A personal loan application is like any job application. As a prospective borrower, you do your best to prove you're a worthy candidate for the lender's money. The loan application form is your resume, and the requirements you submit are like your portfolio.
And then there's the dreaded interview portion. Are you ready for it?
Aside from the information you provide in the application form, the lender will need to talk to you in person or over the phone to verify your eligibility and documents, especially if you're applying for a business loan. This is part of the background check or credit investigation that banks and lending companies conduct to determine a borrower's creditworthiness.
It's also an opportunity for both parties—the lender and the borrower—to ask personal loan questions and make sure they're fit for each other. You may be even asked to complete a credit investigation questionnaire.
Before that important call props up, anticipate the questions that the lender might ask, come up with sensible answers, and rehearse with a friend if you must. It's better to be over-prepared than be caught off guard with an unexpected question during your interview.
Credit Investigation Questionnaire and Process in the Philippines: Expect These Questions
Here are the personal loan questions a lender typically asks that you should be prepared to answer.
1. Can You Confirm Your [Personal Information]?
The first personal loan questions that a loan officer or agent asks have to do verifying your identity. The lender has to make sure that you're indeed the person who filed a personal application with them and that what you have written down in your credit investigation questionnaire is consistent with your answers during the interview.
Usually, loan applicants are asked questions to confirm the information they provided in their application form, including the following:
- Complete name
- Landline/mobile number
- Email address
This part of the interview with the lender will take just a few seconds, so you should be able to breeze it through.
2. What is Your Job and How Much Do You Make?
In addition to your personal information, your employment history and income details will also be verified.
The lender needs to know where you work, what your job position is (entry-level/manager-level/executive level), how long you've been at your current job, and how much salary you earn.
On your part, you have to prove you have a stable source of income. For lenders, having a stable job means you can pay back the loan. With that, the lender may ask for a certificate that proves your employment at your current company.
It also helps to highlight things like working for the same employer for a long time and to provide details about any additional sources of income such as a part-time job or side business.
Are you freelancing or running a small business? Don’t worry, as the lending company will still approve your application as long as you can prove that your sources of income are stable. If you’re running a small business, certain documents such as a business permit may be required by the lender.
3. How Will You Use This Loan?
This personal loan question, which may also appear on the credit investigation questionnaire, is already answered on the application form.
Why does the bank have to ask about your loan purpose again? The phone or personal interview is the lender's chance to get a more detailed answer on how you plan to use the money you'll borrow. The lender wants to know the purpose of your loan because they need to know the level of risk that they will face in case they approve your application.
In the application form, you just check a box to indicate your reason for obtaining a personal loan. But in the interview with the lender, you'll have to provide details about your loan purpose.
If you need a loan for your small business, will it be used for buying a piece of equipment that's crucial for your operations? Will it go to expanding your business, like hiring more people?
It's good to establish a real and valid purpose for taking out a personal loan. If the money will likely be used for any unnecessary or frivolous expenses, then your personal loan application might end up in a rejection.
4. How Much Money Do You Need?
This question is tied up with the previous one about your loan purpose. Considering your need for cash, how much will it cost you to meet that need? You must prove to the lender that you're borrowing only what you exactly need—no more, no less.
Although you've provided this piece of information in your personal loan application form, you might still be asked this question again to confirm how you will use this loan in more detail. This will also provide more context to the loan amount you indicated on your form.
You don’t want to end up borrowing money so large that paying it back is going to be difficult. But you don’t want to borrow an amount that’s so small, either. Still not sure about how much you should loan? Use the lender's online loan calculator to determine how much you need to borrow and how much you can afford to repay. Doing so will also give you an idea of how much interest you’re going to be covering in the long run.
Read more: How a Personal Loan Interest and Monthly Amortization is Calculated
5. Do You Have Any Credit Cards?
Not all banks and lenders ask this question, but it’s better that you prepare for it. Lenders want to know how well you manage your finances and debts. They may ask how many active credit cards you have in your wallet.
