This blog is intended to provide a few tips to help RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) candidates prepare for their APC (Assessment of Professional Competency) Final Assessment Interview.
Since I chartered, I have been an APC Supervisor and these days I’m an Assessor. The different roles have given me quite a varied perspective on the process and I wanted to share some tips and insights that will hopefully help candidates as they get closer to their final interview.
#1 Know your submission like the back of your hand
A significant chunk of time can pass from when you complete your submission to when you actually take your interview and you can easily forget the projects or CPD you’ve included. Read through your submission several times and make sure you know the content well. If needed, revisit file notes, meeting minutes etc. to refresh your memory on projects you have referenced – this familiarity will help with your responses.
Your interview panel will have read every word in your submission. It tells us what experiences you have had and the areas you practice in and have knowledge of – this is what we use to help us formulate questions. If you haven’t told us in your submission that you have used a specially trained dog to find rot in a property, we wont ask you questions about rot hounds. If you tell us you used the NZS3910 contract for a project, we will ask you questions about it. Your submission becomes a guide for you as well as your panel.
#2 Suck it up and get revising
This is a no-brainer, right? Revision is a critical part of the APC preparations and systematically going through your submission and the competencies is a great way to structure the process.
A certain amount of revision will always be in the form of reading… alone… while your mates are at the pub… and will suck. Some revision can be made more interesting though – grab a coffee with a colleague who you know specialises in one of your competencies and pick their brains or ask to visit their project and talk through processes, progress, issues etc.
There is no way around it though – you will have to revise and the sooner you start, the more prepared you’ll be.
#3 It’s OK to say you don’t know something
No surveyor knows everything and as an assessor we want to know that Candidates know their limitations and can acknowledge what they don’t know. If you are asked a question you can’t answer, you are allowed to say you can’t answer it – this is a far better response than trying to fluff an answer.
If you can’t answer a question, as well as acknowledgement, we want to know that you have a plan – would you speak to the Engineer? check the Building Code? Tell us how you would find the information so you could answer the question.
You can also ask to come back to a question and the Chair will give you the chance to give an answer at the end of the formal questions.
#4 Make a movie
Once you have the contents for your presentation nailed, video yourself and make yourself watch it back. This will be the least entertaining video you will ever watch but it is a worthwhile exercise.
Play it back and watch it with the sound off at first. Look at your body language – are your hands under the desk looking dodgy? do you look like you are in pain? Do you look too cool for school? are you clicking a pen frantically? … body language is important so get to know what you are saying when you are not actually talking.
Now play it back with the sound on. Listen to your tone – does it sound like you are a robot? do you sound scary? are you whispering or shouting? Listen to the content and the words you use – are there words you are stumbling over? does there need to be longer or shorter pauses? If you are bored or struggle with listening to your own presentation, chances are that the panel will struggle too.
5# Mocks rock
APC interviews are nothing like any other meeting or presentation you will probably ever have. Mock assessments are a great way to get you familiar with the process and get feedback before the big day.
Your Supervisor will hopefully be able to assist in organising a mock interview but you can also speak with RICS and they’ll be able to put you in touch with surveyors in your area who would be willing to help.
Get somebody to video your mock. Don’t think of it as just a creepy weird movie of you being asked questions and feeling uncomfortable. It’s a revision tool – what questions did you stumble on? did you say ‘errrrr’ too many times? did you start to slouch and look dis-interested?
The more mocks you can do, the better.
There is no doubt about it, the APC process is tough but that is what keeps the institutions standards high. Becoming chartered is not for the faint-hearted. It is a huge commitment and can be very stressful but I promise you, it is worth it and like most things, the more you put into it, the more you will gain.
As an assessor, I can assure you that your panel want to pass you and it is our job to allow you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and professionalism so that we can pass you.
If you find yourself being referred, please do not lose faith. Some of the best surveyors I know were referred and I’m pretty sure they would all agree that repeating the APC made them better surveyors.
The future of our profession and the institution relies on the willingness of candidates to take on the APC so thank you for your commitment and good luck for your final assessment interview.
By Victoria Richardson
Practice before you preach: Preparing your final interview presentation – This is an article I wrote for RICS on how to tackle your case study presentation.
RICS – APC Candidate Support – The RICS website has a huge amount of information for candidates. Click on the link for more information and Candidate Guides.
RICS – APC Mock Final Assessment Interview – This YouTube video will show you what to expect in the actual interview.
LionHeart – APC Revision Top Ten Tips – Some great tips to help with revision. Don’t forget to check out other posts on the LionHeart Blog for more helpful info to get you through the APC.
RICS New Zealand Contacts – If you feel like you need some extra support with your APC from outside of your organisation, get in touch with the NZ team and they can point you in the direction of members who can provide support and guidance.