I recently sat down with a Senior Quantum Consultant at one of the UK’s largest and most reputable expert witness consultancies, to discuss how he recently made the move from a Quantity Surveying career into the expert witness sector. As part of our chat, we discussed how he had prepared for the rigorous interview processes that many employers operating in this sector are partial to putting their prospective employees through.
What I discovered was a fascinating level of detail that had gone into his preparation. The specifics of which, he was happy for me to share with prospective candidates who may find the information useful when preparing for their own interviews in the expert witness sector.
Below is a summary of the resources and how this might help prospective candidates interviewing for roles to join the construction disputes sector.
Blogs / Articles
Firstly, he pointed out that it was one of my own articles that originally piqued his interest in moving into a quantum specialist, expert witness role. That was what had prompted him to contact me and have an initial chat about opportunities in this sector.
As a specialist in recruiting quantum and delay claims and disputes staff, I write monthly articles on my specialist sector that are informative and useful to prospective candidates and to staff already working in this sector.
Such topics include how to switch from Quantity Surveying / Planning into specialist Quantum and Delay Roles, What expert witnesses actually do, what salaries are on offer in the construction disputes sector and what qualifications are worthwhile studying to progress your career.
RICS – Quantity Surveyors Acting as Expert Witnesses
After reading Maxim Recruitment’s initial blogs relating to the expert witness sector, he went on to carry out his own further research and one of the first useful resources he found was the RICS’s guide to Quantity Surveyors acting as Expert Witnesses which can be downloaded for free following this link: https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/sector-standards/dispute-resolution/surveyors-acting-as-expert-witnesses/
This document has been written by highly respected industry professionals within the industry and provides and abundance of advice and guidance for carrying out expert work. An invaluable starting point for understanding what a Quantum expert does and how they carry out their role.
Industry Research / Trade Press
After fully understanding the role of a quantum expert, it was seen as critically important to know at least some of the major disputes that were ongoing in the industry.
To do this, he largely found the trade press to be the best source for information. This included standard construction indystry related trade press as well as specialist disputes related publications.
Examples of which can be found here:
Building Magazine: https://www.building.co.uk/
Corporate Disputes Magazine: https://www.corporatedisputesmagazine.com/
Who’s Who Legal: https://whoswholegal.com/
Construction Enquirer: https://www.constructionenquirer.com/
The ability to mention some of the current disputes and the relevant parties into a conversation, demonstrates that you have your finger on the pulse with the latest news within the sector and show a keen interest in what is going on.
Global Construction Disputes Reports
Arcadis publish an annual Global Disputes Report. A link to the 2019 report can be found here.
This was a very useful overlook into the trends in the construction disputes market and is particularly interesting in that it looks at issues on a global scale. This can be particularly useful to understand the global market, given that many of the expert witness consultancies based in London are working on international disputes, not domestic disputes.
The report documents useful trends including the volume of disputes, the length of disputes, value of disputes and common methods of dispute resolution. All useful background knowledge to help understand the industry.
Technology & Construction Court Decisions
The Technology & Construction Court website lists a hadful of recent rulings each month on their website. This goes back many years. Such reports can be useful in improving your knowledge of the sector and keeping up-to-date with recent rulings.
However, our candidate found them very useful to pick up some of the common legal terminology. He found this very useful at interview, as interviewers often used terminology that he was unfamiliar with and it helped him to understand the conversations better, as well as allowing him to use familiar terminology within his responses to demonstrate an good understanding.
I will warn that I have had feedback on candidates who have overdone this at interview to the point where it did not come across as natural and actually had a negative impact. Therefore be careful not to integrate any new terms of phrases into your vocabulary naturally, and do not come across as if you have swallowed a legal dictionary. Subtlety and proficiency with the terminology paramount!
Published Articles from your Interviewer
A particularly savvy technique; whether it be the individual you are being interviewed by or perhaps an article written and published by the employer you are interviewing with.
The candidate described a scenario during one of his interviews where the interviewer made reference to an article he had helped to write and the candidate was able to say they had read the article and it was a great topic of discussion and reflected well on his candidacy.
Attend Events with Reputable Expert Speakers
If you already have interviews lined up, it may be a little late to start attending such events. However, there are regular construction disputes related events with highly reputable speakers all around the country.
They can be hosted by professional bodies (RICS, CIOB, ICES, SCL etc), disputes consultancies or law firms. I often read about and attend such events, and I would be happy to inform candidates of any events that I know are coming up in the near future.
Being able to attend such events will demonstrate your passion and dedication to the disputes sector, as well as improving your knowledge of construction disputes. It will also show your character as someone that likes to attend relevant events and network with likeminded professionals. A skill that will be valuable if you wish to progress your career to become a reputable lead expert in the future.
In summary, research and preparation is an important part of maximising your chances of being successful at interview. Obviously, a large part of your success is going to be determined by your previous experience, your personality and how you conduct yourself at interview.
However, particularly for entry level roles as Consultant and Senior Consultant, my experience is that clients are looking to meet candidates that understand the role they are interviewing for, understand the disputes industry and as much as anything; a genuine passion to move into the disputes sector.
I have helped many Quantity Surveyors with very little contractual claims experience, move into Quantum specialist roles. In fact, I have some client’s that actually prefer candidates to have little / no claims experience.
Where this is the case, candidates have been successful because they have demonstrated their ability as a Quantity Surveyor at interview but have also demonstrated an understanding of the disputes sector and the role they are applying for. As well as a clear passion to move sectors and an ambition to succeed and progress through the hierarchy to be future leaders.
I’ve seen that some solid preparation really can go a long way to setting yourself apart from the other candidates when interviewing for roles in the disputes sector.
If you are an interviewer or existing professional within the disputes sector, please contact me if you have any additional tips and advice for future Quantum experts that I can share with them.
If you are currently preparing for an interview within the construction disputes sector, I wish you the best of luck! If you need advice and help to get interviews and a new job in this exciting and booming sector – you know where to find me!
About The Author
Senior Recruitment Consultant, UK
I am based from the Maxim Recruitment head office in Leicester and I specialise in the recruitment of quantum and delay, claims and expert witness professionals in the UK and Overseas. With over 11 years’ experience spent recruiting construction professionals, I have an extensive knowledge of the construction industry and an enviable network of reputable clients and contacts, allowing me to find my candidates the right position with highly desirable employers.
Latest UK Quantity Surveying Jobs: https://www.maximrecruitment.com/quantum-delay-claims-and-dispute-jobs