The RICS Assessment of Professional Competence is a high status, high level professional qualification. This means that each session there are about 3000 heavily invested candidates. According to RICS published statistics about 30% of them will be referred because they have not met the declared levels of competence.
This is a stressful process at the end of a long journey which lasts years, and with several months of very intense preparation at the end. Hardly surprising, then, that some candidates struggle to maintain equilibrium and show physical and mental signs of stress.
I have witnessed many a ‘mock interview meltdown’ as the challenge ramps up to maximum.
I am very glad that candidates care so much about the outcome: as an assessor, chair, appeal panel member and auditor, it matters to me too.
But it really is not the end of the world if you need to try again in six months. Some of the best surveyors I know were referred at the first attempt. It is not judgement, it is assessment and feedback to make you a better chartered surveyor.
Working on building your resilience throughout the process (and life generally) is a good idea. Successful people are the ones who can bounce back and adapt to challenge.
You can do this in a number of ways:
1. Get used to breaking barriers
Running is good for this; every time you push a barrier in training, you are also training your mind. Remember the mantra? ‘I think I can, I know I can.’ It also helps keep you healthy and manage stress.
2. Build relationships
Making connections and shared experiences make dealing with challenge much easier and helps interview preparation. As you feel stressed, do not lock yourself away and frantically revise level 1. Interact with other people and practise talking about your professional experience at level 2 and 3.
3. Control and acceptance
Attitude is important. You may feel pressure from others but ultimately whether you do this now and how you approach it is down to you. You are in control. Take ownership, control what you can and leave the rest to chance. You need to accept that you cannot control the interview and just do your best.
4. Ditch perfectionism and panic
The ‘mock interview meltdown’ scenario is often caused by panic and perfectionism. If you fluff the presentation or get a question incorrect, it is not automatic referral. The interview is an hour long and together with your final submission documents there are many factors that feed into the competence assessment. The assessors will take a holistic overview at the end. There are no pre-judged decisions and the discussion about pass or refer does not start until you walk out of the room. Clearly, you need to be good overall to be deemed competent but a few mistakes at level 1 are unlikely to be definitive.
So, don’t be a perfectionist and don’t let panic prevent a recovery.
This is a long road you are on and the important thing is to keep taking small steps in the right direction, to build and demonstrate your competence. Learn to wait for the right time and see the process from start to end. Focussing all your energy on the final assessment creates unnecessary pressure. It is not an exam but a conversation with the topics of conversation clearly laid out in the pathway guide. It can’t be crammed for, beyond level 1, and success requires so much more than a good memory.
Never give up, the power of time means that as long as you stay in the game, when the time is right you can do this with less difficulty.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. This is habit forming and will really help you to bounce back. Listen to the colleagues and family with a good opinion of you. A bad day does not define you and tomorrow can be better.
Reframe your mistakes into learning experiences - nobody can grow and develop professionally without dealing with mistakes and challenges. This is one of the aims of the case study to examine a professional challenge in detail.
Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Eat healthily, take exercise, take your vitamins, relax, reduce alcohol and try to have a good laugh whenever you can. If you are susceptible to infection or have physical pain, it is much harder to be resilient and battle anxiety.
Being resilient does not mean being impervious to stress but adapting and coping with it. This is a learned behaviour and your employer should be both supportive and demanding to help build it. Nurturing yourself to build self-belief and controlling the controllable is a valuable use of your time in the run up to final assessment.
If you are really struggling, LionHeart has support officers and professional counsellors who can help: you are not alone.
Guest blogger Kate Taylor FRICS Assoc CIPD is an experienced RICS APC assessor and chairman with a passion for professional development. She sits on the RICS UK APC Appeals Panel, the RICS UK Valuation Board and is the lead RICS Valuation Tutor for distance learning in valuation, and also works with LionHeart on its wellbeing offer.