I applied for PwC Assurance/Consulting Graduate Program 2016 in London, and have just passed its AC last week. Here I would like to share you with my experience of AC and provide some suggestions and tips for it.
The process of AC in PwC contains three stages, which are written task, numerical and logical tests, and group discussion.
- Written Task
In this stage, a booklet containing around 15 pages of multi-source information would be given, and I was asked to produce a report no more 2 pages within 40 minutes.
The topic of the written task was Water Conservation Condition in UK, and 4 methods (reporting, trade & cap, taxation, and subsidies) to reduce the consumption of water in UK were provided. As required, I had to discuss both cons and pros of each method and give my own recommendation at the end of the report.
Tips and suggestions:
(1) From my own experience, the completeness of the structure of the report matters the most. The report must contain the 3 components (Aims of the report, Cons and Pros for each method, and Recommendation), which means any exclusion of the required component would definitely cause you to fail in Written Task.
(2) Writing professionally comes to the second importance. The language in the report should look to be professional, and every bullet point should be a complete sentence. Be careful about the spelling and grammar, because such kind of errors are not favourable by the recruiter.
(3) The content of the report is not that important compared to the completeness of structure and the professional use of language. In my report, I do not think I made good point in every cons and pros, and I even left one con of a particular method to be blank. However, this seemed to have no or just little negative impact on my report according to the feedback from PwC.
(4) 40 minutes was really limited. I suggest you quickly scan the whole booklet first and locate the 4 methods, and then grab the useful information as reading and write down the relevant information at the same time.
- Numerical and Logical Tests
Questions in this stage were still SHL style, and the general difficulty was at the same level as or even easier than the one of online test. 20 min for 20 numerical questions and another 20 min for 40 logical questions.
However, for numerical test, questions related to the same table and figure would not be in a sequence; in stead, they would be separated. So it would be better if you could find those questions related to the same table or figure, and finish them as a group.
For logical test, there was no tricky question and many of them were exactly the same as those in online test.
In general, my suggestion is that solve questions with your regular pace and do not need to be hurry. The time would be definitely enough for finishing more than two thirds of all the questions, which would ensure you are above the benchmark if you could finish questions with a high accuracy.
- Group Discussion
In my point of view, this stage may be the hardest one for most non-native speakers. I was in a group of five and four of them are British people. However, the result turned out that the disadvantage in language did not negatively affect me much. What matters most is that you do contribute valuable things to the discussion.
The topic of this stage was dealing with by-products of an energy company called Born Oil. A defined general budget was given, and every one in the group would have a particular option to deal with different by-product.
The first thing I did was skimming the common booklet that shared by everyone in the group, and calculating the amount of the whole budget, the part assumed by the company, and the other part from Government Grant. Then, I calculated some key figures of my own option, such as payback period, set up cost, set up period, annual profit, time to produce environmental benefit, and 10-year profit. These figures were important, as they would be key factors to assess whether your option was appealing. The next step was comparing these figures to the requirement mentioned in common booklet, making my own judgement on the option, and recognizing risks within my option. I also organized my speech in the last minutes.
When it came to discussion, a British boy seemed to take control of the process of the discussion and volunteered to be the timekeeper. Under such a situation, I chose to be the first one to present my option, and this gave me chance to propose important figures of the total budget and ask others to check whether the figures were correct. After everyone had finished the presentation on his or her own option, the discussion was pushed to the stage where we set up criteria and selected feasible options. Though I did not talk much (mainly because the other candidates talked too fast), I played as a supporter in this stage, providing and comparing figures when needed. At the very end of the discussion, an assessor gave another sheet of paper, saying the government grant was not available and the the company would spend less on by-product treatment. However, no one noticed this point and I pointed it out with my calculation. In the end, my group decided to choose one particular option and there was no presentation after discussion.
Overall, according to the feedback, I think the most successful part I did was pointing out the change in the amount of new budget that was neglected by others, and providing precise figures immediately. I chose the strategy to act like a supporter as this would allow me to provide most useful information by calculation figures, which I am really good at, and to avoid making long speech, which is not my strength.
Other things, such as listening carefully, making notes effectively and eye contact, are also of great importance, and you have to perform or even pretend to be like that.
Above is what I have been through in AC. I am now preparing for my Partner Interview, and if anyone has experienced this stage, please could you give some advice. Thank you.