Interesting staff interview questions for customer magazine?
December 9, 2010 8:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm producing a customer magazine for a real estate company. One of the many articles they want to create each month is one focusing on a member of staff, in order to provide the "human element".

I need to create a list of questions to distribute to staff which may result in some interesting answers.

They don't necessarily have to be real estate related, I just want to find an interesting angle to write about.

Here are some of the good ones I have to far:

1. Have you always worked in real estate? If not, what other interesting jobs have you had?

2. Tell us something your colleagues don't know about you?

3. What things have changed within the company during your time here, specifically related to your day-to-day role? and within the industry too?

Anyone got any others?
posted by oxide to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
Ask them about places they've lived -- worst apartment, weirest neighbors, etc.
posted by AzraelBrown at 8:31 AM on December 9, 2010

Maybe have them give their own answers (i.e. not just corporate canned responses) to questions that customers might frequently ask. That way it's "human" and has a personal touch but doesn't come across as a cheesy "Get To Know Your Real Estate Agent" kind of thing (because, really, most customers don't care about the personal life of their real estate agent, they just want to know that the agent competent at their job).
posted by amyms at 8:39 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

The usual personality-profile kind of stuff is a good start--where were you born, do you have a spouse and/or children and/or pets, what's your favorite restaurant in town, etc.

Oh, and the real-estate stuff:
What's your favorite room in your home?
What's the one thing you wish you knew before you bought your first house?
posted by box at 8:48 AM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

People love inside information. So questions like 'what is the first thing you look for when examining a new property', etc might go over well. People also love reading anecdotes, so questions designed to elicit them might be fun, ed 'what was the most unique modification you ever saw in a house' (mine: a bath on a 5 foot high pedestal).
posted by tavegyl at 8:56 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a customer, the only personal info I would be interested in regarding a real estate agent is their personal ties to the area. Do they live, shop and have roots in the area where they're trying to sell? Do their kids go to the schools?

I may also be interested in something like the most difficult property they ever had to sell, and how they made the sale.

Another question you could ask is what is the biggest change they've seen in the area (other than the real estate market collapse - don't want to read any more about that!).
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:12 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

i second the anecdotal ones:

Q: whats the weirdest thing you've found/seen in a listed home (ie strange pets, naked neighbor etc)?
Q: open house horror stories (smelled like onions, illegal daycare in the basement etc)?
Q: favorite dive restaurant in a given neighborhood?
Q: share a time you encourage someone NOT to buy a house...

all of these will have a bit of "what not to do" and conspiratorial insider info which will attract people buying/selling homes...

posted by chasles at 9:25 AM on December 9, 2010

I've written about real estate for a few years now. Off the top of my head:

First, a question for you: Are these sellers' agents? Buyers' agents? And are they agents representing homeowners/homebuyers, or ones representing more general property owners/buyers?

Without knowing that, these are a few questions that occurred to me:

What's the most interesting property you've ever sold/helped someone buy?

Clearly the current market is a difficult one. What are some of the best things sellers can do to make their properties stand out in a good way? What works well?

On the flip side, what are some things owners are frequently told to do that backfire or that you wouldn't recommend?

Is renovating before selling a good idea right now?

Are there any home magazines you read and/or just would recommend to homeowners interested in sprucing up their spaces?

You probably sell a lot of houses in different styles, but personally, what's your favorite style of architecture? What's your favorite interior-design style?

How did you find your own house?

Cost aside, what's your dream house? What houses or architectural features locally do you love?

Do you have any amusing tales of life on the job that you can share? (E.g., the agent who once told us the whole story of her encounter with a client's loose Doberman—in which the potential buyers ran straight back to their car, and the agent had to wrestle with the screen door… And then the owner came walking around the corner, and said something like, "Oh, that's just Dolly. She's harmless!")

If moving the pets early isn't an option, what do you recommend owners with pets do to ensure their space remains pristine for prospective buyers?

What types of landscaping/outdoor features help increase a home or property's value? What types detract from it? Are you seeing a trend for certain features being added recently?

What are some relatively low-cost, low-maintenance things owners can add to a home/property that will dramatically increase its value?

What's the current state of "green" or "eco-friendly" real-estate in the neighborhoods you cover? What do you recommend to buying clients seeking green options in your coverage area?

What are some of the key steps that people often skip or skimp on when buying a new property?

And then, if there are specific types of houses/properties that are particularly prevalent in the agent's coverage area: Does the agent have specific tips for buying/selling properties of that particular era/style?

What's unique about the area you cover? What do you love about it? What are some things you wish more people knew about it?

I hope some of that helps!
posted by limeonaire at 9:44 AM on December 9, 2010

I'd advise against on-the-job horror stories or bloopers; it might come across as badmouthing a client.

Other ideas:

How did you get into real estate?
What are some common misconceptions about buying/selling/your job?
What are your favorite things about [neighborhood you specialize in]?
What are the advantages of older houses? Newer houses?
If you could give only one piece of advice to a first-time home buyer, what would it be?
What do you like to do in your spare time?
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2010


/defensive rant
i suggested the bloopers etc as i just recently bought a house after an exhaustive multi0year search and nearly every question in the rest of the answers seems a bit pat and boring, and the kind of thing that would make me ignore or trash the magazine/collateral. Positioned correctly the horror stories angle could give valuable advice in a humorous framework which always seems to grab peoples attention.
/end of defensive rant.
posted by chasles at 10:51 AM on December 9, 2010

« Older Can you give me examples of humour in scientific...   |   Can you help me find this transportation video? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.