Final Assessment Focus - Question Time

Posted on 23 / 08 / 17
by jenLemenHogarth

Final Assessment Focus - Question Time

Building a better you 

This blog article will focus on your RICS APC final assessment interview - specifically about what you might be asked by the assessment panel.

If you are sitting your RICS APC this Autumn, then why not consider:

  • Ordering a RICS APC question pack based on your final assessment submission
  • Booking a RICS APC mock interview (Bristol and 1 slot left for London, other locations/dates by contacting 07491 252 025/jen@property-elite.co.uk) 
  • Booking a place on an RICS APC revision conference in Bristol or Manchester

Why is this relevant?

A key component of your RICS APC is the final assessment interview. 

In this article, we will focus specifically on what you might be asked by your assessment panel.

We will consider:

  • What happens during my interview?
  • What are the assessors looking for?
  • What are the key areas of questioning?
  • What does a typical question look like?
  • What might I be asked?
  • How can I prepare for potential questioning?
  • 10 top tips for giving good answers

What happens during my interview?

The interview lasts 1 hour and is structured as follows:

  • 3-4 minutes - introduction by the chairperson
  • 10 minutes - your case study presentation
  • 10 minutes - case study and presentation questioning
  • 25 minutes - assessors' questioning
  • 10 minutes - chairperson's questioning, with a focus on mandatory competencies, ethics and Rules of Conduct
  • 1-2 minutes - chairperson closes the interview, including your opportunity to go back to any questions - you have the last word!

What are the assessors looking for?

  • Answers that demonstrate level 3 reasoned advice where required
  • Good knowledge, backed up by examples and experience
  • Professional presentation (verbal/non-verbal)
  • Effective communication
  • Logical responses
  • Thinking on your feet
  • A competent surveyor!

What are the key areas of questioning?

There will be 3 key areas of questioning during your interview:

  • 10 minutes - case study and presentation questioning
  • 25 minutes - assessors' questioning
  • 10 minutes - chairperson's questioning, with a focus on mandatory competencies, ethics and Rules of Conduct

What does a typical question look like?

The questioning will be competence-based and comprise mainly of open questions. Closed questions will only be used to clarity or confirm information you have already provided.

These are some examples of how (level 3) questions may be structured:

  • Tell me about your experience?
  • Give me an example of where you provided reasoned advice?
  • How were you involved in the project?
  • What problems did you encounter?
  • What did you learn from taking that action?
  • What could you do differently next time?

What might I be asked?

The APC is an assessment of competence - i.e. the final sign off in a long journey of recording your experience - not a test or exam. You are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to demonstrate that you are a competent surveyor who could set up in practice as a sole trader the day after qualifying.

You will be asked questions about your case study, summary of experience and CPD record. The chairpersons' questioning at the end will focus on the mandatory competencies, plus any other areas that the chairperson feels have not been fully explored during the preceding assessors' questioning.

The assessors' questions will cover the full breath and depth of your chosen competencies. For level 3 competencies, the questioning should start at the highest level and explore your specific examples and experiences (as included in your summary of experience). 

If the assessors feel that you are weak in a specific area, then the questioning may subsequently move down to level 2 and level 1. Do not be put off the if the assessors' move on to another competency level - time is limited during the interview and they need to ensure that they explore your full scope of competencies.

Be familiar with your submission - if you know what's in there, you can start to think about what you may be asked. This is because the questioning will be based on your submission and should not be hypothetical in nature. In addition, remember that you could be asked about anything you've written down. This includes your CPD record - so if you attended an activity then make sure you can briefly discuss what happened and what you learnt from it.

The assessors' questioning should give you the best opportunity to demonstrate that you have given reasoned advice in real world situations. Make sure you answer questions with examples where you can, these can be additional examples you haven't included in your submission (e.g. due to limited word count) if you feel that they are relevant and appropriate.

There's also no such thing as a list of stock questions as the assessors' questions are tailored to your experience. You can explore the potential areas you will be questioned on, e.g. in the Landlord & Tenant competency you are likely to be questioned on rent reviews and lease renewals. Your answers should discuss specific examples you have included in your submission, backed up by knowledge and experience. For example, for lease renewals you will want to be aware of notice procedures, interim rent and compensation under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954. 

How can I prepare for potential questioning?

  • Read the pathway and competency guides - this will give you an idea of the potential areas of questioning
  • Know your submissions - as part of your preparation, make a list of your examples for each competencies with a simple list of bullet points to remind you about the key issues and outcomes from each
  • Be aware of potential hot topics or market issues, e.g. Brexit, MEES. Have an opinion about what is going on and how it impacts you role
  • Gain market awareness through reading the news, listening to Radio 4, reading RICS Modus and the property press - anything that helps you to understand the wider market conditions and economic climate in which you work
  • Arrange a mock interview (or as many as you can manage!) - ideally speak to your employer to arrange one in-house, arrange a peer questioning session with friends and colleagues and arrange a formal mock interview with Property Elite to simulate conditions on the final assessment day itself
  • Read through your submission to identify any areas you may want to clarify or where you may be asked challenging questions. Ask others to read through as well to identify any issues or opportunities for you to give great examples!
  • Order your APC question pack from Property Elite to explore potential avenues of questioning. At our last count, our packs contain around 30 pages / over 1,000 questions tailored to your final assessment submission!
  • Practice answering questions - ensure you are logical, concise and clear
  • Listen carefully to what you are being asked - don't tell the assessors everything and anything you know, just provide them with the answer they are looking for (and don't end up tying yourself in knots!)
  • Know your ethics inside out
  • Revise well and make sure you know the basics - knowledge is power - you will feel far more confident in answering questions based on your experience if you know the knowledge behind your responses

10 top tips for giving good answers

  1. If you feel that something is outside of your scope of competence, then it's okay to say that, e.g. if you would seek external advice from a building surveyor on a potential defect picked up during a valuation inspection. This isn't a 'get out' clause though if you haven't prepared to answer questions on activities you should be competent in, e.g. undertaking a valuation if you have chosen to take valuation to level 3
  2. If you are struggling to remember something, tell the assessors where you would find the information from instead
  3. If you remember the answer later on in the interview, write it down as you have the opportunity at the end to revisit anything you wish - you have the last word
  4. Make sure you know your ethics competency inside out - a failure here is likely to equal an automatic referral - it is absolutely key to becoming MRICS
  5. Be confident, but not cocky!
  6. Remain calm, take a brief pause to consider your answer if you're not sure before answering
  7. In your responses, try to show that you are aware of the wider market context and the implications of your actions on your employer, client and community
  8. Show that you are aware of market, legal and technical updates
  9. Demonstrate that you are a safe pair of hands when dealing with instructions
  10. Be reflective where possible and discuss how and why you undertook certain actions

Want to know more?

  • Order a RICS APC question pack based on your final assessment submission
  • Book a RICS APC mock interview (Bristol and 1 slot left for London, other locations/dates by contacting 07491 252 025/jen@property-elite.co.uk) 
  • Book a place on an RICS APC revision conference in Bristol or Manchester

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you