PwC Application Process 2011/12

#1

I very recently received an offer for assurance and like many other posters; I’ve found these forums to be invaluable in my preparation. So I’ve decided to give something back and to share with you my experience of the recruitment process, from application to offer:

  1. APPLICATION FORM

This is fairly standard really, not much to say as there are no free text questions apart from your “extra-curricular” activities. Just ensure that all the information you enter is accurate and up-to-date!

  1. ONLINE TESTS

These are the usual SHL tests. If you find you are still struggling – I would recommend Assessmentday.co.uk, as they have made a number of practice tests, which emulate the SHL style. They are slightly more difficult, so if you can pass these you should be able to ace the real ones.

  1. BUSINESS QUESTION

My question was the usual “ideal client” question in 500 words. It seems PwC look for a genuine interest in business coupled with sound grammar, punctuation and spelling. You should also ensure you answer the question and if necessary, use “signpost” sentences to indicate this:

e.g. “My ideal client is X because they are a market leader in Y…”

  1. FIRST INTERVIEW

Following this, you may be invited to a first interview. I was given the option to have a face-to-face or phone interview. I chose the face interview and I feel this was much more useful as I was able to build a rapport with the interviewer much more easily. There will be the usual competency questions and my best advice would be to ensure you have each of your experiences at the forefront of your mind, so that you are able to adapt them to any competency thrown at you!

Also take a look at: http://www.pwc.com/uk/en/careers/student/employability-brochure.jhtml

  1. ASSESSMENT CENTRE

Firstly, we were welcomed by the HR representative and had an opportunity to meet one another. I would ensure you are friendly to other candidates throughout the day and that you make the effort to introduce yourself and make conversation as this is surely noted by the assessors.

Written Report
This was followed by the Written Report. Here, you have 30 minutes to read the information provided and produce a report to reflect that information. I spent 10 minutes reading and 20 minutes writing. I would recommend even just 5 minutes reading, as it is quite tight for time! There’s no real way to prepare for this – however, if you wished to practice you could take a random broadsheet article and try condensing it into a concise report-style format.

I would recommend using sub-titles – e.g. Introduction, Option 1, Option 2 and Conclusion. This gives you a good structure and makes it clear to the reader what you are trying to achieve. Also be aware of good spelling and grammar, coupled with clear and concise syntax.

Numerical and Diagrammatic Reasoning
The usual SHL style paper tests, just practice and perhaps bring your own calculator. I didn’t and had to use one I wasn’t familiar with! I would recommend using www.assessmentday.co.uk - it’s a great resource for £7!

The diagrammatic was the stronger of the two tests and I finished this with time to spare, it’s not terribly difficult. Again I would recommend the site above and their tests are more difficult – so if you can complete those, you should be fine with the SHL equivalents!

Group Exercise
This was good fun and there were only four of us in my group! I would echo what many others have said on here – ensure you are heard, but also that others are heard. Try to make all your comments relevant and use the 20 minutes of reading time to prepare what you want to say. Again, no real way to prepare for this as it is testing your communication and interpretation skills. Just be natural and friendly to everyone!

  1. PARTNER INTERVIEW

The partners seem to have a great deal of freedom to question you as they wish. My interviewer was very friendly and I am sure they genuinely want to get to know you and to see whether you are the kind of person that they want to work with. Try to relax and let your responses flow naturally. If you find your answers are short and concise, this is by no means a bad thing! Brevity is a skill that few possess and it is often the case that this will be advantageous in a client-facing situation – clients tend not to want to hear rafts of rubbish, they just want the answer!

On the whole, I would ensure you are up-to-date with current commercial issues and that you an form an opinion on them! The Times is a very good resource and has formed the basis of many of my interview preps – it is slightly more in-depth than the Beeb and has a great search function. I would also be aware of general issues facing the accounting industry. I’ve also heard that they may come back to your business question from the application, although my interviewer didn’t.

There will also be the standard competency questions; I was asked quite a few “morally” orientated questions – such as, “name a time when you have had to stick up for someone” or when you have “disagreed with a process”.

Always have a few decent questions prepared for the partner. But, I think it seems better to pick up on something they have said and ask them to elaborate. So the partner interviewing me talked about his secondment abroad. So I asked him whether he could elaborate on this, how did he find it and whether he thought this strengthened the bond between PwC offices. The key here is to show genuine interest in the role you are applying to because it is a long and arduous three-year commitment.

Hopefully this should provide a good guidance to the process for those going through it and give you some starting points for preparation. I don’t want to elaborate on any more specifics of the interview process, as I believe this would be unfair on PwC and other candidates.

Finally, I would stress that those who are from creative backgrounds, like myself, will NOT be at a disadvantage. So don’t worry if you haven’t studied maths/finance/accounting at university because PwC prides itself on recruiting from a wide variety of backgrounds!

Best of luck!

