“Hi there. Thanks for coming in today. My name’s Mike. Please, do take a seat. Right then, let’s get straight into things; why do you want to be an estate agent?”
Nervous? Good, a little nerves can prove positive. Provided, of course, that it doesn’t spill over into a full-blown anxiety attack leaving you incapable of coherent speech.
Ready? Have you ironed that shirt or blouse to within an inch of its life and polished your shoes so diligently they could double up as a pair of little black mirrors? That’s alright then. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, after all.
Prepared? Let’s hope so. Proper preparation prevents poor performance, as they say. Without being prepared, you could end up kissing goodbye to the job even before you’ve brushed your teeth in the morning.
Mike looks at you, expectantly.
So, let’s backtrack, right to the very beginning. Back to the research phase, at the time of finding out exactly what preparation would be needed for a job in property. The evenings spent discovering what the prospective employee would need to have ready in their arsenal for the day of the interview. Typically, it would run along the theme of researching what questions were likely to be asked and what a good response to each would be. Questions, that is, such as these…
Why do you want to work in property?
The biggie. Probably the first question that will be asked. Not only that, the most difficult, both in the fact that it’s a tricky question and that it comes at a time before you’ve got into the rhythm of the interview. Nevertheless, preparing for it and delivering a successful response should get the whole process off to a good start and prevent an early stumble that could unwittingly set the tone for the rest of the interview.
So why do you want to be an estate agent? First of all – regardless of how true it may actually be – it’s not because you enjoy watching ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ and ‘Location, Location, Location’. This implies a lack of understanding of the industry and often paints a person as the kind who wants to swan around houses showing people around, belying a lot of the hard graft and effort that goes on behind the scenes.
A better response would involve mentioning a love of interactions and being comfortable talking to all manner of people. Whether young or old, rich or poor, if you’ve met them once or a hundred times; anyone working in property needs good interpersonal skills.
There is also a great deal of research which goes into being a successful letting or estate agent. Knowing the market, getting ahead of the trends and being able to put all this into practical, real-world examples is a skill that comes with experience, but only to those who are willing to learn.
What makes you think you’ll be good at it?
Because your friends say you’re just like Phil or Kirsty? Not good enough, sorry. Demonstrable experience of dealing with customers or clients, a proven history of closing deals and a keen eye for detail? Now we’re talking.
You may not need years of experience in a property-based job for a more entry-level role, but there are transferable skills which are worth keeping in mind for the interview. Research the role and what requirements are likely, then go back through your own employment history to find relevant examples that can be called upon at will during the interview. There may have been cases where deals that looked cold were turned around, or where rapport was built that helped get the job done in doublequick time.
What is your level of commitment?
Getting the deal done or completing the day’s tasks will often revolve around other people. Therefore, even if the agency closes at 5pm, you may be needed to stay behind in order to speak with sellers, buyers or anyone else with information on a property in your portfolio. This may not be just a phone call or two, but meetings and even viewings.
Property jobs are careers, not vocations, meaning they need hard work and dedication to be pulled off successfully. Those who are willing to work and put in the effort will succeed, whilst those who do not are destined to fail. In a job market that now puts more importance on willingness to work than related experience, commitment levels need to be high and this must be conveyed to the interviewer.
Are you prepared to work on a salary that isn’t guaranteed?
Eventually, there may be a salaried role in the offering, but often this isn’t the case right away. Property professionals work with huge sums of money, meaning that sales or contract signings are big business. To ensure they aren’t throwing good money after bad, many will operate on a low basic salary and high commission, particularly to begin with. For this reason, payment is far from guaranteed and can change drastically from month to month or week to week.
The right person to deal with this is someone confident in their ability to sell large volumes or those comfortable living on an ever-changing wage (or preferably, both). By the interview stage, such exactitudes should already have been made clear, but this is not always the case. So before anything else, make sure the money is right, it’s something you can live on during those months when it doesn’t go quite to plan and that you don’t look too shocked or appalled when the money situation is discussed.
Mike is still staring across, his question hanging in the air between you. Thankfully, the preparation was thorough and you’ve readied yourself for the response.