PwC - Management Consultancy Application process

#1

Hi everyone. Having leeched off this site for the past couple of months I thought I would give something back by adding my experience of the PwC application process. I’ve been offered a graduate level position in management consultancy - so hopefully some of this information will be useful!

The first stage of the application process is the online application form. I would recommend reading the PwC website which contains all the information you need to know about the company. Also important is the question about your ideal client - make sure you pick a company that you know a lot about as if you get through to the final rounds the chances are you will be asked about it in more detail.

After the online application form are the online tests. These are pretty similar to the other big four tests and consist of numerical and diagrammatic reasoning. Do a couple of practice tests before the real thing and you should be fine - shl is a good website to use.

Following the tests is the first round interview. Mine was by telephone and was competency based. On the PwC website they list all the competencies that they look for, so make sure you have examples for each area. I aimed to have two examples for each potential question, drawing on uni, work experience, school and extra-curricular activities. It’s a good idea to give examples from a range of experiences - if you focus to heavily on uni for example the interviewer will probably start asking you to give non-university examples. As well as general competencies you also need to have a good understanding of what a management consultant at PwC does, and what you would be doing if you joined the company. Similarly you need to be able to talk about a recent news story which could have an impact on PwC. Finally have an answer for why you would pick PwC over a different company.

The final round of the interview process is the assessment centre. There are four parts to the day- to start with you resit the online tests on paper. I found the ones on the day to be slightly harder than the originals - I did a practice test the night before which was enough to get me through them. After the tests there is a written exercise which assesses your communication and reasoning skills. The exercise is a business case which asks you to recommend a company to partner a client. As long as you can write down information in a logical and structured manner and fluently you should be fine.

The final parts of the day are the group exercise and partner interview. For the group exercise it’s important to talk - otherwise the assessors can’t give you a mark! At the same time don’t dominate the group - give others the opportunity to speak. If other people in the group aren’t contributing, maybe ask them what they think about a proposal. I think at this stage they are looking at how you interact with other people and if you can make a meaningful contribution to a group discussion.

The final part of the assessment centre is the partner interview. This was the area that I was most worried about before the day, but once it started it was actually less stressful than I thought. My interviewer asked me about why I had chosen the company I did as my ideal client to advise - so make sure you re-read your application form before the day! My interviewer also questioned me hard on whether or not my advice/ suggestions were feasible - I think they really look to see how you respond under pressure/ criticism. There were also competency questions, for example “Give me a time when you set out to achieve a goal…” As long as you have prepared examples for each of the competency areas you should be ok. As a final piece of advice they will try to ask you a question that you haven’t thought through an answer for, like “How would you spend 1 million pounds?” - If this happens don’t feel that you have to answer straight away, when this happened to me I paused for a second, and drank some water, which gave me the time to structure an answer rather than simply say the first thing that came into my head!

I also found it really useful to buy books on management consultancy - these improved my knowledge of what being a management consultant entailed. I’m not going to plug a particular book, because it depends on what area you’re going into. But if you don’t have a huge amount of business experience I would suggest getting a book which contains example case studies and frameworks you can use to structure your answers. I found this really useful when giving answers about how I would advise potential clients.

Hope this advice was useful - and good luck job hunting!

#2

Hi Prod333

your narrative is quite insightful, thanks a lot!
I intend to apply for PwC management consulting in the near future, but what kept me away from it was the “ideal client” piece of work…i was not quite sure how to choose and to what depth I would need to go in my recommendations…

#3

Hi,

Thanks very much Prod333! I found this very useful as I’m applying for this scheme too (I’ve just got through the tests and am awaiting my telephone interview). Just wanted to add a few things for anyone preparing for scheme (and to respond to Lea 09).

