Tips for your RICS APC final assessment interview

victoria blog (cropped)
14-06-2018
Are you preparing for your RICS APC final assessment interview? Then this blog is for you.
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 between submission and actually having your interview, and you can easily forget the projects or CPD you’ve included. Make sure you know the content well: if needed, revisit file notes, meeting minutes etc to refresh your memory. This familiarity will help your responses.
Your interview panel will have read every word in your submission. It tells us what experiences you have had, the areas you practise in and helps 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 won’t ask you questions about rot hounds. If you tell us you used a particular contract for a particular project, we might ask questions about that. 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 it 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’s 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, say you can’t answer it - this is a far better response than trying to fluff an answer.
But, in acknowledging that, we want to know you would have a plan - would you speak to the Engineer? check the Building Code? How you would find the information so you could end up answering 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.

#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!
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? 
Now play it back with the sound on. Listen to your tone: do you sound like 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, sorry, but the 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. 
Ask your supervisor to help arrange a mock. The RICS might also be able to put you in touch with surveyors in your area who would be willing to help. 
Think about videoing your mock so you can see which questions you stumbled on, and how you came across. The more mocks you can do, the better. 

Final thoughts
There is no doubt about it, the APC process is tough - but that is what keeps the institution’s 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 thanks for your commitment and good luck for your final assessment interview!

Chartered building surveyor Victoria Richardson began her career in the UK before setting up Copper Seed Limited, a personalised building consultancy services for commercial buildings in New Zealand. She has been an APC supervisor and is currently an assessor. These tips were first shared in her own blog  but she hopes visitors to the LionHeart website will also find them useful. 

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