Ace a co-op board interview in NYC by showing up on time, being presentable, being succinct in your answers and not asking any questions. Be especially careful not to mention any renovation plans during your co-op board interview, as it shows poor judgement to ask for approval on something when you haven’t even been approved yet as a shareholder.
A co-op board interview is the final step to board approval when buying a co-op apartment in NYC. A co-op board interview is scheduled once you’ve submitted your coop purchase application and have been conditionally approved. The board has reviewed and conditionally approved your application at this point, so the co-op board interview is a final opportunity to vet you in person.
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You do not need to impress the board with your strong fashion sense at the co-op board interview. However, you do not want to give the impression that you are not taking the process seriously by dressing too casually either.
Nor should you flaunt your wealth by wearing excessive amounts of jewelry or sporting clothing items with prominent (and possibly obnoxious) logos from luxury fashion houses.
The best rule of thumb is to dress “business casual” for the co op board interview. Business casual attire allows you to be comfortable, proper but not too formal.
Keep in mind that most co op board interviews occur during weekday evenings when people are off from work. Therefore, there’s no need to dress overly formally!
Be on time
Being late to a co-op board interview can be disastrous, especially if the board members are all on time. As you can imagine, this doesn’t look too good for you and the psychological guilt and pressure you’ll experience may traumatize you during the co-op board interview itself. It’s simply not worth it. Save yourself the hassle and arrive 15 minutes early!
Be familiar with your entire application
Review your application several times to ensure that you have a complete handle on everything contained within the board package you submitted. It’s particularly important to review your financials, as the board is likely to ask specific questions about your overall financial picture.
Prepare for personal questions
You’ll likely be asked a handful of personal questions. Handle them without being defensive!
Don’t talk too much
The best interviews are short and sweet. Just answer the board’s questions succinctly and leave it at that. Don’t to go out of your way to volunteer additional personal information, as this could backfire and harm you. Remember that this is not a job interview where you’re competing against dozens of other applicants. There’s no need to take risk and ‘swing for the fences’ in order to impress your interviewers. Just remember that you’ve already been conditionally approved based on your purchase application. Nobody else is competing for your apartment. The co-op board interview is just an opportunity to vet you in person and see if there might be any reason to disqualify you!
Don’t mention renovation plans
It’s your right as a shareholder to renovate your apartment. However, this doesn’t mean that you should proactively alert the board about your extensive plans for a gut renovation. In fact, don’t discuss renovations at all. If asked directly about renovations, downplay the extent of the work you intend to do and perhaps mention that your primary and immediate focus is moving-in and integrating into the co-op community.
Remember that renovations are subject to board approval, which means it creates extra work for board members to review your proposal. Why let them imagine the additional work you’re going to create for them during the interview?
Moreover, one or more board members might have a personal agenda against approving a shareholder who plans on renovating. For example, what if the board member interviewing you is a neighbor? She or he will inevitably be subjected to several months of noise, dust and foot traffic if your purchase is approved and you decide to renovate. Once you’re approved and officially an owner, you can just proceed with your renovation plans then.
Coordinate with your partner
If you’re buying with a significant other, make sure you’ve rehearsed who will take the lead on specific questions or topics. Don’t contradict or interrupt one another.
Clean up your online profile
It’s scary how much information is out there about you. Consider doing an online privacy check-up before your interview (and ideally before your board application is submitted). What will the board find out about you from a simple Google search? Do you have an offensive Instagram handle? Are you tagged in any controversial posts which are publicly visible? Have you chimed in publicly on hot button political issues? The last thing you want is to create a negative impression for the board before you’ve even gotten a chance to meet them.
Do you plan on serving on the board?
This question may seem innocent enough, but be careful about enthusiastically revealing that you plan to run for the board. Doing so may make the board members interviewing you feel threatened. Common advice you’ll hear from experienced buyers’ agents is to simply respond that you haven’t given much thought to it, but that you’d be happy to help in any way if the building wanted you to participate.
Why are you moving to a smaller apartment?
This is a common question if you are moving from a larger apartment to a smaller one. The goal here is to simply explain your need for less space. Perhaps you are an “empty nester” and all of your kids are just off to college.
You don’t want to mention anything about affordability. Telling the board that you are downsizing because you can’t afford your previous apartment’s monthly costs is a warning signal to the board about your financial stability.
Do you like what you do for work?
This is not the time to complain about how stressful your job is. This question is also meant to gauge how secure your job is. If you’re complaining about your poor relationship with your boss, that would be a warning sign to the board about your job security.
What are your hobbies?
This is not the time to bring up anything too weird or too disruptive to your neighbors. For example, it’s not a good idea to talk about your passion for playing the guitar late at night. Remember, the board is composed of regular people just like you. They simply want to vet that you’re a normal person and won’t be doing anything too disruptive to residents’ lives.
What does your social calendar look like?
The classic advice from a good buyer’s broker would be to say that while you enjoy the occasional dinner at home with a few friends, your free time otherwise is spent socializing outside of your building. The co-op board interview is not a great time to brag about how great of a yearly birthday party you typically throw on your roof.
Additional possible interview questions include:
Why did you choose this building?
What made you choose this apartment?
Why do you want to live in this neighborhood?
How many other apartments did you consider, and how long were you searching?
Do you play any musical instruments?
Do you smoke?
Do you have any pets?
Are you going to use the apartment for any commercial activities?
Are you confident that you can comfortably carry the mortgage and maintenance?
What kind of renovations are you planning? How will you finance the renovation?