I have some time to kill and want to write down my experiences of applying for internships; and I want to give something back to WikiJobs - because I’m a lovely guy like that.
I had my final interview for PwC yesterday and got an offer today
I am not going to discuss the early stage of the process such as online tests; my main advice would be to practice them so that you have a feel for how to answer questions, this makes you much quicker.
I already had first interviews with KPMG - which I failed - and with EY - which I passed. My interview was over the phone and was supposed to take 20 minutes -which it did because I was concise with my answers. The person who interviewed me was a professional recruiter and was really friendly and helpful. He gave the interview structure and responded to what I said, compared to KPMG where the interview clearly didn’t listen to what I said. I was only tested explicitly on my commercial awareness and integrity competencies.
For commercial awareness, I recommend that you study a couple of PwC clients - better yet ones at the office you are applying for (make sure you tell the interview this as they might not know). Find out about how they have been performing recently - look through annual reports (consider telling your interview you did this, it shows you understand about business records); what might happen to the company in the future and issues currently facing the company. Then explain how PwC can help them. There are some standard ones like assurance - if they are a listed company - or complying with tax laws and being tax efficient. Beyond that it depends on the company. Do they have an environmental impact? PwC sustainability might be help them. Do they have foreign subsidiaries? PwC’s international network might be able to help.
In addition to learning about clients you need to know about the ACA qualification. It is 15 exams over 3 years. The exams are tough and you should make sure you convey that you are aware of this, but you are really motivated. Also mention that you understand how PwC’s study leave system works, but you know that a lot of study needs to be done in your own time.
For the integrity competency I had a smoking bullet of an answer: I had done jury service when I was 18 and I stood my ground when the jurors were convicting because I thought it was the “right thing to do”. PwC as a company faces conflicts of interest and to retain its reputation it needs to act with integrity, Therefore my advice is to find an example of when you faced and conflict of interest and you did the “right” thing - and then of course embellish the answer.
For general technique, don’t ramble on - they want to employ people who give clients clear and crisp answers to questions. The interviewer just wants to hear you say the right things and get on with it.
Take a digital timer to your AC - I did and it was really helpful. I also took a wrist watch. Time is everything at ACs.
You have 30 mins to read a booklet and then write down pros and cons for each proposed solution, and then come to a conclusion. The main problem is the time constraint. A lot of the content in the booklet is completely useless - for example company mission statements - so don’t bother reading it. Focus mainly on digging out numbers and the general effects of each solution. I did calculations for each option to work out how much it would cost of 5 years - this is definitely a good idea. I would recommend reading for about 8 mins and writing (while referring back to the booklet) for the rest of the time.
For the structure use headings and bullet points. My brief introduction, stating what was in the report, was in prose. My pros and cons for each option were in bullet points. My conclusion was in prose. I got top marks for structure so this seems like the way to do it. Just make sure you finish so that you can get good marks on structure and time management.
Psychometric Tests - Nothing much to say here, PwC let you use your own calculator so bring yours.
Simple things like positive body language, nodding and smiling, and referring to people with their first names are a good idea. I made use of my digital timer and was able to tell the group precisely how much time we had. I also scored well because I made sure the group stuck to the brief - it is easy to go off on a tangent. I just said “right guys, let’s just make sure we stick to the brief, which is…” and then came up with a way to do it. Make sure that you ask people questions, this proves that you are listening. When you talk about your topic make sure you give everyone an idea of the numbers and don’t ramble on. Make sure that you are driving the team towards a reasoned conclusion but don’t dominate people or shoot them down.
My interview was really cool. It is hard to give good advice for this part as each interviewer and interviewee will be different. However, make sure that you come across as really keen. I researched about Sarbanes-Oxley; the clients at the office I applied for; the competition commission on auditing; the growth of consulting and its impact on assurance.
My partner tested me on a hypothetical situation where I was auditing one of the firms I had worked for in the past. This allowed me to display that I understood the business and issues that it faced; and how management might try to manipulate accounts to make the company look stronger.
Sorry for rambliness of this post.