People think that when you own a property, and rent it to someone, you are making a juicy passive income each month. This is far from the truth. You need to market the property, set competitive yet favorable pricing, find tenants, ensure that they pay you each month, take care of repairs and maintenance, and do many other things, to at least remain profitable.
Most property owners don’t have a time to handle these things, especially if they own multiple properties across different locations, with dozens of residents. And that’s exactly your opportunity to earn a decent salary (in the US typically over $50K annually) working as a Property Manager. Let’s have a look at 13 questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting job.
Can you please tell us something about your working experience?
Experience isn’t always necessary, but it is an advantage. But you should realize that you do not have to work as a property manager to have an experience of one.
It’s enough when you rented your own property, holiday villa, bungalow, whatever. Because with one property you had to take care of the same things you’d do taking care of 20 properties. You had to market it somewhere, find tenants, do some repairs or even renovation works, collect payments, etc.
If you can explain this to the interviewers, your lack of experience suddenly won’t be a problem anymore… And if you have no experience with property management (including your own property), you can at least refer to jobs that helped you develop your communication and organizational skills, which are almost any jobs.
Ensure the interviewers that you understand the job description clearly. You know what will be expected from you, and feel confident that you’d handle the job–with your skills and previous experience.
We own this and that property. How would you market it to prospective tenants?
Everything starts with marketing the property. Unless people know that the offer exists, they won’t show any interest in renting the spaces. Try to think about their target market and their typical customer. Are these people, companies, shops? Where do they go when looking for a place to live, or to run their office?
The key is to demonstrate your understanding of the market, and the position of your prospective employer. Show them that you know who their customers are, and how you can approach them in an effective way.
You can market a property online, you can do a local advertising in the city, you can approach companies and businesses directly with the offers, you can advertise free office space/apartments directly on the face of the building, you can leverage your existing network of connections, and so on.
Show the interviewers that you have your ideas and won’t wait for tenants to find you. You will do everything to be visible, in the right places.
How would you set the price for a rent for any given property/office space?
This is a tricky question, and often this won’t even be your responsibility–the prices will be set by the property owners. However, you’ll be allowed to make certain adjustments (or recommendations), reflecting the situation on the rental market.
You can refer to the market prices in your answer. Watching the trends carefully, and talking to your connections in the industry, you try stay on the top of the game, having knowledge of the rental prices in each given area.
You can also emphasize that you will always try to negotiate the best possible price for the property owner–which means the highest rent. But you will take into consideration also other factors–whether it is an existing client, someone serious you can do business with for a long time, what size of space they want to rent, etc.
How will you choose companies or individuals to take care of repairs and maintenance work in the properties?
Just do not say that your friend will do it, or that you have your favorite property maintenance company (and, by accident only, your cousin runs the business).
Say that you will do your research, compare prices, read references, and assign test orders. You will do your diligence, and also supervise the workers. Eventually you will find your winners in each given area.
Once again, you will aim for the best quality vs price ratio. You are aware that people rent their properties to earn money, and do not want to see half of their profits consumed by some greedy maintenance and cleaning companies…
An important tenant is one week late with their payment. They were late also the last month. What will you do?
The most important thing is to show the interviewers that you will actually do something. You won’t wait and hope that their situation will suddenly improve. Oppositely, you will pay them a visit, in person, politely asking about the problems they experience, trying to understand the situation.
Then you will act accordingly. You may give them some deadlines, or change the schedule of payments, or just a friendly warning, encouragement. It really depends on the situation and the reason behind the late payments. But you will certainly go and talk to the tenant, to find the reason, and to prevent bigger problems from occurring in the future.
* Special Tip: Download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
How do you (would you) maintain the records of incomes and expenses associated with your work?
The key is to show them that you have a clear system in your work. It doesn’t matter whether you use MS Excel, a sophisticated property management software, or just pen and paper. As long as you track everything–even the very minor expenses, and can assign each expense to a particular tenant or property or housing unit, your answer will satisfy the interviewers.
If you have such a system in place, you can even show it to them on your laptop. If you do not have one, you can talk about a separate spreadsheet/file for each tenant and housing unit, with columns for incomes and expenses, notes, contact information of the tenant etc. Basically something you can always refer to when unsure about this or that thing.
How do you feel about evicting a tenant? Imagine a young family with two kids. They haven’t paid for three consecutive months. How do you feel about expelling them from a property?
There’s no place for emotions in an effective property management. Because each family can complain about struggling with money, and each business owner can keep convincing you that things will get better for them soon, they will find new customers, and they will pay you on schedule again.
As a property manager you are responsible for finding paying tenants. You are not running a charity here… Of course, you are a human being and would not feel particularly great about expelling a young family from the property. But if they haven’t paid for three months, and you talked with them before, and warned them before, you will simply do it.
Ensure your interviewers that you are capable of making unpopular decisions. You won’t hesitate twice to start eviction procedures with a tenant who hasn’t paid for three months. You may feel bad, but instead of listening to your emotions you will do the most rational thing.
Some other questions you may face in your property manager job interview
- Describe a conflict you had with one of your tenants.
- How do you feel about doing an inspection in one of the properties on Sunday afternoon?
- Do you have knowledge of laws and regulations applicable to property management?
- How will you lead an interview with a prospective tenant? What questions will you ask them?
- What are your salary expectations?
- After everything we said during this interview, do you have any questions?
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a Property Manager belongs to interviews with average difficulty. This isn’t a fancy job title, and you typically won’t compete with many other people for the job. It makes your situation easier.
On the other hand, you will face many practical questions. Instead of asking pointless questions about your strengths and weaknesses, they will inquire about your attitude to various situations and scenarios that can realistically happen in your job–advertising properties, interviewing tenants, experiencing conflicts, choosing building maintenance contractor, evicting someone from the building, etc.
Try to prepare for the questions in advance, and do some research about your prospective employer and the properties they own. This should help you connect with your interviewers and also find answers to some of their questions. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Leasing consultant interview questions.
- Facilities manager interview questions.
- Real Estate Agent interview questions.