#2

Hello,
Congratulations on your offer and massive thank you for the post!
I am currently in the process of writing the application question (the “ideal client” one) and struggling quite a bit, maybe because I really want it to be perfect. As you have your offer now, could you maybe share your answer to this question (either via comment or PM, which would be safer I guess)? I do not intend to use it in any way (as I only intend to write of companies with which I am very closely familiar myself, and there are only about four or five altogether), but could benefit from a sneak peak at the structure and style - mine so far is very dry and I am very doubtful about the size of my client and whether they can afford PwC… on one hand, their fees are probably massive, judging from what I have read, but then, PwC so often emphasizes its increasing collaboration with entrepreneurs and private companies, which are much smaller than the FTSE ones… I would be extremely grateful!
Also, did they give you feedback on your application, specifically how you did on the online/logical tests and your question?

#3

Many thanks Gunned, your help is much appreciated!

#4

hi everyone,
just passed my telephone interview yesterday and now preparing for the assessment centre. So far, all the available slots for the assessment day are all in locations outside london but am currently in london. May I ask, what is the implication of booking an assessment centre in a particular location? does it impact on where you may eventually work?
A piece of advice will be very much appreciated!!

#5

hi everyone,
I have a telephone interview for an actuarial graduate role in a week, I was hoping someone could give me an idea of the types of questions that were asked?
Thanks

#6

infocus - it doesn’t matter where you have your assessment centre. The reason PwC split the AC from partner interview this year is that this would allow a lot of people do exactly what you are doing - having an AC elsewhere, closer to home (for example, someone who is applying for the London office but lives in, say, Newcastle, doesn’t have to go all the way down - which saves the firm paying out expenses and frees up some resources too)

On a different note, had my big IV (1st round) today. I opted for face to face and it lasted for 2 (!!!) hours. Felt quite relaxed throughout, very structured (she literally read out the questions from a sheet of paper and kept repeating “the next competency we test you on is…”). I personally have a very strange quality of my memory completely blacking out right after (AND during) the interview, so do not remember a lot of the questions that were asked. However, I WAS NOT ASKED why Pwc or why assurance which I found very weird. At some point at the beginning, I was quizzed quite a lot about the qualification, after which came the follow up question “so why did you decide to go for it”. I clarified two times that the answer she was looking for was my motivation behind studying ACA not working at Pwc or assurance, yet still we only talked about the ACA. Not sure whether to take it as a good sign or not-so-good. But anyways, here’s what I remember

  • A time you worked in a team to achieve a goal
  • a time you had to manage a project
  • a time you had to overcome a difficulty/problem when dealing with a project/assignment (she hinted that it could be a deadline/budget issues/ team issues)
  • a time you worked with someone who had a completely different working style from you
  • a time you were asked to do something that you did not agree with (that’s a question related to Courage and Integrity competency)/ something that was against your values or standards
  • a time you did something outside of your comfort zone
  • tell me about a current business issue and how you found about it
  • what do you know about the ACA
  • so why do you want to go for studying ACA
  • (post-my answer to the previous question she asked) how did you find all this information
  • a time when you had to do something with very little instruction/information about how to go about it

Then she gave me an opportunity to ask her questions about PwC and the role. She also went through my application form, clarifying some details and making notes as I answered. Alltogether I would say the pure interview lasted for 1.5 hours, plus 30minutes sorting through application/me asking questions.

I have been so nervous about this since around the end of August (this is when I started applying) but it felt very friendly in a professional way. Also the people I saw on the day while waiting each came to have a short chat with me, wish me luck (I was puzzled at first, but then gave in to the chit chat) - some Scottish lad even offered me a “glass of red for courage” :smiley: (I declined obviously lol)

Regardless of whether I pass or fail, it was an amazing experience, and felt very different from my previous perception of a big scary firm where people are all strict and serious :slight_smile:

#7

Hi Everyone,

I received my offer to join PwC Assurance in Autumn 2012 a couple of weeks ago, and I am delighted to have accepted it.

If anyone has any questions they would like answered please feel free to inbox me and I will do my very best to answer them.

Good luck :slight_smile:

#8

hi Grad101!

congrats on the offer mate, well done!

could you tell me about the partner interview?

what kind of questions did they focus on?

thanks

#9

How long did it take to get through the whole process?

#10

Anyone know time scales for things? I completed my client application question (after the tests) over a week ago but haven’t heard a thing back. Tbh I think I may have mucked the answer to the question up, but it’d be nice to know even if I’ve failed that stage!

#11

insanepana:

I didn’t get response to application question within 5 working days so I phoned them up and they got back to me later that day.

#12

I can’t remember the feedback times for each stage, but from application to receiving my offer was about 7 weeks

#13

I did complete my client application for the past two weeks but haven’t heard anything from them too.
Just wondering why the delay.

#14

solomon:

Phone them up!

It’s probably because the ‘client application’ stage has been removed from the application process.

#15

Oh! Will do that tomorrow.

