I have used this website extensively in my graduate application research, therefore I wanted to give a little something back regarding the PwC recruitment process.
I have just accepted an offer for the Forensics/Assurance split scheme, starting in September 2014, at the Birmingham office.
I am writing this from my mobile during a commute, so please excuse my spelling/grammar. Thanks in advanced Android - sigh.
** 1. Application Form **
The application form is quite standard. Input your education, background information, and all the usual bits and pieces. Notably, on most graduate schemes you will be required to answer two open ended questions: why PwC; and why your particular business area.
- A graduate recruiter at my University said they do not enjoy seeing candidates not take advantage of the 500 word limit, so I advise writing >400 for each question.
- Make it interesting. I found it easy to write 500 words because I matched PwC’s competencies to previous experience of mine. The application form doesn’t give you much room to stand out, so incorporating your achievements in this answer is a great way to get noticed early on.
- Research the particular office you are applying to, and relate your answer to it. For example, if talking about the great corporate sustainability at PwC, highlight something your office has done recently towards this (charity events, funding days off to raise money, supporting local entrepreneurs, green projects etc.).
You will be asked shortly after completing this form, if you have all the necessary academics etc., to undergo Psychometric testing. Time: 1h - 2days.
** 2. Psychometric Tests **
I found the tests the most challenging part of the process, namely because I study Marketing and haven’t looked at math problems in a while. However, as PwC accept people from a range of degree schemes, it is not necessary to be a mathematical whiz to pass the tests. You will sit a numerical test (20 questions, 20 minutes), and a diagrammatic test (20 questions, 20 minutes). Take note, for other schemes and offices this may be different.
- The best preparation tool I can recommend is Assessment Day (assessmentday.co.uk). This website is challenging, but you will find PwC’s tests easier the more you use it.
- Especially if - like me - you haven’t done much maths in your degree, get preparing early on.
- The tests are SHL, and a practice test can be found on there website. Similar style of questions, so really use this resource.
- Do not bother asking others to take the test, you will have to resit it at the Assessment Centre.
Your Psychometric Test results will be published immediately in the format of a “Feedback Report”, which highlights your strengths and weaknesses.
You will receive notification via e-mail shortly after completing these tests, advising you of the outcome. Time: 1h - 5days.
** 3. First Interview: Phone **
If you have been selected for an interview, congratulations! This really means something at PwC, and they take first round interviews very seriously. You will be given a range of times/days to select from, and they will call you at that exact time. Follow your logic here, make sure you have signal, and that you won’t be disturbed etc.
- They follow the competencies like a script, so make sure you have a range of examples (academic, non-academic, work etc.) to answer with.
- The interviewer is trained to analyse individual events. Do not be tempted to highlight achievements, where you might have an experience which holds more weight. I made the mistake of highlighting an occasion when I achieved captaincy in my sports team, but my second example regarding how I led my group work at University was much stronger.
- The interviewer will ask follow-up questions, so know your answer inside out. I found conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of my answers helped me understand the experience better, which allowed me to convey challenges and solutions more convincingly in the interview.
- You will be asked about your commercial awareness. Make sure you can present a business story in the news which interests you (try to make it relevant to your business area).
- You will be asked about the qualification you are studying towards. Make sure you have done some research into this.
You will receive notification via e-mail - and text for some offices - stating whether you have passed. Time: 1d - 5days. I received mine on the same day, but I know quite a few people who had to wait around a week. I have also heard through this forum of people waiting >1 week, so don’t fret if they haven’t been in touch.
** 4. Assessment Centre **
This is really now about proving you have the skills necessary to work at PwC. You will complete the following:
- Resit Psychometric tests (20 questions for numerical, 40 questions for diagrammatic).
- Written exercise (you are given a booklet of information to read, analyse, and write a report on. You will have 30 minutes for this).
- Group exercise (a group of about 6-9 people will be given 1) a booklet containing general company info & 2) an individual piece of paper providing specific information about an option which the group should explore. So, you have 30mins for everyone to contribute the information from their individual options, and then make a group decision about the best outcome). This isn’t a hard task, just be approachable and show you can work well with others.
- I advise you to not read the entire booklet in the written exercise, but to spend about 10mins digging out the relevant options which you should go on to write about. The recruiter told us you cannot pass without making a recommendation, so be concise, get a few options down (with advantages and disadvantages), and then make an informed recommendation. Spelling & grammar is not assessed in this exercise. Instead, its all about structure and use of relevant information.
- The written exercise is time intense. Many people do not finish, and often it is the recommendation which is left out. Bring a watch, and keep track of time.
- In the group exercise, do not take an authoritative role, they are not looking for you to demonstrate leadership. Encourage everyone to contribute, keep track of time, and use people’s first names. This is all about group work, and showing you are able to be productive in a team environment.
- The Psychometric tests are very similar at Assessment Centre. Just use the same methods to prepare, as you did for the actual tests. Again, I advise Assessment Day for the reasons outlined above.
PwC are usually very quick at this stage. You will likely receive notification on the same day, or the days following. There are a few cases of people having to wait >1 week, but this seems to be rare.
** 5: Final Interview: Face-to-face **
At this stage, 3 in every 4 candidates are offered a job, so the chances are now in your favour.
The interview style completely depends on what partner you have. Some say it is very informal and just like a chat, others say it was heavily competency based. Mine was a mix of both. He spent about 30 minutes asking competency questions (notably the final round competencies from the PwC website), and then another 30 minutes discussion myself, my future, why PwC, and even providing some insights into the social scene at their office. I wasn’t asked any commercial awareness questions like I was during the phone interview. Instead, I was asked about companies I feel might benefit from PwC’s services. Do some research here, not only into your own service line, but more generally regarding what PwC can offer its clients.
- Stay calm during the interview, the partner isn’t a professional recruiter, and I would say a lot of the people who pass this stage are people who can build rapport with the partner, and demonstrate they can be trusted with clients.
- Ask some relevant questions at the end. The partners always like discussing themselves, so perhaps something regarding career development at PwC.
- The partners enjoy seeing you have researched the qualification - even if they don’t ask about it - so maybe ask questions and demonstrate your understanding of its workload, impact on day-to-day activities, how PwC support candidates etc.
You will be notified in most cases on the same day/the following day. In some cases, people have had to wait longer, but again I believe this to be rare.
** 6: Offer **
If you receive an offer, congratulations! The recruiter will give you a call and talk you through the next stages:
- Accepting your offer
- Confirming your grades/work experience etc.
- Onboarding info
- The application process took 2 months for me.
- The response at each stage was great. I received feedback generally on the same day, but certainly never had to wait more than 2 days.
- The offer I received is very competitive, and PwC really do support graduates in their transition from University to full time work.
I hope this outline is helpful to some people. Feel free to ask any questions