APC Ask Me Anything - June Article

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 15:45

By RICS Training

Welcome to June’s APC Ask Me Anything (AMA) article. The RICS Training team are running free online sessions where candidates can ask an APC Assessor anything about the process, skills development and how to give yourself the best chance of success. Below you can read through some of the key questions raised by candidates from this month’s session. Find out what advice was given by our Assessor and Trainer Tony Ward, the Membership team and what training is available to you for overcoming challenges faced by APC candidates.

Case Study

Can someone outline the criteria for the case study section of APC?

The criteria are set out in the candidate guide, but in essence the requirement is to detail your involvement in a project and the competencies it demonstrates. The need to demonstrate your involvement is paramount. The subject must form a core part of your job and the competencies. 

Page 16 of the APC Candidates Guide gives details on the case study element of your submission. This is your clients brief and what the panel will be looking at to ensure you have read the clients brief.

There are a couple of courses (web class or face to face) which set out how to tackle the case study.

I have just started my APC and was wondering when should I start writing my case study?

Page 10/11 of the APC Candidates Guide has a timeline or a suggested month of when to start certain aspects of your APC training or experience.

Our APC trainer suggests that you shouldn’t worry about your case study until the second year. Firstly, you don’t really have a range of live experience to choose from. Secondly, if you rotate seats and undertake different types of work, you may have not found something you are best suited to yet. Lastly, your first year really ought to be about learning and developing you as a surveyor.

Can you use two projects for the case study? For example, Quantification and Programming.

The general recommendation from a trainer is to keep it simple because you also need to present your case study. Having two topics may overcomplicate the issue however, the Candidate Guide confirms that you may use project or projects for your case study.

If I do a case study on major works undertaken at one of my blocks (residential pathway) but explain that the tenders were obtained by an independent surveyor overseeing the project and issuing the JCT, am I still likely to be asked questions on the tender process and JCT contracts in the interview?

You should be able to answer questions based on maybe the selection process and the management of their advisors you have appointed. Therefore, inherent in that must be understanding of the contracts per se not necessarily in minute detail but do get the headline facts.

I am currently writing my key issues and I'm wondering whether it is too general. How specific do key issues have to be?

The key issues are what they are for each project - clearly defined issues are easier for you to communicate and hopefully resolve.

My second key issue is currently 'designing and providing office space to an industrial building'. Is that too general as I'm aware you could touch base on a vast amount of points within one key issue?

Not necessarily. It’s ok if you say something like "I appreciate there are many different considerations, but for the purposes of my FA I am focusing on ...."

I am completing a case study and have only two options for my second key issue, would this matter?

Provided you can consider them and explain your ultimate decision/advice.

For a case study, are you able to use a project, to which was undertaken when working for a previous employer?

Please see the APC Candidates Guide page 16. Your project(s) needs to be undertaken up to two years before your assessment. If the project was undertaken during the recorded time you are submitting altering your employment will not be a problem.

Do you have an opinion on whether assessors prefer visual aids for the presentation, or whether they would prefer to just hear about the case study?

The most important thing is that YOU have to be comfortable with it . Some people get in a muddle, some like it as a crutch. If you have one, make sure it is relevant and not a total distraction - use it to enhance, not dominate.

Adding to the previous question, I had planned on an A3 display and handouts for the panel. Would that be sufficient for final interview? Am I allowed prompt sheet/notes for my presentation also?

The display is fine but I would counsel against prompt cards if you can - looks so much more professional.

 

Questionning 

During my last final interview, I was expecting to be asked more questions about my previous referral report and what I had included in my updated summary of experience, however the assessors did not focus on this at all or ask me any questions on my updated summary. What would you advise me to do so that I can steer the assessors to focus on the work/experience I’ve done post-referral?

Panel members can ask questions on any aspect of your submission, not just your referral elements. At the beginning of your Final Assessment the Chair may ask you what you recently have been doing so in this instance, you could bring it in there. However, if there is a specific area that you have been working on, when that area comes up, I would say something like " since my referral I have revisited this topic and my understanding is ...."

