Interview - Coffee Break with two Registered Architects

28th Nov 2018 • Enrichment

If you’re not familiar with architecture you might think a student studying architecture completes their five years at university, passes and voila they can call themselves an architect! … Think again, and read on.

In Australia, a graduate of architecture can’t use the title architect until they have completed and passed the following:

  • Log book and statement of practical experience. Which equates to a minimum of two years of practical experience, against numerous performance criteria, crucial in the practice of architecture
  • National Examination Paper
  • Examination by interview

Two of our staff members Lauren Stokes and Andrew Teoh recently received their registration (we’re overflowing with pride) and survived! We thought we’d ask them a few questions about the whole experience, and see what advice they can provide to aspiring graduates.

Who or what inspired you to study architecture?

Andrew - Architecture is one of the few professions that allows me to make the intangible, tangible.

Lauren - At school I always enjoyed and excelled at both art and science. Thus I chose architecture, as it integrates both the creative and the technical.

Was the registration process harder than you anticipated?

Andrew - Yes. The biggest challenge is the sheer amount of reading required, however it proved to be an enlightening read.

Lauren - As with Andrew, I was at first overwhelmed by the amount of reading required. At times it felt like the breadth of knowledge required was limitless. Personally, I found the exam to be a lot harder than the interview. There are a lot of questions to answer in a short amount of time. For me the interview was less pressurised. Ultimately it is a chat with two other professionals who are trying to establish the depth of your knowledge, that you will act in an ethical and professional manner, and that you know who/where to seek advice from when it is an area outside your skill set.

In regards to the examination and interview were you provided with any clues like topics or areas to focus on?

Andrew - The tutors for the PALS course offer some insights. They informed us of the format of the exam and how it is carried out. For instance, the exam questions are not contract specific, so even if you have never used a particular contract, you would still have knowledge of the mechanism that are generally in place in most contracts. During the Interview portion of the exam, each examiner is different. Some will quiz on planning, while others quiz on your understanding of contracts.

Lauren - Andrew and I both enrolled in PALS which provided an invaluable framework of 'modules' that cover the various topics. Additionally, I spoke to my peers and colleagues that have already been through the process, and looked through past exam papers. EmAGN also offer free mock interview sessions which assisted me greatly in preparing for the interview.

What advice can you give to other graduates preparing for their registration?

Andrew - It helps to have several years of experience before endeavouring to sit of the exam. Registering for the PALS course is invaluable as it gives you an idea of where to start and what to read as a minimum. Always be proactive at the practice you are working in. You learn by actively engaging in the various stages of a project. NEVER be afraid to ask questions. There's no such thing as a 'stupid' question. Adapt to any given situation.

Lauren - If you are a graduate looking to become registered, I would highly recommend either the PARC or PALS course. Both courses are run by architects for architects. I completed the PALS course but have heard good things about the PARC course. The benefit of the PALS course is it runs for two semesters, so you can join a semester before you intend on registering; Start reading the mountain of content in the first semester so that the second semester is mainly consolidation. There are costs involved with the PALS course, however, A+ members get a discounted rate and if you join with fellow colleagues there is a further discount.

If you are about to sit your oral interview stay calm, don’t pretend to know the answer to something you don’t and remember: don’t do work that will not be covered by your PI insurance, and when in doubt, contact your PI insurer.

How do you feel now?

Andrew - More confident, however there is still much more to learn.

Lauren - Relieved! It was definitely a process well worth completing. It has enhanced my level of understanding, and thus my confidence in my own ability.