9 Useful Resources to Prepare for Construction Dispute Jobs
Posted by Specialist Claims and Dispute Team, Maxim Recruitment on Tuesday, February 22, 2022
In 2019 I wrote my most viewed article entitled, “7 Useful Resources to Prepare for a Construction Disputes Job Interview”. The original article was written as a result of a discussion between candidates I had worked with. These were candidates whom I had received particularly positive feedback from interviewers. Therefore, I simply asked them ‘what did they do to prepare?’, and they didn’t disappoint. They came up with some fantastic suggestions.
Since this was originally written, I have received more incredible feedback from candidates that I have worked with about how useful these suggestions have been in preparations for interview.
Whilst the vast majority of suggestions have withstood the test of time. I felt that after 3 years it was time to publish an updated version, which includes further insight I have received in the last couple of years.
So here is the updated 2022 version, “9 Useful Resources to Prepare for a Construction Disputes Job Interview”.
Society of Construction Law Delay and Disruption Protocol
The Delay and Disruption Protocol is a document which has been produced by the Society of Construction Law (SCL) to provide guidance to all parties in the process of dealing with delay and disruption matters on construction projects.
It is frequently used and referenced in UK claims and disputes proceedings and if you are not already familiar with this document, then it is well worth a read to grasp the concepts and key ideas within the protocol. It can be downloaded for free via the SCL website.
Whether you are specialising in a quantum or delay role, the document is equally valuable to both disciplines.
If you are already in a senior role in construction disputes, you will likely be fully aware of the protocol and use as part of your day-to-day role. However, if you are looking to make your first move into disputes you may be less familiar or not familiar at all with the protocol.
I can confirm that some employers are discussing this at interview, with the Director of a London based consultancy stating,
“It would be great if candidates were familiar with the SCL Delay and Disruption Protocol. They don’t need to be an expert on it, however if they had a basic understanding and we could have a chat regarding the basic principles of it; that would make for a very productive discussion”.
Revising Your CV & Previous Disputes Experience
Whether you’re a seasoned construction disputes professional or a Planner / QS / Project Manager / Engineer or similar looking for your first opportunity in disputes, then brushing up on your own experience is a must. Particularly your disputes experience.
For more experienced candidates this will include knowing the experts you have supported, the barrister you were cross-examined by, the legal firms and lawyers that you have worked alongside, and similar. Generally, be prepared to be asked about previous disputes you were involved in and be ready and waiting with the relevant details.
For less experienced candidates, it may be the legal representative team that you assisted on an adjudication, or the method of dispute resolution that was used to settle a dispute, or the value of the dispute.
Whilst it conceivable to forget certain aspects of your experience, or names of contacts you worked with a long time ago, try not to let this happen if it can be avoided. Not being able to provide detailed information on experience listed on your CV can potentially be seen as a sign that you were either not as involved as you have suggested, or that you lack the attention to detail which is critical to succeed in the disputes sector.
Attend Construction Disputes Related Events
This is something which is a good habit to get into now. Regardless of whether you are preparing for an interview or not. The good news is, it’s never been so convenient to do.
The pandemic has meant a huge rise in Webinars to go alongside the usual list of face-to-face events throughout the year. Such events can be hosted by professional bodies such as the SCL, RICS, ICES, CIOB and CIArb. They can also be hosted by the specialist consultancies in the disputes sector, and construction law firms.
If you’re in a senior role, it’s a great way to demonstrate that you are serious about building a network to generate business. Whereas if you are in a more junior role, it’s a great way to prove that your dedicated to your career in disputes and improving your knowledge whilst keeping updated on the latest news and developments.
I am happy to point candidates in the right direction of future events that I am aware of at any time.
Industry Research & Trade Press
As well as webinars and events, the industry trade press is a great way to gain a more detailed knowledge of the disputes sector. It could certainly be seen as beneficial to show some understanding of the major global disputes that have recently been resolved or are currently ongoing.
There are several generalist and specialist publications / websites out there which you may find useful. Some of the publications I am aware of and find useful include:
Many of the above have newsletters that you can sign up to, as well as websites you can search for relevant articles on claims and disputes.
It’s a very simple and effective way to demonstrate to potential employers that you take a keen interest in the latest developments in the industry and have your finger on the pulse.