Fix your credit score before starting a new loan application. This means that you need to settle some credit card debts or make sure that your credit information is accurate and up to date. Ideally, show your lender that you’re only using about 30% of your credit limit to prove that you’re capable of managing large financial responsibilities.
Be extra wary and careful when giving out information regarding your credit card. Refrain from giving your full credit card number. If your lender asks you to give your CVV number, stop at once. Consider this a red flag and bring this concern up to the management.
6. Do You Have Any Current or Past Loans?
Your existing and past loans—including all your credit cards, government loans (SSS and/or Pag-IBIG loans), housing loan, and car loan—are part of your credit history, which lenders need to check to decide if you can repay a loan.
Be honest when answering personal loan questions like this. Do you have any existing and recurring debts? As long as you can prove that you can pay them off, including the new loan you're applying for, then you have nothing to worry about.
When your loan officer finds out that you have any existing loan, they will know that you successfully passed the other lender’s rigorous screening process. However, that doesn’t mean that your new application will be approved right away. The lender may have the impression that your existing loan will get in the way of your repayment for the new loan in case your application gets approved.
To up your chances, make sure that your other loans are already paid off. But if that’s not possible, tell your loan officer about the remaining months you need to pay your existing loan, especially if it’s nearing its maturity.
7. What Kind of Loan Did You Have in the Past?
The lender may also ask you the types of loans that you had before, whether they were SSS salary loan, Pag-IBIG multi-purpose loan, credit card cash advance, or cooperative loan. They’re asking this loan application question because they want to gauge how you're able to manage your past financial obligations.
There’s nothing to worry about this part, especially if you can easily prove that you already paid off your old loans.
8. How Did You Use Your Last Loan?
This personal loan question is tied up with the previous one. The purpose of this question is to find out if you’re really going to use your money for the intended purpose.
Nevertheless, your answer to this query should not be taken against you. After all, your past loan has already been paid off. Also, you’re applying for a personal loan, which is meant to be used for whatever purpose you have in mind.
9. How Will You Repay the Loan?
Of course, lenders want their money back with interest. The lender may have different means to evaluate your capacity to pay back a loan, such as checking your credit score and reviewing the income documents you submitted.
However, expect to be asked this tough question. Your response must assure the lender that you're capable of paying back what you owe on time. For example, you may establish that a part of the revenue you're earning from your business is enough to pay your monthly amortization. Or you may tell them that you’re expecting a salary increase the following month, and that part of your income will go to the repayment.
Tips on Answering Personal Loan Application Questions
Dealing with credit investigation questions is obviously daunting. To help you overcome the stress that you’re feeling, here are some of the tips to take note of.
Review Your Application Details
After you answer your credit investigation questionnaire and application forms, take the time to review all the details you’ve written down. Make sure that they are all accurate and consistent with the information in the other documents (such as credit report and certificate of employment) that you will give to your loan officer.
Reviewing your application details will help make sure that your answers to your loan officer’s questions easily check out with what’s in your application documents.
Don’t Overexplain Yourself
When you’re answering the questions of your loan officer, just provide what is necessary. Don’t try to expound your response or add more details that don’t directly answer the question. Overexplaining may unintentionally spill some pieces of information that may jeopardize your application.
No matter how desperate you are, never ever lie. Obviously, your application will go up in smoke if you do this; not to mention, you may face some legal repercussions. The latter is likely to happen if you falsify important documents, such as credit reports and even your certificate of employment.
Essentially, lenders need you to answer the questions in their credit investigation questionnaire to determine your creditworthiness as a borrower. They need to know that you’re stable enough to take on another financial obligation and you have the means to pay back your monthly amortizations on time.
So, be more than prepared. Think of the entire process as a job application that you need to ace. When you show your lender that you’re organized and ready, they’ll get the impression that you take your finances seriously.
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Source:  Creditworthiness Definition (Investopedia, 2021)