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— by David Serpa

Interview Questions for Agents Who Want to Join Your Team or Brokerage!

When an agent walks into our front doors we should want good for them, regardless of whether, or not, they end up with our team, organization, or brokerage. As they should want good for us and our business. An interview is an opportunity for both to see in transparency and determine if it will be a good fit. Not to put our best foot forward

Less than a week ago my son, Wyatt, told me “Dad, when I get older I want to work for you!” I told him “Thank you, son! I really appreciate it but I don’t want you to work for me.” He looked a little shocked and I went onto explain to him “I don’t want to be your boss and have you be my employee. I want you to be my partner. I don’t want you to work for me but, someday if you decide you want to, I would be honored to work with you!”

1. Tell me of a time when you worked for something and achieved it.

This is a perceived softball question. You want them to talk, break the ice, and get into a form of authenticity so you can both relax. Watch for acting. I don’t want some ridiculous accomplishment story (unless it’s true), I want to know if this is a cat I can hang out with, and not some bunghole looking to say what they think I want to hear to get hired.

2. Did you play any sports, or compete in anything, in High School, college, or do you currently? 

You want to know if a person is competitive and/or driven. People will offer some very interesting alternatives to sports. This is a great opportunity to get a read on them to see if they will mesh well with your squad. Whether they are competitive or driven, either will work. If a person has never had a desire to compete with others or themselves, to be better or make the world better, why would anyone expect them to start now? 

3. How competitive are you? 

This is by far my favorite group interview questionon a scale of 1-10, how competitive are you?” People will compete to be the most competitive but I’m looking for truth. If someone says “11” to one up the person who said “10” but showed up late in a wrinkly suit, I will see and identify the problem. I have hired the agent who said “6” because she was honest. I can always work with the honest and self-aware. I can’t do denial. 

4. Are you easily offended?

I want to know if they have thick skin. I am autistic and tend to communicate in a blunt way which can be perceived as rude to people who are not use to speaking frankly. Many people, especially women, will respond “it’s okay to yell at me” and explain how their last boss/lead would yell or cuss at them. Correct this during the interview and tell them “I don’t know who told you that’s okay but it’s never okay for anyone to yell or cuss at you.” 

5. Does drug use offend you?

You can substitute alcohol in this question. I don’t drink. I do smoke cannabis. Neither belong in my office. I am a NorCal hippie living in Southern California. I don’t mess around with harder substances. I want to get an idea for where they are, no judgement, so I can be accommodating and aware. Some people are very anti-drug and have solid reasons why. I want to know who I am hiring and I want to make my office policy clear. 

6. Why are you here specifically? 

If they are interviewing four other teams, maybe let them go with those teams. If they got into real estate because of you, or were inspired to join your team, or your brokerage, then they want to be there. They were intentional before arrival. Never beg for anyone to be a part of culture. They either are, or are not. You will know. It’s a gut feeling

7. What are your goals? If you accomplish them here, next year, will you consider sticking around? 

Some people have non-financial goals. I am one of them. I have never been money motivated. This is one of the benefits which come from being on the autism spectrum. Some people genuinely want to be a part of something, they want more time with their families, or their church, or to volunteer. Some people see real estate as a “stepping stone” to get where they want to be. If they say they want to sell “8-10 homes”, “make $100,000”, or “have more family time”, trust them, write it down, and help them get there

8. How much money do you want to make? 

Most people don’t think clearly about annual goals. Break them down monthly. There are many ways to meet a monthly income which have less to do with the split and more to do with the systems. The value should be in the organization and in the systems which can get a person to where they want to be financially so they can enjoy the lifestyle which comes along with hitting their goals. What good is a high-split of zero transactions? Does you offer the X-factor which will help bring the desired lifestyle?

