I originally applied for a vacancy in tax. I completed the application form and online tests but then received a phone call to say all the vacancies had been filled but there were vacancies elsewhere. I was then given time to research the areas to see if I was interested in any and asked to contact them when I had decided. I undertook my own research and was still a little unsure so they gave me the contact details of someone at the firm who worked in the department I was considering who I called and had an informal but lengthy discussion with about the departments and what the day to day job entailed. This helped me to decide this was an area I wanted to work in.
After informing them that I would like to apply for this position they sent me a careers focus form. This is bascially the first question on the application form which you need to reanswer to cater it towards the service line you are now applying for. The first section, ie why Pwc, doesn’t need changing. As such, I have only provided my answer to the first part once below and my answer to both departments I applied to as a guide.
Please provide us with your understanding of the services offered by the firm and in particular, the work undertaken in your chosen line of service (maximum 150 words).*
Price Waterhouse Cooper help their clients solve complex business problems, manage risk and improve performance by providing a diverse range of services, not only providing clients with sound financial advice but also legal advice, management consultancy and crisis management, using their knowledge and expertise to find an effective business solution for their clients.
However, it is in the tax arena where they shine as the global market-leaders, assisting businesses, individuals and organisations with tax strategy, structuring, planning, compliance and providing local and cross-border advisory services. Price Waterhouse Cooper are specialists in all aspects of mergers and acquisitions from initial risk assessment to the due diligence process and advice on tax warranties through to post deal integration. Tax and the law are intertwined, a knowledge of the latter essential for effective advice on the former. It is this relationship alongside the technical complexity of tax which attracts me to this role.
However, it is in the assurance arena where PwC shine as the market-leaders, assisting businesses, individuals and organisations to manage risk by reviewing the processes and policies a company has in place and ensuring their automated systems are secure and accurate.
This in turn ensures smooth running of the auditing process, so to perform the first aspect of the role efficiently is to ensure success in the second part. This is successful because so much time is spent with the client. It is this client focus alongside the dual nature of risk assurance and audit which attracts me to this role.
From a business perspective, if you were to join PwC, which organisation would be your ideal client and what services do you think PwC would be providing to enhance the organisation’s continued business success (maximum 150 words)? Please note the organisation does not have to be a current client of PwC.*I believe Tesco would be an ideal client due to the range and volume of work they would offer PwC, from the management of their accounts to complex and perhaps cross-jurisdictional advice on the most tax efficient way to structure the company and its subsidiaries. Tesco make numerous acquisitions, such as the much discussed acquisition of a former Co-op store, and as such would benefit from PwC’s expertise and philosophy of connected thinking, PwC using their business knowledge, understanding and experience to find a commercially viable solution for Tesco. PWC is forward thinking, bright, committed and flexible and needs its employees to be the same. My degree result demonstrates my academic ability whilst my work experience in the retail, financial and legal sectors demonstrate my ability to multi-task and flourish in a variety of environments, the knowledge and experience I have gained able to be utilised in this role.
The rest of the questions will rely on your personal experiences so it would be pointless to put my answers here. However, I would advise you to use real experiences as these will be a focus point for your interview!
There is a lot of good guidance elsewhere on Wiki re this I would advise reading as this is just my personal experience.
This is very much competency based and requires you to know your application form inside out. I personally had 4 years out before going to university then took a post graduate course in my chosen degree subject and had done work experience in my previous chosen field. As such, this was very much a focus in my interview. Why did I wait to go to uni, what made me choose my original subject and what prompted the u-turn to accountancy. I said that I wanted a client focussed job, which I belived my previous career to be but on undertaking experience found it wasn’t. As such, I chose Pwc because it had all the aspects of my previous job that I liked such as teamwork, communication, etc but understood the importance of clients and made them their main focus.
I was also questioned why I chose tax and not audit?RAs at first. i explained that I had a basic understanding of tax and was something I was familiar with whereas as I wasn’t with audit or RAS. However, after research I realised these were areas I would be interested in because they required you to work in client’s offices so were even more client focussed than tax.
