Clear up any potential misunderstandings and misguided expectations with prospective new agents using these nine interview questions.

I have been a broker-owner since July 1 of 2005. Having been a top-producing agent prior to stepping into the management/ownership world, I mistakenly thought recruiting would be a snap: I had a proven track record and could share my secrets with both eager new and seasoned agents, who would line up around the corner to be affiliated with me. That’s not exactly what happened.

Over the next few years, we did have growth, significant growth in fact. However, it was much more difficult than I anticipated, and it took a completely new understanding of people that I did not previously have. But like most things, I had to screw it up before I figured it out.

One of the several things I learned is, not everyone wants what I want. It took me awhile to grasp this one because I had set financial and production goals for myself every year as an agent. I loved working on my next year goals every December. I took great pride in achieving those goals earlier and earlier each year. Why wouldn’t you want that? Well, not everyone did, and until I realized this, I might have demonstrated my frustrations a bit too aggressively in one or two sales meetings.

I learned that not everyone was going to put my company first, meaning that even though they spoke that way at opportune times, their actions didn’t quite confirm the same. I learned that sometimes new agents gave me misleading expectations of ability and sometimes me wanting to guide those abilities, which didn’t really exist, simply exhausted resources and time.

I learned that sometimes new agents get into the business not having any realistic idea of how things worked or what to expect. Many new agents took real estate courses that taught them how to pass a specific state exam, but those classes taught them very little about our industry and how it operates.  In fact, I can’t tell you how many times over the past 15 years I have sat down with a newly licensed agent who had no idea what they should be asking me.

For this reason, I came up with a questionnaire that either myself or our team will utilize when interviewing potential new agents. There’s nothing hard hitting here. All this will simply do is give the interviewer an idea of where the interviewee is coming from, allude to what basic knowledge they have and lead into the real conversations that need to be had. I believe in the KISS principle: “Keeping it simple stupid.”

1.  Why do/did you want to get into the the real estate business?

What is your “why?” There has to be one. Maybe we can help this person with their why, or maybe we might not be the right organization.

2.  What are your real estate goals?

What do you want out of real estate? Money? Self-employment? Freedom?

3.  What qualities do you believe make an excellent Realtor?

This one is always interesting and the responses from new agents versus seasoned agents are typically far apart!

4.  Do you prefer working independently or within a group?

This question opens the door to the team conversation. After losing some newer agents to teams because we tried training them to be like “us” we realized that there was another segment of the agents coming into the industry that just were not going to conform to our “older school way,” I’ll call it.  We are very happy with our new Company E Team!

5.  How do you intend to get new business?

We ask this because it’s amazing how many people I have interviewed who did not realize that they had to consider this!  In their first week, the license comes in mail, business cards are ordered, new member orientation at the local board is scheduled. In their second week, they’re like: “Now what?”

6.  What is your definition of success?

Mine has changed a few times in my career. I guarantee it’s not now what most around me think it is. It’s allowed to change, but as your broker, I want to know what buttons to push, what are the most advantageous tools I can put in front of you, what will motivate you — I want to see you achieve it.

7.  What is your expectation of me and our company?

I now ask this because too many times in the past I discovered a fact or belief after they’ve been hired. This allows me to clear misconceptions and unfair expectations right upfront.

8. What particular area of real estate interests you the most? What niche do you see yourself specializing in?

I ask this because in many cases, they never thought of it, and it gets them thinking. In some cases, they discover that they do have a potential niche or area of interest that inspires them.

9.  Coke or Pepsi, dogs or cats, chocolate or vanilla, Yankees or Red Sox, green or red, UFOs — yes or no?

Yes, I ask these questions. Usually I start with them, especially if the individual seems a bit nervous. I will circle each answer as its given, if my assistant is in the interview with me (she knows the correct answers, as far as I am concerned), we will look at each other and smirk a little after wrong answers. Relax! There is no wrong answer. It’s just a good ice breaker that also lets the interviewee know that our culture is loose, not stuffy or corporate, and we aren’t all business all the time.

What questions do you like to ask during an interview? Share in the comments section below. 

Jack Gross is the president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Cassidon Realty in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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