PwC Grad Scheme - My Experience

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#1

Hey Everyone!

It’s my time to give something back to the wikijob community.
This website has been an endless source of information throughout my application to PwC, and it’s only fair of me to share my experience with all of you.

First of all I applied to PwC’s Management Consulting Grad Scheme. It doesn’t really matter which sector of PwC you have applied for. The application process is the same for all sectors, so what I write will hopefully be useful to all of you. The only slight difference is with the Economic and Strategy Consulting applicants. In your applications you will get more tested on case studies, but more to come on this one later.

It is a long, challenging and stressful application procedure. But nevertheless very rewarding, and I can’t stress enough how much important it is to prep.

Right, off to the different stages:

FIRST STAGE:
CV selection. This is straightforward. If you satisfy the minimum requirements you make it through to the following round. Easy peasy. They let you know via email as soon as you click on the submit button

SECOND STAGE:
Online tests + essay
This stage was surprisingly challenging.

It involved 4 online timed tests:

  • Numerical
  • Diagrammatical (the one with the shapes and sequences)
  • Questions about work situations and how you would react in them
  • Psychological questions to determine your profile.

And it involved an essay where you had to explain your ideal project and client. I discusses about a big retailer trying to be more environmentally sustainable, therefore how to transform its business to meet sustainability targets. I explained the gains from environmental sustainability, the risks, and how PwC could help. I wasn’t aware, but PwC is actually focusing a lot on sustainability issues. Just look at their almost carbon neutral new HQ in London. So if you discuss about sustainability issues in your essay you definitely are a step ahead of other applicants.

THIRD STAGE:
Not too long after submitting the various tests I got an offer for a telephone interview. The dreaded telephone interview.
This was an interesting experience.
a 50 minutes telephone interview structured like this:

  • Are there any topics in the news you have been passionate about recently? if so, tell me about it.
    Here they were testing your overall commercial awareness. Two of the questions they then asked were: 1)How does this affect the overall business environment. 2) What would you do to improve this situation

  • A load of competency based questions. I’m not going to list them here, but it’s the usual ones you can find in other topics of this forum. To prepare for this I basically went through the last 8 years of my life and noted down in bullet points the most important moments. Then I tried to see how any of these could fit into PwC’s applicant profile

  • Two questions about PwC: 1) what is your understanding of your line of business. 2) What actions did you take to learn more about PwC

It took 2 weeks for them to get back to me. Well, Christmas was in the way, but still, a stressful wait. All I can say is that no news is good news with PwC. So if you have not received any feedback, well, be hopeful. They’re still evaluating you and it means you’re still in!

FOURTH STAGE - ASSESSMENT CENTRE:

Long long day of tests and interviews.
I got there 20 minutes early. That gave me the chance to wait in the lounge, have a coffee, and meet the other applicants. To my surprise we were a mix of Graduate and Internship applicants, and people applying for Assurance and Consulting. 6 of us in total.

  1. Essay.
    You have to read a 10 page booklet (including diagrams), and write down a report for a client.
    I thought I screwed this up. I took too long reading the first 3 pages, and totally ran out of time for the rest. DON’T DO this mistake. The first pages are useful, but the bulk of the data is in the second part of the booklet.
    key things to remember:
  • don’t do spelling mistakes
  • use good grammar
  • use headers and divide the different sections of your report clearly
  • use a good introduction
  • give a recommendation at the end

Time is a big constraint, so make sure you use it wisely. Don’t write down too many scrap notes, it’s time consuming. Do mental notes instead.

  1. Numerical and diagrammatical tests
    Same as online, but on paper. I personally found them easier.
    Only different aspect is that in the numerical test the graph and table doesn’t stay the same for 3-4 questions. But it alternates instead. So, graph (1) will be used for questions 1,4,7,11,15 ; graph (2) will be used for questions 2,5,12,16; etc… They’re basically mixing it up, so be aware and be awake!

