practice questions NYC co-op board interview
July 23, 2018 9:49 PM   Subscribe

Mefites who been on either side of an NYC co-op board interview, what questions should we prepare ourselves to answer? Especially interested in unusual phrasings of the standard questions, unusual questions, and illegal questions. Examples inside.

  • unusual phrasings of standard questions: E.g., until I started reading about this, I didn't realize that "How do you like your job?" meant, "How secure is your job?" I'd appreciate any other advice on how to translate from the question asked to the information they really want.
  • unusual questions: If you ask or have been asked a question that doesn't appear on the usual lists, what do you ask? And what do you hope to hear?
  • illegal questions: I'm told that many co-ops will outright ask for occupation, even though in NYC that's protected, and some will ask indirect questions to elicit information about other protected classes. What are some examples of such questions, and how do you recommend we respond to questions that touch on protected information?
posted by meaty shoe puppet to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We bought in a notoriously difficult co-op, and while the application and financial packet were excessive, the interview was brief and with only two of the board members. It sounded like one of the members had started to make an inappropriate joke about my husband (then boyfriend) and I not being married, but the other member lightly punched in him the arm to stop him. The rest of the interview was uneventful and seemed like a formality. If you've already passed the financials, I would expect the interview to be unremarkable, but there is always the chance that someone could go rogue. If that happens and you're still interested in living in that building, I would think that a calm, rational response would be the best course of action. Good luck! I feel your (epitome of a First World problem) pain.
posted by defreckled at 5:34 AM on July 24, 2018

If you are on the borderline with your financials; expect to be grilled intensely on your revenue streams. I and my lawyer thought I was fine, but the coop I live in now, went through my financials line by line and even asked me why I thought I could afford to live there! and I have a great job and excessive reserves, but they based their calculations on my post-tax salary, not including any bonuses, and yea fair enough, I was borderline then. I luckily had a copy of my submitted materials with me; and they explicitly referenced materials I had provided. It was disconcerting.

I was expected to bring any adult over the age of 18 who would be living in the apt to the coop interview- even if they aren't shareholders; even if it's questionable if it's fully legal; the shareholding company has a vested interest in who will be living in the apartment- in my case the bylaws of the building stated that everyone not a shareholder or a child of the shareholder, needed a notarized lease agreement that states an exit agreement (time to leave, ability to contest etc). My coop required it for significant others, but also parents, grandchildren etc.; they had seen an elder care abuse case a few years back, and were VERY particular about protecting shareholders- NYC has very strong tenants rights; and any eviction will inevitably involve the board.

I was asked if I fully understood the coop rules, and they were happy to go line by line for anything that seemed weird/unusual. My lawyer had highlighted some things that were out of the ordinary or could directly apply to me.

My board brought up that most people renovate when they move in; and that it's fine, however they made a point to remind us that you cannot take a home-equity loan to do those renovations; so I didn't even have to dance around that like most people recommend (I could only afford the apt because it needed serious work.) It was made known to me that they rotate everyone on the board every 2 years- it's a small coop, and no one actually wants to serve, so they limit terms to 2 years and make everyone do it. They also brought up subletting, but again it's in the building bylaws.

We limited our questions to the process for building laundry and anything else that came up in the course of the conversation.

Of my friends and colleagues who have bought, I by far had the strictest interview, but was also buying into the smallest co-op. The people in 50 unit+ coops had interviews they described as easy conversations. My co-op has been the easiest to deal with for renovations, has the lowest fees and clearest rules, so YMMV.
posted by larthegreat at 7:12 AM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was asked what kind of music I like and what time I normally go to bed. I had an 18 year old son living with me at the time and they asked what kind of music HE likes and what time HE goes to bed. I thought these questions were ludicrous but I figured they wanted to make sure I fit in with the majority of owners (many elderly, the rest mostly quiet professionals) and that they fell under the "likelihood of disturbing the peace" rubric. Oddly, I was not asked about how often I entertain or have parties or the like. Personally, I do like living in a very quiet building, so the questions were mutually beneficial. BTW I do not recall being asked any financial questions, those were asked by the bank through which I took the mortgage. I had made a private purchase from the previous owner, not through the board, so that might have made a difference.
posted by RRgal at 7:19 AM on July 24, 2018

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