What to Expect at an NYC Co-op Interview

Buyer walking into an apartment for her co-op interview. She's worried it's going to be intense but everyone is friendly.

Co-op interviews can be scary. We get it! Nobody likes to be interviewed, especially when all you’re trying to do is buy something! Thankfully, these nerves are usually all for naught but you should still be prepared! With this quick guide, you’ll be ready regardless of how your interview plays out.

Getting invited to a co-op interview is a great sign

Boards don't want to waste their time so if you're getting interviewed, you're in good shape. They've already reviewed your application and if there were any glaring issues, they would have been addressed beforehand.

The vast majority of rejections happen before the interview. While boards don't say why they reject applicants, it's understood that most are for financial reasons. Since the board has all of your financials in the application, they already know if that's a problem. For example, if they want a debt to income ratio under 25% and you're at 40%, there’s no reason to go any further. 

Co-op boards almost always go into an interview expecting to approve the applicant but that doesn’t mean they will. There are things you can do or say that may cause a change of heart.

Where do co-op interviews take place?

Co-op interviews usually take place at the building. Sometimes it’s in a lounge or other common space but most of the time, it’s simply in a board member’s apartment.

Management will coordinate all of the details. If the location is omitted, don’t just assume it’s at the building. We have seen interviews take place at management.

A ton of space usually isn’t necessary. While the entire board is welcome to join, usually only a subset attend. 

Co-op interview tips

Even if the board is expecting to approve your application, you shouldn’t go into the interview expecting that! Here are a few general tips that will help you get in, get out and get approved.

  • Pretend this is a job interview - That’s the simplest way of summarizing how you should behave. You should look nice, be professional and polite. 
  • Review your application beforehand - Again, like a job interview, you need to be prepared for the questions you know you’re going to get. The board doesn't know you, just your application so that's where questions will be centered. If there's anything complicated or unusual, make sure to review it beforehand. Your agent should be able to flag these potential topics.
  • Answer whatever is asked - If a board member asks a question, you have to answer. Most questions will be about your financials and while that may seem personal, it doesn’t matter. If the board isn't confident you financials are strong enough to buy the apartment, you won’t buy the apartment.
  • Don’t ask questions - You want to get in and get out. Asking questions will only present an opportunity to shoot yourself in the foot. For example, if you're an aspiring musician, now would not be a good time to see if anyone else likes to play the drums. If asked if you have any questions, just politely say no but you’re very excited to join the building’s community.
  • The interview will probably be quick - 10-15 minute interviews are common and good. Short means everything went according to plan. Most of the time, you won’t even be asked a real question and instead will just be welcomed to the building.

It’s rare to get board approval on the spot. Usually that comes the following day from management. You’ll likely know how you did though, whether it’s a gut feeling or a board member saying “welcome to the building.” That being said, we have had buyers walk in with their official approval letter waiting so you never know! Every co-op and every board is different.

If you are looking for more co-op resources, we have a general co-op guide, another on co-op reference letters and this post on approval timing