IDEAL CLIENT TASK

I personally found the ideal client task difficult and spent a quite long time preparing this. I chose a company who’s been in a series of crises over the last couple of years (presenting this as the reason they were an ideal client). I spent about 2/3 of the space I had explaining the troubles they’d had, linking this to the wider economy and their sector as a whole, then describing the difficulties they’d had which were unique to them. I spent the remaining time listing in bullet point format the areas where PWC could help (industry expertise, operations, audit, etc).

I chose a company that I knew quite a lot about, having worked for them! But if you’re not sure who to pick, I’d suggest going through the FT or the Times business sections and seeing who’s been in the news recently. Then read their profiles, search some relevant articles about them from the last few years so you really know what you’re talking about before you begin, then just summarise what you’ve learnt (focusing on how this makes them an “ideal client” of course). Even though I was familiar with the company I chose, I still researched them like this.

As far as the length and dept of this task, I think the word limit kind of dictates how much detail you can and should go into - just write it within that limit and make sure it’s coherent, well-paced and that everything you write is relevant. You need to demonstrate that you can present information in a structured, logical way, that you have a fair amount of business awareness and that you know what PWC do as a company.

NUMERICAL AND DIAGRAMMATIC REASONING TESTS

Just a word about these really - I found them very difficult, more difficult than the practice ones. This is from the perspective of someone who dropped maths when they were 16 (I got an A an GCSE but that was a very long time ago) and hasn’t really used numbers much in their degree. Also, this is the first grad scheme style app I’ve done in about 2 years so can’t compare it to any other company’s numerical tests.

I practiced using the usual sites (wikijob, efinancial, SHL), but found the PWC questions to be a lot more challenging. Also, nota bene, YOU CANNOT GO BACK IN THE TEST! I practiced all my tests answering the easy questions and then going back to the hard ones - this isn’t an option here. I found that quite unnerving, and I didn’t manage to answer all the questions: I did 19 in the 21 minutes given, I’m not sure how many questions there were, and a lot of my answers were educated guesses. Saying that, I passed! Even though I was pretty sure I hadn’t after the numerical one.

Hope that helps someone!

#4

Many thanks, Franical!

At least the app process to PwC does not seem daunting anymore…:slight_smile:

did you have your phone interview yet? how did it go? I have read that some people failed it, not sure what are their expectations…

good luck!

Lea

#5

Hi Tranical,

I was wondering if you have had your telephone interview yet as i’m due to have mine soon. If you could go through what questions they asked etc i wud really appreciate it. Hope you did well tho!!!
msra5dk2

#6

Hey there,

I have my telephone interview coming up also in the next fortnight, so any tips elaborating further upon what prod333 has already kindly said would be much appreciated as well.

Cheers.

#7

Hello there,

These forums have been pretty helpful for me over the past weeks so I thought I’d give something back :slight_smile:

I’ve just had my telephone interview for management consulting. The inteview was split into 3 main parts: competencies, knowledge of firm, and commercial awareness. I don’t think it went so well, but these are the questions I was asked.

Competencies:

Tell me about a time when you worked in a team. What did you learn from this?

Tell me about a time when you worked in a team and smb had a different point of view to you. What did you learn out of it? (I completely mucked this one up - make sure you make yourself look active in problem solving in your answer)

Tell me about a time when you had a lot of workload and deadline to meet. How did you manage these? How did you make sure you met your deadline? Looking back could you have done something differently?

Tell me about a time when you have used different resources for research. Depending on the project do you do you research differently / use different kinds of resources? (This one caught me out!)

Knowledge of firm:

How have you gone about finding out about PwC and its services? Tell me about the different services. Tell me more about consulting at PwC.

With all these different services how can PwC add value to their clients?

Commercial awareness:

Tell me about a recent piece of news. What advice would you give them? (I used Toyota)

Tips:
Do not overload on information, which is what I did and consequently didn’t neccessarily prepare the right questions very well.
Make sure you look at their global core competencies and have a couple of answers for each. And make sure you say what you learned from the experience.
Don’t overload on commercial awareness or economic issues - one current business news is enough, or prepare two just in case.
Make sure you know about all PwC’s service lines and can say a bit about what each one does.
Obviously make sure you know about your chosen line of service really well.
Don’t bother reading the annual report or anything like that as it is just not needed at this stage.
Prepare questions at the end, but be aware that an interviewer will probably not be from your chosen service line, so questions like “What you like about Consultancy at PwC” they won’t be able to answer. I had a couple of questions like this and felt a bit foolish for asking them.
Have a look at http://www.thegatewayonline.com/issues/22/14 which gives you a really good idea about how to go about finding examples for PwC’s core competencies.

Hope some of this has been useful for someone. Good luck to everyone that has interviews!

Cat

#8

Hi prod333 and everyone else who has posted here too…

I am very interested in consulting, but I was wondering HOW MUCH does the graduate position in management consulting like yours pay annually exactly, if you don’t mind sharing with us?
I actually have a consulting offer with another of the big 4, but I also hv an interview for this with pwc coming up so i was trying to weigh up any and every difference btw these 2 if possible…I definitely respect PwC’s capabilities in this area very much hence my question.

THANKS if anyone can answer this precisely, my friend who just got an Economics consulting job offer is being paid exactly GBP29k so I guess it’s entirely the same for their management consulting, and perhaps also for strategy consulting?

#9

Sorry forgot to ask these too if anyone knows…)
ALSO HOW will the pwc Management consulting graduate programme work:

  1. how long is the graduate programme?
  2. will you be allocated to a specific competency/focus area (like people, finance, supply chain management), or to a specific group of clients (financial services, etc.)?
  3. will there be rotations across different focus areas during the grad prog?
  4. will you/can you study for any professional qualification (like ACA or CIMA) during or at the end of the graduate programme?

THANKS SO MUCH IN ADVANCE, REALLY REALLY APPRECIATE ANY INPUT ON THIS!!!

#10

vic123v,

I can’t answer all of your questions I’m afraid since I haven’t done my AC yet but here’s what I do know:

2-3) You will not be posted to a specific competency area, you will do several rotations. However, you have a career coach who assigns you different projects and you will get a certain amount of say in what you choose (or refuse), so if you wanted to focus on one area more than another, you could. However, you will not from day 1 be able to just focus completely on one area of expertise.

I would be really interested in knowing about the professional qualification, length of program and salary bit! If anyone knows, please help!

I know their HR people are really helpful so you could call them straight up and ask (I would but I’m in the Czech Republic - expensive phone call!)… If you do, please post up anything you find out.

Thanks

PS. Cattima, I too was convinced I did really badly because I rambled quite a lot but I got through - it’s competency-based so it’s just a matter of ticking the boxes, I don’t think they mark you down for saying too much or some irrelevant things, so long as you tick those boxes! Best of luck anyway.

#11

Thanks for encouragement tranibal. :slight_smile: 24 hours later I’ve not heard anything. Not sure whether that’s a good or bad sign. Good luck to you too in you AC!

vic123v: I’m pretty sure there’s not professional qualificaion you study towards. It doesn’t say so in there brochure in any case.

#12

No bad sign; I should have said, I had my interview Monday then heard back Thursday. Fingers crossed for you.

#13

Hi,

The help/advice posted on here is accurate and very useful!

I had my telephone interview with PWC this week and received an email today notifying me that I got through to the next stage.

I thought I had messed up my telephone interview because I couldnt asnswer some questions very well at all and waffled during others.

Cat’s post is very accurate so if you are expecting a telephone interview follow her guide! I wish I had, it would have made it a lot easier!

Any further help and advice on the assessment day would be very much appreciated.

Thanks

#14

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#15

Hi, thank you for all the contributors. There is a lot of information here!

I am invited to AC in embankment in Management Consulting. I heard different offices have slightly different style and I guess different function (strategy, econs or management consulting) focus on different questions too. I am a little confused here, are econs and strategy a subfunction of management consulting?

