Good news - we’re seeing an uplift in the amount of assistant quantity surveyor (AQS) roles we’re recruiting for in recent times. In the last 12 months, we have placed over 40% more assistant quantity surveyors than we did the year before.  The market’s booming so there are lots of opportunities out there for you – and you can expect a decent starting salary. On average, assistant quantity surveyors can now expect an asking salary of £32,000 in the capital and £27,250 outside London.

To help you land your new assistant quantity surveyor role and smash it in your first 12 months, we’ve pulled together a handy checklist of the qualities and behaviours you’ll need – or need to demonstrate – to shine in interviews and on the job. This is what senior quantity surveyors are looking for in their newly hired assistant. 

1. get some work experience.

This is important because, one, it’ll give you something to talk about in your job interviews – some experience of the world of quantity surveying will allow you to make conversation.  It will show you do have some knowledge about what the job will entail – so are more likely to stick with it. You can show off your experience in interviews, highlighting the lessons you have learned and the valuable trainee experience you have gained.  

Two, a placement – even work experience in a related construction role – will help you prove you are interested in pursuing a career in the field.  That can give you the edge over other applicants with better qualifications.

Three, you never know what will come of it.  At the very least it will provide you with some connections.  In a dream situation, an employer will end up hiring you; usually, they’d rather take on someone they know rather than roll the dice for someone untested via the milkround.  Keep that in mind while you’re there – and make a good impression.  

Four, if you’re really smart, work experience will give you a frame of reference for the industry, so you can compare one potential new employer with another and make the best decision for your future career. Don’t like the second firm as much as the first?  Don’t apply for a job there. That will make your first AQS job so much easier.  

Five, hopefully you’ll develop some skills that you can take with you when you move on.

2. apply to the right graduate schemes.

On the one hand, quantity surveyor graduate schemes are competitive.  You need to remain open-minded about your potential employers – and try not to rule too much out.  You’re looking for a way in.

On the other, make sure you aren’t spreading yourself too thin.  Ideally, every application should be well-researched and every form you fill in needs to be well-considered:

To do all that, you need to concentrate your firepower and search out the best jobs for you and write only as many applications as you can without sacrificing quality.  That will also help ensure your first AQS job is a decent fit for you.  

Reading this with the benefit of hindsight and kicking yourself having made a bad choice and are now in the wrong job?  Don’t beat yourself up. It happens – send us a CV and come and have a chat.

3. prepare for interviews.

It’s possible you’ll get an unexpected interview question or two – “If you were an animal, what would you be?” is a cracker (here at Randstad we have heard them all) – but for the most part you can anticipate the sorts of questions interviewers are going to ask you:

  • Why you want to work for the company (“What interests you about this job?”)
  • Why you want to be a quantity surveyor?
  • Questions about you (“tell me a little about yourself?” / “what are your biggest strengths?”)

For more information, see interview questions for quantity surveyor jobs.

Be prepared to discuss anything you’ve put on your CV.  Most of all, be ready with questions of your own, to find out more about the company, role and progression.  This is another chance to show your enthusiasm for the role and demonstrate you’re committed to the job when interviewers ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”.  Ask what the average workday looks like. Ask what your interviewer can tell you about the role that isn’t in the job description. Ask how success is measured and what the office culture is like.  Don’t answer, “No” – it sounds disinterested.

4. remember your transferable skills.

Employers want well-rounded individuals who can perform well in all aspects of a trainee quantity surveyor role. The skills required won’t all be directly related to the most obvious traits mentioned on the job description.  Communication and people skills are important, for example. So, while your interviewer will ask you about the skills required to be a junior quantity surveyor, you should make a conscious effort to emphasise everything you have to offer.  For instance, you can plan to mention useful soft skills in those easy “Tell me about yourself” questions.

5. behaviour at work.

You got the job.  Well done. Now, listen.  Listen to your boss and ensure you deliver what they expect. That will show you can listen to clients and deliver what they want – Assistant Quantity Surveyor roles are client-facing.  A successful AQS will need to be able to work independently as well as in an integrated team.  Establish that, too.

6. attributes. 

  • Be professional.  
  • Exhibit some commercial awareness.  
  • Be organised and look to showcase your communication skills (the ones you mentioned in the interview, remember).  
  • Seek out opportunities to establish your leadership potential.

7. effort.

  • Work hard.  Your company will need to pull out all the stops for its clients.  
  • Show determination and be hands-on – your goal is to be the best.  
  • Demonstrate your willingness to succeed and to take ownership of projects.  

Ready to apply for your next quantity surveyor role?

Search our latest assistant quantity surveyor vacancies.

Hear from Calum, an experienced QS at Morgan Sindall, as he shares valuable insight about working in the industry: