Collectors play a vital role in the financial and service industries. For those looking to start their career, an account recovery position can be a great way to get your foot in the door as well as gain essential professional skills you can carry into other positions down the road.
Although a collections position looks different from company to company, across the board, successful collectors tend to have a unique combination of soft skills.
When building a resume and interviewing for a collections position, candidates need to demonstrate they possess the following soft skills:
Asking interview questions targeted to dig into a candidate’s soft skill profile can help determine how successful they'll be in a collections role
A collector’s primary responsibility requires managing many accounts at the same time. The outreach schedule for these accounts will vary. In order to take a proactive approach to their outreach, recovery specialists need to be able to handle many spinning plates at once, so they do not fall behind.
Typically, the reason someone has fallen behind with their repayment program is because the standard payment program is not a realistic for them.
The responsibility of finding a payment solution that works for the customer as well as the company falls to the collections specialist. Sometimes, finding something that is amenable to everyone can require some creativity.
Most people do not associate those following up with payment delinquency as being empathetic, but successful collectors must have this trait in spades!
Even though collectors perform a unique function for a business, at the end of the day, they are in a customer-facing role where customer service skills matter. If a collections specialist is not compassionate when interacting with a customer, they will cause a business’ customer service to falter, and make it more difficult for them, personally, to obtain a successful recovery.
When performing a collections role, there will be times where you will have to reach out to a client repeatedly to make contact. When contact with a client is made, those conversations aren’t always smooth. Those in account recovery positions need to possess a combination of perseverance and optimism so that they do not become discouraged by any challenging accounts they manage.
Communication with certain customers can sometimes be stressful;a collector needs to have thick skin. Having thick skin allows a person to not take things personally and remain professional and collected in otherwise high-stress moments.
When working in collections, there will be goals set over a certain period (usually weekly). Having a collector who is driven to hit their numbers is essential to success.
The nature of a collector role requires calling and emailing on a large volume of accounts on a daily basis. Repeating the same cycle of tasks throughout the day leaves opportunities for distraction. Successful collectors know this and put safeguards in place that allow them to stay focused throughout the day.
In our 30+ years of recruiting experience we have found the asking interview questions similar to those below effectively help us gauge a candidate’s soft skill profile and how successful they will be in a collections role:
- Tell me about a time you received feedback that wasn’t positive. What was it and how did you handle it?
- How do you stay organized?
- Has there been a time where you worked on a project and didn’t receive the outcome you expected? What did you do?
- How comfortable are you making large amounts of outbound calls?
- Tell us about a time you had a difficult problem you had to solve and how did you resolve it?
- Tell me about a time you had a difficult customer situation and how you handled it?
- What motivates you professionally? What intimidates you?
Is a Collections Job Right for Me?
When hiring for open collections positions, HR leaders and recruiters are looking for professionals who have a strong predisposition for the above-mentioned soft skills. When seeking your next role, it is important to consider your professional goals as well as your personality and soft skills. If you find you possess strengths in the skills mentioned above, then a role in a collections position might be a good next step in your career!