There are some terrific block management companies across the country, all striving to serve a wide range of clients whilst keeping an unlimited number of balls in the air. Though PropTech – a forthcoming BBL Blog subject – is having a big impact on block management at the moment, without personnel, managing agents don’t have a business at all.
So as an employer, you are looking for talented staff – typically operational property managers or accounts team members. They aren’t necessarily easy to find at the moment. But perhaps you’ve seen a great CV and now you are keen to meet the candidate. Where? When? Accompanied by? What to ask? What not to ask? This isn’t an exhaustive guide to interviewing for employers but a few pointers based on what candidates say to us.
- Time is money: So conduct a phone interview first. Find out why they are looking to leave. You should be aiming to find out how serious they are about it and what they know about your company. 15 minutes ought to be enough to know if they qualify for a longer face to face interview.
- Coffee shop: Despite being a candidate’s market at the time of writing, most will be nervous. Put them at ease and get the best from them. Consider holding the interview in a quiet Starbucks. Perhaps stage two is held in the office or at one of your flagship schemes to be combined with a brief tour and an introduction to another senior manager. If you have a quirky office that is worth showing off, do so.
- Greener grass: Do your research on the candidate’s current place of employment and accentuate the benefits of working at your firm without direct reference to where they are now. The grass may be greener on your side of the fence.
- Career Progression: Whatever the size of your firm, the candidate is likely to want to know what their career could look like with you. Be honest, be frank, don’t over-promise but give them a future.
- Location location location: Candidates often place disproportionate emphasis on their commute. Do some quick research on their likely travel arrangements and work harder if their commute is arduous yet you want them to join. Consider flexible working arrangements and season ticket loans.
- Rewards and benefits: A candidate’s choice of employer may depend on performance related pay, discretionary bonuses, healthcare, contributory pension, corporate memberships, retail discounts, company car, childcare voucher scheme membership, critical illness insurance and so forth. Check with us at BBL as to what floats their boat and pitch accordingly.
- Social: Property managers spend up to 25% of their week with their work colleagues so it’s important to the candidate that they are going to get on with the team. So be specific about work socials, whether or not these are company-organised. The more the staff do together unprompted, the better.
- Horizon: Our industry suffers from a high turnover of staff but candidates still want to know where the company is going so do explain your longer term plans and how they could be part of them.
- Technical: Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewee some technical questions. Candidates tell us that they swotted up on legislation and the latest industry news but weren’t given the chance to show off their knowledge. Equally, some candidates who maybe weak on the technicals are no doubt relieved not to be asked. Once they’ve started with you, it’s too late to find out they cannot differentiate between sections 20 and 21 of the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act.
- Let the candidate do the talking: But don’t let them ramble on. Some candidates tell us that the interviewer was more interested in hearing the sound of their own voice and they were given little opportunity to talk about them. As the interviewer, you need to strike the balance between getting through your questions and getting to know the candidate. If you need to interrupt them, do so.
- Scenarios: Encourage the candidate to tell a story. Ask them when they were in a particular situation to describe what they did, why and the outcome. This could be an ideal pre-prepared scenario (see below).
- Something I prepared earlier: This is rarely done but you can ask your recruiter to pass on set questions to the candidate(s) so you can compare their responses to those given on the spot. This will test the recruiter to a certain extent but more importantly test the candidate’s ability/aptitude/thoroughness in preparing for an important meeting.
- Meet and greet: Post interview, introduce the candidate to key members of staff making sure they know you are going to do this if possible. (This is harder if you’re in Starbucks). Make them feel welcome and valued even if you are unlikely to offer them the position. You want them to leave with a positive impression of your firm because they will share their experience one way or another.
Rhys Townsend, Senior Block Management Recruitment Consultant at BBL Property Recruitment