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Commercial Real Estate Interview Prep with ChatGPT-4: A Step-by-Step Guide

Preparing for a commercial real estate job interview can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and guidance, you can effectively practice and refine your interview skills. In this blog post, we’ll outline how to use the following comprehensive interview simulation prompt with ChatGPT to help you practice and prepare for your upcoming commercial real estate interview.

I ran the simulation myself up until the first question pretending to be a second year MBA student with three years of analyst experience on a failed development project and I am now trying and break into multifamily acquisitions in an associate role. My transcript with ChatGPT is spliced between in each step.

A person training for a commercial real estate interview with ChatGPT

Step 1: Insert the following Prompt into ChatGPT-4:

  • Note: This original prompt was developed by Ruben Hassid that has been altered to work for the commercial real estate industry.

Copy and paste the following into ChatGPT-4:

As a highly skilled expert in conducting job interviews for commercial real estate companies, simulate a comprehensive and personalized real estate job interview experience. Strictly adhere to the following steps while maintaining context throughout the conversation:

1 – Introduce yourself as an interviewer and underscore the critical importance of meticulous preparation for commercial real estate interviews, fine-tuning your language to match the user’s seniority and expertise. Ask questions to ensure you captured the context before moving on to 2.

2 – Inquire about the user’s target sector for their job search within the commercial real estate industry, presenting options such as “Office”, “Retail”, “Industrial”, “Multifamily”, and “Hospitality”. Ask questions to ensure you captured the context before moving on to 3.

3 – Ascertain the specific job position and seniority level they are pursuing, and customize subsequent questions to align with that role, sector, and expertise. Ask questions to ensure you captured the context before moving on to 4.

4 – Thoughtfully engage in a series of at least 10 probing and relevant questions, adapting your language and complexity to suit the user’s seniority and background. Patiently await user responses after each inquiry.

5 – Following each user response, discreetly offer precise, constructive feedback on the clarity and depth of their answer. Suggest actionable improvements by leveraging industry-specific knowledge and best practices without explicitly stating that you are reviewing their response. Provide the best answer the interviewee should have answered, as detailed as possible.

Step 2: Engage in a Dynamic Conversation

ChatGPT will start by introducing itself as the practice interviewer for the commercial real estate interview emphasizing the importance of thorough preparation for job interviews. It will then ask you questions about your background and experience to ensure that it has captured the context before proceeding. Provide detailed responses that an interviewer may learn from your resume and maintain a conversational flow.

Here’s how mine went:

ChatGPT: Hello, I’m an AI interviewer with expertise in conducting job interviews for the commercial real estate industry. It’s crucial to prepare thoroughly for interviews in this field, and I’m here to help you do that. To get started, please tell me a bit about your background, experience, and seniority level in the commercial real estate sector.

MB: I am a second year MBA student who worked at an institutional development shop in San Francisco prior to going back to get my MBA. I worked on a high rise projects that did not break ground due to COVID-19 fundamentally changing the demand and thus the development landscape in San Francisco. I was an analyst for three years before going back to grad school.

Step 3: Identify Your Target Sector

ChatGPT will inquire about your target sector within the commercial real estate industry, offering options like Office, Retail, Industrial, Multifamily, and Hospitality. Tell it about any relevant experience in the specific sector you choose. This information will help tailor the interview simulation to your background.

ChatGPT: Thank you for sharing your background. It’s great to see that you have experience in commercial real estate development and have taken the initiative to further your education with an MBA. Now, let’s discuss your target sector within the commercial real estate industry. Are you primarily interested in Office, Retail, Industrial, Multifamily, or Hospitality? Please feel free to elaborate on your choice and any related experience you may have.

MB: I want to get into multifamily, but only have experience on the design side from a development of high rises perspective to which unfortunately did not pan out. I did get lots of indirect exposure through other active projects going on in the office, however.

Step 4: Clarify Your Desired Position and Seniority Level

The AI will then ask about the specific job position and seniority level you are pursuing. Provide clear and concise answers to help the AI customize the subsequent questions according to your desired role, sector, and expertise.

ChatGPT: Thank you for providing more information about your interests and experience. It’s good to know that you have a background in high-rise development and have been indirectly exposed to multifamily projects. As you’re pursuing a role in the multifamily sector, I’ll tailor my questions accordingly.

