How to Prep for Your Board Interview

Posted February 6th, 2019

We are not talking about a job interview. Nor are we talking about an interview with the board members at a publicly traded company. If you own an apartment in a major U.S. city, such as New York City or Washington D.C., you probably know very well what a board interview is. Maybe, you’ve even aced one. For first-time homebuyers who are looking to buy in the city, especially those who are targeting on co-ops, here’s what you need to know about a board interview.

What Is a Board Interview?

In some major U.S. metros, especially New York City, most apartments for sale are either condos or co-ops. When you buy a condo, you own the actual unit as well as a percentage of the common areas. When you buy a co-op, on the other hand, you don’t actually buy the unit. Instead, what you get is the shares of the corporation, in other words, your building. Since you would become a shareholder of the corporation, your financial stability, and the ability to become a good neighbor will be under tremendous scrutiny. Co-ops in NYC are known for their screening process. If you don’t have enough money to afford the unit, you will not be approved. (In fact, NYC has fewer co-op foreclosures thanks to such a strict process.)

If you’ve made it to the board interview, that means you have a strong case. The board members have gone through your finances and have determined that you are a qualified candidate. However, just because you look good “on paper” doesn’t mean that you will be approved. You need to prove that you will be a good neighbor and member of the community. Remember, the co-op board members, just like the HR from your last job interview, can reject you without any explanation.

What Do They Ask During A Board Interview?

Most likely, the members will spend more time asking questions about you. Questions about your interests, habits, and social life might all come up during the interview. Some of the most common questions include:

  • What are your hobbies? Maybe, just maybe, don’t mention your trombone.
  • What does your social calendar look like? If they ask you this, remember not to mention your annual Super Bowl party with over 50 people on the guest list.
  • Do you recycle? Perhaps, they want to make sure that you will take care of your garbage and be a responsible neighbor.
  • Are you planning to renovate the apartment? This is a tricky one. While you might be all excited about the new home you’ll be owning very soon, there is no need to share your grand renovation plan with the board. Renovations require alteration agreements, which means more work for the board. You don’t want them to see you as a troublemaker when you haven’t even gotten your foot in the door.
  • Do you like your job? This is a good opportunity for you to show how secure your job is.

Anything else that will help me ace a board interview?

In addition to the most common questions listed above, there are other things to keep in mind for a board interview.

  • If you are very active on social media, make sure that you’ve cleaned up your profiles before the interview. Hey, we are not saying that you have to hide who you truly are, but you should at least do a basic google search. This helps you be more prepared for the interview. The board members will most likely Google you first. It’d be easier for you to pass the interview if you know what’s out there.
  • Be on time. Imagine if you’re the only one who is late when everyone else actually makes time for you and your lifelong decision. Big no-no.
  • Don’t be a talker. Sometimes, silence is a virtue. The board members want to get to know you so they can determine if you have the potential to become their new favorite neighbor. Talking about yourself or showing your charisma helps. Remember, however, to keep it short, so the board members have time to ask you questions.
  • Your pet might be vetted. Just like you, your buddy will become part of the community, and so the board members might ask you questions related to your pet’s temperament, etc.

We rarely see board members ask tough questions to scare the potential buyer away. At the end of the day, the board interview is to help you and the board members determine whether you fit in or not. They do not want someone who might change the building dynamic or energy completely. So, as long as you show that you respect the established rules and are financially stable, they will welcome you with open arms.


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