Moving On to the Next Step: The Interview

As a result of your research, you should have a list of your top choices of real estate companies. Think of the interview process as just another level of research. It’s a chance for you to learn more about the company one-on-one with a broker or with a group from the office. Be prepared to be impressive, but also expect to be impressed.

For your part, offer a killer resume—one that is short, to the point, and nicely presented to showcase your experience, skills, accomplishments, and abilities. Next, focus on your appearance. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression so make it a sharp and professional one. Make sure you look the part of a successful professional. Invest in a good suit, pay attention to details like shined shoes, well-knotted ties, tasteful jewelry, and good manners.

Finally, be prepared with questions and answers. Expect them to ask you questions about your sales experience, customer service philosophy, why you’re interested in real estate, how you expect to generate business, whether you prefer to work individually or in a team, if you’re prepared to work hard, and why they should hire you. Being clear, confident, and articulate in your answers will spark their interest in your sales potential.

In return, have some insightful questions of your own ready. It’s their turn to impress you.

  • What is your training program for new salespeople? A new salesperson will want as much company-supported and -sponsored training as possible. Ask follow-up questions about how often and how soon training classes take place, where they are held, what subjects are covered and how costs are covered.

    • Do they focus only on contracts and law, or do they provide training in sales skills, scripts, dialogues, prospecting, and lead follow-up?
    • Do they provide ongoing training for all sales associates?
  • How many salespeople do you train annually?

    • How many are still with the company a year later? The level of experience a company has training sales staff is important.
    • Does it have a tested system that has a reputation for producing the best? You also will benefit from going through the training with a group of people you can learn from, rather than doing it by yourself. Be sure to interview sales associates who have completed training and are still with the company six to 12 months later. If they are still positive about the company and the support they’re receiving, that’s a good sign.
  • What does it cost to hang my license with your company? Working with a real estate brokerage involves costs to do business. These include real estate board fees, MLS fees, and errors and omissions insurance.

    • Who is responsible for paying for business cards, real estate signs, letterhead, postage, lock boxes, and advertising? How costs are shared or subsidized—or aren’t—will have a significant impact on what you take home at the end of a transaction.
  • How will the company help me generate business?

    • Will the company give you opportunities to share in its listings and leads?
    • Will it let you hold open houses and run ads?
    • Will you have “floor time,” or the opportunity to answer phone calls that come in from advertisements and signs? Covering the phones offers a good opportunity for a new salesperson to convert prospects into clients.
    • Will the company announce your affiliation through a variety of promotions, giving you a good introduction to the community?
  • How does the company run its office?

    • Does it have a formal “new associate” orientation, where you learn who does what in the company, what procedures you need to follow, where everything is located, how it works, and who to go to for help?
    • Does it have regular office meetings to update the sales associates and staff on business matters and competitive intelligence and to share ideas and opportunities?
    • What would your workspace look like? Would you be in an open “bullpen” environment where there is less privacy and more interruptions, or will you be given a private office—or something in between, such as high-walled cubicles?
    • What computer hardware and software are provided for salespeople? Is the database a good one that is easily learned, accessed, and kept updated?
  • What is the commission split?

    • Are there other fees associated with the commission? This is a very key issue as it determines how much commission you receive on the sale and how much the company keeps. Many companies start new salespeople with a 50/50 split. This may seem like a high company split, but remember, a good company is earning its “fee” by giving you the best training and support available. Other costs might include a franchise fee or transaction fees to do the paperwork associated with a sale. Be sure you understand exactly what the financial arrangements are before you commit to a company.

Source: Adapted from Your First Year in Real Estate by Dirk Zeller (Prima Lifestyles, 2001). Dirk Zeller is a speaker, trainer, coach, and author. He is the CEO of Real Estate Champions, a coaching company based in Bend, Ore.

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