The RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) is extremely important to all involved.
This creates passion and motivation, but also sometimes stress.
This should not be ignored - do not try to be ‘macho’, but take positive steps to reduce your stress levels and improve your performance and underlying health.
I have had a lot of experience helping APC candidates deal with stress and have come up with the following suggestions:
Before Final Assessment
- Take care of your health. Treat final assessment like a race and train for it: take your vitamins, exercise, eat healthily and cut down on alcohol (depressant) and caffeine (stimulant)
- Exercise: aerobic training and flexibility training are best for stress, so try running and yoga
- Sleep: build a healthy sleep routine. Never revise in bed and go to bed early enough to wind down
- Try hypnotherapy or mindfulness - download an app and listen to it every day for two weeks
- Practise reframing: create a positive mindset by turning each worry into a “glass half full” statement. For example, “I am worried nerves will affect my performance in the interview” becomes “The adrenaline will give my performance a passionate edge that will help me think on my feet!”
- Plan your preparation - allow plenty of time to study and practise. This will reduce anxiety
During Final Assessment
- Pause for a few seconds before answering and breathe. This gets oxygen to your brain, relaxes you and makes your responses seem considered
- Use the pen and paper provided. The kinaesthetic action of writing stimulates your memory and makes you look professional. Jot down a word or two only and you can come back to that question at the end
- Take a sip of water: it helps you pause, slow things down and reduces panic. You will probably find that the assessors mirror and also take a sip of water. Don’t worry, you will be able to top up
After Final Assessment
- Try not to have a post mortem. This will build stress - and you cannot change the result
- Distract yourself: plan to do something fun that requires your full attention in the days after your interview
- Make a conscious effort to move on: have a contingency plan in place so you can spend the five days waiting for the result thinking about something else
These suggestions come from five years looking after hundreds of public sector Graduate Surveyors: pick and choose, but there will be something that helps you.
To use a sporting analogy: control the controllables and try to let the rest go.
Guest blogger Kate Taylor FRICS Assoc CIPD is an experienced RICS APC assessor and chairman with a passion for professional development. She sits on the RICS UK APC Appeals Panel, the RICS UK Valuation Board and is the lead RICS Valuation Tutor for distance learning in valuation.
Kate's practical tools
Try this breathing exercise to help stress:
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five. You may not be able to reach five at first
- Then, without pausing or holding your breath let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again if you like
- Keep doing this for three to five minutes
My favourite is Relax with Andrew Johnson - this is free on Google Play from Hive Brain software
The NHS Choices website has some useful short podcasts and videos on the moodzone. Check out this one about reframing unhelpful thoughts
LionHeart offers a number of health and wellbeing workshops designed to help people balance their lives better, including an Improve Your Work Life Balance one run by Kate. Find out more