My Co-op Board Interview

My Big Fat Board Interview: “I felt like Jesus Christ walking into my crucifixion”

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I was 31, buying an apartment as a single woman, and I had gotten into trouble with credit cards in my early 20s.

Most of the debt was paid off by then, and I had a good job that paid plenty of money for my mortgage and maintenance.   But the board had already asked for my parents to cosign anyway, which I refused to do.

When the interview came around, I was so nervous. I felt like Jesus Christ walking into my crucifixion.

They kept me waiting for 20 minutes in front of the building’s conference room.  Once I got inside, there were two board members, a man and a woman, at one end of a long a table, and they asked me to sit at the other end.

They were both much older, very stern and serious, like I was in trouble. They looked through my paperwork and interrogated me about this thing and that thing. I felt like it was my parents questioning why I was home late.

He wanted to know what I had spent money on with so many credit cards.  

I said, “I have no idea.  The point is I paid them off and I’ve gotten control of the situation.  I’m not going to apologize for having a run of bad luck and getting into trouble financially---the important thing is I got myself out of it on my own.”

The woman was like, “That’s so great,” and the man was like, “Uh-huh.”

At one point the man said, “So you’re not married, you’re doing this on your own?”

I said, “Clearly , I’m buying this by myself. I hope one day to be married but I’m not now." 

Then I looked at the woman—in this scenario she was good cop and he was bad cop--and said, “I don’t know what that has to do with anything.”

They may have also been unhappy about something else. I had gotten a good price on the apartment, which had belonged to my friend’s mother, who passed away. They may have thought the price was too low.

When I left the interview I felt like I was two years old. I felt totally berated, like I was the worst financially unsound human being on the planet.

Three weeks later I got the approval with the caveat of having to give one year’s maintenance into escrow.   I did have second thoughts about moving into a place that felt like a Gestapo, but this was my opportunity to own an apartment and be an adult.

I didn’t run into either of them for like a year after I moved in—it’s a big building—and they didn’t have any clue who I was.

What would I have done differently? 

My goal was to go in and be as professional as possible. But the one joke I made he was like, “Oh, that’s funny.” So I kind of think I might have gotten away with more if I had acted more ditzy blonde-y, even though that was exactly the thing I didn’t want them to think.

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