Block Management Recruitment: Interview tips for candidates
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin
The block management industry has at no time been more demanding yet it is rising to the challenge and showing levels of professionalism never seen before. Thanks to the IRPM in part, property managers’ profiles have been raised. New practitioners have deliberately chosen property management for a career and they are committed to it. Property managers are more confident than ever, eager to learn, keen to please their customers and hungry to make money.
Made of the right stuff
Ok, so that last sentence is partially true. Some property managers are not made of the right stuff and they exit the industry shortly after joining it. For those who make it their career, block management can be very rewarding.
These days, the interview process is very much a two-way assessment of suitability; the candidate is assessing the employer as much as the other way around. So if there is a shortage of property managers made of the right stuff, does that mean the candidate can afford to be complacent? Not in my view, no.
Managing agents are under pressure to perform – under pressure from developers, RMCs, freehold investors, leaseholders and residents. They need super property managers – technically proficient, personable, tenacious and self-sufficient. No matter how much training a property manager receives, ultimately they needs to stand on their own two feet and roll their sleeves up.
At BBL, we are committed to matching candidates to companies for the long term. Good matches help companies grow and growing companies means more candidates to match. So it is in all our interests for the best candidates to prepare for interview similarly to how they would prepare for an exam.
Taking for read that the candidate has chosen the right block management recruiter to conduct the search, the preparation starts before any interviews are arranged. Here is some advice for candidates, pre-interview, during and post-interview.
Your interview checklist
- Get your CV up-to-date: Although some recruiters, BBL included, present your CV in a standard format to make it easier for the client to compare, having an up-to-date CV will help to remind you of your achievements and you can prepare in advance what you are going to say about those accomplishments.
- Ask for help: Your recruiter is not there just to set up interviews – he/she is there to provide you with help and advice. Your recruiter can give you tips based on actual feedback from block management companies. Ask a friend in the industry to set up a mock interview with you to give you some practice. At BBL, we work with a consultant with plenty of block management experience who can meet with you confidentially to run through do’s and don’ts before and during interview. Ask us about this.
- Facts and figures: Learn it. By that I mean ensure you know and can recall the number of schemes/buildings and units under your care, the annual management fee too plus a good idea what the portfolio yields in additional fees (major works, company secretarial, pre-sale enquiries, licence to alter and so forth). Make sure you have a decent overview of the company you work for too (annual turnover, no. of employees, nationwide coverage) – that will also impress the interviewer, especially if you don’t manage a full portfolio yourself.
- Company research: Once you know the identity of the company that want to see you, take the earliest possible slot to show you are keen and make sure you they don’t find someone to fill the position before you have even interviewed! Do your background research on the firm. It may be well known but there is always more you can find out as there will be opportunities to drop that knowledge into conversation. Your interviewer will want you to explain why you want to work for them. Specifics rather than sweeping statements are recommended here.
- Phone interview: Be prepared for a phone interview as stage one. Take the call in a quiet environment with no distractions and make some notes at the same time in preparation for the stage two face-to-face.
- Practicals: Even though the company you are joining may have a relaxed work attire policy, you ought to turn up for the interview smartly dressed. Leave plenty of time to get to your destination – being late won’t do you any favours. The interviewer may take you to a nearby coffee shop; they want you to be relaxed and do your best.
- Quirky questions: We have noticed a rise in the number of off-the-wall questions that block management interviewers are asking. Google some interesting interview questions to prepare yourself. These are a test of your personality (including your sense of humour), your imagination and your ability to think on the spot.
- Questions to expect: Despite knowing what your salary expectations are already, the interviewer will probably ask you directly. They may also ask if you have seen other potential employers. Be clear what you are going to say in advance. On the technical side of things, you should know what they would expect from you given your experience, status and if you have achieved AIRPM or MIRPM. Dig out your IRPM notes and do some revision! If you are able to demonstrate some knowledge about the latest goings on in the industry regarding, say, fire safety, or forthcoming regulation for managing agents, demonstrate that awareness.
- Prepare some questions for them: Have plenty of questions to ask as some may be answered during the course of the interview. Don’t hesitate to pull out a sheet of paper that you have written on as an aide memoire. They want to know you are driven and want to success so feel free to enquire about any commissions or performance related pay tied to you as an individual or to the company’s own achievements.
The interviewer is looking for a well-rounded individual, ideally someone who can hit the ground running. Do your research on the firm, show your personality and relax. Answer the questions posed, don’t ramble but avoid very brief answers. Often the interviewer is as nervous as you – they have a position to fill! Good luck.