There were also a lot of questions around my knowledge of the work involved in these departments and what I would be doing day to day as well as PwC as a whole. I would advise researching these areas fully.
It was very relaxed and informal and was a conversation rather than an interrogation. I had 2 interviewers, one from RAS and one from audit. I asked several questions during the interview. For example, when they talked about themselves I asked whether they had trained at the firm and when discussing secondments I asked if they had undertaken any. I was informed this demonstrated my knowledge of the firm and a genuine interest in what the firm has to offer.
I left the interview feeling very positive andreceived a call the next day to invite me to an assessment centre.
Bright Future’s advice on this is great and helped me immensely so read that alongside my experience as this is just my view.
The format of my assessment centre was slightly different from usual due to the availability of the partners. I will discuss it in the order I experienced it.
This may differ in later years but my group exercise was about an existing company wanting to become accredited in a specific area. However, to do so they had to meet certain guidelines and would need to implement various initiatives to do so. Funding for this also depended upon a contract from another company. Each group member is given information on different schemes that may be implemented to meet the required targets. These vary in cost and effectiveness. You are also given a book with about 17/18 pages worth of information and you have 20 minutes to read this and make notes. You are given 3 tasks: work out your main objectives; decide which 4 areas have most importance; and discuss how PwC can help and what services they can provide.
We did achieve all our goals but I don’t believe this is partcularly important. I was told that the reasons I had performed well were because I led the topics of discussion, was conscious of time, asked the other group members their opinions and referred to them by name (though I wouldn’t advise doing this unless you are sure what everyone’s name is!).
I was asked no competency based questions and surprisingly no business questions either. Although from what I’ve read this isn’t the norm. My interview very much focussed on why I had chosen accountancy, audit/RAS and PwC. I was asked how I would begin to build up client relationships when I first went into an office. I said it was a matter of asking questions and listning to the answers and then building a relationship of trust between myslef and the client. I tied this in with my progression through the firm, explaining that at the beginning I would be taking a back seat, performing simple tasks whilst as I progressed through the firm I would be building a realtionship of trust with the client, proving my opinion could be trusted by performing my work well and communicating well. Then by the 4th year I would be taking on my own clients and managing them, the relationship of trust having been established and they would know they could rely on my advice.
I had to explain how I was introducd to accountancy (I had met a person working for PwC in australia whilst I was travelling) and why this interested me. The rest of the interview focussed on my career timeline, what my jobs had entailed and my applcation form in general.
Once again I was interviewed by 2 people and the interview was informal and relaxed. I asked questions about when I could apply for secondments and whether this would be encouraged. I ended by thanking them for theor time and discussed their speific role in the firm whilst they escorted me back to reception. I felt it had gone well but wasn’t as positive as I was after the first interview.
I completed the numerical test first. This was harder than the online version and you have to answer 20 questions in 20 minutes. I only managed 12 questions. I was positive I had failed at this stage and was grateful I had’t completed it first!!
This was followed by the nummerical/diagrammatical/logic test where you had to answer 40 questions in 20 minutes, I managed all 40. I felt confident I had passed this and quite enjoyed it!
I was taken for lunch by a graduate from Audit an an executive from RAS to pizza express. This was wholly informal and enabled me to meet people I might be working with and get a true understanding of the culture of the firm and what you will be doing day to day. This is not assessed so feel free to ask whatever you want and relax. Easy for me to say as I got to go home afterwards but it really is your chance to see if the firm is right for you rather than vice versa.
I had a call first thing the next day to offer me a job and by that evening had been assigned a buddy who called me to welcome me to the firm and answer any questions I miight have. I never received any feedbcak on the tests ither than the fact my logic score was better than my numeracy score but that I had apparently passed their threshold. Personally I believe this to be a lie so my advice is, practice as many tests as you can but don’t stress about them, they are only one small part and the rest of the process if far more important. I think I failed this test miserably and yet I still got offered the job!!