Hints & tips


The assessments you'll complete will depend on the kind of role you apply for. These assessments help us build a clearer picture of your capabilities and where your strengths lie.

Whichever opportunity you're applying for, there are some things that you should be thinking about, so we've put together some hints and tips for you:

Before you apply

Remember what we're looking for

Throughout the process, we'll be looking for you to show awareness and evidence of the skills and qualities you need to succeed in our business. Wherever possible, you should be able to demonstrate and highlight how you match our requirements. For more information, please refer to the 'The skills we look for' page.

Do your research

We'll expect you to be able to talk coherently and confidently about PwC, the position you're applying for, the business world in general and yourself. The more you know about these things, the more prepared you'll be, so you'll have to get researching. Take a look at our commercial awareness page for more information.

Think about investigating the following sources of information:

  • Our brochures and website (careers and corporate)
  • The financial media (press, television, internet)
  • Relevant professional bodies (especially if they offer a qualification you're interested in pursuing)
  • Anyone you know who works for PwC (or a similar organisational network)

Don't just give them a quick glance the day before your interview. Examine them, understand the issues and keep yourself up to date.

Application process

Completing your application form

Remember first impressions count so the application form is a major opportunity to sell yourself. Before you complete the form, you should gather accurate details of your academic and employment history including any work experience placements. While completing the form, remember to:

  • Read and follow instructions carefully
  • Proof read everything you write including checking grammar and spelling
  • Be concise as you can elaborate at interview
  • Don't repeat statements you've read in our brochures and the website
  • Don't be vague or lie about your results as we'll check your academics at a later stage in the process

Online tests

The majority of our opportunities require you to have an ability to work with numerical information, so you‘ll be asked to take an online numerical reasoning test. We ask most candidates to complete further tests to assess verbal reasoning or inductive reasoning (sometimes called logical reasoning). Don't be put off by the tests - ensuring you take the time to prepare and completing some practice tests, will give you the best possible chance to succeed. Later in the process you'll sit paper versions of these tests, so it’s good preparation.

  • You can practise taking the tests before you sit the real ones on www.shldirect.com
  • The ability tests will be timed and you should work as quickly and accurately as possible
  • Make sure you read each question carefully and that you understand what's required before committing yourself to an answer, especially where multiple choice answers appear similar.
  • If you’re having a second attempt at these assessments, we encourage you to review your feedback report and the advice provided to fully prepare before starting the timed assessments again. Be sure to pay attention to your development areas but remember an improvement across the board should be what you’re aiming for.

Some of our jobs require you to complete the work style preference questionnaire (OPQ). This questionnaire looks at your behavioural preferences in relation to a range of different aspects of working life. It's not about your knowledge, skills or abilities, but about how you like to do things and what approach you would typically take; your preferred working style. It provides a measure of how you see yourself in terms of the way you respond to other people, tackle problems, and deal with feelings and emotions. To find out why we use it click here.

When completing the questionnaire you're asked to choose between different statements, which look at various aspects of preferred working style. Your task is to choose one statement which is most like your everyday behaviour one statement which is least like your behaviour in work situations.

  • When answering the questions think about yourself in a typical work situation, rather than with friends. If you have no formal work experience, you can think about how you behave in similar situations such as voluntary work, school, college, university or when doing other tasks, for example, housework and hobbies.
  • Although work style preference questionnaires are usually administered without a time limit, you should work quickly rather than thinking about your response at length. This helps you give your most natural answer, the one which best reflects how you are. Trying to guess what you think is expected from your response may mean that you end up giving a false impression of yourself which is not true to you and therefore doesn’t align with other information you may provide.

Interviews

We recommend that you start preparing for your interview well in advance. You need to think about the topics which might be discussed and how your experiences and skills relate to these.

Prior to your interview we'd encourage you to:

  • Do thorough research
  • Remind yourself of the things you've done that can help you demonstrate the skills and qualities
  • Review your feedback report and consider the competency based questions you're likely to be asked and what your response would be
  • Come up with questions you want to ask

Remember, we're not expecting you to be perfect but preparing for some of these questions will certainly help you to feel confident that you've given it your best shot.

