APC competency: Conquering the interview

APC-SeriesKate Taylor offers top tips for making the most of the 10-minute presentation in the final assessment interview

One of the key features of the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence is a 10-minute presentation on a case study. This is probably the most nerve-wracking part of the final assessment interview. The ability to communicate complex information clearly to a client is a key skill for a chartered surveyor. This skill is also the key to Level 3 competence and the case study should demonstrate at least one (preferably two) technical competencies.

The presentation is a specific marking point for the assessors as they try to establish whether the candidate is competent enough to become a member of the institution. The referral report has a section for the panel to comment specifically on the presentation and case study. This does ramp up the pressure and many candidates endure a nervous start to the interview.

The importance of the presentation in demonstrating competence as a chartered surveyor means that generic presentation skills training does not quite hit the spot, so I have created some top tips to fill the gap.

1. Stick to 10 minutes

This is very clear in the instructions and yet in my experience as a chair, many candidates fall short because they speak too quickly or commit the more serious crime of going over 10 minutes by waffling and not having a definitive end. The candidate will be timed to the second by the chair and the timing is a very important part of the presentation assessment.

2. Present the case study

I have often been surprised by a presentation of an academic side issue related to the case study or something the candidate thought would be more relevant and interesting. The presentation is about adding to written communication skills with presentation skills on the same issue – the case study, which can be delivered in part or in whole. With a complex project, sometimes talking about just one of the key issues works well.

The candidate may be concerned that this will be boring for the assessors, seeing as they have read the final submission. This is where presenting skills can add value and additional weapons can be deployed: the candidate’s voice for tone and emphasis; visual aids for interaction; eye contact; and not forgetting a smile.

3. Prepare

The content should be designed with a clear beginning, middle and an end. The most relevant content should be identified by cross referencing the case study to the competency descriptions in the RICS pathway guide. It is vital to repeat the key words in the competency to make it obvious the requirement has been met.

4. Choose a visual aid

Most candidates use a visual aid and the assessors will be expecting to see one. This can really help to transform the presentation from reading the case study to a more interesting 10 minutes which brings the project to life.

The visual aid can also help to structure the presentation clearly and manage the timings. Some confident candidates feel they do not need this tool but should think about it from the assessors’ point of view. A visual aid with pictures and colours will be much easier to follow and help the panel to formulate questions. It is always a good idea to make life easier for the assessors.

Most candidates will use either an A3 laminate or an A3/A4 flip chart. The information displayed should be clear and simple with the use of pictures, maps and plans and headlines only rather than dense slabs of text to read.

5. Practice

Presenting is a skill and all skills, no matter what the person’s starting point, improve with practice. The candidate needs to have delivered the presentation 10-20 times before final assessment so the timing is pinpoint accurate and the speech is memorised. The notes taken in should just be a crutch. A tool to improve presenting can be to practice in front of a mirror, record the performance and play it back.

6. Delivering the presentation

If this is done well, the candidate will give him/herself a flying start to the interview. As the presentation and questions on the presentation (10 minutes) take up almost half the interview, it is well worth the effort.

The following should be considered when delivering the presentation:

  • Eye contact – this builds a relationship with the assessors on a physiological level and is a specific marking point;
  • Pauses – a pause after an important point adds impact;
  • Distractions – the candidate should refrain from fiddling with a pen or similar, and strive to remain calm and focused;
  • Signposting – it is important to inform the assessors what they are going to be told at each section; and
  • Closing – a definitive end is needed.

7. Questions on the presentation

The chair may well ask the first question, often related to rules and ethics, and then the other two panel members will have about five minutes each. These questions can be about any aspect of the case study but are often the part freshest in the assessors’ minds – ie the presentation.

This can all seem a bit daunting but preparing effectively is an aspect of final assessment that the candidate can control. A good presentation can get the student halfway there and build rapport with the assessors that makes the rest of the interview easier for everyone.


Hot topics

  • Good presentation skills
  • Verbal and graphical communication
  • Client care
  • Quality visual aid material
  • Timing

Example questions

Questions related to the visual aid, for example:

I see on your visual aid that you have a picture of the subject property which also shows next door. What is the age of that building?

Questions related to what you have stated, for example:

You said that following your research you gave most weight to comparable one. Why was that?

*Don’t assume that the questions given here will be asked at an APC assessment. Assessors will focus on and pose questions on the basis of the candidate’s declared competencies, pathway guide requirements, up-to-date developed knowledge base and the examples provided in their summary of experience, etc.


Useful resources

APC Presentation This online masterclass discusses key elements of the APC final assessment interview. Hints and tips on best practice available at www.delever.com

APC Final Assessment Competency Revision Workshop This preparation day covers everything a candidate needs to know for the APC plus other useful resources: www.delever.co.uk/facrw

APC mock interviews An opportunity for candidates to practise their APC final assessment interview including presentation and specific competency-based questioning. It comprises a full hour interview just like the real thing and immediate constructive feedback from two assessors, including hints and tips on best practice: www.delever.co.uk/mocks

Supervisor and counsellor APC training/recordings – formal CPD Guidance is provided on how to manage and support APC candidates to get them through the APC as effectively and efficiently as possible. Plus it is free one to two hours of formal CPD requirement: www.delever.com

APC Commercial Property Revision Guide Every forward-thinking APC candidate’s reference book for APC preparation: www.delever.co.uk/katetaylor

APC Explained Masterclass This helps candidates to understand what needs to be done to achieve the APC, including a walk-through of the DeLever APC process timeline and myAPC Diary: www.delever.com

Timeline wallchart An A2 pictorial view of the APC process. It can be used to track progress. Free copies are available at: www.delever.com

RICS APC Guides These should be read at least once every three to four months and fully understood. Candidates from outside the UK also need to check their regional websites for any local APC requirements: www.rics.org


Supervisors and counsellors: how to help

Candidates really need constructive feedback on the content and their delivery. It would therefore be helpful for supervisors and counsellors to find time to listen to the presentation several times and help the candidates to see themselves as the panel will see them.

The competency definition should also be carefully considered to reveal any obvious gaps which in turn will help the candidate to try to predict questions.


 

 

Kate Taylor FRICS is an APC chair and a DeLever APC consultant trainer. Follow Kate Taylor and Jon Lever on Twitter: @katetay73593006 and @deleverapc

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