Just as other people’s experiences posted here helped me out tremendously, I am posting mine too!
The application process at PwC seems to be one of the simplest and friendliest out there and I would highly recommend giving it a go!
- Application form.
As well as general questions (grades/previous employment etc) you have to answer two motivational questions. Make sure you use your words wisely, tell them exactly why your experiences make you good for the job, and try and find something to mentions about their company that not everyone will have said. i.e everyone know they are No. 1 on The Times list, but what about awards relating to consulting in particular? (MCA awards are a good one)
I was particularly lucky at this stage, having been initially rejected, I received an email inviting me to an insight day and giving me the chance to re-submit those questions. I suppose I ended up on the ‘not quite good enough but promising’ pile! So that is how important your answers to these are!
- Online Testing
Logical, Numerical and ‘personality tests’ - You get two chances at these, thank goodness. i am not a strong mathematician so I signed up to assessmentday.com where it was only £7.99 for plenty of practice maths with proper explanations and would highly recommend for anyone else like me. The practice questions provided by PwC will not fully prepare you for the real thing. (They also have a logical test bank too if that is your weaker point)
The personality test is extremely arduous, (I have taken it many times, as if you get a ‘second chance’ at online tests you have to retake them all, and have got different results every time so I don’t know how useful it really is!). I would recommend having the competences in front of you and keeping them in mind when doing the test, and try to by consistent with your answers as much as you can.
NOTE: You are informed straight away if you fail a test and have a second chance. I assumed if I was not informed of a failure, that I had passed and would be going through to telephone interview, however they check your application form AFTER these tests. Just something to bear in mind.
- First Telephone Interview
I have done this twice and both times had a good experience with lovely people at the end of the phone. It is entirely competency based and they tell you exactly which ones will be assessed int he first interview so prepare one or two answers for each of those. Even if you think you are clutching at straws, use even the smallest situation and elaborate on it, say how YOU were involved. It can help to use the STAR method to structure your answers (Situation, Tast, Action, Result).
Some questions I was asked were: How do you keep up to date with current affairs? Can you tell me about a story of interest you have been following? (follow up question to that was of course, how could PwC help) A time you’ve had to overcome a problem during a project, a time you’ve had a problem doing something and there’s been no one you could ask for help, a time when you had a disagreement and had to resolve it…etc etc etc.
I found out that I passed (by text) after 48 hours the first time, and the next day the second time.
- Assessment centre
This was a very relaxed and easy going day and nothing to be worried about.
BRING A WATCH! They will NOT tell you how much time you have left, and the clock in the room (in London anyway) is not precise enough to know how much time you really have especially in time pressured exercises.
First you do a written exercise, probably something people worry most about. No prior knowledge is needed, they just want to know you can pick out relevant information from a large amount, and structure a report. (Intro, first option pros/cons, second option pros/cons, third…then a recommendation and conclusion)
There is a lot of information, so just skim read or look at the readings, pick out key figures and get writing. Make sure you include one or two numbers from the document and make sure you squeeze in a conclusion, although do not write after time is called, I saw one persons last sentence get rubbed out by the assessor and this may have reflected badly on them as a whole as well.
Secondly the group is split to do either numerical and logical tests, or the group exercise. In the group exercise everyone is given a pack of information and also some unique information they must relay to the group. In my feedback, positive points were that I delivered my unique information clearly in a sensible structured way, I addressed people by their first names, made eye contact, asked questions to quieter members. Just be confidant but overbearing (I was told I asked someone a question but then answered for them which I did not realise I had done!) and try not to talk over people but engage them. All in all it was quite a fun exercise both times round!
The numerical and logical tests are just extended versions of the online ones, however logical is 40 questions in 20 minutes (I love these so it was not problem for me!).
In the maths test, the questions are not in order. I.e you will be asked questions on 4 or 5 different figures, but it does not ask all questions on one figure and then move on to the next, they are mixed up.
The first time round the maths is what i failed (gutting because I passed everything else) I got flustered on the first question which caused me only to answer 11/20.
The second time, I had invested in practice from Jobtestprep.com, a little more expensive but would HIGHLY recommend for people like me as the questions are a little more complex than those on assessmentday.com.
The second time i answered 18/20 in the 20 minutes provided. I would recommend doing all the questions on figures you understand first, and then going back to the harder ones. This really helped me not to waste time on something I couldn’t do. In such a short time its hard to answer all questions anyway so make sure you use the time on the ones you can do!
Both times I received a call from the recruiter two days after the assessment centre.
- Final Interview.
Obviously this varies depending on which partner you get, (a friend of mine recently had one where they simply read competency questions monotonously from a sheet).
In my case, I had a senior manager, and he began by telling me about the firm and about what he does. Then asked why consulting (and how is it different from audit because that was my first application…long story). After that he said ‘I have to ask you these competency questions now’ however he tried to make them different by referring a lot to my employment history on the application firm. i.e I see you worked in a restaurant, imagine you are working for PwC and you are called in by the restaurant, what problems would there be and how would you solve them. At times I found it difficult to figure out what he was trying to ask me, but he was very helpful, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat or rephrase the question, it can really help! After the obligatory competency questions I was given the opportunity to ask him some questions too, and then he spent some more time telling me about his job and what life would be like for me working there. An hour, and 2 firm hand shakes later I was on the way home.
I didn’t think the interview had gone as well as it could have because I struggled o come up with some answers, and it took them two weeks to get back to me while I was at home being sure I had failed. However, in the feedback from the recruiter it sounded like the interviewer had made his decision based on me as a person, rather than simply my answers. Confident, engaging, clear etc. I even had some negative feedback which was that I appeared to let stress get to me at times, but I still got the offer, so don’t lose all hope if you think it didn’t go too well!
Anyway, I think I’ve pretty much covered everything, I’ll be starting in November in the London office and happy to answer any questions