PwC Graduate Scheme - Round 2!

PwC
#1

Hey all, I know there are many similar threads on the board so this will be yet another thread for people to share their experiences and help each other out - after all, sharing is caring!

OK, brief background about myself: I graduated with a completely unrelated arts degree in 2011, after which I spent one year trying to pursue journalism. To make a long story short, after a bad year of unpaid internships with companies that promised the world then bled me dry with nothing to show for it, and the imminent prospect of my post-study work visa expiring (I am an international applicant) I have been applying for graduate schemes like hell on wheels. It helps that I have many friends in the corporate sector and slowly I have begun to fall in love with this extremely competitive and seemingly elusive world.

I attended the PwC Grad Scheme for HR a few months ago - I failed the written report and was encouraged to reapply. Last week, I had a telephone interview for Assurance and was informed a few days later that I had passed - and so I will be attending the assessment centre next week. To say I am nervous about the written exercise - and the entire AC in general - is an understatement. My issue last time - according to the feedback I received and personal discernment - was a failure to prioritise and time-manage. They give you a booklet of about 16 - 18 pages and you have to write a two page report in 30 minutes. I got stuck in the first few pages of fluff - which, turns out, had little, if any, relevance to the brief. By the time I had started to answer the questions, I had spent a page going off on a relative tangent and had run out of time. Knowing all this is one thing, of course, but thinking about the AC still makes me feel physically sick.

Does anyone have any advice? Do you know of anyone who applied to a company more than once and passed on their second attempt - is this actually possible or does your first try count against you? And do you have to pass each element of the AC extremely well? I have heard that each candidate is scored from 1 to 5 in each category, and just passing is enough to get you through to the partner interview, but even if you do that well, they will still take into account your performance in each section before making an offer - for example, if you didn’t do particularly well in an area or two. My question is: do you have to excel in every section in order to get an offer?

In return, if anyone has any questions from the application process to the telephone interview I am happy to help. I have passed quite a few telephone interviews from different companies and reached the AC - it is at this darned final stage that I meet my Waterloo! :slight_smile: So if anyone has any little nuggets of wisdom, feel free to throw them at me! Good luck to everyone who is applying.

#2

To put your mind at rest:
I am waiting to schedule my partner interview at PwC.
This is my 4th attempt.

In terms of assessing candidates, you are partly correct. They do score the numerical and logical testing from 1-5. I don’t know how they score the written and group exercise though. They may have set competencies they want you to meet and if you pass the benchmark, then you pass those sections.

I can tell you that for the written exercise, she commended it, but was critical that I wrote it in an email format. I actually don’t know how I was meant to write it, so that criticism was a bit surprising. However it was a minor point.

For the group exercise, she said I started off slow and didn’t refer to people by name. Other than that, she was pleased with my performance.

I scored 5s for both sets of testing.

Hope that puts your mind at ease.

#3

Hi Lotak, thank you for the tips. Firstly, congrats both on getting this far as well as being persistent - it just goes to show what not giving up can get you?

A question about the written exercise: did you find that in the booklet given, most of the points were irrelevant? I am very nervous about discarding important information or missing something important, and that’s why I spent so long going through the first few pages!

Also, did you have to wait three months before re-applying each time? I actually attended the last AC in March, and was sent an email saying I had to wait three months before re-applying. However, because PwC LLP and Legal are separate entities, I could apply to the latter. I contacted the recruitment team and they told me that it would be no problem, and they had over-riden the system for me. I didn’t finish my application for PwC Legal in the end, and when I checked back two months later I found that I could apply for Assurance, so I did. Well, I actually applied for Risk, and they transferred my application over to Assurance. I’m just worried that they will think I somehow tried to cheat the system! Another point that’s not in my favour is that, I actually applied to PwC last December using another email address, and passed the numerical test. I can’t remember if I even finished the logical test (I have applied to sooooo many places) but there was a technical error with my email address (long story, it basically got hacked and I couldn’t regain access to it) so I applied using another one and got through. I explained to PwC when I got rejected after the AC, and they said not to worry and changed my surname (I had to use my Chinese name in the second attempt). They said to just discard the old email and when I tried to log in I found out that someone had apparently withdrawn my first application anyway. Anyway, to make a very long story short, I’m just worried that they’ll think I’m trying to cheat the system or something. :s

#4

Hi Lotak, thank you for the tips. Firstly, congrats both on getting this far as well as being persistent - it just goes to show what not giving up can get you?

A question about the written exercise: did you find that in the booklet given, most of the points were irrelevant? I am very nervous about discarding important information or missing something important, and that’s why I spent so long going through the first few pages!

Also, did you have to wait three months before re-applying each time? I actually attended the last AC in March, and was sent an email saying I had to wait three months before re-applying. However, because PwC LLP and Legal are separate entities, I could apply to the latter. I contacted the recruitment team and they told me that it would be no problem, and they had over-riden the system for me. I didn’t finish my application for PwC Legal in the end, and when I checked back two months later I found that I could apply for Assurance, so I did. Well, I actually applied for Risk, and they transferred my application over to Assurance. I’m just worried that they will think I somehow tried to cheat the system! Another point that’s not in my favour is that, I actually applied to PwC last December using another email address, and passed the numerical test. I can’t remember if I even finished the logical test (I have applied to sooooo many places) but there was a technical error with my email address (long story, it basically got hacked and I couldn’t regain access to it) so I applied using another one and got through. I explained to PwC when I got rejected after the AC, and they said not to worry and changed my surname (I had to use my Chinese name in the second attempt). They said to just discard the old email and when I tried to log in I found out that someone had apparently withdrawn my first application anyway. Anyway, to make a very long story short, I’m just worried that they’ll think I’m trying to cheat the system or something. :s

#5

A lot of the booklet is irrelevant; what you need to consider are the four options and both the public and private opinions. Everything else really is superfluous. Just give a very brief intro on the topic then go straight into the four options with their pros and cons. Then you can give a brief comparison between the four with your final paragraph being your recommendation. That is essentially what I did, but people have their own styles.

