Article posted byon May 05, 2023
With the APC Final Assessments now in full swing, we take a look below at the key areas you can focus on to make sure you’re best prepared to succeed.
We don’t doubt that you have your revision and study plans in place but, with the overall pass rate hovering at around 60%, we wanted to pull together a few valuable resources and advice that could help with your interview.
1. Know what to expect
While the official RICS YouTube Channel can be a useful platform for trending topics and conversations around best practices and innovation, we’ve heard from many of our candidates that it’s perhaps not the best available resource to give you insight into what to expect in the interview. Many have recommended an unofficial YouTube Channel called RICS APC Guide that features an incredibly useful mock interview that focuses on anticipated questions for 2023’s exams.
2.Practice, practice, practice
In the run up to the assessment, take as many opportunities as possible to practice the Q&As and a full mock interview. This could be with your mentor, with your peers sitting in on their own Q&A’s and mock practices, or with paid external coaches like Property Elite, or a specialised provider for specific pathways, like the APC Accelerator from The QS Company for Quantity Surveyor exams. Lionheart can provide a free practice session on presentation styles and overcoming nerves, as well as a variety of confidence-boosting free webinars. Whatever resource you use, make sure that you’re using something that’s been updated for this year as some of the details in the assessment do change year on year.
Finally, even recording yourself answering questions and then listening to your responses will be excellent practice, and rehearse your case study presentation against the clock to ensure it meets the 10-minute time allotted.
3. Understand the structure of the final assessment interview
One hour might SEEM like a long time to be facing the panel, but understanding its structure can help you tackle each part in turn. By breaking it down, you can “eat that elephant” one bite at a time and not be daunted by the prospect.
Firstly, there will be a few minutes of introduction, checking equipment and surroundings – first impressions count so think what you will say when the assessment starts. There’s then 10 minutes for you to present your case study, followed by a further 10 minutes of questioning on it. You’ll then move onto the assessors’ questions for 25 minutes and the Chairperson’s questions for a final 10 minutes. Before the close, you’ll have a chance to ask any questions you have as well, so make sure that you’re making use of the blank sheet and pen you’re allowed during the exam, jotting down anything you want to come back around to here.
4. Prepare for common questions
Virtual assessments are just like in-person assessments when it comes to the questions that are asked. Research common interview questions and prepare thoughtful and concise responses, and practice speaking clearly and confidently, ideally with another person to give you feedback.
This assessment is to see whether you are fit to join RICS as a professional body, so an overall understanding of RICS and their recent policies, appointments and even scandals would be useful. In addition to this, the RICS study guide will provide you with specific questions and model answers for 2023.
5. Test your equipment
Before your interview, make sure your technology is working for you. Check your internet connection, camera and microphone (it’s better to use a good quality headset than just rely on the laptop microphone) to ensure that everything is working properly. Also make sure your device is fully charged/have a charger nearby just in case - and turn off email notifications or other apps to avoid distractions. If it’s the first time you’ve used Teams, conduct a test call with a friend or family member to check the quality of your audio and video, and make sure again that you’ve rehearsed presenting your case study presentation on the platform in your 10-minute time limit. A final tip would be to ensure that you have your case study presentation saved to your device in case of any technical issues when presenting it.
6. Choose a quiet and professional environment
Make sure you choose a quiet, well-lit location for your interview. Avoid noisy or distracting environments, and make sure you won’t be interrupted by family members, roommates, or pets. It’s also a good idea to remove any clutter or personal items from the background, as this can be distracting for the panel. You will be required to show the panel the room you are in to confirm that you are alone and no one is helping you, so prepare for them to “look around” - use this as a chance to create the right impression. On this, ensure that your attire is professional and matching what you would expect your assessors to be wearing, even if you are doing this from the comforts of your home.
7. Be mindful of your body language
Even though the assessment is online, your body language is still important. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and avoid fidgeting or looking away from the camera. You might feel more confident standing, in which case bring your laptop to a level where it's framing your face, not just the top of your head! This will convey confidence and professionalism to the panel.
Just remember they have been in your place - they want you to succeed, so take a deep breath and take your time.
8. Listen carefully
OK, so this might seem a bit obvious but it is important to listen carefully to the panel's questions and take your time to formulate your responses - a short pause before you answer is fine. Don't rush your answers or interrupt the panel, and instead be thoughtful and articulate in your responses - the assessors will ask if they want you to expand on any answer.
If you’re unsure, ask them to repeat the question. This will allow you to ensure that you’re answering what they’re asking correctly. If you feel there is a point which needs clarification, don’t be afraid to ask.
9. Take the night before off….
As with any exam or test, last minute revision or rehearsing is not likely to make the difference between passing and failing – that'll be down to the hard work you’ve put in in recent weeks and knowledge gained over the past two years. So, find something to do the night before which is relaxing and restful, be that light exercise, meditation, reading a book, or spending time with friends and family. You want to be fresh and energised from the first moment of meeting that panel through to when you confidently sign-off and say goodbye with those RICS letters firmly within your grasp! Good luck!