Thanks alot man

#16

I recently secured a job in Audit with PwC and after all the help I have had from Wikijob I thought it would be good to share my experiences and some hints on what I think they are looking for in the various stages:

[A] Application Form: From what I remember there wasn’t much to this stage. The only thing of any note that I think was involved was a couple of hundred words to “showcase your talents”. This is not assessed but merely provides some information for an interviewer to focus on in later rounds. If you avoid spelling mistakes, fill out all the details and meet the academic requirements for the position you should have no trouble getting through this stage.

[B] Online tests: Here you have to do three tests - Numerical, Logical (matching up the diagrams) and a personality questionnaire. The numerical and Logical tests are timed and you have about enough time to do them if you work fast. I wouldn’t say that they are particularly hard and both last around 20mins each. Practice really helps with them and there are loads of test websites to check out such as psl, shl, FT, assessment day etc. – the more you practice the better you’ll do! The Personality questionnaire is a bit of a strange one, it is based on hypothetical situations and what you would do in them. I don’t think PwC place too much emphasis on it, just as long as you are in the norm and reasonably consistent in answering you should be fine.

[C] Online question of Ideal Client- I believe they have now got rid of this bit from the process!

[D] First Interview: First thing to say is that if you ever get the option to have a face to face interview take it! This is what a member of the recruitment said to me and I strongly believe it helps. Firstly it shows that you are committed, secondly it allows you to get your personality across and gauge their responses to your answers and finally it gives you a chance to check out PwC!
My interview was face to face and lasted about 40mins plus about 10mins me asking questions. Some of my questions were:
What do you know about PwC’s lines of Service?
Tell me about a recent business issue?
Have you received feedback and how did you react to it?
Give me an example of when you worked in a team.

All in all it wasn’t overly stressful. I think I was asked the above 4 plus about 4 or 5 more questions. If you check the website and find out some information about what PwC do and also look at the first interview competencies on it you should be OK. I would focus your preparation quite strongly on the PwC lines of service and recent business news questions, they come up quite often and you can really stand out from other applicants if you answer them well.

[E] Assessment Day: The day consisted of three parts 1) Group Assessment 2) Reasoning Tests 3) Written Exercise.
For the Group assessment the main thing that they are looking for is if you can work well with other people, along with contributing to the teams result. My exercise revolved around a company implementing a new product/service. You start with about 6 different possible products in a pile on the table and each member of the group gets one and they have to explain the benefits and drawbacks of their product. The final aim of the group task is to pick the best product. Tips: lots of eye contact with other members, use names where possible, try and keep track of time, do some calculations in the preparations to explain the possible financial benefit of your individual option and also try to show you can lead the team by suggesting something.
For the Reasoning tests these are the same as the online ones, except they are more difficult with more questions and different time limits. Again practice makes perfect with these! You don’t have to ace these tests to get through so don’t get stressed out and mess up another task if they don’t go to plan.
For the written exercise the things they are assessing are: 1) Content 2) Structure and format. Tips: Use bullet points to save time and also make your document easy to read (I was recommended this by recruitment), make your language appropriate and use numbers from the information booklet, try to finish all of what is being asked of you - I would spend hardly any time reading the booklet beforehand just start writing straight away as there is a lot of time pressure for this task.

[F] Partner Interview – I would say this is the hardest bit of the application process, firstly because you are so close and secondly because you haven’t a clue what could be asked. It could be a chat about football or it could be a bit of a grilling (like mine was!) on commercial awareness. Prepare for the grilling. My advice here is know as much as you can about everything related to your service line and issues affecting it, e.g. if going for Audit know about the audit reform and also what you will be doing along with some of the wider business news. Make sure you have answers for what differentiates PwC form its competitors and also keep in mind some of the competency questions from the first interview. Don’t however get hung up on the competencies as I was asked hardly any. I was asked a few hypothetical “If you were auditing X and they needed Y what would do?” kind of questions, which you cannot prepare for, just explain your thought process , express a bit of commercial knowledge and if you can maybe crack a bit of joke if you think you can get away with it!
Lots of preparation on all things accounting related should see you through this round.

Sorry that post is rather long – I got carried away a bit. Its PwC’s fault for having such a long application process! All in all my process took about 3 months. After messing up a few interviews in the past I now know that preparation is the key. If you prepare lots the PwC application process is very do-able.

#17

hi,
after sending my application to PWC, and after a long wait and further confirmation of my mitigating circumstances regarding my degree results, I was sent a TEXT and Email inviting me to a “Selection Event”. Is the an interview or A/C ? And when do i have to do the Essay type questions?

#18

Hi
I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me.
I have a risk/data assurance interview coming up and I am finding it hard to find any information on this line of service that might be useful towards the interview.
Has anyone been to a similar interview that can share their experience and the type of questions asked.

thanks

#19

hi, after sending my application to PWC, and after a long wait and further confirmation of my mitigating circumstances regarding my degree results, I was sent a text and Email inviting me to a Selection Event. Is the an interview or A/C ? And when do i have to do the Essay type questions?

#20

The essay question has been removed from the application process if you applied after Nov 7th.

The email should say whether it is AC or interview