Understanding Legal Terminology
This is an important one for more junior candidates. I’ve worked with many candidates over the past few years who advised me that they have struggled to hold a conversation with hiring managers in disputes, as they were not familiar with some of the terminology used during the interview.
Likewise, candidates have used the wrong terminology when answering questions at interview. For example, referencing the wrong clause in a contract, or referencing “Part 35” instead of “Part 36” offer as specific examples I have seen of late.
I sought some advice from premium candidates that I had worked with on how they had prepared for this. Several mentioned that doing some of the things mentioned in this article will develop your legal vocabulary and understanding. However, one candidate made specific reference to reading the Technology & Construction Court (TCC) Website.
The TCC websites lists a library of rulings from each month. He found reading through several of the rulings on their website improved his understanding of the frequently used legal terminology.
This helped his understanding of the referenced terms at interview, but also allowed him to integrate more of the correct terminology into his own answers when responding to the interviewer’s questions.
I must add a quick warning here. I have experience of a candidate who took this advice to the extreme and started to use so much legal terminology in his interview that his language no longer came across as natural and had a negative impact on his interview. Therefore, be careful to integrate any new terms and phrases naturally into your vocabulary and try not to sound you’ve swallowed a legal dictionary. Subtlety, moderation, and proficiency with the terminology is key.
Articles and Blogs
As a specialist recruiter for quantum and delay roles within construction claims and disputes, I write monthly blogs and articles providing career advice to candidates who both already work in disputes roles, as well as candidates wanting to get into disputes related roles for the first time.
Such topics include, transitioning from Quantity Surveying into Quantum roles, transitioning from Planning into Delay roles, industry salaries, Advice on how to gain your first expert appointment, frequently asked questions about moving into disputes roles, desirable qualifications and more.
I hope as a specialist recruiter with nearly 15 years of experience I can give you my experiences and advice in dealing with many of the most reputable employers in the claims and disputes marketplace.
You can see all my blogs on our website.
Published Articles from your Interviewer
Here is a particularly savvy technique and one I can say first-hand has been a great topic of discussion for several candidates that I have worked with previously.
One candidate described a scenario where the interviewer referenced an article that he and a colleague had written and due to some excellent preparation by the candidate, he was able to say that he had read that particular article. It was a great topic for discussion and helped build rapport between him and the line manager.
If you cannot find any articles by your interviewer, then perhaps have a read of articles published by colleagues at the same company. These can often be found on the company’s website, or by a basic Google search.
RICS – Quantity Surveyors Acting as Expert Witnesses
Whilst this may seem more relevant to candidates pursuing Quantum orientated careers, there’s some cross over with those considering Delay careers also.
This RICS guide can be downloaded for free on the RICS website.
The document has been written by highly respected professionals within the disputes industry and provides an abundance of information relating to the role and responsibilities of an expert witness. It will provide a good understanding of what the Experts within the industry are doing on a daily basis.
Global Construction Disputes Report
Published by Arcadis every year, the latest version as of writing this is the 2021 edition, and can be found here.
This report is particularly useful for statistics. It details information such as where disputes are happening, how long disputes take to resolve, the value of disputes and much more. It’s broken down into sections for each region of the global market also. This can be particularly useful as many of the UK based claims and disputes consultancies are working on international disputes. Therefore, demonstrating some understanding on a global scale could prove beneficial.
Now, we all know the importance of preparing for a job interview. However, it’s apparent that some candidates struggle more than others when it comes to understanding what preparation is valuable; particularly in such a niche sector such as construction disputes. Well from my experience in speaking to clients and candidates alike, these are all the things that premium candidates are doing to prepare for interview.
This article is not designed to be a checklist and you certainly are not required to do all the above points in preparation for your interview. Nor will some candidates need to in order to be successful. However, I hope by providing you with ideas that this will be a useful starting point into your preparation. Even if you only take a couple of useful ideas from this article that help you at interview then great.
The final point I would make is to start your preparation early. Start it before you’re even looking for a new role. Because the most common feedback I receive from candidates who have read my previous article and found it useful is, “I wish I’d read this 3 months ago, so that I could have done more”.
If you are a candidate currently preparing for an interview in the construction disputes sector and reading this, I wish you the best of luck!
If you are a professional or hiring manager within construction disputes and have any additional resources that you think are worthy of inclusion in this article in the future, I would always welcome hearing from you with additional suggestions.