Hi there, my names Jason Massey and I recently obtained quite a late offer for the 2013 intake for the Higher Apprenticeship. Just wanted to give my personal experience of what I went through and what it will be like for the 2014 applicants. If you are a graduate, certain aspects may be a little different for your process such as the Assessment Day so look for graduate guides on here but my article has useful tips for you. Any questions please comment on the forum.
Stage 1 - Application Form
A straightforward process, the only reason you’ll fail here is if you don’t meet the grade criteria. Make sure you put down any relevant extenuating circumstances and how they hindered your performance and any work experience if you did any. Make sure everything is CORRECT. The last thing you want is to get an offer and you have accidentally put some wrong grades down!
Stage 2 - Online Tests
For the higher apprenticeship these will only consist of Numerical and Verbal Reasoning tests. I used Practise Aptitude Tests and Assessment Day to practise with, they are very good so do use them. Remember the tests are very time pressured which make them quite difficult, so make sure if this is the first time you are taking them that you prepare for them thoroughly. Not too sure what the pass rate is but I scored Average for Numerical and Exceptional for Verbal, think you have to score average at one and higher than average in the other to proceed to the next one. Make sure you are in a quiet place to do your test and don’t worry if you completely mess it up, you may have done better than you thought as this is what I thought happened to me. You also get another try as well but I would try to pass in the first attempt. Have a look at your feedback, you’ll need to do these again for the Assessment Day.
Stage 3 - First Interview
Not going to go to much into this as it is not on the 2014 recruitment process. However it was by telephone and very competency based and assessed my commercial awareness as well as the qualification I was doing. With this removed, the Assessment Day is more difficult and the Final Interview could also be more difficult.
Stage 4 - Assessment Day
The most difficult part of the whole process. You’ll be up against Online Tests in paper format, a group exercise, a written exercise and with the removal of the first interview, the E-Tray exercise. I’ll run through each process.
Online Tests - Not online anymore, they are in a paper based format. I preferred this though. Some people say they are easier than Stage 2 and some say it is harder, I found them easier and managed 11/20 on Numerical and 26/30 on Verbal. They do them at the Assessment Day to check you didn’t cheat before so it’s a good idea to revise again with the material I spoke about in Stage 2.
Written Exercise - Basically to assess your time management, structure and reading ability. You’ll have to look through 16 pages of information and write a two paged report in 30 minutes. Don’t worry, most of the information is useless, it’s about picking out the correct stuff and using it for your argument, mine was to do with water conservation and I had to decide which of the four methods put forward was the best. Just remember it’s really time pressured so you have to start writing within the first three minutes. Read the question and answer the question, you don’t have time to waffle and go on a tangent, if it asks you for pros, cons and a conclusion then do just that. FINISH IT! My mate failed because he didn’t finish it and get a conclusion done. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect and don’t go over two pages - automatic fail. With the structure below you won’t need to prepare for this, it’s straightforward just remember what I’ve said and reading this will prepare you well! Set your report out like this.
Introduction - just a sentence what your going to so.
Conclusion - keep it brief doesn’t need to be very special.
I did this and they said I did really well so be sure to follow it.
Group exercise - I really enjoyed this. Basically you have information to read for the first 20 minutes then discuss this in a group together. You’ll all have the same information but you’ll each have additional separate information that you’ll have to relay to other members of the group and it’s important you do this. Also, an “urgent email” will come through half way through the group talking time that you’ll have to read the information on and make sure you include this in your final deliberations to which point you’ll choose. It really helps to win over other people in you assessment day here as they are the key to your success. My group was really lovely and we all performed really well in this exercise and we just went round the table letting everyone discuss their own information and then after debating together, we decide was the best one. Don’t worry if you really don’t know what the debate is about, I was completely lost after the initial reading time but just make sure your able pick up the pros and cons of your own method that has been given for you to argue and be able to put this forward. Don’t dominate the conversation but make sure your able to clearly and articulately discuss your points. Also if someone isn’t speaking or being quiet, ask them what their view is. Don’t be afraid to say that yours isn’t the strongest, you won’t get marked down, you’ll get marked up as your able to make a good decision to help the group move on quicker! Make sure someone’s keeping the time and if no-one does, take it upon yourself, our group was very good with time management and we finished two minutes early than expected. You don’t need to prepare for this but Assessment Day has a really good article for the group exercise that’s well worth reading!
E- Tray exercise - I have never done this I’m afraid so can’t give you advice as it’s new to the 2014 recruitment process. However Assessment day have good advice for this so you should look there.
Stage 5 - Final Interview
The final stage and also where you will be most nervous as it is so tough to get here but you worry you may lose the job offer completely! Don’t worry. The partner will just generally want to get to know you. I also spoke to a graduate when he came out of his and he said exactly the same. Despite this, all partners are different and as for 2014 applicants, this is your first interview (it was my second of the process) it will likely be quite competency based a make sure you go through the competences with two examples each using the STAR technique. My partner was lovely, put me at ease, was fun to talk to and answered all my questions. He didn’t ask me any specific competencies or commercial awareness only how I would work well under pressure, why I’m here today and what my friends thought about me as well as how do I organise myself. It was very relaxed and I think to succeed it is very important you get your enthusiasm for the job role across to the interviewer which means knowing the role and your qualifications well. As for finding out, I found out an hour later because I was late in the process and had to find out that day so I could sign my contract but normally it’s not longer than two days to a week depending how busy the partner is and they let me know that I had to sign my contract that day as some people like time to think over the job offer.
Stage 6- Offer and Checks
PwC will make you an offer and if you accept then they will start checking through your application. In the meantime, all you have to do is get up to speed on all your contract and the tasks on the embark system.
And that’s it! My process took three and half months but would have been quicker had I not gone on holiday and delayed my Assessment Centre! Any other questions please let me know I will be more than happy to answer through this feed.