10 Tips To Pass A Co-op Board Interview


So you've signed the contract,  submitted your board package and now the board wants to meet.  How do you prepare?

First off, know right off the bat that it is generally a good sign the board has scheduled an interview with you.  In all likelihood, your financial picture has passed the board's muster, and the next step is for them to see what kind of neighbor you will be.  Take a deep breath, and prepare yourself with the following:

#1 - Be on Time
There's nothing worse than making the board wait.  Get to the interview a good ten minutes early just to be safe.  Simple and easy - be early!  

#2 - Dress appropriately.
Treat the interview as if it were a business meeting.  Wear something that indicates you are taking the interview seriously, and present yourself in the most professional manner.    Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.    

#3 - Compliment the building
Do not criticize the building and it's elements.  If you don't like the color of the lobby walls, keep it to yourself.  (The board president might have chosen it, and it very well might be his or her favorite color!)  As my mother always says, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."  

#4 - Don't volunteer information you aren't asked
Let the board guide the interview.  Sit back, relax and answer whatever questions they ask.  A short interview is often better than a long one.    

#5 - Know your finances
Prior to the interview, you submitted a packet to the board containing all of your financial information.  Be familiar with the contents of the packet as you may be asked questions about some of your accounts. 

#6 - Decide who will answer what questions
If you are a couple purchasing together, choose who will handle financial questions and who will take on the rest.  (It is usually best to break it up between those two categories.)  Try not to 'figure out' answers together as you go along.

#7 - Be prepared for a lack of privacy
This is the time for the board to get to know you so don't let any of their questions frustrate you.  Understand that they may broach topics that might make you uncomfortable.  Be straightforward with your responses, and remember that less is more.

#8 - Do not interview the board
This is not a time for you to ask questions of the board.  They have come together to interview you.   Questions can sometimes convey negative information and may serve to offend the board - you just never know.  If you do have additional questions, bring them up to your attorney or real estate agent after the interview.  

#9 - Subletting and Renovating
It is probably best not to mention either of these words during your interview.  You should know the board's sublet policy prior to purchasing, and if you're buying an apartment that needs renovations, save the questions until you are approved.  Renovations are almost always allowed provided you go through the procedures required by the board.  Don't jeopardize being rejected by making the interview about you and your complicated design ideas.

#10 - Don't ask if you have been approved to purchase
Don't expect the board to give you their decision by the end of the meeting.  Generally speaking, the timeframe for approval notification is usually one day to two weeks.  Boards will let their managing agent know what they have decided, and you will be notified thereafter. 

Be on time.  Be yourself.  Relax and keep in mind that you would not be in the interview if the board was not interested in potentially approving you.   Good luck, and let us know if you need any other guidance.