Updated 14 October 2020
While some elements of the PwC graduate application process may vary according to the role, there are five basic steps that all applicants can expect to follow.
Throughout the process, PwC looks for evidence that you have the skills and qualities to succeed within its organisation. So, before you start your application, make sure you understand the specific requirements and have a clear idea of how you can demonstrate these.
It is vital to do research before you begin your application. You will need to show you have a firm understanding of the business world in general, as well as being able to talk confidently about yourself, PwC and the role you’re applying for.
You'll want to look at information from:
The firm states that, for most undergraduate and graduate programmes, it recruits on a rolling basis, with roles filled on a first-come-first-served basis.
So it is definitely worth applying as early as you can.
The application form may seem straightforward, but it is your first chance to make a good impression and many fail to progress any further. So make sure you have prepared thoroughly.
Before you begin, gather all the details you'll need about your education and employment history, including work experience placements.
Remember that PwC can check your answers later in the process, so don’t be tempted to lie or prevaricate.
Read the instructions on the application form carefully and proofread everything you write, checking for spelling and grammar, as well as accuracy and fluency.
Questions might include giving five reasons why you are interested in working at PwC, or outlining what you think you will be doing during your first year in your chosen programme.
Your answers should be concise and to the point – you will have the chance to elaborate further at later stages.
Avoid vague statements and give specific examples.
Don’t regurgitate sentences and phrases from PwC’s brochures and marketing materials – they want to get a sense of your personality so answer in your own words.
If your application is accepted, your first assessment will be the online immersive job preview assessment, which PwC refers to as ‘Career Valuation’.
This type of test is also known as a situational judgement test. Employers use them as a convenient way to select the most suitable candidates from a large group of applicants.
The candidate is then prompted to answer questions based on what they saw. For each situation, a number of actions or responses will be suggested (generally four or five options) and you must choose the most and least effective.
It is important to remember that this stage of the process is designed to test your suitability more than your ability. If you do not get through to the next stage then you should not regard it as a failure on your part.
Instead, it suggests that the role you’ve applied for, and possibly a career at PwC in general, would not be the right fit for you in the long term.
Having said that, you can prepare for the assessment to some extent:
For more tips, head over to our article on situational judgement tests.
The immersive job preview assessment is graded automatically. If you make it through this stage, you will be sent an invitation to move on to the games-based psychometric assessment stage – or ‘Career Unlocked’ – which is also completed online.
You do not need to do this immediately, so don’t rush into it unprepared. Check the deadline and come back to it when you are ready.
The games are designed to look at:
Games include memory tests, assessing facial expressions and even one where you have to tap a button to inflate party balloons until they pop (this one judges calculated risk-taking).
Games-based tools are being used more and more in the graduate recruitment process, as a way to assess various competencies and personality traits.
However, it may still feel like an alien concept for anyone who has not previously encountered games like this during a job application. Don’t panic – the games are designed to be very simple to play, even for non-gamers.
The following tips should help you perform your best:
Read our Career Unlocked article for more information and tips on playing the games.
If you score particularly highly in the games-based assessment, you may immediately pass on to the next stage of the application process.
Otherwise, you will receive an automated response letting you know that you will be sent your result after the final deadline for completing the assessment.
Once you have successfully completed the first three stages of the application, you will pass on to the ‘Career Conversation’ stage.
You will receive an email invitation to PwC’s video interview portal, where you record your response to a range of questions and case studies.
This replaces the first interview stage in the old application process, which previously took place in person or on the phone, and was conducted by a PwC Manager or Senior Manager.
You should have a few days to complete the video interview (make sure you check the deadline), so take some time to prepare and ensure that you have a suitable setup.
Here are a few tips:
For more hints and tips, read our article on preparing for a video interview.
The interview will consist of 10 questions. These will include some typical interview topics – such as why you want the role and what qualities you will bring to it – as well as situational judgement questions and a case study.
You will have two minutes to prepare and three minutes to answer, for all except the case study question. For this, you will have 10 minutes to prepare and five minutes to answer.
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The video interview gives you an opportunity to explain why you are interested in a career with the company.
While preparing, think about the qualities and skills that PwC is looking for in successful candidates. PwC has identified the core attributes that make up its global leadership framework (The PwC Professional) as:
Wherever possible, try to incorporate evidence of these attributes into your answers.
Questions may include some of the following, or variations on these themes:
The final stage of the PwC application process is the assessment day, also known as ‘Career Focus’.
The day is set up as an immersive ‘day in the life’ experience. It is designed to mirror how a typical working day may play out if you were offered the job, and brings together everything you have learned about life at PwC in the previous stages of the process.
You will be given a laptop and will be required to work in groups and individually on a variety of tasks and case studies, while PwC assessors look on.
The day will end with a coaching interview where you will be asked to reflect on how the day went. This will last around 20 minutes.
Dress for the day as you would for an interview or a day in the office – smartly and conservatively.
The day will bring together candidates applying for a range of roles, so you will not necessarily be in direct competition with others in your group.
However, it goes without saying that this is a highly competitive event, and your last chance to demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed in a career at PwC.
As the activities you will take part in simulate real-life scenarios that you might come across in your role at PwC, it is vital to have a thorough understanding of the business, its clients and the market it is operating in.
So, set aside some time ahead of your assessment day to do some detailed research into the company:
Some tasks begin with each person being given a brief – in a group exercise you may all receive the same brief or the brief may be different for each candidate.
Most commonly, the briefs describe a made-up company that is in the process of a financial update or move.
You will be given time to read through the documents provided and make notes. There may be calculations to be made and you will be given a calculator.
Once you have read through the material, you will discuss your findings with the group and make recommendations for the company and its future.
Other activities may involve being asked to analyse the contents of a brief and report it to the assessors, either via a presentation or in a written report:
You may also be asked to complete an in-tray exercise to assess your time-management skills and ability to prioritise, along with your written communication skills.
This task involves sorting through a number of emails and answering questions about the information they contain. You will then need to write an email to a fictional co-worker explaining what you have done, and any tasks that they now need to take care of.
Throughout every task, keep a close eye on the time – it’s a good idea to wear a watch. And check your spelling, grammar and fluency of language for any written tasks.
For group tasks, you will be assessed as much for your ability to work effectively as a team as for your own personal contribution.
Don’t become so caught up in your own performance that you lose sight of how you are interacting with others: