I have recently received an offer from PwC in the line of Assurance and since this site has helped me alot, I would like to give back to it
I applied for the intake of August 2013 as early as December 2012 (as soon as the applications opened). This was a very lucky move, since my application was rejected the first time, and PwC requires you to wait three months before applying again. The second time I applied, I gave more attention to the wording of my answers to the two questions asked: ‘Why I chose PwC’ and ‘Why I chose Assurance’. It’s important to state your goals, as well as mention the values that PwC considers important and how you match to them.
Online Verbal Reasoning and Numerical Tests
These were fairly easy. I recommend doing the practice SHL tests to get acquainted with the sort of questions.
Very important: Accuracy is as important as speed- so if you are not sure of an answer, it is best to skip that question and maintain your accuracy percentage! Do not guess!
This interview was conducted by a Recruitment Officer, and only lasted about 20 minutes. The questions were largely competency-based. Here are some questions I recall she asked me:
- Tell me about a current issue in the accounting world that you’ve been following that interests you. (Do read business news as well as websites like accountancyage.com to familiarize yourself with current issues)
- Give me an example where you proved your team-work skills.
- Tell me about a time where you had to work outside your comfort zone, and how did you deal with it?
- Tell me about a personal objective you set for yourself, and how you went about achieving it.
- What do you know about the tasks an auditor must perform in their work, and who do they communicate with? (Do be prepared to be asked basic -not detailed- questions about your work as an auditor)
- Assessment Day
I would say this is the most important bit of the entire assessment. If you pass this successfully, you have around 90% of being recruited.
The assessment day started with Paper-based Numerical and Verbal Reasoning Tests. These were very similar to the ones I did online, and the same rule applies: don’t guess and keep your accuracy level high! A couple of people unfortunately failed because they were just thinking of answering all the questions within the time, whereas I left many blank and passed.
Next, we were given a Formal Report to write within half an hour. In my case, we were given leaflets containing information regarding the biscuit industry in the UK and specifics of each of the companies that make up the market share. We were to act as consultants in PwC, writing a report to a client (a biscuit manufacturer) to recommend which of these companies we could acquire. There is NO right or wrong answer- they are merely testing: the structure of your report (be sure to include an Introduction, well-sectioned Body and Conclusion) and the standard of writing (use appropriate business terminology and a professional tone).
Finally, we had a Group Assessment. We were all given a leaflet containing information about one of our clients, who supposedly were an ecotourist destination seeking our advice. Also, each of us were given unique leaflets containing different pieces of information about the costs and rewards of specific actions. We had twenty minutes to ourselves to make notes, and then thirty minutes to discuss as a group. Again, here there is no right or wrong answer.
It is very important to:
-listen. Never interrupt a colleague, and nod and show that you are listening well.
-speak up, but don’t appear dominating. It’s important to make recommendations mentioning the unique information you have, but address your fellow members and see if they are alright with what you are suggesting.
-don’t be quick to reject other peoples’ ideas. Be open to suggestions and mention the pros of what others suggest.
-be time conscious- don’t repeat information that’s already been mentioned, and once something is decided, move on to the next issue.
Although I applied to Core Assurance, I was told, in the beginning, that I must pick between Risk Assurance and Tax. I chose Risk Assurance, and had my final interview for that.
- Final Partner Interview- Risk Assurance
The partner interviewing me was in Saudi Arabia so I had a telephone interview with him. The interview did not go well and I did not get the position for Risk Assurance. Here are some questions he asked me:
-What do you know about other lines of services we offer?
It was a very short interview since he was busy, and my answers were too brief, hesitant and not well-plannned.
I was lucky to be offered a chance to try for a position in Core Assurance, though, and this time around I had learned from my mistakes and planned very well.
- Final Partner Interview- Core Assurance
This was (fortunately) a face-to-face interview. The partner was friendly, a good listener, and asked me these questions:
-What made you choose an Accounting degree?
-Speaking of the accounting profession as a whole, what have you been following in the press/media related to auditing?
-Tell me about your previous internship (referring to an accounting internship I had done)
-If I asked your friends to describe your positive qualities, what would they say? (It’s important to mention relevant strengths, and provide examples of times when you demonstrated those strengths, and bonus points for mentioning how these strengths will be useful to you at work in Auditing)
-What if I reversed the question and asked about your weaknesses? (Be honest but mention ways in which you are attempting to work on those)
-Tell me about a time you worked well in a team
-Tell me about a time, personal, professional or otherwise, where you found yourself in conflict with someone? (Do mention how you positively handled the conflict)
-Tell me about any achievement you’ve done that you’re proud of (Do mention why you are proud of it- i.e. what impact it created and what challenges you overcame)
-Moving on the market in the UAE (where I am stationed), what sectors are doing well and which aren’t? (I did not answer this question in enough detail, but don’t panic if you don’t know a thorough answer to everything asked. Think of the interview as a chat!)
-What professional qualifications do you plan on pursuing?
-Do you have any questions?
This interview was alot better because I had planned what I was to say and gave thorough examples for everything. Although she did not ask me why I chose PwC, I managed to squeeze that information somewhere. If you have something impressive to say, say it! Show your energy and enthusiasm, listen well, and be yourself.
Do ask questions when prompted- it shows your curiosity and interest in the job. I asked my interviewer about the scope of responsibility I’ll be looking at when joining the program, and the opportunities to interact with other lines of services.
When done with the partner interview, send the partner an e-mail appreciating their time and reenforcing your interest and enthusiasm for the job. It took them a week to get back to me.
Good luck to everyone, and please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions.