Most people dread having to prepare for an interview. It’s laborious. They aren’t entirely sure what they should rehearse or study. And they really just want the interview to be done and over with so they can learn if they got the job or not.
But understanding how to prepare for an interview is a superpower in the CRE field. We’ve written on interview prep skills before, because it’s so crucial to a successful career. This key skill will enable you to control so much about the interview itself and whether or not you get the job. To simplify, there are four basic ways to prepare for an interview. Whether you are competing for a job as an analyst, associate, or project manager, these principles are the same. Cover these four bases, and you will greatly improve your chances of scoring that dream job.
1. Do the Homework
Your knowledge of the company, role, and industry are crucial to solid interview performance. Know your stuff. Here are some of the key points to research in mastering this area of preparation:
- The Company Don’t just skim their website and LinkedIn. Spend time on their social media pages, blogs, and Google reviews, etc. Find out what others say about them. Is this a good place to land?
- The Culture Peruse social media platforms to find out how employees interact. Are they playful, somber, casual, formal? Check out their mission and values. How do these intersect with your own? Even their mission statement and words they employ on their website can give you an indication of the company culture.
- The Team Go the extra mile and stalk the hiring team. No, not in a creepy way – but you want to understand their frame of reference and backgrounds at a reasonable level to be able to build rapport.
- The Job Make sure you have a firm grasp on what this company is looking for and the requirements. Understand the main responsibilities of this position.
2. Prepare Your Responses and Questions
An interview is of course a series of questions and responses. So a crucial way to prepare for an interview is to prepare a list of common interview questions and prepare your tailored responses to each. Your list should include at least ten questions and answers. But at a minimum, be prepared for these three common commercial real estate interview questions:
- Long-Term Goals Hiring the wrong fit costs the company time and money. They want to know your goals align with theirs. So find out what those goals are, and prepare to explain how they sync with your own.
- Excel Skill Level This is a big one in CRE. So many positions require a deep understanding of Microsoft Excel from analyst roles to property management positions. So be ready to discuss your proficiency with this program.
- About Yourself Last but certainly not least, you will at some point be asked to tell the team about yourself. This is not the time to disclose your personal hobbies and family history. The hiring manager wants to know how you got to this point in your career, what your approach and style are, and some key accomplishments.
- Questions for the Team
Allow the person interviewing to be in charge of the discussion, but try to ask a few questions. Be
sure the questions reflect your commitment and desire to work for the company.
3. Look the Part
To prepare for an interview, you must look the part. This includes not only the clothes you choose to wear to the interview, but also the accessories you bring, the organization of your papers, and how you handle yourself. It’s important to make the right first impression. Here are some key aspects of looking the part:
- The Outfit Don’t just dust off your old interview suit from your last job; wear something modern and tailored. Make sure it is pressed and cleaned. Not sure what is appropriate? Hang out at the café across the street to see what employees are wearing and then take it up a notch. Or ask the hiring manager what is appropriate. It is always better to be overdressed.
- Grooming Yes, people will notice if your fingernails are not trimmed or if you haven’t shaved in a couple days. Do what it takes to feel good about yourself and present a polished package. This will translate into confidence in the interview.
- The Briefcase Whether you bring a bag or briefcase, make sure it is adequately packed and organized. Include at least five copies of your resume, breath mints, a stain stick, a notepad, etc. And reduce the clutter. You want to be smooth and collected, not digging through a pile of stuff. Keep your cellphone stowed and off to avoid distracting disruptions.
4. Hone Your Outlook
Lastly, prepare for an interview by getting your head in the game and developing your outlook for success:
- Career Highlights Before the interview, be prepared for unexpected questions by thinking over the highlights of your career: where you have struggled, how you overcame, and what you have learned and accomplished.
- Body Language Check yourself to make sure your body language is open and confident while rehearsing your responses. Don’t come off as shifty, nervous, overbearing, or closed down.
- Sleep It sounds simple, but get enough sleep before the interview. Your mind needs rest to prepare for an interview!
- Ask! Though often overlooked, it is especially important in the highly competitive CRE industry to come right out and state your interest in the job. Ask for the job! Expressing your interest in an interview is crucial. It shows your eagerness and willingness to become a part of the team.