When I sat my APC, it felt like I was making my way in the dark. My supervisor was confident I was ready, so I undertook a whole variety of reading. I lost myself in a sea of revision cards as I started to memorise facts about woodworm, wet rot and JCT contractual procedures. I sat my APC and thankfully got through, but my lasting memory was how I wish I was better prepared.
It was August 2017 when I received an email from the RICS saying that they were recruiting new assessors, and was I still interested. Well, yes I was! I had recently transferred from a small practice to Faithful+Gould, and I was assisting with Faithful+Gould’s internal APC pre-qualification process. However, I felt that to ensure that I was advising the APC candidates correctly, I had to become an assessor.
I was invited to attend a one-day lecture at the RICS headquarters in Coventry, where the theory was explained. We were told how to read the candidates submission documents, and how to compare this against the pathway guides. We were also taught how to select the interview questions based upon the candidate’s experience and how this is intended to check that the candidate had the relevant first-hand experience they claimed to have.
With the theory in mind, I was notified that the next APC sitting was due, and whether I was able to sit on a panel. When sitting down to read through the candidates’ submissions, suddenly the enormity of what I had taken on hit me, as I spent evening after evening reading through the candidates’ documents and cross checking against the pathway guide.
The day came for my first set of assessments. I met with my colleagues beforehand and we discussed how the sessions would run and checked the questions we wanted to ask to prevent any cross over.
Each interview is an hour long. That sounds terrifying, but it’s basically a presentation, a question session about the presentation, followed by questions about items in the candidates’ submission document.
So why do I do it? Well, now that I understand how to review and assess the written submission, I am able to help guide candidates how to write their submission correctly. Preparation for the interview is also important. Sometimes candidates are put forward either with insufficient experience, or they simply haven’t prepared! I can now ensure that the candidates I mentor, have a better variety of experience and are able to sit the interview with confidence. My first-hand experience also ensures that mock interviews are run correctly, so that when the candidate sits their assessment, they do not encounter that same feeling I had.
So what advice would I give a candidate?
- Firstly, read the pathway guide. That’s the benchmark that the assessors will use, so make sure you not only demonstrate that you have achieved your competency level in your submission, but that you can also talk about it. If you have any gaps, speak to your supervisor to gain experience in a certain area.
- Secondly, revise. Ensure you know what guidance documents you’d use, because one day, your client will ask you why you are advising them in a certain way, and if you can explain that they need to do something to comply with a certain British Standard, or its best practice with the BRE, that’s great. The assessors want to hear that too!
- Thirdly, undertake mocks interviews and presentations. Get plenty of mock experience, ideally with other people, not just your supervisor and counsellor. The more mocks presentations and interviews you do, the better it should feel on the day.
- Fourthly, it’s your APC. Don’t expect someone to lead you through the process. You need to want those letters after your name. If you want it, you’ll put the work in to get it!