No, first time I applied was in 2011, then 2012, then late 2012, then 3 months later.

If they have said it is not an issue, then I would not worry about it. Even if they pick you up on it, you will have an opportunity to explain. You should be fine!

Also, how did you score with your numerical and logical testing? Did you pass those and it was just the written exercise that stumped you?

#6

Hi again, thanks for the tips! When you say public and private opinions, do you mean shareholder value etc? Did you add that to your introduction or was that included in your pros/cons? Also, are bullet points ok?

I didn’t do as well with the numerical test as I’d hoped, I definitely find doing it in the comfort of my own home much less stressful. But I passed both; I didn’t get much feedback on any of the elements, just that I’d go 4 out of 6 for the numerical and 5 out of 6 for the logical test - I don’t know how that would even out on the 1-5 score. I wasn’t given any feedback on the group exercise also, just that it was ok! Hopefully I’ll be able to do better in everything this time round!

Did you manage to book a partner interview yet? Also, was it Assurance London '13 that you applied to?

#7

Pleasure.

By public / private opinions, I mean what the public think of the options (e.g., they like options 1 and 2, but dislike 3 and 4) and what the shareholders / industry bosses think of them (e.g., they hate options 1 and 2, but like 3 and 4) and consider these opinions when making your recommendation as there may be uproar if you choose one that the general public does not deem appropriate enough or there may be a backlash from the leaders as they believe its too harsh / lead to a rebellion of some sort.

Bit odd that you didn’t get feedback for the group exercise.

I haven’t booked the partner interview. I am going to try and get round to it some time this week though. I applied for Tax in London.

#8

Ah great points to consider, I’ll definitely keep that in mind, I know how important perspective is and I guess it’s important for them to know we consider every point of view :slight_smile:

Did you begin writing immediately or did you leaf through the booklet first? From experience I know that the important pages i.e. the four options are a ways down, but I’m just wondering if I should try and squeeze in some info in my introduction, i.e. by making use of the pie charts/polls/graphs. In my last feedback, they said my content needed more depth, especially with numbers. Did you add a lot of that in? And can you write in bulletpoint eg. Pros: High Turnover Rate. Or does it have to be: ‘This option offers a high yield…’ Just trying to think of as many ways to save time as possible since I really struggled with this the last time. How did you do timing wise - and btw, sorry for asking so many questions!

Well good luck with your partner interview, I’m sure you’ll do great!

I’m so nervous! Btw, you wouldn’t happen to be an International applicant would you?

#9

I knew what to expect thanks to the great info on this site, so I did start within 2 minutes of starting. I skimmed through the pages very briefly (cos that’s just me, not necessarily recommended), then I started the introduction based on the request from the guy I was replying to.
I went through each option in order that it came in the book.

What you need to discuss are why the option is good i.e., generate income, public / private appeal, extent of success it may have, and why it is bad i.e., the opposite of the above!

Doesn’t necessarily need to be incredibly quantitative, but you do need to consider how each option compares to the others, for example, one may generate a larger income compared to the other at the expense of something else.
If you can, keep each option to around 5 or 6 lines so that it gives you space to have an introduction, a brief discussion and/or conclusion (with your recommendation).

I was rushed for the recommendation, but I managed to get everything in just about. (Just)

Its alright, am happy to help.

I am not! Born and bred in England! Parents are foreign though, does that count? :slight_smile:

#10

Ok, thanks again, you are extremely helpful! I hope all the points needed i.e. pros/cons will be in entire the section - since I plan to go straight to it and hopefully skip the front bits! Hope I won’t miss anything!

Btw, here’s a tip for the partner interview - I have a friend who works at PwC (Assurance Grad Scheme) and he told me to look up the PwC ‘One Firm’ vision: he says that would hit the spot completely for the Why do you want to work at PwC question, i.e. differentiation etc.

Kind of, and kind of not :slight_smile: It means you won’t have to go through the whole visa sponsorship deal. Don’t know if the process is more complicated for international applicants!

#11

Hi

If you are struggling with your partner and telephone interview try searching ‘competency interview explained’ on e-bay.

I had so many interviews before hand and kept failing and even failed first time round with the grad scheme but when going through the process again I thought anything was worth a try and it helped so much.

I start in September :slight_smile:

#12

Hey, so I finished my assessment centre and now I’m sitting here with a sinking feeling of dread, knowing I’ve screwed up. I think i did the psychometric tests ok, I didn’t perform spectacularly but hopefully enough to pass, and same with group exercise, although there was a lot I sucked at. I’m worried most about my written report, having been rejected once already. I did manage to finish it but definitely not well, I spent too much time on the first option, and talked a bit about the second option in the first point since it seemed related. Then when it came to the second option I panicked. I had not much time so I rushed through options 3 and 4, and a lot of my bullet points were hardly expanded on, such as ‘high public appeal’, but I had no time to explain. A lot of the time I copied directly from the brief. I rushed through the conclusion and recommendation within the same subheading, I didn’t really go into why I chose the option I chose, just mentioned generally. I didn’t really have time to consider the public and private opinion when making my decisions, and I think I muddled up my numbers also; I was so eager to use as many numbers as possible since I was criticised for this last time that I feel like a lot were used inappropriately, such as calculating percentages when there wasn’t any need to. So I guess this one was a wash also :frowning: I’m really disappointed as I’d really, really like to work for PwC. It was my second try too so I really should have performed much better.