Your Guide to Hiring in the Debt Collection Industry
Updated: May 20
It’s no secret that hiring, onboarding, and retention in the debt collection industry can be difficult, especially in recent months. I’ve heard from many executives in the industry that people aren’t applying for open positions as much as they used to, and when they do hire someone new, it can be difficult to keep them on the team longer than 6 months.
This can be frustrating, and if you’re going through any hiring and onboarding issues, you’re not alone.
I was recently on a webinar with Arbeit to explore this exact topic and provide tips and tricks for hiring, onboarding, and retention.
If you have an extra hour today, you can view the webinar below.
Today, I want to explore a few of the highlights from our webinar to jumpstart a transformation in your hiring and onboarding processes. The truth is, you can find and retain your dream candidates, and it all starts in the interview.
Part 1: Interviewing in the Debt Collection Industry
The best interviews start before you even meet with a candidate. In other words, interview prep is essential when it comes to hiring (and retaining) new employees. So, let’s dive into goal-setting strategies you can use to prepare for the interview process.
Setting Goals during Interview Prep
When you’re trying to find the perfect candidate, start by reviewing the resume. This may seem obvious, and you probably look through the resumes anyway. I want you to go beyond skimming the experience and education; instead, use a highlighter and mark key items on the resume that are going to be points of reference during the interview.
This is important because you'll be able to build a vision of who this candidate is professionally and where they can go with your company.
Next, based on the items you highlighted on the resume, ask yourself the following questions:
Can this person do the job?
Can they do the job long-term?
Will they fit within your company culture?
Try to make note of any gaps or questions you have about their experience so you remember to touch on them during the interview to get a clearer picture of what the candidate can offer and where their skill set can take them.
Pro Tip: Ask yourself the 3 questions above after the interview as well since you'll have an even clearer picture of the candidate at that point.
Once you’re done prepping, it’s time for the actual interview! Let’s talk about some interview best practices that will transform how you conduct interviews with potential candidates.
Practicing Motivational Interviewing
When I started to mentor my office manager to get her ready for hiring, I taught her all about motivational interviewing, which she now does every time she interviews a new person.
To use motivational interviewing, as the candidate the following 3 questions:
“On a scale of 1-10, how interested are you in the job?”
In my experience, the candidate will likely answer with a 6, 7, or 8, which will lead you to your next question:
“Why so high?”
At this point, you’re giving the candidate the opportunity to describe the reasons they want to work for your agency, which is a great way to gather more information about their interests and goals. (Hint: This will give you a starter roadmap to how they could progress in the company over time!)
And that will bring you to the third question:
“What would make it a 10?”
This question is fantastic because it allows the candidate to list anything the job position is missing that would make the position a homerun for them.
Remember: Hiring is a 2-way street. We want great candidates, and the candidates want a great place to work. If you can find what you can offer to make the job the most appealing to them, it will make the interview and eventual onboarding that much more successful.
The interview is only the first step in finding and retaining a great candidate. Now it’s time to discuss onboarding and how you ensure your onboarding process is working effectively and motivating new hires to stay in their positions.
Part 2: Onboarding in the Debt Collection Industry
Onboarding can truly make or break the hiring process. After all, the onboarding process is how the new hire determines if they’re a good fit for the position and your agency.
At my agency, we take onboarding very seriously. We make sure to evaluate and revise the process when needed, and we schedule each day of training and onboarding in advance to ensure the new hire has an easy transition into the company.
Quick Tip: The first 90 days of a new hire’s position are extremely important, and it’s helpful to have those days mapped out. Let me explain what I mean in more detail.
Focusing on the First 90 Days
Like I said before, my agency has the onboarding mapped out in detail. In fact, we actually have plans for the first 90 days of employment, and we call this Business Bootcamp.
Business Bootcamp is exactly what it sounds like: We’re teaching the new hire everything they need to know about the ins and outs of the business. For example, if they’re hired as an administrative assistant, we teach them everything about that role, and we teach them about the other roles within the company. They get practice doing a little bit of everything. That way, they understand how the business operates, and they feel more comfortable when they exceed 90 days of employment and settle into their role independently.
We make this program successful by using tested and effective work instructions for every possible task. What I mean by this is that the trainer gets work instructions for how to train on each task, and the new hire gets instructions on how to complete the task themselves.
Next, we make sure to document everything. We have files for each employee, and all training is documented in the new hire’s file.
With the first 90 days in mind, it’s also important to maintain a company culture that new hires will appreciate and enjoy. That way, the new hire will feel good about working for your agency, and they’ll feel more fulfilled in their everyday work. The best way to do this is by utilizing the impact brand model.
Following the Impact Brand Model
I’ve written about becoming an impact brand on my blog before, which you can find here.
Something I want you to understand is that we are in the millennial era, which means most people want to work for a humanitarian-plus business.
A humanitarian-plus business is any business that contributes positively to society in some way.
As a collection agency, you have many opportunities every day to cultivate a humanitarian-plus company culture that will attract great employees. At my agency, we do this by using my Collection Advantage online training program, which teaches teams how to use empathy in their everyday conversations with consumers, clients, and each other.
Here is a quick reference guide for a few ideas you can reference to find your own source of humanitarian-plus business:
Great product or service
Focus on the client experience and journey
Clear return on investment
EQ embedded into technology
Ultimately, when new hires feel like they’re contributing to something positive, they’ll be more likely to stay with the company long-term. The impact brand model is one of the best ways to achieve this.
Think of your own way to foster a great company culture. Maybe your agency has some unique features that I haven’t even thought of. You can use these to market your company to potential candidates and help new hires feel excited about working for you.
It’s Time to Get Started.
Ultimately, hiring and onboarding can be challenging. We all want a great team of talented professionals supporting our mission, and that can sometimes be hard to find.
I wholeheartedly believe that if we invest more in the interviewing and onboarding processes, we can find the team we want at our agency. The ideas I’ve listed in this blog post are what have worked for my agency. I hope this post inspired you to brainstorm about what will work best for yours as well.
I’d love to help improve your onboarding and training process. If you’re interested in hearing more about what I can offer your agency, book a free strategy call with me today.