10 Interview Questions Every Corporate Real Estate Leader Should Answer

by Glenn Hicks on August 14, 2018

For corporate real estate leaders, the future is bright — and looking brighter every day.

The median salary for the position this year was close to $100,000, according to Payscale. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for property and real estate managers are expected to grow by 10 percent over the next 10 years, a rate that’s faster than average.

Similar to facilities management, corporate real estate management doesn’t typically have a defined or uniform career path. There are few degree programs specifically for this role. Corporate real estate managers often come from a wide range of backgrounds that could include everything from maintenance to business management or finance.

Most of a CRE leaders’ skills are learned on the job, which is why it’s so important to be able to articulate transferable skills while responding to corporate real estate interview questions.

Whether you are new to the field or just transitioning to a new position, here are 10 real estate interview questions you should be prepared to answer while interviewing for a role in corporate real estate leadership.

10 corporate real estate interview questions for CRE leaders

1. What appeals to you most about this position?

2. Tell me about your most relevant work experience.

3. What were the greatest challenges you faced in your previous role, and how did you overcome them?

4. What makes you uniquely qualified for this role?

5. How have you used data in the past to make decisions?

6. How would you control costs and identify savings in our real estate portfolio?

7. How have you used technology in previous roles?

8. Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision that was unpopular.

9. What would be your top priorities in your first 90 days on the job?

10. How would you measure success?

1. What appeals to you the most about this position?

As marketer Simon Sinek famously says, “start with why“. These types of real estate interview questions give you a chance to explain what drew you to the opportunity in the first place and what interests you about the role, not only in this position but in this company. If you’ve done your research — and you should always do your research — this should be an easy question to answer!

2. Tell me about your most relevant work experience.

In the absence of a formal degree program or certificate, how you answer real estate interview questions such as this one is crucial to demonstrating your qualifications. Even if you do have formal training, your on-the-job experience speaks volumes.

Before the interview, it’s always a good idea to re-read the job description and think about what past experience you have that’s most relevant to the specific role. Even if it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of overlap, go beyond the obvious and think more than just specific job tasks.

For instance, if you were frequently in charge of leading teams and managing projects in your previous role, you have likely developed strong organizational and leadership skills — even if the types of projects you have experience with didn’t directly involve managing buildings or assets.

3. What were the greatest challenges you faced in your previous role?

In any position, you’re bound to face adversity. Recent disruptors in corporate real estate and the pace at which the field is changing bring unique challenges for corporate real estate leaders. Even if you haven’t dealt specifically with these challenges before, it’s always smart to come to an interview with a few examples of difficult issues you’ve faced in your work life — and more importantly — how you’ve overcome them.

Remember, when the interviewer asks these types of real estate interview questions, what they are really looking for is evidence that you possess qualities like resilience, determination, and agility in the face of major changes and disruption.

4. How do you keep up with news and trends in corporate real estate?

Speaking of change, a leader’s greatest defense against disruption is information. You’ll want to demonstrate that you’re informed and that you keep up with news related to your industry, as well as more general trends in corporate real estate. Attending workplace conferences, reading blogs, subscribing to industry newsletters, and listening to podcasts for workplace leaders are all great ways to show you are staying on top of what’s going on.

5. How have you used data in the past to make decisions?

Smart corporate real estate leaders know how to make data-driven decisions and recommendations that drive their company forward. Having access to real-time data in particular can help you make the most of your real estate, better manage assets and identify opportunities for improvement—both in your real estate portfolio and in your workplace.

6. How would you control costs and identify savings in our real estate portfolio?

Identifying cost savings across your real estate portfolio is one of the best ways to show your value as a corporate real estate manager. With tools like an integrated workplace management system (IWMS), you can easily get a high-level view of your corporate real estate portfolio and drill down into the finer details, such as your space and asset utilization data. If certain properties are underutilized, you can present that data and make recommendations to optimize spending.

7. How have you used technology in previous roles?

An IWMS is just one example of technology that can offer big benefits to corporate real estate leaders. More organizations are using IoT sensors to track space utilization, for instance.

When answering this form of real estate interview question, it’s important to show that you’re not going to resist change. If you have any examples of adopting new technologies that increased efficiency, saved costs, or improved the workplace — this is a great time to share your experience.

8. Tell me about a time when you have to make a decision that was unpopular.

Some real estate interview questions are difficult to know how to answer, but as long as you prepare for them in advance, you’ll be ready when they come up. The important thing to remember: Be honest and avoid any example that doesn’t include a resolution or a plan for improvement.

As any corporate real estate leader knows, there will be times when you’ll have to make some tough decisions. You might recommend selling an underutilized office where a few employees have been working for years or tearing down an old building that’s been a staple in the community for decades.

An interviewer who asks this question wants to know that you’re capable of making tough decisions and handling the fallout, whatever it may be. Make sure you don’t only talk about how you arrived at the decision, but how you addressed concerns.

9. What would your top priorities be during your first 90 days on the job?

The first 90 days of any position are critical to setting the stage. That’s why it’s important to think about what you want to accomplish, even in a general sense. That will almost certainly include assessing your current real estate portfolio, evaluating technology and processes and defining goals.

10. How would you measure your success?

To measure success, today’s corporate real estate leaders need to look to a new set of facility management metrics. And acessing real-time data on these metrics through an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) is the best way to do that.

Taking the next step in your corporate real estate career

Corporate real estate is an exciting career with plenty of potential to make an impact. To succeed in this field, leaders have to be innovative and agile. They need to be data-driven and willing to make tough calls. But before that, they need to know how to answer these important real estate interview questions.

In an upcoming blog post, we’ll discuss ways to advance your corporate real estate career. To keep up with all the changes happening in the corporate real estate world and the workplace, subscribe to the iOFFICE blog.


Glenn Hicks

A member of the Business Development team, Glenn has years of experience with business process improvement on the Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Management sides.

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