by Andy Seepersad, Director of Training, Wilmington Finance, Inc.
I'm responsible for training and recruiting retail loan officers who will sell directly to customers over the phone. It’s an ongoing challenge to recruit and hire the right kind of people. We've discovered that recent college graduates are a good niche for us—but that makes it even more difficult to evaluate individual candidates. With no professional work experience, what do you rely on?
Our division was doing a good job prior to Vitalwork but we were only at 20 loan officers with a turnover rate at 34%. We recognized that, as we continued to grow the operation, increased turnover was inevitable. As we grew from 20 loan officers to 80, VHI helped us maintain that turnover rate at 32%. That's a big deal in an industry where the average is 70 percent.
VHI is a critical tool in cutting through the formality of an interview. It allows us to see things about the candidate that we may not be able to ask in the interview process. The assessments allow us to answer the question, ‘Is this person best suited to the job I’m asking him or her to do?’ Maybe someone is better suited to customer service than sales—VHI will point that out.
We provide a $6,000 income guarantee over the first 90 days to our loan officers. The cost of one bad hire is immediately $6,000—and that doesn’t include the investment we’ve made in training or what it will cost to hire a replacement.
I tell people, if there’s any way you can invest in Vital Hiring Insights, you should go for it. We started with the program when we had only 25 people in the loan officer position, and it has been completely worth the investment. Over the first year and a half, we screened 150 applicants and hired about 40. VHI has saved us a lot of money. My boss and the CEO—they support it 100 percent.
What’s especially great about this product is that it’s benchmarked to our own workforce. VHI looks at our top performers, and those at the bottom of the performance scale, and maps their qualities to find what’s common among them — and what can predict success for the next hire.
I am constantly going back and re-benchmarking. After every training class, I go back and see how the people in my class did on the initial VHI assessments. Down the road, if someone quits or is fired or turns out to be a surprise performer, I revisit the benchmarks. The more we use it and analyze it, the more useful the system becomes.
We have an intensive training program—we put loan officers through six weeks of training before they’re selling to customers. It’s a good training program, but let’s just say that, for whatever reason, someone doesn’t get the full benefit—there’s a substitute trainer or some material gets missed. I don’t worry about that as much as I used to, because I know we’ve hired the right people for the job, and they’ll adapt quickly. They’ll turn out to be good loan officers.
VHI is easy to administer. I can even have a candidate submit an assessment online from home, before they come in for an interview.
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