1.     Hasty “Fill the Chair” Decisions
When you’re short-staffed, it’s tempting to hire quickly rather than thoughtfully.  Don’t accept average; fight for superior.  The financial value of a great salesperson is in the rental income produced and retained.  Hiring the wrong person can cost dearly.

2.     Failing to Clearly Define the Role and Expectations
Take the time to define your “must have” and “nice to have” qualities, experience and attributes to measure candidates equally.  Write a job description and clearly outline your expectations.  Ask candidates how they meet or exceed your requirements and requests.

3.     Listening to Your First Impressions
If you initially like the candidate, you create reasons to love them.  If you dislike their introduction, appearance or initial body language, then the interview is basically over because you subconsciously already vetoed them.  Decisions from the first few minutes of meeting someone are fairly useless; they create a situation where the interview time is used to confirm your first impressions rather than compare the candidate to your defined requirements and requests.

Subconsciously, you look for (and will find) evidence to support your initial impression rather than rely on your interview guide and prepared questions and candidate answers to objectively assess the candidate.

4.     Not Fully Leveraging the Power of the Interview And Failing to Ask the Right Questions
Candidates can wow you, but they can derail the interview process with stories, questions and familiar connections.  Stay on track by using an interview form with specific questions and take good notes to help you compare candidates.  Listen more than you talk to get a better understanding of your candidate’s reasoning skills, communication and attitude.  Use behavior-based questions and assessment tools to check competencies and critical thinking.

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We are giving an incentive of one month free on an $800 apartment spread over the length of a 13-month lease.  How much will the new renter be paying monthly?  (Yes, provide a calculator!)

If a prospect tells you they don’t want to live near any Muslims/Puerto Ricans/Canadians/children, how might you respond?  (It’s OK if they’ve not had Fair Housing training, you can still evaluate their reasoning and communication skills.)

5.     Hiring Your Mini-Me
People are different and that’s a good thing.  A quality team will have members who complement each other and supplement strengths and weaknesses.  While it’s tempting to hire the person you like and connect with most rather than someone who is your opposite, it is rarely a good idea.

6.      Not Supporting the Success of the New Hire Through a Strategic On-Boarding Plan

We start resident retention on or before move-in day, and likewise, we should start employee retention on or before their start date.  Create a prepared orientation path and training plan.  Make them feel welcomed with a small gift or card from each of the team members.  Provide a defined workspace and necessary supplies to avoid job-acceptance-remorse and to set up your company as the professional employer you highlighted in the interview.


Leah Brewer, NALP, CAM is known as “The Leasing Queen” for the creative and compelling leasing techniques she employs to fill apartment vacancies, with 30 years of battlefield experience in multi-family housing, from a leasing consultant to a consultant for leasing.  Leah is an industry leader with results-oriented training and marketing solutions to apartment occupancy challenges.  She presents fun, interactive and informational workshops nationally, designed to get immediate results.  www.FullHouseMarketing.com. Reprinted with permission of the Virginia Apartment Association.