How to Ace Your Co-Op Board Interview
Your offer was accepted, mortgage approved, contract signed, and now it’s time for your co-op board interview. Congratulations! You’ve come a long way and this is the last hurdle in the hunt for your dream home. No doubt you want to ace your interview, so here’s everything you need to know about the co-op board interview process and how to prepare. Let’s get started!
Be Professional During Your Co-Op Board Interview
Present your best self.
Much like a job interview, you should show up to your co-op board interview with your best foot forward and highly prepared. Co-op boards are notorious for asking some very personal questions that require you to justify some of your life decisions. The process can be grueling, but stay positive. They’re looking for someone they can trust to be a good neighbor and a valuable community member. These qualities often include reliability, conscientiousness, and self-awareness.
Arrive slightly early.
You don’t want to be the first one to the party and you certainly don’t want the board waiting for you. They’ll likely be on a tight schedule, so one late appointment could have a domino effect on the whole process. Not good.
To avoid this, plan how you’ll get to your co-op board interview and take down phone numbers in case you run late. Life does happen, but if you show that you’re considerate of their time, the board is more likely to forgive your tardiness.
You might be wondering what to wear to your co-op board interview. While you might be tempted to throw on your favorite band T-shirt, it’s best to play it safe. To combine professionalism with personality, go for business casual. A suit, a pair of jeans with a blazer, or a casual dress is usually appropriate.
Be Prepared for Your Co-Op Board Interview
Manage your online presence.
Like many business recruiters, the co-op board will probably visit all of your social media pages. Do a little snooping yourself to find out just how much is out there about you, and then start cleaning house. You’re in control of what you put online, so be sure to protect your privacy and your public persona.
This goes further than drunken college photos. If you regularly write politically driven blog posts or fuel controversial conversations online, you may want to delete them. You don’t want the co-op board worrying that your political affiliations will disrupt other tenants.
Know what’s in your application.
Answering questions about your previous employers and finances can be stressful. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your application and bring it along, with all the necessary paperwork, to your co-op board interview. If they ask you why you left your last job after two months, for example, make sure you have an answer for them.
Prepare for uncomfortable questions.
Once you’re familiar with the information the board already has, prepare to answer questions alluding to employment history, frequent moves, financial stability, etc. Look for any vague or questionable areas of your application such as stints of unemployment and prepare to be asked about them in your co-op board interview.
Avoid Hot Topics During Your Co-Op Board Interview
The political question.
Although the board is legally allowed to ask you about your political views, do not bring up politics in your co-op board interview. If you are asked, be prepared to answer the question honestly, respectfully, and with tolerance for opposing views. You want to remain agreeable so even if you lean heavily to the right or to the left, try to present yourself more middle-of-the-road than extreme.
Talk to Your Real Estate Agent Before Your interview
Be sure to discuss things with your real estate agent before your co-op board interview. Ask them any questions you have about the building, apartment, or neighborhood before you interview with the board. Your real estate agent will most likely have a sense of what the co-op’s rules and regulations are, and they might even be familiar with some of the board members and other tenants. Real estate agents often have the inside scoop, so let them share it with you to make sure you’re as prepared as possible.
Don’t Overshare During Your Co-Op Board Interview
It might be tempting to explain your life’s history to the board, but try to answer the questions as clearly and succinctly as possible. This is just as important when discussing your past as it is describing your future plans. Want to be on the board one day? Planning on updating the hardwood floors in your apartment? As a general rule, do not to give anything away in your co-op board interview. Stating that you’re taking things one day at a time, or that you’re willing to help out, tells the board that you’re inclined to be involved but don’t plan to make any drastic changes.
Common Questions Asked in a Co-Op Board Interview
Questions they’re likely to ask in a co-op board interview.
What made you choose this building?
Why do you want to live in this neighborhood?
Are you confident you can comfortably afford the mortgage and maintenance fees?
What are your hobbies?
Do you work from home?
Will you run for a position on the board?
What are your renovation plans?
Do you host many parties?
Do you play any instruments?
How often do you have guests stay over?
Keep in mind that these questions are all asked for specific reasons. The board wants to know what kind of an impact you’ll have on your neighbors and how much you’ll contribute to the community, so be sure you’ve gone over possible answers with your broker before your co-op board interview.
When the board asks if you have any questions, just say no. Any pressing queries should be passed through your real estate agent before your interview, and everything else can wait until after you close. Do not risk your co-op board interview by asking an unnecessary question.
Question’s they're not allowed to ask in a co-op board interview.
The questions a co-op board can ask are limited by anti-discrimination laws enacted by the Fair Housing Act. The board members should be aware of these regulations, but you should also be familiar with your rights in case the board lets something slip. You have the option to omit your answer to any of the following questions:
Number of Children
You can choose to answer these fully if you want, but there’s nothing requiring you to do so. If you choose to omit your answer, remember to be friendly when you respond. “You’re not allowed to ask me that,” will not bode well with the board. Since they are unlikely to ask these questions outright, you’ll have an opportunity to avoid the protected element of the question and politely redirect the conversation.
Now that you know that ins and outs of a co-op board interview, get ready to ace it! Just remember these guidelines, take the time to prepare, and your interview will be a breeze. Good luck!