Star Spotting Have your Recruits Got the X-Factor?

In an industry as competitive as real estate, recognising talent in prospective employees can be the difference between a successful, thriving business, and one which fails to get off the ground. Nikki Taylor from REJS explains how to spot the right talent for your business.

Successful business owners in the property game are those who can spot talent and potential, foster that talent, and create an environment that encourages and promotes professional and personal development and growth. But how do you recognise talent in the first place? How can you make sure the star agents don’t slip under the radar? Fortunately there are some key attributes that a star in the making will possess, and there are some easy signs to help you weed out the pretenders from the ‘real deal’!

It’s All About Attitude
More than most professions, real estate is about attitude and personality. An individual’s ability to be successful as an agent revolves around being able to create relationships, portray integrity, instil a sense of trust, and create an air of confidence about themselves which draws buyers and sellers to them.

A ‘future star’ will have self-belief without being cocky. There is a huge difference between someone who is confident in their own abilities, and someone who is simply arrogant. The right candidate will have their own opinions, thoughts, and ideas, while also being able to listen, learn, and accept input from those around them. The wrong candidate will be narrow-minded, oblivious to their surroundings, and unwilling to consider alternate ways of doing things.

Appearance Matters
You don’t have to be successful or rich to present yourself well, and you don’t have to be obsessed with your own appearance to spend some time each day making sure you look good – you just have to care! Real estate agents are selling themselves when they go prospecting for new listings, and, just as you wouldn’t try to sell your car without giving it a thorough wash, there’s never any excuse for an agent turning up looking scruffy.

So, when you’re looking to hire prospective employees, look at the details. If their shirt is wrinkled, their shoes unpolished, their ties poorly tied or their tights laddered when they come for their interview, you can bet your bottom dollar this is how they will be for the duration of their career. No matter how relaxed your working environment might be, an interview is still a formal situation.

Any individual with the right understanding of social environments and how to present themselves will come over-dressed to an interview rather than coming under-dressed. Pride in their own appearance and the image they portray is critical – if they don’t have it when you first meet them they never will!

First Impressions Count
Very rarely in the property game do you get a second chance to make a great impression on a prospective client, so an individual’s ability to instantly create rapport is critical, and your first opportunity to gauge a future employee’s ability to do this is the moment you first meet them.

The first two criteria, as discussed above, obviously play a huge role here. First and foremost you’ll expect to see an eager individual arrive at their interview dressed smartly, and ready to sing their own praises and sell themselves, while also being respectful of your seniority and the formality of the interview process in general.

And you’ll want to see them exhibit some basic ‘people skills’ from the outset. Someone who has the makings of a successful real estate professional will be outgoing and personable, with a firm handshake, a confident introduction, and a friendly disposition. Someone who does not have the makings of a successful real estate professional will enter a room meekly, mumble their own name, and sit slouched in the chair waiting for the interview to be over.

Bear in mind that these people will potentially be representing your company. Do you want to be known as the nervous company, with the limp handshake and the scruffy appearance? Or the confident, strong company, perfectly prepared and presented, ready to get the job done?

As The Boy Scouts Say, “Always Be Prepared”
The ability to be prepared is a skill any real estate professional will rely upon time and time again, and a prospective employee should exhibit this skill when you first meet them. Preparation starts with their arrival – if they’re late because the traffic was bad, then they should have left earlier; if they couldn’t find your office, they should have scouted out your location prior to their interview.

Once they’re in the interview seat, make sure to ask them some probing questions – the answers you receive will tell you a lot about how much thought and preparation they have put in to meeting you. They should be able to tell you why they want the job, what their career aspirations are, what sets them apart from the other candidates, and what they can bring to your company without having to put too much thought in to it. Someone who ‘umms and ahhs’ through these basic questions may well lack focus, or simply may not be that driven to join your organisation.

Display Initiative
Someone with the right drive will display initiative. If a candidate tells you their lifelong dream has always been to succeed in real estate, they should be able to list the qualifications they’ve already gained, the courses they’ve taken, the seminars they’ve attended, and the books they’ve read. While you’re looking for someone who will soak up information and quickly learn your systems and procedures, you’re not looking for someone who has to be taught how to tie their shoes! You want people who are pro-active, who have decided that a glittering career in real estate is their priority, and then set about making that a reality.

The right person may not simply walk in to your office – sometimes you’ll need to find the diamond in the rough – the person with the hidden abilities and the natural skills, which you can refine and hone to create a real estate ‘superstar’! A good rule of thumb is to trust in your own gut instinct – if you’re uninspired or left feeling flat when you meet them, cut them loose. If, however, you feel energised, stimulated, and swept off your feet, you might just have stumbled across the individual who will help catapult your business to the next level.

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Nikki Taylor

Nikki Taylor is a director of Real Estate Jobs Search (REJS) and has been successfully recruiting for the Real Estate Industry since 2002.