  2. Group exercise
    I was really lucky. I did mine with two other people who were good and not arrogant. We worked as a team, came up with good suggestions, encouraged each other and did correct maths and offered a suggestion to the problem.
    The exercise consisted in helping out a client in doing some environmental changes to its structure. This involved investments in 6 different possible projects. We had to evaluate these projects: cost, future profits and environmental impact. Interesting case study

  3. 1 on 1 Interview
    I interviewed with a Senior Consultant. He was awesome. Very laid back, down to earth and it was basically an informal chat. He threw in a couple of competency questions in the middle of the interview, but nothing to difficult. The day before the AC I actually got a call from PwC’s HR telling me my strengths from the phone interview and what competency questions to work on for the 1on1 interview. Well, the competency questions he asked me were non of those… so make sure you go through all of your competency questions before the AC, you never know what they might ask you.

Don’t get confused by the informality of the chat. They will be checking for commercial awareness, your motivation to work in Consulting/Assurance/etc… and your understanding of what exactly the sector you applied for actually does. So, do your preparation. Go through the interview in your head the week before, and think how you would answer these questions. Have a clear structured career-motivation ready that then you can fit into any conversation. Be confident, smile, joke and be yourself. They are not just assessing your CV, but your overall personality to see if you are a person they would be happy to work with and spend time with!

OVERALL THOUGHTS:
Well, I got an offer after 4 working days. So excited! Their April intake was full, so I’m starting in September.
Now I only have to wait for the Pre-Employment Checks to go through and then I’ll be signing the final contract. A bit nervous to be honest, you can’t help but thinking you may have made some tiny mistakes in your application form and that something will go wrong. Hopefully it won’t!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll see if I can help.

Best of luck to everyone throughout the application process!

#2

Congratulation on your offer.
Very good post. Ive got my final assessment centre for tax coming up and I’m really stressing about my partner interview and commercial awareness. I always read up on the business news but I’m not sure about how much detail you are suppose to have on any business you speak about. Did you get asked about you client question on your written exercise at all. I’m also struggling with the question about how PwC differentiates itself. Ive got some stuff about sustainability but not sure if that will be enough. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanx

#3

I was stressing a lot about commercial awareness. So I read a lot of newspapers the week before the AC to make sure I was up to date with most of the big headline news. Something I also made sure to learn were the implications of the VAT increase as I read that suggestion on some random forum. This is probably something key to know for Tax.
However, they did not ask any specific questions on business issues during my partner interview. I should also add that the consultant who interviews you works in the same line of service you have applied to. Therefore mine was focusing on more management consulting questions.

And yes, something I forgot to mention. We did discuss about my client study essay during the interview. He was impressed I was interested in sustainability, and asked me why I wrote on that specific topic. We didn’t go in great details about my essay, but he was interested to know what pushed me to write an essay on that specific topic.

So, Basically:

  • Commercial awareness: I wasn’t greatly challenged, and they should not be asking you SPECIFIC questions (unless something big happened in the world that affected your specific line of service i.e. VAT increase). However it is important to know about the business environment in GENERAL, as this general knowledge will come across during the conversation.
  • Review your client study essay. He might mention it if it particularly impressed him. So make sure you know why you chose it, and be ready to answer questions beyond what you wrote, such as the implications of your case study in the bigger picture.

And what do you mean when you say that you are struggling on how PwC differentiates itself?

#4

One of the questions Ive seen come up a few times is how PwC is different from the other Big4 firms to show your motivation for applying. Did you get a question like this?

#5

I did not get a question like this. I did think about it though, and I just thought I was going to improvise it. PwC is actually the only big 4 I’ve applied to… But yeah, I think some of the other topics on this forum do discuss it, so just dig into some of the older posts and you should be able to find something useful :slight_smile:

#6

Thanx for all your help :slight_smile:

#7

Congrats and thank you very much, fishermans_friend.

I will have an interview next Wednesday with Management Consulting too. About the question that “what is your understanding of your line of business”, how detailed did you say ? Just say what they did, or what else ?

