In March, the world as we knew it changed drastically, practically overnight. We recently sat down for a virtual chat with Nick Vincent and Tom Hall, two surveyors in our North East team that were amongst the first to sit their Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) via video.
Nick started at Sanderson Weatherall with a weeks work experience with the agency team in the summer of 2015. In September 2016 Nick joined SW as a trainee surveyor working one day a week whilst studying for a MSc in Real Estate. Nick then joined SW full time in September 2017 working in the Rating and Regeneration team.
Tom started at Sanderson Weatherall as a Graduate Surveyor in August 2017 whilst studying towards an MSc in Real Estate. After gaining experience within the Property Management, Commercial Agency and Public Sector Consultancy teams, Tom currently works full time in the SW’s Valuation Department in Newcastle.
As we’ve said, you were some of the very first students to tackle the APC virtually, how did you feel about this?
Tom – “We were both furloughed the month or so before our APC interviews and with so much uncertainty I was pretty concerned it was going to be cancelled. I joined an RICS group on LinkedIn and found this quite useful as there were a number of assessors on there that answered our questions. I even got to speak directly to the Global Assessment Manager at the RICS who helped put my mind at ease.”
Nick – “If I’m being completely honest I was hoping the interviews might get postponed. With it being the first round of digital interviews and a relatively short space of time to turn it around I wasn’t 100% confident the RICS would be able to pull it off successfully and I worried that involving technology just created something else that could go wrong!”
It’s a big thing to have to prepare for at the best of times, how did you find it with everything else going on?
Nick – “I tried my best to stick to a 9-5 revision schedule and then switch off in the evenings but without the usual distractions of work and going out to see friends we probably both got to a point where we’d ‘over revised’.
Tom – “It was obviously tough to adapt to working from home during lockdown so with a couple of other graduates we did our best to keep in regular contact throughout so that we didn’t get too bogged down in the books!”
Talk us through the big day…
Tom – “I sat mine pretty early on in the morning so despite a sleepless night I was able to get up, have a coffee and breakfast on the balcony before going into the lounge to get set up. My interview ran pretty smoothly but I know some of candidates who did experience technical issues on the day”.
Nick – “My interview was in the afternoon and I couldn’t focus in the morning at all so ended up going out for a 2 hour walk to try and clear my head. To ensure there’s no one else in the room or no notes on the wall they ask you to turn your webcam around, unfortunately whilst turning my laptop I managed to restart it so I had to re-join the call a couple of minutes later, which meant there was no time for pleasantries and introductions so I felt on the backfoot immediately!”
Was there anything that you think the circumstances made harder / easier?
Nick – “Obviously haven’t done it face to face so can’t compare but definitely the worry of technology failing on you was another concern to add. When you’re sat on your own with ‘Waiting to join room’ on the screen in front of you it’s a massively nerve-wracking experience. That said, a face to face interview usually involves travelling a couple of hours to the interview so it was comforting to be in my own house.”
Tom – “I did find it quite difficult to hear the assessors at times as their connection was pretty poor. It was therefore important to seek clarification on any questions which were not exactly clear the first time of asking. From speaking to others at SW it was also clear that getting your personality across is an important part of the process but via video I found it much more difficult to build a rapport with the panel.”
How was the following week, whilst you waited to find out?
Tom – “I think we had quite contrasting weeks if I’m honest. I did my very best to put it to the back of my mind and enjoyed a week of doing very little (aside a few beers of course)! When I eventually got the good news it suddenly hit me that we wouldn’t be able to celebrate with others. SW are great at making a big deal of it in the office and it was a shame not to be able to celebrate it with everyone!”
Nick – “As Tom said, our weeks were stark contrasts. It felt like the longest week of my life waiting to find out as I became infatuated with one particular question that I thought I’d got wrong, it just kept going over and over in my head. My email didn’t come through until a good few hours after Tom so as happy as I was for him, I couldn’t help but think that was bad news for me. Was obviously over the moon to pass and got phone calls from the shareholders in the North East congratulating us which was really appreciated. We did our best to celebrate virtually but it wasn’t really the same!”
You can hear a bit more from both Tom and Nick in our Working at SW video here.