New York City cooperative board interviews are notoriously intimidating: they ask you personal questions about your finances and lifestyle, and they can turn your application down without giving you a reason. Here are some of the tried-and-true ways to impress the board and secure the home you would like to purchase or rent.
Cater to your audience. Members of a cooperative board are there because they love their building and want to contribute to a positive quality of life for their neighbors and themselves. If they ask why you’re interested in living there, be sure your answer shows that you know a lot about the building, its amenities, its history, and its reputation. Conversely, skip the architectural critique – If you don’t like the tiling in the front lobby, keep it to yourself.
Sell yourself. Now is not the time for modesty. Think about what strengths your unique resume and life story offers, and whenever possible, emphasize your job, family, or lifestyle stability.
Be friendly. The cooperative board is assessing whether you’d make a good neighbor, so without going overboard or putting on a show, be friendly and open in a way that will make a positive impression. Nevertheless, don’t get chatty. Answer the questions they ask you and leave it at that.
Do your homework. Most co-ops operate with a cumbersome list of rules that they take very seriously. Be sure to learn the co-op’s specific stipulations in advance, particularly ones that might apply to you.
Renovation plans should be kept on hold. Even if there are aspects of your apartment that you’d like to tweak, now is not the time to lay out your new floor plans. If they ask about upcoming changes to your home, a simple and satisfactory answer sounds something like, “We have no current plans to renovate.” The idea of noisy construction and a steady stream of contractors might turn off board members, so keep upcoming renovation plans to yourself.
Silence is golden. If you’re a regular entertainer with a bustling social life, now is not the time to play that up. Cooperative members like their privacy and peace, so they won’t like the prospect of a noisy neighbor with frequent guests. If you like to entertain or spend time with friends, put a positive spin on it; say that you’re often out in the evenings for dinner with friends, rather than emphasizing how frequently you host dinner parties and New Year’s Eve all-nighters.
Divide and conquer – If you and your partner are being interviewed together, decide ahead of time how you will split up the questions. Typically, it’s helpful to have one of you focus on financial inquiries while the other one handles any other topics that may arise. Pre-formulate answers that both of you agree upon, and commit the basic concepts to memory.
Look and act the part – First impressions are superficial, so do yourself a favor and look like an upstanding neighbor. That means dressing like a professional and being well-groomed. That also means being punctual; arrive early and prepared to get started.
Featured image by Jerome Dominici on Pexels.