How to Ace Your Board Interview

  • Sapir Team
  • 05/19/22

Congratulations! You are buying a co op unit and the board approved your purchase application. But wait, what’s that? You have to pass an interview too??

Yep! The co-op board conducts an interview asking about your finances and personal habits, and while this is mostly just a formality – it is still a stressful step since the board can reject a potential buyer without giving a reason. Your best bet is to be thoroughly prepared for this important part of the co-op buying process by anticipating what you will be asked.

Most board interviews these days are conducted online via video chat. Just like any other job interview or meeting, make sure you know how to use the video software, take care of proper lighting, your background and what is visible behind you, and the noise levels around you. Be sure to frame yourself well, keep the clutter to a minimum, and pick a quiet location without loud disturbances.

Here are 10 tough co-op board questions and the best way to answer them:

1. How Secure Is Your Job?

This question has become very common during the pandemic. Keep your answer short and simple and focus on your role while staying upbeat. This is not the time to share your existential crisis about your chosen profession, and there is no need to cause unnecessary alarm. The board is trying to get a sense of your job security. As far as work from home goes, it is now expected, and shouldn’t cause you any stress.

2. Are You Planning a Renovation?

This is a tough one. Hearing about any renovation plans can be a concern to board members. Supply chain issues and labor shortages have made the renovation process more stressful and board members will typically want to understand the scope of the work and whether you can afford to carry a second place while the work is being done.

It’s okay to say that you're interested in re-painting your new home or that you would like to buff the floors. But anything else-like a major redo to the kitchen or the bathroom-is a red flag for most co-op boards, who will probably envision months of noisy, dusty construction work with laborers traipsing in and out of the building. Again, the less said, the better.

3. What Are Your Political Beliefs or With Which Political Party Are You Affiliated? 

Yes, this question is legal, and it might throw you off since it’s so private. Just answer honestly and keep your response short and simple. It's better to steer the conversation away from this subject in a co-op board interview.

4. Are You Interested in Serving on the Board?

Here, aim for neutrality. Your answer will ideally be along the lines of: “If the board or the building thought that I could make an important contribution, I would certainly be open to discussing it.” It is best not to give the impression you are aiming for a position on the board.

5. Do You Have Parties or Entertain Often? 

This question is quite common—and it's not a popularity test. The board wants to gauge whether your socializing will be disruptive. Your best answer might be to say you enjoy having occasional dinners with close friends and leave it at that.

6. What Do You Do in Your Spare Time?

While it seems innocent enough, this question can trip buyers up. My suggestion with this one: Keep it clean, keep it simple, and keep it quiet, meaning now is not the time to tell the board about your plans for learning to play the drums, or your annual Halloween party.

7. Why did you choose this apartment or neighborhood?

This is your opportunity to be complimentary: the board doesn’t need to hear about the 30 other units you saw before this one, or that this unit was the only one you could afford. This is also not an invitation to overshare. There are times when boards don’t phrase a question as a question, and that can take people off guard. My advice? Be cordial and not chatty.

8. What Was Your Last Interaction With an Attorney?

The best answer is of course to say that your lawyer brother and you just had holiday dinner together, but if you do have something behind you, be honest, but temper your answer. You want to give a clean, simple explanation that proves you are reasonable and weren't the source of the problem. But remember, Litigation is not a scarlet letter, especially for certain businesses. It’s worth doing an online search of your name before an interview to see what information comes up. Be prepared to answer questions related to the results.

9. Why There Are Some Inconsistencies in Your Application?

If you didn’t fill out your entire application, which is often the case with brokers offering that service, it’s a good idea to read through the application before the interview to make sur e that everything looks legit. And be prepared to answer any questions you think it may have elicit ed. Usually, some financial questions arise, like how much money a person has, especially if their assets are a combination of several businesses or a trust. If you don't know the answer to a question, try not to seem flustered. Just say you don't know the answer, and that you'll get back to them as soon as you've spoken to your accountant.

10. Why Are You Downsizing?

Of course, this is only relevant if you are, in fact, downsizing. Co-op board members don’t want to hear that you are moving to save money. It's better to say that you’re empty nesters, and focus on space, not money.

Bonus! Do you have any questions for the Board?

other interview types, here boring is better. A co-op interview is not a job interview—people do not have to fall in love with you. It is never about keeping the conversation going. You can always say you don’t have any questions at this time, but that you’ll be sure to get back to them if any arise. Finally, never ask about the board’s decision at the time of your interview. Instead, say something like, "We look forward to hearing from you."

 

And that’s it! Preparing for tough questions means you’ll coast right through them when the day of the interview comes.

When working with buyers, one of the many services my team and I provide to our clients is a thorough prep call before a co-op board interview. We go over questions like these and much much more!

 

Source: Brick Underground