17 SEP 2019
David Cohen explains how preparation is key if APC candidates are to stand the best chance of passing their final interview.
The RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) final interview is the gateway to receiving chartered status. As a candidate, you will already have completed the requisite training and gained the relevant experience for your pathway and route, so it is understandable that this final interview can feel a daunting experience.
If you prepare well, however, you stand every chance of passing your APC and becoming a chartered member of RICS.
Your submission, along with the APC pathway guidance, is the only information the assessment panel refers to ahead of the interview, so it's important to refresh your memory. You may well have written parts of your submission some time prior to completing the assessment documents on the Assessment Resource Centre.
Review your submission before your final interview and consult the pathway guides so you can demonstrate the necessary competencies to the panel.
A good way to test your ability to respond to questions is to arrange for someone to test you verbally with relevant questions. This should, preferably, be someone with the relevant technical knowledge or a chartered surveyor in your discipline, so you can discuss your responses. Record the question-and-answer session so you can hear how you respond to the questions and then see how you can be more efficient in your answers. You may not like listening to your recorded voice, but this can be a very helpful exercise to improve the delivery of your answers.
The ultimate test on your preparation would be to hold at least one full mock interview with a panel. Ideally, this panel should have knowledge of the final interview process and, if possible, include an assessor. The mock interview should be based on your submitted documents to ensure that it's reflective of the information you have provided to RICS. Questions should be related to your submission document and they should be open to encourage reasoned responses. Closed questions are less helpful for demonstrating your thinking, as you have a 50% chance of guessing correctly.
If you feel the mock interview hasn't gone well, don't panic: learn from it and line up another one to address any issues from the first.
RICS does not have a quota for passes or referrals. The aim of the assessment panel – who are fully trained for the role and monitored continually by RICS – is to certify you as a safe pair of hands to provide the services of the profession in the public interest. This is an holistic approach to assessment.
The panel will check that the experience documented in your written submission is backed up by your oral answers during the interview and is in line with RICS pathway guidance. If your submission lacks enough project-specific evidence or your case study topic is inadequate, it is unlikely that you will meet the documented evidence requirements of the APC.
These assessors are the gatekeepers to you qualifying as a chartered surveyor and being able to establish your own regulated firm in the future. If you are not adequately prepared to demonstrate you are trustworthy and competent to the assessors, consider deferring your interview to a later date.
Although this is easier said than done in an examination setting, a smile and a relaxed attitude can go a long way. Try to think of the interview as a conversation that’s all about you, but at the same time make sure that you listen as well as talk.
Finally, always remember that the assessors are on your side: they want – and expect – you to pass.
David Cohen FRICS is an APC chair, assessor and auditor, and a founding director of APC Academy and Amicus Property Consultants.