I am still preparing, so I may have to get back to you again. Hope you don’t mind :slight_smile: Thank you very much.

#8

hi sagittaire,
I was asked that question in the telephone interview, but not during the assessment centre. However even if not directly asked, I had to explain my understanding of MC during the AC while sidestepping away from another question.
I explained the basic fundamentals of MC: helping companies improving their performance and efficiency in order to increase profit and and overall firm value. The fact that MC analyses and restructures the internal structure of a company such as the supply chain or other various operations. No, you don’t have to go into great detail, what is written on the pwc website is more than enough. But make sure you show them that you are passionate about it and that you have really thought through why you want to pursue this career.

Any questions just ask, I’m here to help!

#9

Thank you very much for your advice , fishermans_friend!

#10

hi fisherman’s_friend,

would you be able to go into more detail about the written exercise and the team exercise please? these seem really daunting!

for the essay; do you write a full on report? so you have a intro, main and conclusion? is it a recommendation you have made?

Thanks

#11

For the written exercise make sure you manage your time very well, even though people told me this I didn’t realise just how struck for time I would be. I didn’t even end up finishing or even getting to explain my choice. I assume everything else I wrote was good because I managed to get an offer.

#12

any one had AC recently? It will be highly appreciated if someone who had it can put the changes here. I’m still waiting for mine to be booked. It takes them such a long time so I’m wondering if there is any major change going behind.

#13

Hi,
I am struggling with the Pwc Online Tests, especially the situational judgement test and personality questionnaire. Could anyone here please give me some advice on those ? Do you have any idea about what Pwc looks for candidates from those two tests ?
Thanks a lot !

#14

Hi,

Can anybody enlighten a bit on the application form for consulting (or PWC in general)? No CV or covering letter? I find that a bit weird. I also can’t plug in my I.B. grades as they don’t appear in the grade options…

Also does anyone know about the current status for Management Consulting March 2012 entry? It says on the website that 40% of the vacancies free. If it fills up will they move you to September 2012 or do you just get rejected?

Thanks

#15

P.S. Anybody know the latest on starting salary + sign on bonus for PWC Consulting?

#16

I have taken the online tests for pwc about two days ago, but still I do not have any notification of results (failure or success). Does anyone have an idea how much time they generally take to report results of these tests. Do they send an email or update your account information on their portal?

#17

@ Megatron-
I did the online tests for PwC yesterday and got an automated email literally straight away afterwards, so it may be different for different offices or something? Have you heard back yet?

#18

Hi bbbabybel
I have been asked to take pwc online numerical and logical reasoning tests as well as PwC’s student talent questionnaire and PwC’s personality questionnaire. Any idea as to how difficult they are and which site l can practice. Are there any diagramatical tests involved as well as l find them difficult as l never practised them.

Anyone please help me. I have only 5 days to complete all of them and l am getting nervous.

#19

Hi chings24,

The PwC logical test is a diagrammatical one!! So practice them. There all loads of sites that give you free practice, look on the PwC web page about the aptitude tests as they give you links to practice test sites, the best of which was SHL, as this is exactly the same format and layout as the actual tests, so it’s worth going through all the rigmarole of signing up to SHL for the practice and stuff.
I found the PwC tests much easier than any others I have done, but you do still have to practice. My advice would just be don’t panic when you sit down to do them, you have a few trial runs before the actual ones anyway. Try not to focus on the clock too much and just tackle everything methodologically.
Good luck!

#20

Hi bbbabybel

Thanks for the advice. I have tried the shl diagramatical reasoning. I was literally guessing answers because l am not sure what to do yet but l got 10 out of 14. if l have to repeat again,l will probably get less because l have no particular reason for choosing most of my answers. I will keep practising the shl ones as they are a bit easy than those on assessmentday.co.uk. I am doing quite well on numerical but l m very worried about the logical. These are my first online tests so lam very very nervous. Thanks, l will keep practising.