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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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…”
- 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
- 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.
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!
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!
- 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!