Motivate and communicate: mentoring tips for APC supervisors and counsellors

The role of an APC supervisor and counsellor can be quite arduous if not approached correctly and with a full understanding of what is required

APC-SeriesIn my last article, I outlined why supervisors and counsellors are one of the most important parts of the APC process, writes Jon Lever. However, the role of a supervisor and counsellor can be quite arduous if not approached correctly and with a full understanding of what is required.

In addition, with the new templates, guidance and RICS online system, it is important to remind everyone that the role of the supervisor is very much alive for “structured training” candidates (for example, those undertaking a minimum 12 or 24-month structured training period), even though it seems a little vague currently.

With that in mind, here are some key APC mentoring tips for supervisors and counsellors to assist in the effective delivery of the role.

Whose APC is it anyway?

Occasionally, an APC candidate assumes that it is the supervisor and counsellor’s responsibility to get them through their APC, with little or no engagement on their part.

I believe one of the reasons that candidates adopt this approach is because supervisors and counsellors have not educated candidates otherwise. Ground rules and expectations need to be established at the outset.

Of course, supervisors and counsellors are expected to guide and support their candidate and with that comes commitment too. I often ask candidates how many of them have proactive supervisors and counsellors and the response is only around 20%. I then ask how many of the candidates regularly lead and proactively engage with their supervisor and counsellor and the percentage is sadly often much smaller.

If candidates are unmotivated and not engaging and, by default, are not engaging with their supervisor and counsellor, it is not surprising that there is only an average 65% pass rate at final assessment. The key is communication, along with focusing on the following tip, which I hope, if followed, will mean that the supervisor and counsellor roles become enjoyable and rewarding.

Know your role

Candidates often think that it is the supervisor and counsellor’s role to spoon feed them. However, it is the candidate’s career, so they must take responsibility for it. In order to support this, the supervisor and counsellor (and employer) need to provide a working and training environment where this can happen.

Manage the process

The APC process and time can easily slip through everyone’s fingers. It is so important to understand and manage the APC journey effectively.

Get the candidate to plan and arrange the three-monthly meetings and ensure that they are in everyone’s diary and meeting rooms are booked. Candidates need to prepare for these meetings in advance and then manage/chair them, record the actions and report back against progress by discussing competencies. The three-monthly meetings should always be an opportunity to review competency achievement, discuss progress and seek sign-off from the supervisor and counsellor. 

Keeping on top of the APC will take the candidate approximately an hour a week and probably another hour per month to administer – and that does not include the minimum three-monthly progress meetings.

Interestingly, candidates are often demotivated around the nine-month mark because when they have done nothing to that point, they start to appreciate the mountain of administration they are creating for themselves and the APC starts to become too much. Supervisors and counsellors can delegate the management of the APC process to a candidate, but there remains a responsibility to oversee and ensure that the process is happening and being effectively delivered.

Map the knowledge base (and experience)

It is so important for supervisors and counsellors to work closely with candidates and review the pathway guides. Under level 1 of each competency, review the knowledge required, map that against the candidate’s knowledge and establish the gaps. Then produce a plan of learning, drawing resource from the business and external sources. This can then be developed over time to develop the experience required under levels 2 and 3 of the competencies.

Q&A practice

Start practising and asking the candidate competency-based questions right from the start of their APC journey. Challenge their competence and regularly pose questions to the candidate (ideally in writing over e-mail or similar) and set a timescale for the answer. Work across the competency levels so that the responses cover the knowledge, doing and advising.

Q&A practice becomes increasingly important the nearer the candidate gets to the final assessment. Coaching and mock interviews are some of the most important activities to help a candidate understand how to listen and answer effectively. 


Communication is paramount. Establish a regime of regular meetings (the RICS suggests a minimum of every three months, but even more regularly than that is beneficial) and ensure that an agenda is set and that the candidate’s timeline is being worked to. (See the DeLever timeline wallchart for a guide.)

Present regularly

The APC final assessment has a requirement for a candidate to present their case study for 10 minutes. Often it is obvious at the assessment that the candidate has not presented very much previously or practised sufficiently. This is not ideal as they need to demonstrate their ability to proficiently present and communicate with the assessment panel. 

I always encourage supervisors and counsellors to set up a plan of presentations at the start of the candidate’s APC journey. One per month is ideal and it is important to ensure that it is only for 10 minutes so that the candidate starts to appreciate what can be delivered in that short timeframe. Topics can be competency-based or current industry-related hot topics.

Remember, delivering or watching presentations can be relevant CPD.


APCeye magazine
Critical APC information in a free monthly magazine from DeLever.

APC presentation
Online masterclass discussing key elements of the APC final assessment interview. Hints and tips on best practice.

APC mock interviews
Practice your APC final assessment interview, including your presentation and specific competency-based questioning. A full hour interview just like the real thing and immediate constructive feedback from the two assessors including hints and tips on best practice.

APC final assessment competency revision workshop
Land, property and built environment APC candidate preparation day. Understand everything you need to know for the APC plus useful

Free timeline wallchart
A2 pictorial view of the whole APC process, based on the RICS guides and Jon Lever’s professional knowledge and experience of the APC. A new version containing enhanced features and the latest RICS updates will be available in early 2017.

Supervisor and counsellor APC training – formal CPD
Managing candidates and feeling a little out of your depth? Get key tips on how to manage and support your candidates

Commercial property quick start revision guide 2016, by Kate Taylor FRICS
Available at

Free trial: myAPCDiary
This resource can save up to 60% of a candidate’s day-to-day APC administration.

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

WhatsApp: APC 101
New DeLever WhatsApp groups supported by Jon Lever and DeLever APC expert coaches. Ask APC questions and receive considered and professional answers. Join the groups using the links below:

Jon Lever FRICS is the RICS’ UK licensed assessor trainer, a RICS regional training adviser, an APC chairman of assessors and a member of the RICS’ governing council. Follow Jon on Twitter @deleverapc

Click here for full access to EG‘s pathway to success series on APC competencies.