwriters but have additional or other skills. You can begin with expressing how much you enjoy doing your job as an underwriter but at the same time also let the interviewer know that if not an underwriter then you would have been doing some job that is something similar to an underwriter's job.
"Although I enjoy being an underwriter to the core as it gives me freedom to use my analytical as well as problem solving skills and I can't imagine myself doing any other job as I am in love with this one, but if I still end up in a situation where I need to pick up an alternative career then I think I would like to be a budget analyst. The reason behind this choice is that in this job too I will get to utilise my skills and be valuable for the organization I work for."
Tell me about your financial training and education.
Some companies prefer candidates who have bachelors degrees most specifically in finance, mathematics, economic, accounting etc. but most of the times either a degree in the above mentioned or a related experience is sufficient along with good knowledge of computers. For senior positions a candidate may be required to have certain certifications.
Be prepared to present your skills in standard financial applications (most important would be MS Excel or comparable) spreadsheets. Strong skills (pivot tables, if-then, multi-variables) would be ideal.
"I have a bachelors degree in accounting in addition to an year long training done under a senior underwriter. During that training I got a practical knowledge of how to excel in our job by making use of several financial applications. Also, I learnt how important attention to detail is in our job."
Have you ever been overloaded with work? What did you do to ensure your deadlines were met?
This question drills deeper into how you manage your time, projects and what happens when things got out of your hands? Were you able to come out of such a situation on your own? Did you have to ask for help? What did you exactly do?
The best way to answer this question would be through giving an example of a situation where such a thing happened with you and how you tackled with it. In case this never happened then explain how you manage your work everyday, how you prioritise things at work etc.
Key to this is recognizing that there are limits to your capabilities, that you are able to recognize them, and for the better of the company, you were willing to take the corrective measures.
Also, if you are giving an example then try to state something from the initial days of your career, something thats not recent.
"Working as an underwriter means that there will be times when there might be a lot of work on your hands. But if you are good at your job and keep things organized and plan well in advance then you can avoid situations where things might go out of your hands because of the overload.
Being a part of the industry even I have been overloaded with work once or twice. This happened when I had just joined and was a trainee working under a senior underwriter. I used to work on small assignments and for some reason used to spend more than required time on each assignment just trying to be extra careful with everything I did. As a result I was overloaded with work in no time. At first I got panicked but then I got hold of myself in some time and decided to sort it all out. I arranged all the cases according to the level of importance, the deadlines and also on the kind of cases they referred to and then started working on them. I did have to put in a few extra hours of work to sort this all out but eventually I was able to finish it all. I did miss a deadline or two but was excused as I was still a beginner.
It was on that day that I learnt that in order to avoid such situations planning is the best tool. Since then I devote the first 15 minutes of my work day in organizing my day and arranging my tasks based on the priority. My supervisors always praise me for I never miss on deadlines."
How do you keep track of work so that it gets done on time?
Why do you want a career as an underwriter?
What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?
What has been your greatest accomplishment as an underwriter so far?
Have you ever had difficulty with a supervisor?
What are the steps you follow to study a problem before making a decision?
What are your general guidelines related to applicable ratios (i.e Debt ratios, loan-to-value)
Give an example where you have supported a loan that did not comply with FHA loan guidelines?
When will your current project be completed, or when will be the next logical time to be able to leave on good terms with your team?
Give an example where you have had to use your negotiation skills.
Do you consider yourself more analytical or a free thinker?
Successful underwriters must have good judgement and common sense. Would you consider yourself to fit in those categories?
Tell me about your education. How has it prepared you for a career as a Underwriter?
Are you efficient with your time?
Tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume.
What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as an Underwriter?
Why are you the best candidate for us?
What do you know about our company?
How would you compare your current job to that of an underwriter?
What initially attracted you to the insurance industry, and what keeps you here?
What do you do when your time schedule or project plan is upset by unforeseen circumstances?