In many ways hiring new Underwriters mirrors that of the underwriting process. The process of selecting the best candidate for your open role can also be viewed through the lens of risk mitigation: selecting the wrong candidate opens your business culture, client relationships/brand messaging, and long-term profitability up to unnecessary risk.
Whether you’re reviewing a resume or interviewing a candidate, you have a very small window of time (and a limited amount of information) to evaluate the risk/value hiring any particular person would bring to your institution. And relying on hard skills alone to make this determination is a pitfall for many data-driven roles like insurance underwriters. Not only can screening for soft skills help you find top performers, but they can also tell you if your interviewee will be a top performer for your business in the long term.
Here are 9 soft skills you should screen for in your next interview:
No top performer does the bare minimum. High performing adjusters will add on to the processes learned in training to ensure the a higher quality of work is delivered.
A large aspect of what elevates insurance underwriters to top performers is their attention to detail, their ability to find patterns, and extrapolate certain levels of risk from those findings. Of course, software and training can help this along, but professionals who naturally see the world in this way are more easily able to see patterns of risk where automation and technology might fall short.
The best way to protect your company from taking on unnecessary risks is to eliminate them before they can happen. Hiring an insurance underwriter who regularly searches for process improvements and takes steps to strengthen that point in your workflow before there is a breakdown is the type of professional who will make your underwriting team more effective as a whole and lower your business's exposure to risk in the long run.
3. Sound Judgement
Successful underwriters need to be process-oriented, but there is a point where being too process-oriented becomes detrimental to overall productivity. No two applications are the same, so when your underwriter inevitably encounters a scenario that they have not explicitly seen before, they need to be able to use their past experiences and judgment to move the application through the underwriting process.
A core function of an insurance underwriter is negotiating policy terms. Successful negotiations are founded on evidence supported by facts. Professionals who naturally excel at discussion and are passionate about the sport of debate have a leg-up on candidates who do not naturally have these tendencies. When interviewing your next insurance underwriter, screen for someone who enjoys the intellectual back and forth of exchanging ideas.
5. Interpersonal Skills
Within your organization, insurance underwriters will regularly work with other team members. Your next underwriter must be able to collaborate and problem-solve as a group to move policy applications through the pipeline. When interviewing, inquire about your candidate's preference to work independently or in a group as well as any previous group projects or presentations they have worked on. This way you will be able to determine how their interpersonal skills will manifest, should you offer them the role.
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6. Technologically Minded
ROI of your underwriting team comes from efficiencies and automation within the approval process. Finding an underwriter who has a natural aptitude to think about processes in the same way the programs you use will help you quickly identify places for improvement and automate aspects of your processes that can be managed by technology. In turn, this will free up your team’s time and resources to focus on the parts of an underwriter’s responsibilities that require a human touch.
7. Professional Integrity
There are plenty of roles where quantity is prioritized over quality. Underwriting should not be one of them. When your profitability depends on accurately assessing risk, every error your underwriting team makes opens your business up to more liability. In these roles, it is essential to hire insurance underwriters who care about the quality of what they produce. In your interview, inquire about your interviewee’s steps to self-audit. Similarly, you may consider asking questions to suss out if your candidate is looking for a career or if they are simply looking to collect a paycheck.
In addition to accuracy, the success of an insurance underwriter can be measured against their book of business. Top performers will not be content with doing the bare minimum and will actively seek out opportunities to grow their client base. In the interview room, it is encouraged to ask questions that help you gauge how invested your interviewee is in their professional success.
9. Team Player
Successful underwriters know that protecting your business from taking on unnecessary risk is not a responsibility they shoulder alone. If there is a leak in the dam, it doesn’t matter where on the wall it is, it needs to be fixed. An insurance underwriter who understands the importance of accuracy within your underwriting team as a whole, regularly collaborates, provides feedback for continuous improvement, and is always looking to mitigate your team’s exposure to risk is a top performer you can depend on to lift up your underwriting team as a whole.
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Interviewing with the Long Term in Mind
In the interview room, assessing if a candidate will be successful based on the limited amount of information you have to go on can be difficult. Furthermore, when you do extend a job offer, it is unlikely that the impact of your hiring decision will be felt on Day 1. However, if you interview against an ideal candidate profile that is centered around soft skills, you can feel confident that your insurance underwriting team will be equipped to protect your business from unnecessary exposure to risk and bring long-term success to your business.