Now, let’s discuss the specific job position and seniority level you’re targeting. Are you looking for an analyst, associate, or higher-level position within the multifamily real estate sector?

MB: Associate level position focused on acquisitions

Step 5: Answer Probing Interview Questions

ChatGPT will engage you with a series of at least 10 probing and relevant questions, adapted to suit your seniority and background. Take the time to answer each question thoroughly, as if you were in an actual interview.

ChatGPT: Great, thank you for specifying your desired position. As you’re aiming for an associate-level role in the multifamily real estate sector, I’ll now ask you a series of probing and relevant questions to help you prepare for your interviews. Remember to answer each question thoroughly, and I’ll provide constructive feedback after each response.

1. Can you discuss the key factors you would consider when analyzing a potential multifamily investment opportunity?

MB: Assuming I was comfortable with the macro market fundamentals such as population growth, industry diversity in the target market, and overall economic health of the area, I would do my analysis all to come to a proposed purchase price by first looking at the market’s supply and demand fundamentals for the specific type of multifamily project based on first looking at comps and how they are performing; looking at metrics such as vacancy and current rental rates to get a sense of the comparable revenue opportunity. Next, I’d look at pipeline for comparable projects coming online to see any potential issues with oversupply in the coming years that may impact both vacancy and rental rates. Next, I’d get a feel for typical op ex for this asset by looking at not only the historical operating reports for the property, but trying to procure access to other assets history as well through broker contacts and old OMs. Finally, with all this data, I’d look to the asset to see if there are any competitive advantages we may have both as a result of our operating expertise and sophistication in house as well as some things that we can exploit from the asset itself that the previous owner may have missed. Once this has been done, I’d be able to put together a well researched DCF analysis to then present to my team for investment committee consideration.

Step 6: Receive Constructive Feedback

After each response, ChatGPT will offer precise, constructive feedback on your answer’s clarity and depth. It will also suggest actionable improvements and provide the best possible answer you should have given. Use this feedback to refine your responses and better understand what potential employers are seeking.

Chat GPT: You’ve provided a comprehensive overview of the key factors to consider when analyzing a potential multifamily investment opportunity. Your answer demonstrates a solid understanding of both macro and micro-level aspects of the analysis. However, it would be helpful to organize your response into a more structured format, such as listing the factors in a logical sequence or grouping them into categories. This would make your answer more concise and easier to follow. Here’s an example of how you could rephrase your response:

“When analyzing a potential multifamily investment opportunity, I would first ensure that the macro market fundamentals, such as population growth, industry diversity, and overall economic health, are favorable. Next, I would examine the following key factors:

  1. Supply and demand dynamics: Assess comparable properties’ performance, focusing on vacancy rates and rental rates to gauge potential revenue.
  2. Pipeline analysis: Investigate upcoming projects to determine the likelihood of oversupply, which could impact vacancy and rental rates.
  3. Operating expenses: Analyze historical operating reports for the target property and other similar assets to understand typical costs.
  4. Competitive advantages: Identify opportunities to leverage our in-house expertise and uncover untapped potential in the asset itself.

Based on this analysis, I would develop a well-researched discounted cash flow (DCF) model to present to the investment committee.”

Remember to maintain this structured approach when answering interview questions, as it will make it easier for the interviewer to follow your thought process.

MB: Thank you for this response. Very helpful.

ChatGPT: You’re welcome! I’m glad you found the feedback helpful. Let’s move on to the next question.

  1. Can you explain how rent control policies might impact the financial performance and investment attractiveness of a multifamily property?

Step 7: Iterate and Improve

Go through the interview simulation multiple times, adjusting your responses based on the feedback you receive. This iterative process will help you improve your answers and develop a deeper understanding of the industry and the expectations of potential employers. Best of luck with the commercial real estate interview!

About the Author: Michael has spent a decade working in various capacities on more than $7 billion of real estate transactions spanning all asset classes and geographies throughout the USA. Most recently, Michael was a founding member and COO of Stablewood Properties, an institutionally backed real estate operator. Before Stablewood, Michael was at Hines in San Francisco where he primarily worked on 2 high-rise mixed-use development projects totaling 2 million square feet.  Michael has both an MBA and Master in Real Estate with a concentration in Real Estate Finance from Cornell University.