Jan. 7, 2020
1. Are you interested in serving on the board?
We recommend neutrality in your response if you are to ever be asked if you’re interested in serving. For example, you could say something like, ‘If the board or the building thought that I could make an important contribution, I would certainly be open to discussing it.’ You never want the board to think that you are aiming for a position.
Some application packages might ask applicants directly if they have any background or skills that may be useful to the board, in which case, it's fine to list expertise that might not be readily apparent from other parts of your board package.
2. Why are you downsizing?
This is a common but an unexpected question for applicants. You may have fewer family members living at home, or maybe you are trying to trim expenses. If it deals with expenses, keep that information to yourself. It is better to focus on space, not money. Co-op board members don’t want to hear you say that you want to move to save money.
3. How do you like your job?
With this question board members will most likely be trying to get a sense of your overall job security. This is not the time to have a candid discussion about any crisis you might be experiencing at work, so no need to cause unnecessary alarm with throwaway lines. Instead, it is recommended to be upbeat about your role and not give away too many details.
4. What are your political beliefs or with which political party are you affiliated?
While this question is completely legal, it might be unexpected and throw you off your game. We recommend that you just be honest and keep your answer simple.
5. Are you planning a renovation?
It is best to leave out any details of your proposed renovation until after closing. It can be concerning to board members to hear about any renovation plans, you never know who may live adjacent to your apartment and might dread the disturbance of a renovation.
6. Do you have parties or entertain often?
This question is very 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 leaving it at that.
8. Why did you choose this apartment/neighborhood?
This is an opportunity for applicants to be complementary. Don’t bog down your response with a blow-by-blow description of the many apartments that you saw before this one, or that it is the only one you could afford. This isn’t an invitation to overshare.
7. What do you do in your spare time?
Although this question seems innocent enough, this can trip buyers up. Three easy suggestions when fielding this one: Keep it clean, keep it simple, and keep it quiet. This means that now is not the time to tell the board about your plans for learning the clarinet or your annual Halloween party.
9. What was your last interaction with an attorney?
Of course, the best answer to this question would be something like, “My lawyer Father-in-Law just had dinner together,” however if you have something behind you it’s best to be honest. However, temper your answer, Go with something like, 'I was unjustly sued by someone, we were able to resolve it quickly and cleanly and fortunately I've never had any legal involvement since.’ You want to give a clean, simple explanation that proves you are reasonable and weren't the source of the problem.
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.
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10. Why are there some inconsistencies in your application?
It’s a good idea to read through the application before you go to the interview to make sure that everything looks legit and be prepared to answer any questions you think it may have elicited. Usually, some financials questions arise, like how much money a person has, especially if their assets are a combination of several business and or a trust.
If, say, you receive $60,000 a year from a trust, be sure to explain that that trust allows you to invade the principal if that's how you're planning on paying for the apartment.
And 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.
11. Do you have any questions?
While in other forums it is often useful to have questions at the ready as a demonstration of your interest, you really shouldn’t raise them during a co-op interview. It is best to be boring. A co-op interview is not a job interview—people do not have to fall in love with you. For instance, when the board asks you if you have any questions, say, ‘None that I can think of right now, but I’ll be sure to get back to you if any should occur.’ It is never about keeping the conversation going, as it often is at a job interview.
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.