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What is today's blog about?
This blog article will focus on your RICS APC final assessment interview, specifically in the context of interviews being brought online for Session 1 2020. Essential reading for RICS APC and AssocRICS candidates.
You can also listen to our CPD podcast on Anchor for more free AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.
If you don't have time to read our full blogs, you can watch our short CPD summary videos on YouTube.
How might Covid-19 affect my Session 1 2020 RICS APC final assessment interview?
As of 24 March 2020, RICS have officially stated that:
‘We are not currently holding any face-to-face assessments. If you are due to sit your assessment before 24 April, please be assured that we are working to ensure we can fulfil our commitments by either moving assessments online or postponing them to a later date. One of our team will contact affected candidates and assessors directly with full details and instructions.
If your assessment is taking place online the assessment criteria and interview format will remain the same and candidates should prepare as normal. Full training is being provided to assessors ahead of online assessments.
In the UK, where we hold a very high volume of assessments, we are reviewing the best approach. The next assessments are not scheduled until the end of April and we will contact affected candidates and assessors with full details nearer the time to confirm. We recognise this is a changing day by day situation and will manage it as such’.
How does an online interview work?
At Property Elite, all of our e-mock interviews are conducted online, providing you with the most realistic preparation for your final assessment interview this Spring.
Working this way allows us to provide flexible timings for your e-mock, as well as enabling you to work remotely from your location of choice.
Your e-mock or online RICS final assessment interview will be conducted to the same standards as a face-to-face interview.
How should I set up my equipment?
Make sure you have an electronic device, e.g. laptop, tablet or phone, with Skype for Business installed. Test out the system beforehand with a friend, family member or colleague – don’t leave it until the day of your interview to do this as this is the most common area of disruption and delay during e-mock interviews.
Good quality internet or network reception is essential – plan ahead and make sure that you have sufficient connectivity for your interview. If you live with others, perhaps ask them to refrain from being online during your interview to avoid using up bandwidth.
You may need an external microphone or webcam if your device doesn’t not have these internally or if you are concerned about getting your set up right.
From our experience, the camera and microphone on Apple devices are generally good quality and you’ll experience no problems with these. The same is likely to apply to other devices, although we don’t have personal experience of these.
Both are excellent quality, although if you are concerned about cost then why not test out the quality of your existing devices with a friend, family member or colleague first? If they are not sufficient, then we would recommend looking at a webcam first, as these often come with in-built microphones.
How should I set up my interview space?
It pays to put the camera a little further back if possible so that the panel can see both you and any visual aid. Try to keep the camera level and pointing directly at you or at a very slight angle.
You will be on camera, so you should try to ensure you are in a professional environment and you may be asked by the Chairperson to show the panel your surroundings.
The ideal setting would be against a plain wall with good natural or artificial lighting, so that the assessors can see you clearly.
Sit at a desk or table, where you are comfortable and with good posture to ensure that you present professionally during your interview.
Close the door and ask others to minimise noise and disruption for the duration of your interview, if possible.
We recommend that you dress professionally, as you would for a face-to-face interview. First impressions still count, particularly as you are one step removed from being face-to-face with your assessment panel.
How will my interview be structured?
Your online interview will mirror the existing final interview structure:
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!
How will the online process work?
At the time of writing, the RICS guidance confirms the process as follows:
Join the Skype for Business meeting 15 minutes before your interview start time. This will be by clicking on the Skype link in the meeting request.
You will arrive in a virtual lobby and will need to wait to be admitted to your interview by your assessment panel. This is very similar to the experience of a face-to-face interview!
You will then be able to join your panel in the online interview room. You will be able to both see and hear your panel. Your microphone will initially be on mute and you should wait for instructions from the Staff Observer before speaking.
When instructed to, you should activate your microphone and keep it on for the duration of your interview.
There is an Instant Message (IM) button in Skype – this should only be used to alert the Staff Observer to video/audio problems. All participants will be able to view these messages.
When all participants are ready, the Staff Observer will hand over control of the meeting to the Chairperson and this will be the start of your 1 hour interview.
Your Chairperson will ask you to show a 360 degree view of your interview space (and can do so at any point again during your interview), ensuring that you do not have any support from others, technology or material. The only material you may have access to is your presentation notes (e.g. cue cards) for the duration of your presentation only.
There may be technical issues during the interview, these will be recorded by your Chairperson and any time lost added to the end of the interview to ensure you receive your full 1 hour. If more than 10 minutes of technical issues are noted then, the Chairperson may, with your agreement, terminate and rearrange your interview at a later date.
What are our 5 top tips for succeeding in your online final assessment interview?
Here are our top 5 tips for success in your online final assessment interview, based on our experience of providing extensive numbers of e-mock interviews to successful candidates:
1. Test out the system well in advance, checking that your microphone and video both work and are at the appropriate volume/brightness levels. A common issue is making sure that your microphone and webcam are turned on!
2. Make sure your device or laptop is plugged in to avoid running out of power during your interview.
3. Don’t forget that you are on camera – the assessors will still pick up on both verbal and non-verbal cues so don’t forget body language and facial expressions during your time on camera.
4. Review the visual aid you intend to use for your presentation. It will pay to keep this as simple and easy to read as possible, ideally just one clear page that the assessors can read. Test out what it will look like on camera beforehand.
5. Don’t treat your interview differently from how you would if it was face-to-face – present professionally, prepare well and be confident in your abilities as a future Chartered Surveyor.
In future articles, we will be looking in further depth at interview technique and how to present the best possible you in your online RICS APC final assessment interview. You can also check out our blog archive for more free advice.
Don’t forget, the best way to prepare yourself is by booking an e-mock interview with Property Elite. This will mirror your online interview with RICS and will help to boost your confidence in not only your practical knowledge and experience, but also your interview set up and presentation on camera.
If you are concerned about any aspect of the new online interview process, send us a message using the chat box on our website or sign up for a free 15 minute consultation. We are experienced in providing online e-mock interviews and will be able to provide you with relevant, helpful advice on the process and how you can become MRICS this Sprin