Knight Frank's internships: telephone interview tips

'We want to find out why you are interested in a property career and why you are applying for an internship with us.' – Knight Frank's recruitment manager

Whether you are applying for the commercial or residential internships, the ones for those on related courses (cognates) or the ones for those who aren’t (non-cognate), Knight Frank LLP’s recruiters are looking for the same things: enthusiasm and potential.

You don’t need to already have property work experience to apply: ‘We don’t expect applicants for our internships to have work experience in real estate,’ says Lauren Strangleman, graduate manager at Knight Frank LLP. ‘What counts is that you have made the most of the experience you do have. Working in your Student Union bar, for example, can help you to develop good customer service skills and the ability to work in a busy environment.’ If you do have industry work experience, however, it is always an advantage – if you can explain what you learned from it.

If you are successful at the application stage, you will undergo a telephone interview.

Expect questions about your interest in property and Knight Frank

‘At the telephone interview stage, we want to find out why you are interested in a property career and why you are applying for an internship with us,’ says Lauren. ‘Candidates who have prepared by thinking about their reasons and have practised explaining them tend to do well.’

We can’t tell you exactly what form these questions will take, but if in your preparation you can articulately answer the following questions you shouldn’t be fazed in the interview:

  • What interests you about the property industry? What interests you about the residential/commercial market?
  • Why did you choose your degree?
  • Why have you applied to Knight Frank?
  • What do you hope to gain from an internship in commercial/residential with us?
  • If we offered you the internship, how would you make the most of it?

Answering questions about your motivations

You should already have a clear idea of what attracted you to the property profession in the first place, but what of your reasons for applying to Knight Frank? You need to state what you would get out of an internship at Knight Frank, as opposed to any other real estate firm. Go back to the details of the job ad. Let’s say you were applying to the London cognate residential internship: what would two weeks working in lettings, sales, development, student property, valuation or leasehold reform give you in terms of industry knowledge, exposure to clients and in working out whether you are best suited to residential, commercial or rural property? If you are already set on either residential or commercial property, why have you chosen to specialise in that market and how can Knight Frank help you gain more experience in it? Is it in the firm’s reputation in the market? The type of transactions they work on?

Lauren tells us that the work you’ll be doing on the internship will vary according to the department you are in. ‘It’s not always possible, but we try to ensure that interns get out of the office to client meetings or to view properties,’ she says. ‘We also run networking events, such as lunches with our commercial and residential partners, and we give training on making presentations, which can help interns with graduate job interviews and assessment centres later on.’ What about this makes you want to be an intern at Knight Frank?

Other questions you could be asked

While most of the Knight Frank intern interview questions centre on your motivation for applying, you could be asked some additional questions about what you know about Knight Frank and about issues in the industry. Therefore, it is a good idea to gain a thorough understanding of what the firm does, what challenges and opportunities the firm is facing and some of its recent notable transactions. Also read around some of the latest stories in the property press, such as Property Week. Your university careers service or department should have an online subscription if you don’t. This will be especially useful if you are asked to tell them about a recent deal or about a trend that is affecting the industry.

Many interviewers in the property industry ask you to give examples of times when you demonstrated the skills it values (known as competence-based interviews). If Knight Frank does the same, the interviewers are likely to ask you about times when you:

  • successfully worked in a team and built relationships
  • demonstrated good communication skills
  • called upon good customer service skills
  • managed your time well
  • acted on your own initiative or initiated something
  • and, perhaps, times when you showed an entrepreneurial mindset. In a commercial sense, this can mean spotting an opportunity, such as a gap in the market (an example could be setting up a new student society to meet a perceived need). In a non-commercial sense it can mean making an improvement to a process, eg to increase efficiency.
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