Can you give an idea of the types for questions asked within the final interview, for example for the Valuation competency?

The types of questions asked depend on the level and the pathway and is clearly a wide field. The RICS have some useful resources that can help you with demonstrating your competencies.

Have a look at this Valuation Competency Masterclass web class.

Candidates on QS, BS and CP - you can see sample Final Assesment questions in your 'Final Assessment' area on Compass.

Is there any RICS or general guidance on handling open-ended questions? This has been an occasional tripping point that I would like to improve on

The skill is to pick up the signposting that the question is asking you for. Once you have this, give a concise (not one word!) answer. After this, if the assessor needs more information then it is their job to get it from you.

Are there any written documents or guides which could provide pointers to the types of questions to expect?

I'd suggest using your Candidates Guide first and foremost. If you have access to isurv, that has some great written advice on assessments.

The RICS provides various competency masterclasses - there are approximately 20 of them for different competencies. They talk you through how best to demonstrate a competency in all your assessments so for the Final Assessment section, you usually work through some sample questions.

Are they likely to ask questions on Brexit in the final assessment? Obviously at the moment, no one is sure of the outcome.

Brexit is a live issue in the industry and can touch any part of a Chartered Surveyor's job, so yes you could be potentialy asked about it however, it should be contextualised and is only your opinion so there is no right or wrong answer.

How long are you asked questions on ethics?

Typically about 10 minutes - remember one wrong answer means immediate referral so don’t overlook them!

During the interview, will the assessor's explicitly ask certain questions? For example, when they ask about your summary of experience, will they say 'we are now going to ask you about ..... competency?' Will the angle of the question be apparent so you can answer accordingly?

A well-run interview should, but note assessors’ styles differ.

I found the questions in the ethics test lacking perspective. Several times I answered questions as I saw ethically but was told I was incorrect. Is it safe to ask for more perspective on a question during the interview?

Yes, you can always ask for clarity. This area is a referral even if you have been successful with all others areas of questioning.

What's a good response to a question you don't know the answer to?

Honesty is the best policy in this case. A response along the lines of, "I don’t know, but I do know I would need to speak to xxxxxxx type of person", is ok tp use once but using this too many times says you are not ready yet.

I was recommended to say something along the lines of "I'm afraid I don't know that, but I know where to look/who to ask to find out" I was told as long as you don't answer that the whole time, you should be ok.

Same line as above, but remember the purpose of the interview is to demonstrate your competency.

I've not sat the final interview before. How similar is it to a job interview? Will we get questions like "what are your weaknesses?" or is it all technical and case study related?

The questions are all based on the competencies and levels of you have recorded. It’s in a panel format with usually two assessors and a chairperson and it is formal process so expect that, but it’s a professional and technical assessment, not a personality test.

Have there been any occasions that stand out where such a mistake was made you knew instantly that the candidate would not make it? Even attitude or personal appearance etc.?

Other than the issue of ethics it’s a cumulative process. That said, failure to comply with the requirements of the interview will cause an issue. I had one candidate who wasn’t prepared to give a presentation which meant immediate referral.

If there's a specific competency you're worried about, go onto the relevant competency masterclass and they should discuss common pitfalls. If you go on the Final Assessment web class, you'll get some advice on general areas where previous candidates have failed. The interview and presentation class can be found here

 

Competencies

Within the differing levels of competency submission text, how many working examples should you detail as a candidate? Would one per level be sufficient?

One should be ok, questions can always follow!

With regards to word count for the competency submissions in your summary of experience, how much should we allocate to level 1, level 2 and level 3?

It is up to you how you wish to split your word count. If you use less in level 1 then this gives you more in levels 2 and 3.

Have a look at this web class on the summary of experience. Talk through how to best tackle it, including structuring it so you cover the levels correctly.

 

APC Process

I have been enrolled on the APC for several years recording my diary however, I don't feel like I'm making much progress. I have over 10 years of experience and having recently changed employer, I was wondering what the quickest way to attain my chartership would be?

