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Living in a co-op comes with its share of advantages ––like you might have a greater chance of knowing at least some of your neighbors, and perhaps even liking a few of them. But getting into a New York City co-op is not an easy feat. Most people who live in co-op apartments have to grin and bear the selection process, which tends to be invasive and often grueling, depending on the board and the building’s address.
Prepare to be grilled by a group of fellow shareholders on everything from finances to how many children you have, or even the breed of your dog. Doing your homework is half the battle, however –– there’s no better way to prepare for a co-op interview than to have a list of questions ahead of time, so you can mentally answer each one before the Q and A.
These are some of the most frequently asked questions you’ll most likely be asked during a co-op board interview.
1. Usually, financial questions come before the interview, but, just in case, take a copy of your financial statement with you to prepare for questions.
2. Especially if you’re self-employed, expect to give detailed explanations of your finances.
3. Are you confident that you can afford maintenance and the mortgage comfortably?
4. What made you choose this building?
5. What made you choose this apartment?
6. Why do you want to live in this neighborhood?
7. How many apartments did you view?
8. Do you have questions about the building?
9. Do you have pets?
10. What renovations do you plan to do and how will you afford them?
11. Will you use the apartment for residential purposes only?
12. Do you work from home?
13. Would you run for the board?
14. Do you play any musical instruments?
15. Do you entertain often?
16. Do you smoke?
Answer questions to the best of your ability and when needed make sure they align with what you have included in your board application. Be honest. Make eye contact, and try and remain as neutral as you can, especially when responding to those more personal questions. Mostly, don’t let the interview get to you –– keep your cool no matter what they ask. Occasionally, boards will push the parameters and table topics that are not allowed legally. Answer these but without giving too much information, if that’s possible. No matter how invasive, do not refuse to answer any question.
If your interviewer asks if you have any questions for the board, the best response is something like, “Not that I can think if right now, but thank you.”
What to wear
Dress well and wear something understated. (Don’t pull out your halter-top in the heat of summer or sweats like you just finished a workout.) Mostly, know that if you made it to the interview, you probably have a very good chance of getting the apartment and passing with flying colors. And if your nerves start to get the best of you, remember that each board member was probably in your shoes once, too.
12 Tips to help ensure your Co-op board interview goes well:
While coops are more plentiful than condos and less expensive, their approval process is far more rigorous. The purpose of the interview can vary widely–some boards view it merely as a formality after approving an application, but others use it as an opportunity to scrutinize candidates and their financials. Here are 12 tips to help ensure your board interview goes well:
1. Dress conservatively. Men should wear a suit and tie, and women should wear a professional dress or suit with minimal jewelry.
2. Be on time. Keeping a board waiting will not serve you well, so try to show up early. Also, understand this is a time-consuming process, so be patient with the board.
3. Expect personal questions. Be prepared to field personal questions without getting defensive. Remember that the board is simply trying to determine what kind of neighbor you’ll make.
4. Familiarize yourself with your finances. Going into the interview, you should know your financial statement like the back of your hand and be prepared to answer questions about it.
5. Solidarity is important. If the board is interviewing you with your husband, wife, or partner, make sure you’re all on the same page, so you don’t interrupt or contradict one another.
6. Don’t ask questions. For the most part, the board should have answered your questions before your signing a contract. Now is their time to ask you questions. .
7. Don’t mention renovations. Unless asked, don’t talk about the work you intend to do, and, even if asked, downplay your plans.
8. Don’t over-share. Limit the personal information you divulge to what the board asks. Don’t volunteer things.
9. Don’t expect an immediate decision. The board usually will conduct a full review, which takes time.
10. Meet post-interview requests. In some cases, approval might be contingent on your holding maintenance in an escrow account.
11. Wait for an answer. Once the board has decided, the managing agent will contact you or your agent. Typically, if approved, notification is given within one week.
12. Don’t worry. Being confident and at ease during the process will help you.