October has passed and another wave of eager graduate surveyors have walked the gauntlet of the APC final assessment to come out as RICS qualified chartered surveyors. As I continue to gather my experience in order to become a qualified commercial chartered surveyor in London I always listen out to what has happened to others who have already been through final interview, picking up unique advice that you wouldn’t expect to hear in a training lecture.
This is based on the assumption that I am prepared, and not doomed to failure as soon as I walk through the door; however, as always, there is the potential of several scenarios cropping up that are outside of your own control.
- If you are asked about an event within your competencies that you have mentioned make sure you can remember what you actually did! If for example you valued an office unit within Fitzrovia and can’t remember what happened clearly, there is a good chance you could be interpreted as not having a clue, and you no longer look like you have the capability to be a chartered surveyor based in London.
- Remember that panel members do not specialise in every part of the property industry. Try not to be patronising, however if someone looks confused make sure they follow what you mean – you may need to use different wording for an agent in W1 than you would for another surveyor in Bournemouth.
- If your CRIT has an error in it be prepared to fend off some tough questions which may start along the lines of “you have either done this because you are incompetent, your PA did it because you are lazy, or you are hiding something” – as happened to a friend of mine, but don’t worry there is an answer for everything as he still managed to get out alive and pass!
Some other titbits of advice my fellow APC colleagues have given me are below – yet the main thing they have reminded me of is: ‘You have no control of your panel, they could do anything… especially if they have had to spend hours in the same room all day’. Baring this in mind, I am preparing myself for:
- Randomly being asked questions completely unrelated to any of your experience (that guy who just loves talking about sustainable buildings or dry rot)
- Being asked repetitively ‘are you sure about that?’ The likelihood is they are tired, stressed, bored, and desperate for a coffee – don’t think of it as a reflection of your work.
- Suddenly being presented with a pile of foliage (or photos of foliage) – this genuinely did happen.
Even though the above may seem like an attack on the panel, I must keep in mind that sometimes your nerves can get the better of you. So when asked a question totally out of the blue – such as ‘what is the price of a brick?’ it is advised not to respond as this recently qualified London based chartered surveyor did with ‘**** if I know.’ Remarkably the panel found it hilarious and appreciated that even estate agents in W1 are not expected to know the price of an individual brick.
Despite the above events, my friends and colleagues have succeeded in qualifying. This proves to me that, as long as I am prepared on the day, fortune is in my favour, no matter what random question on bricks or foliage is fired my way!
(Written by John Eden – Graduate Surveyor at Davis Brown)