The Professional Conversation is a technique used to gain an understanding of an applicant’s experience and knowledge in a managed conversation rather than an exam. The principle behind it is to let the applicant demonstrate the minimum standards required for registration through taking the assessors through case studies and their experiences. The Professional Conversation should be led by the applicant, with the assessors asking questions to get more information or to keep the conversation on track.
There are some advantages to doing the assessment through Professional Conversations rather than an exam-style assessment. There is flexibility around how evidence is presented by the applicant. The preparation of the case studies and rehearsal of the Professional Conversation requires a degree of self-analysis and critiquing which helps identify gaps in the applicant’s knowledge. This is helpful for the applicant as it creates a clear path for them to follow to be able to meet the minimum standards.
The theory behind the Professional Conversation (as opposed to examination-style assessments) is that applicants need to be able to demonstrate what they can do by talking about what they have done in the past, irrespective of qualifications. Professional Conversations allow applicants to bring all their experiences into an assessment process, rather than only what is learnt for an examination, where all answers must be the same. This takes into account the wide range of experiences that different applicants will have. It also takes into account that qualifications do not equal competence.