APC Tips and Techniques
For those of you about to undergo your APC interviews in the QS world, I thought I would share a few tips and techniques that have stood the test of time to help you get through it. So first of all, don’t think of it as an ordeal – it’s a chance for you to shine and demonstrate to a fellow group of professionals how knowledgeable you are. Be confident; after all, it’s you that everyone is going to be talking about! Make sure you have read, re-read and understood your submission. If there was any paperwork missing or that’s needed updating since your submission, make sure you have it with you and hand it out at the beginning of the interview.
- Make sure in your record of experience there isn’t anything included that you really don’t have knowledge or experience of. Don’t simply tick off the competency levels and say you have done something. Chances are you will get asked about it and, if you can’t answer, or try and bluff your way out of it, it will be on the list of issues making you a referral.
- Always try and leave hooks in your submission that will leave an Assessor wanting to ask you more about what you’ve done. Make it a bit intriguing for them. That way you can demonstrate your knowledge to them!
- Practice your 10 minute presentation over and over again. Use a mirror to talk to, use your colleagues or, if you can afford it, attend a course to hone your skills.
- During your presentation, speak slowly and clearly and don’t try and cram in everything from your critical analysis, as it will be far too much. Keep it simple and straightforward to understand. Just pick one aspect but describe it in good detail in a precise manner.
- Don’t take electronic aids, laptops or anything like that, if they don’t work it just adds stress to the situation and delays you from your presentation; the rooms are so very small and technology just doesn’t help in this type of presentation. Stick with paper charts and graphical aids.
- Remember this is an assessment of you, your skills and experience, so the assessors are trained to ask you about what you have done.
- If you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to then say you don’t know, but show initiative by giving an answer about how you would find things out to give the answer. You can’t know everything there is to know about Quantity Surveying, and the Assessors are aware of that.
- Equally, if you are asked a question that you do know the answer to, then don’t rush in and answer very quickly straight away. Take your time and lead the panel through your answer (it uses up valuable time that could mean you don’t get asked that awkward question you don’t know the answer to!)
- The last part of the interview will be the chairman asking you questions about the RICS, its code of conduct and ethics. Be aware that if you get any of these types of questions wrong (which will be largely all theoretical) then chances are you will get referred. So don’t treat this part of your learning lightly.
- If an answer to something comes to you that you hadn’t been able to answer fully at the time during the interview, go back to it at the end, the chairman will give you that opportunity.
Prepare, prepare, prepare is the key to success. As a very good friend of mine always quoted to me: To fail to prepare, is to prepare to fail.
Derek Mynott is Managing Director at Mynott Associates Limited and Chief Operating Officer of MynottBowers (Private) Limited and has over 30 years experience in the construction industry. In addition to this, he has been supervising and counselling Quantity Surveyors through their RICS APC since 1999.