9. Do you like working with people? 

Believe it, or not, a person can be introverted and still be successful in real estate. They can’t hate people and be successful in the long term without burnout. I’m an ambivert. I love people! I just tend to enjoy them in short structured bursts. I will never be a 9-5, Monday through Friday, office person nor will I ever be the person to gather at the bar during lunch or after a work day for drinks. This being said; I crave being a part of a team or a tribe. I love the way a good team fits together. Hire the right person for the right job and understand there are many ways to get across the river. Instead of overreaching and overpaying for “talent” create an organization which fosters and creates it

10. What can you contribute to this team? 

Many agents get stuck in the mode of what will I get by being a part of this team. I am always looking for what someone can contribute. People are incredible you just have to dive deep enough to see them for their talents. Some people have tremendous energy, or positivity, others have great ideas, some are already great leaders, others can be fostered into great leadership. Some are extraordinarily influential, others are willing and able followers, and even more have a strong desire to teach or mentor others; these people are absolutely golden and invaluable to any organization. Build a strong squad of leaders.  

11. What is important to you? 

People will tell you their truth if you genuinely want to hear it. For some people what is important to them is their kids. They have become so primal in their fears they have stopped living for their own good and well-being. They think they need to sacrifice themselves in order for their offspring to thrive. This will need to be addressed, but right now they are concerned with eating. It is hard to explain thriving to someone concerned with surviving but you have an opportunity to help them get there. Some people will tell you “money” is important to them. This is a pain source trauma response from a lack of money, a façade built to protect them, or they are truly this vapid. It’s rarely the latter. 

12. Do you take regular scheduled time with your family, or yourself, to unplug? do you want to? 

No one really unplugs and it’s not as much about unplugging as it is plugging into something different. Some spend time reading, in prayer, or meditating in order to feel connected to the Source. Everyone needs to plug into their families, friends, and hobbies. This is healthy. My teams schedule and prioritize time spent away from their phones. 

13. What are your intentions? 

They need to know what they can and cannot do on the team. Some people will tell you they don’t plan on sticking around long, if you listen. If they plan on leaving your team or brokerage before they even walk in the door is it still financially beneficial investing the time and energy to train them? Can they take listings? Do they want to grow with you? 

14. Why real estate? 

This will bring you to the fundamental truth of why they started in real estate in the first place. Bring it back to the beginning. You will find a lot of beautiful stories behind the rehearsed ones people tend to give potential employers, family, and friends when they ask them this question. Rarely do people find real estate as their first career. Why now? 

I had a bad experience buying when I was an active duty infantryman in the United States Marine Corps. Realtors were rude and condescending to me the second they saw my haircut. Until I was referred to Tammy Runion. Tammy is a Lab Coat Agent who has recently relocated from California to Texas. She is married to a fellow Marine Corps veteran who had served with my battalion and she had helped another Lance Corporal buy a home. I gave Tammy a call and she changed my entire life simply by being my real estate agent as a first time VA home buyer. I decided to get into real estate after getting out of the Marine Corps to supplement my Post 9/11 GI Bill and the rest is history. 

It took me leaving real estate to realize why I needed to be in real estate. A lot of injustices have been done through real estate, so real estate should be used to right these wrongs. I never realized real estate, like college, was an option for me until I was enlightened to the opportunity. One of my favorite radicals, Thomas Paine, wrote “The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” How do I enlighten more minds? 

I am an agent for change in this world and real estate provides me with bountiful opportunities to affect societal and personal change for the benefit of myself, my children, and others.  My reason wasn’t always this complicated. It started with a 11 year old boy who spent the Christmas season in a woman’s shelter with his mom and two younger sisters. I lived in shelters, with “friends”, and in government and section 8 housing. This childhood made me realize how important housing and wealth are in America. The best way to create more home owners is to create more opportunities for wealth. This is the reason education has become the cornerstone of my business moving forward.

If my mom had met someone like me 30 years ago my life would have been significantly different. This is the gift we have as good business owners, team leaders, and brokers. We get to affect the life in our office, as well as the lives dependent on the person in our office. Helping the adult in front of us gives us the opportunity to disrupt cycles of poverty, confront trauma, and truly help create generational wealth. 

15. Finally, do you have any questions for me? 

Both interviewers and interviewees often forget the interview goes both ways. One of my mentors, Susan Ebert, taught me this early in my career. She starts her listing appointments by saying to her sellers; “This is going to end one of two ways; 1. You’re going to decide you don’t want to work with me and/or I’m going to decide I don’t want to work with you. OR 2. We are going to decide to work together. Either is fine .” You are entering into a partnership whether you are joining a brokerage or taking a listing. No one is working for anyone. No bosses. No employees. It is 100% about partnerships.

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