PWC 1St Interview Graduate Position



Hey guys, urgently need some help, i have a public services audit interview in just over a week and am currently preparing for the competencies as im quite confident with the “why audit/pwc” questions. But iv looked at the post by Chrism about pwc and had a few questions, the wiki entry listed many other questions being asked not competency of commercial awareness type, but i wasnt aware i.e. tell me ur weeknesses.

If anyone else has had pwc audit interviews could they tell me which/how many competency q they were asked AND if they askd 2 examples for each one? Also how do ppl approach these types of questions as i failed the EY interview even though i tried to use the STAR technique, the way they were worded meant i couldnt apply what id prepared.

Any experiences would be appreciated??


Tell me your weaknesses is a good question. The best kind of thing is use an answer that is a positive rather than a negative. “E.g. sometimes I can be blockheaded and stay at my desk and finish something late at night when I should really just go home and sleep”. City guys love an answer like that :wink:

Generally you should prepare two examples for each one - in many cases you may have to provide two- and often, it helps to have a backup in case they say one of them was unsuitable. For example, in my interview I used an example from college and it turned out that that was too long ago, and asked if I can give them one from university instead. So be prepared.

It sounds silly but the fact you’ve been to an E&Y interview already holds you in good stead- interview practice is key and the more interviews you go to, the more ocnfident you will get.


I guess you may have had the interview already? I was unsuccessful with PwC, and questions that stick in my mind other than the usual compentencies were:

If you met the CEO of M&S and were asked for advice from an auditory point of view, what would you say?
If you were unsuccessful with PwC, what would you do?
Give two examples of when you’ve had to make and stick to a budget.

Hopefully, like yuris said, you could benefit from E&Y interview.

Good luck


Silvermouse, what did you do then? Did you come up with any answers at the spot or … Can you describe the actual situation? thanks


I made answers up on the spot (it was a first interview) - the budgeting question was ok as I’d just come back from travelling so referred to that.
The M&S question completely threw me as I’d already been asked the usual questions about what audit is, what I expected I’d be doing etc. So to be honest I think I basically repeated that and tried to apply it to M&S. Don’t really know what I was expected to say, I found it a very difficult question. What would you have said?


I think, it is not just about audit awareness question but also commercial one. As an auditor you would advise them on busienss opportunities and improvements. So take a broader look and think outside the box. Here are few examples:

First of all, I would focus on internal control system of M&S. It is a retail organisation, most of the retailers experience stock control problems. They normally write off so much of their stock due to insufficiencies in their systems and usually stocktakes reveal massive losses. So I would advise them how to improve the system.

Secondly, in times of oil crisis I would think about improving their logistics. They have so many branches, delivering the stock in time for sale is not always possible as they tend to reduce the number of deliveries in order to control the costs. Good advice on how to save some quid by improving the logistics would be useful for them.

Thridly, they need to focus on expanding further in different markets, especially emerging markets. So I would do some research on this and advise them to go ahead with expansion. They have had bad times here in the UK, but they might do very well somewhere else. British brand is thought to have a quality service in the world.

Fourth, as it expands in different countries it will be easy for them to access the world by opening a touring company under M&S brandign. Surely it will attract more people as it is a reliable brand/partner. Britons are regular travellers. M&S can offer quality package of holday deals.

There might be more, but for now it is fine.


Careful… this is a tricky question if you are to be technically correct…

If you met the CEO of M&S and were asked for advice from an ‘’‘auditory’’’ point of view, what would you say?

The word auditory implies directly related to the audit or related audit work. Auditors, by definition, should never give advice to their clients as their would be a breach of independence (auditors must be able to make an impartial judgement about their client’s financial future, without affecting it directly or having any hand in it).

Therefore, londonbloke’s first point is by far the strongest. M&S could do well to keep up to date with it’s stocktaking. With respect to the second point, this too is good but should be rephrased more like:

“The increasing cost of fuel and energy poses a financial risk to M&S. M&S should seek to mitigate this risk.”

M&S could mitigate this risk by buying fuel [[futures]], which would allow them to predict what price they will be paying for fuel in the future, no matter what the market price became. Notice that this forms the context of ‘advice’ and auditors shouldn’t really be giving business advice which is not directly related to audit issues (such as internal [[control]] etc).

Another point you could make that would make you stand out would be:
“The increasing cost of credit and fuel has resulted in the reduction of disposable income available to British households. Unlike other supermarkets, M&S does not differentiate its lines (e.g. Smartprice, Eat Well) but offers only a unique luxury line of items for a premium. In times when consumer pockets are squeezed, it is likely that M&S will suffer a loss in market share in favour of its cheaper competitors.”

This is a risk to the business and so should be identified by the auditors. Again, exactly what ‘advice’ you could give is ‘limited’. In other words, you really need to be pointing out risks to the business rather than giving them advice on what to do about them.

You might be asked exactly what they should do to mitigate a particular risk you have identified, in which case you can then suggest a solution (e.g. diversify into cheaper products etc). Make sure you back up your solution with reasoning and be talkative.

On an aside note, M&S is a business that comes up again and again at interview. It is particuulary interesting because it always tends to have great swings of success and failure, and is always in the public eye, so its a good business to know a bit about, and talk about in interview if asked.


So you should associate all your answers to issues of controlling risks, if asked those kind of questions? Thanks chrism.


Yeah it’s bizarre- you can’t advise a company on what it should do improve business (if you are also the external auditor, according to the APB rules) but you are supposed to identify key risks to the business. In other words identify the risk, but not suggest how it should be rectified.

If it were my interview, I would identify the risks, state the above point about auditors being independent, and then say, if you were offering strategic consulting to the business instead, they could improve their business by doing this and that. I think in all that would be a very strong response to the question.


This is a really interesting thread. I think this would be really good as a wiki…

Article on M&S in the current industry issues section with some example questions and answers such as the ones above?


now, i see…


Sounds good to me! Anyone want to volunteer to start it off? Click Create content on the left hand side to make a wiki page.