Commercial real estate agents close deals worth millions of dollars. Since they get paid a percentage of each transaction in commissions, this can amount to a lot of money and a very lucrative career. The career is an ideal fit if you are sales-oriented, a great networker and you know your local market.
The first step to landing a commercial real estate job is securing an interview and performing well. Arrive early and dress well. When you greet your interviewer, offer a firm, confident handshake and look him in the eye. Next comes the question and answer segment of the interview. The better prepared you are, the better you perform. There is no better way to get prepared than to anticipate likely questions and have winning responses ready.
"Tell Me About Your Professional Network"
Real estate is as much about who you know as what you know. Unlike corporate law and public accounting, the technical learning curve for real estate is pretty mild. Particularly on the residential side, stay-at-home parents with limited higher education and work experience have been known to build lucrative real estate careers. The ones able to turn a side career into a strong income tend to share a common trait: They know a lot of people. While commercial real estate tends to require more of a full-time focus, networking matters just as much or more as having specific industry knowledge.
Career changers coming from other fields should use this question as an opportunity to highlight the connections they have made and detail a plan to leverage these connections for real estate leads. If you are a recent graduate, a young professional with limited work experience or you have yet to amass a long list of professional contacts, tell your interviewer how you plan to make connections once you are hired, such as joining networking groups or the chamber of commerce.
"What Is the Biggest Deal You Have Conducted?"
The scope of the deal is the biggest differentiator between residential and commercial real estate. A $1 million transaction is considered a whale for a residential agent. Commercial real estate agents, by contrast, regularly broker transactions in the tens of millions. Presiding over deals this large requires almost a preternatural level of confidence and calm under pressure. Anyone can claim to possess these traits, but a proven track record of closing big deals provides proof you have what it takes to get it done.
Experienced agents should have no problem with this question. If you are newly trying to break into the business, you can still create a positive impression with your answer. Rather than evading the question, acknowledge that you are new to the field and have yet to close a big real estate deal. Next, highlight a big transaction you closed at a previous sales job or a major project you oversaw to completion that required a cool head under pressure.
"Tell Me What You Know About (Esoteric Industry Term)"
Interviewers love to test interviewees' knowledge by pulling out an arcane term that is specific to the industry and testing what you know about it. For example, do you know the difference between a triple net lease and a gross lease? (For reference, a triple net lease requires the tenant to pay taxes, insurance and building maintenance along with his rent, while a tenant with a gross lease pays only rent with the landlord covering the other expenses.)
Companies expect a learning curve for new hires; they do not expect you to know every intricate detail about the industry on your first day. These questions serve more as a gauge of your preparation and how serious you are about the job. Study as much as you can about the industry before you start interviewing, and prepare to put your knowledge on display.