If anybody has MC AC in embankment, could you please share your experience on what I should focus on? Do I need to brush up “recent news” asked during the 1st interview? I do not know much about financial industry&accounting/auditing. I guess this should not be a problem?

Is the AC in embankment the final round? It was written “basic assessment” in my pages.

How difficult is the case study? E.g. is it the standard of bain 1st round interview or final round interview etc… Does the interview with senior involve a mini case study as well?

Any help given is highly appreciated. Thank you so much!

#16

Hi Skyjuice,

I had an AC in embankment for MC and had 2 interviews and 3 tests(numerical,verbal reasoning and report writing)

I received an offer.

My experience/tips:

know your competencies and your examples. Be prepared to be probed further and be able to stand up to the questioning. Knowing the industry will help. Research exactly what the role you have applied is.

Practice online tests

Report writing is hard to advise on- just make sure you answer the question and stick to the time limit. Presentation/spelling/coherency is important.

Any more specific quesitons please ask.

#17

Hi everyone,

First, thank you for all your postings, they are a precious help.
I still have a question, asked before by skyjuice : what is exactly the difference between management consulting and strategy consulting? For me strategy consulting is part of management consulting too, but on the website they differenciate it…
For me strategy consulting is more focused on financial services deals (private equity firms, M&A), but it seems that they deal with other industries too…
Plus, if offered a position in management consulting, is it possible to switch after a certain time to strategy consulting, to be more involved in private equity deals for instance?

Thank you very much for your answers. Good luck to everybody!

#18

Hey BBstyle,

I am not sure if this is the absolute answer, what I think is that:
In within consulting, there are apparently more customer demand in strategy & econs. Hence, they branched out these two divisions. The rest of management (unrelated to strategy / econs) are grouped in MC. So, yes, strategy is part of MC. Different consulting company has different CC. I think in PwC, they are stronger in strategy n econs which explains for the division.

PwC in general deal more with financial industry. In strategy, they deal with strategy e.g. mktg strategy, corporate strategy, HR strategy etc. Hence, PwC can also operate in other industries but I think they focus on the financial industry eventhough a lot of their big clients are non financial.

I think the division that deals with most private equity is financial advisory.
I guess switching is possible as it is possible to switch between different business areas.

#19

Hi,

The difference between Strategy and the rest of MC (as PwC sees it - which is what’s important here) IS explained on the website, and you should really try and understand it before you go for the interview!

Strategy deals with high-level decisions (M&A advisory, new strategic direction - decisions which emanate from really high level decisions which are decisive in shaping the overall strategy of a business). MC concentrates on different specialisms, either business competencies or industry specific advisory – Operations (supply chain), Marketing or healthcare, CIPS, environmental advisory etc.

This stuff is definitely on the website because I prepared for the interview and that’s where I found it! It’s kinda lazy just hoping someone will do the work for you and if your understanding doesn’t go further than what I just said then good luck if they question you on it.

#20

Dear all,

I love how everyone is on here trying to help each other out, it’s a tough market and all these contributions have been well appreciated.

I would like to make my own recommendations having just been processed to assessment day; I had my interview only 2-3 days ago.

The interviewer for the telephone interview was very friendly and inquisitive and really put you at ease, don’t feel you have to ramble on as they really help point you in the correct direction.

The tests online are no harder than those on the assessmentday practice website so I suggest this is the best preparatory method.

PLEASE NOTE, MAKE SURE THAT YOU ABLE TO GIVE A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO YOURSELF! This really caught me off guard, don’t spend too much time or make it sound to rigorously planned but have some points about yourself in mind.

Remember competencies are really important so make sure you have 2 examples for each to make you more confident if nothing else.

I sincerely hope this helps people out, I often find it’s people like me who did science at uni and are just entering the business world that get stuffed even though we’d be pretty awesome at the job!

DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY USEFUL TIPS FOR ASSESSMENT DAY?