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Advice for Outpacing Your Rivals During Your Next Self-Storage Job Interview

Finding a new job or landing a promotion in the self-storage industry can be nerve-racking, but the best way to get what you want is to demonstrate your value to the employer. Here are some ways to separate yourself from competing candidates when prepping for the all-important interview.

Matthew Eoff

May 31, 2023

5 Min Read
Advice for Outpacing Your Rivals During Your Next Self-Storage Job Interview

Whether you’re looking for a new job within the self-storage industry or attempting to move up the ladder with your current employer, you’ll eventually have to explain to an interviewer why you’re the best person to fill the role. It’s this person’s responsibility to determine whether your mindset and skills match the needs of the company. The process can be nerve-racking, but it’s necessary. As someone who’s conducted many such meetings, I can tell you that very few candidates show a genuine interest and passion for the job at hand. With that in mind, let’s look at ways for you to stand out from your rivals and land the position you want.

Understand the Role You Seek

One of my favorite questions to ask during an interview is simply, “What do you think a self-storage manager does?” The idea is to hear what the candidate thinks their contribution to the company should be. The answer can be surprising, even from someone who’s already working as a facility manager. Too often, the response will be off the mark, exposing the candidate as someone who submitted their resume simply because it was easy to do so and not because they really care about the job on offer.

If you truly want the position for which you’re applying, read the job description thoroughly and research the company. In your interview, you should be able to discuss the described vision for this role and what you believe you’ll be doing every day. Any owner or supervisor wants to know that the person they’re hiring fully understands their responsibilities and is prepared to do all that’s required. For example, not everyone is comfortable with being outside to clean self-storage units and perform small maintenance tasks. To avoid a bad hire, the employer must be sure the applicant’s expectations match the reality of the role.

This holds true even if you’re seeking a promotion with your current company. Do your best to understand the details of the position. Work to gain insight to important skillsets like site auditing, marketing, training, report analysis and so on. The simplest way to gain this knowledge is to get involved. Take note of what your supervisors do and when. Ask why they make certain decisions. This alone will separate you from other employees and may even qualify you to step into a higher role quickly if an opportunity opens.

Show Confidence and Flexibility

Regardless of how you respond to individual interview questions, one thing most employers like to see is confidence (not to be mistaken for arrogance). You want to come across as self-assured, not a know-it-all.

Also, because many self-storage jobs involve a great deal of autonomy, employers want to hire someone who’s assertive in their decision-making but open to continuous growth. Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, it’s important to present as flexible and willing to learn. Though experience may give you a competitive edge, no one wants a stubborn mule who can’t be trained.

Consider, for example, that the decisions you make in your current role may only work for that particular self-storage site and not other properties. In a new role, you could be working with different people, perspectives and even cultures. Adaptability is a must if you want to advance.

Be Prepared to Define Success

Another question I like to ask when interviewing self-storage job candidates is “What are your goals for this position (or facility)?” In other words, what would constitute success for this role, and how does this person plan to achieve it? The responses can vary widely. One person might say it’s reaching 100% occupancy, while another believes it’s eliminating all concessions and discounts.

After you’ve answered this question, don’t be afraid to ask what leadership expects and how it defines success. The answer will reveal exactly what you should be working toward, if hired. It may also help you craft your responses to additional questions. For example, if the interviewer indicates that revenue is most important, you want to explain how you’ve helped your current employer improve income. Perhaps you reduced delinquencies by 10% or increased retail sales by 15%.

Demonstrate Smart Thinking

At some point during the interview, make sure you demonstrate your ability to analyze data and solve for future problems. For example, let’s say your current self-storage facility performs auctions every three months. Revenue tends to spike just after these events, giving the illusion of increased sales. Demonstrate this knowledge to your interviewer and explain how you worked with ownership to create a more realistic financial forecast to reflect these trends.

If you’re applying to work for a new company, ask perceptive questions and offer insight from your scope of experience that shows you can analyze and problem-solve. If you’re vying for a promotion, study your management-summary reports to see what trends you can identify that allow you to forecast or offer corrective solutions. Knowledge is power as well as a hirable and promotable trait!

Prove Your Value

When it comes to interviewing for any self-storage position, it’s up to you to demonstrate the value you can bring to the organization. Your interviewer should ask lots of probing questions. Before responding, think about how you’ve helped your current employer achieve goals and solve problems, and what you might be able to do in this new position.

Study the company and understand the role for which you’re applying. Explain what success means to you and ask what the employer expects. Show your confidence, flexibility and intellect. Describe how you can apply your scope of knowledge and experience to the role, using concrete examples. Do these things, and you’ll quickly rise above your competing candidates.

Matthew Eoff is owner of Enhancing Self Storage, which offers staff training. He’s worked in several industry positions over the past eight years, including part-time manager, maintenance employee and area manager overseeing six California locations. With a background as a military police officer, he takes pride in analyzing situations and can translate trends and predictable outcomes. He enjoys sharing information to improve the self-storage community. To contact Matthew, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Matthew Eoff

Matthew Eoff has worked in several positions in the self-storage industry over the past eight years, including part-time manager, maintenance employee and area manager overseeing six California locations. He shares information to improve the industry community. With his background as a military police officer, he takes pride in analyzing situations and can translate trends and predictable outcomes. To contact him, e-mail [email protected] or follow him at www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-eoff-a59666139.

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