Kate Taylor FRICS is an experienced APC assessor who has helped hundreds of candidates to APC success in her role as Graduate Manager and Senior Trainer at the government’s Valuation Office Agency.
Preparation for the interview is essential and goes beyond revision of competencies and examples. Practising communication skills will help you to get across your competence and professionalism.
You only have one hour to talk about two years of experience and demonstrate competence in around 18 competency areas, so you need to make every word count.
- Remember: all candidates feel nervous. The assessors will be professional and friendly.
- Bear in mind that you will not look as nervous as you feel; you can pretend to be calm.
- Preparing thoroughly will help you to feel less nervous on the day.
The key to succeeding in a competency based interview is a thorough knowledge of the competency requirements.
Read your pathway guide and think about your experience in the context of the competencies.
Almost half of the interview will focus on the case study. Make sure you know everything about it and around it to give yourself a head start.
Evidence of competence beyond level 1 requires specific examples of experience.
Use a mind map to lay out the examples you would like to talk about and revise your own summary of experience and case study. Make sure you keep a copy of your final submission for revision.
Answering questions is a skill that requires active listening and structured responses. All skills improve with practice so ask your supervisor and counsellor to question you in your review meetings.
Consider taking a mock interview with real assessors.
Level 1 knowledge
Revise the knowledge underpinning the competency. Make sure you cover the breadth of the competency and that your knowledge is up to date.
The first part of the interview (after the introductions) will be your 10-minute presentation on your case study. The panel will then question you for 10 minutes about your presentation.
The presentation should be linked overtly to at least one level 3 competency demonstrated in the case study. Use the competency descriptions in the pathway guide as the starting point.
Think about which part of the case study best demonstrates the competency.
Structure: beginning, middle and end
You need a clear beginning, middle and end to the presentation. You should signpost throughout.
- Beginning – introduce the case study
- Middle – add the detail that demonstrates competence
- End – reflect on why this project has made you a better surveyor and clearly close.
Practise timing exactly to 10 minutes, although bear in mind that most people speak faster when they are nervous.
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of using:
- A4 or A3 mini flip chart / A frame
- A3 laminate
- A4 handout
It depends on the complexity of your input and your level of confidence. Most assessors expect a visual aid and find it helpful.
Tablet PCs such as iPads are discouraged as they are very risky: there is no power or technical support available. They make assessors nervous and are best avoided.
You may use notes to deliver the presentation but a script is best avoided. Best practice is to summarise key points on note cards secured with a treasury tag to keep them in the right order.
Most candidates do bring notes, often as a back-up in case of mind freeze.
Maintaining consistent eye contact helps to build relationships with the assessors and will make the interview go more smoothly.
Eye contact is a specific marking point for assessors.
I hope these quick tips have been useful.
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