If you wish to change to APC No Structured Training (old Graduate Route 3) then please send a recent resume to enrolmentsuk@rics.org and a member of the team will review and confirm the change (if eligible).

I was recently referred, but my referral report is mostly positive. Can anyone advise where I might find guidance from RICS on how to proceed from here?

You will need to have meetings with your supervisor/counsellor and discuss any shortfalls / how you may gain further experience to meet the areas mentioned in the report. Also you may wish to contact an APC Mentor. APC Mentors are members of the RICS who freely give their time to APC Candidates. Please email APC@rics.org to request a mentor for your pathway.

Do you know when dates for session 2 this year will be available?

Assessment interview dates are still being booked with the venues we use. These will be released at the end of July / beginning of August on the RICS website.

Do you have any points on Senior Professional Route?

If you want to know more about the Senior Professional route to membership, please have a look at this free live event we run in London where you will get advice on the requirements.

I have worked for a previous employer but I was not enrolled during that time. My understanding is that I can talk about my experience there but I am not submitting any experience gained. Is that going to come under fire or is it generally acceptable?

It is ok if you have the permission to use the project and it is within the last 2 years (meets the clients brief - APC Candidates Guide)

I am an APC preliminary candidate. I submitted my documents for preliminary review since February 2017 but to date not yet receive any feedback. I am from Africa. What should I do?

Please contact your local office for confirmation as this does seem a long time to wait for your result for Prelim Review.

In the event I don't submit a record of experience with my previous employer but talk about it in my interview, will I get penalised or will they see that as a positive?

Yes, bring it in but if it forms parts of your presentation for example, I think it needs to be within the recorded experience.

My APC year ran November to November. When I submitted my paperwork at the end of March, I had not completed 24 hours of CPD. Do I need to bring proof of my CPD hours to the interview from end of March to now to show that I have complied with this? Would I give it to the assessors when they ask for it or give it to them anyway? I don't want to be referred over compliance.

All candidates need to have met the requirements when they apply and submit - this includes the CPD element. A candidate is advised to continue to record CPD but this would not be brought to the interview as they should have met the requirements before submitting.

If you wish to contact me, please email me at apc@rics.org with any questions about what you can take into your interview.

I included all my CPD at the time of submitting my paperwork back at the end of March. From the period between November and March, I did not have 24 hours CPD. In the RICS guidance, it states that you must have 48 hours of CPD a year, therefore 24 hours over 6 months. I have made a record of my CPD hours in case I need to bring it along to the assessment next week as I do not want to be referred over a compliance issue. I have met the requirements regarding CPD in the sense that you require 48 hours in a year and at a least 50% of that must be formal

Please can you contact the final assessment team via apc@rics.org in regards to your question to get a direct reply.

 

Summary of Experience 

I may look to update not just my referral Summary of Experience but my original Summary of Experience too? The assessors guide states they should focus on the deficiencies in the referral report hence why I focus most of my revision and work experience on these areas.

Always re-examine the referral areas - these are easy questions but remember, the next interview is a whole new Final Assessment.

The referral report states the following: "You will need to record all your experience since your referral in the deficiency template, concentrating on the areas highlighted. All elements of the APC and all competencies will be reassessed. Your original (first submission) needs to be unchanged and anything since referral is added to the referral sections in the templates. This will then show the panel your timeline on the APC. If you amend the original submission it may contradict your referral report and confuse your new panel.".

 

To find out about future AMA sessions, keep an eye on your Compass homepage and in your APC Training Newsletters. If you have any the questions about training available from RICS, please contact us at onlineacademy@rics.org

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Comments

Submitted by Hannah Walker on Thu, 06/29/2017 - 08:16

I am due to submit my APC in September and my APC councellor has threatended to contact RICS and remove them from being registered as my councellor.  Please could you advise whether there is a way of obtaining a new councellor at such short notice as I am now concerned that I will not be able to sit?

Submitted by Reni Vadgama on Thu, 07/06/2017 - 09:33

Hello Please email the Membership Operations team at apc@rics.org who will be able to help you with your query. Thanks