During the interview:

  • Listen carefully to what the interviewer is asking you
  • Take time to consider your answer if necessary
  • Express yourself clearly and concisely
  • Be as specific as you can
  • Ask considered questions about PwC or the business area you’re applying to
  • Be truthful and concise, answer the exact questions asked and don't ramble about irrelevant things.

Telephone interview

  • Ensure you're available at the specified time to take the call without any interruptions
  • As we usually contact you via the mobile phone number provided on your application form, make sure this is fully charged and that you're in an area with good reception
  • After calling your mobile, you may be asked to switch to a landline at the start of the interview so have this number ready
  • Have your CV, application form and notes handy but don't be distracted by them - focus on the interviewer
  • Don't think that food or drinks will be unheard - you wouldn't snack in a face-to-face interview
  • Ensure your tone of voice is clear and confident and smiling as you're talking will help you to relax and engage your interviewer

Face to face interview

It's extremely important that you're not late so aim to get there in good time. If you're delayed, try to call ahead to warn us so you may want to bring a copy of your interview invitation along with directions.

Prepare what you're going to wear beforehand - if in doubt, dress conservatively. When you enter the interview:

  • Smile
  • Engage in eye contact with your interviewer
  • Sit up straight
  • Try to relax and breathe normally

Economics Technical Question

Applicants to Economics Consulting are required to answer a technical question during the final interview. The questions are based around projects that are typical of the work undertaken within this business area and you are required to select one of these. You'll have 15 minutes preparation time and are required to spend the first 15 minutes of the interview providing your opinions on the scenario and discussing your approach and ideas. No prior preparation is required.

Assessment centres

The assessment centre is designed to give you the chance to demonstrate your qualities and to find out as much about life at PwC as you can.

  • Prepare what you're going to wear beforehand - if in doubt, dress conservatively
  • All materials required such as paper and pens will be provided for you. You can bring your own calculator but if you choose not to, one will be provided for you
  • Make sure you bring all necessary additions e.g. reading glasses, inhaler, prescribed medication
  • There'll probably be at least one and up to 11 other participants attending the same assessment day but remember you're not in competition with them but judged on your own, individual merits

Psychometric tests

  • You'll undertake numerical, logical (sometimes referred to as inductive) and verbal reasoning tests (depending on the business area you’ve applied to) so prepare yourself for these and work through the practice information sent in advance. We recommend you review your feedback report from the online assessments for additional guidance on where you might need to focus your attention.

Group or individual exercises

A group exercise allows us to observe how people perform when working in a team. We give you a pack of information and ask you to use it as a team to come up with solutions to a range of issues. This type of exercise allows you to demonstrate communication and influencing skills, teamwork, and your ability to manage a task and deal with changing priorities.

We may ask you to take part in an individual exercise depending on the size of the assessment centre and/or the location you've applied to. The individual exercise assesses the same skills as the group exercise but you'll interact with a trained assessor rather than other candidates.

Each type of exercise will last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and no prior preparation is required. Ensure that you speak clearly and audibly so that the assessors can hear you

Written Exercise

The written exercise is designed to assess your written communication ability. You’ll have 30 minutes to read the exercise briefing materials and prepare a written report on the given subject. This exercise is designed to assess your ability to produce written reports to an appropriate standard. Your report will be assessed on the basis of your application of structure; use of clear, concise language; and logical and coherent presentation.

FAQs

How should I prepare for the assessments?

  • Ahead of your assessment session we'll send you information on where and when your assessment will take place, as well as how you can prepare so read this carefully.
  • For the ability tests, use practice materials to improve your skills and understanding of the task. As well as the materials you can find on our hints & tips page , you can find additional practice materials online (for example at: www.psychtesting.org.uk, www.shldirect.com and www.savilleconsulting.com). If you have limited internet access, most bookshops and libraries stock books that contain practice tests. Your University careers centre may also be able to offer you practice materials
  • Find opportunities to put the skills to be assessed into practice. For instance, if you're taking a numerical test, use everyday activities like shopping trips or reading a financial newspaper to test your numerical understanding and practise calculations
  • Tell us in advance if you're not clear about the assessment process or have any concerns
  • If you have a disability or learning difficulty such as dyslexia, a medical condition or individual need that may affect your performance, we would welcome an opportunity to discuss our recruitment process with you. Please tell us in advance of the session so we have time to make the most appropriate arrangements for you
  • Let us know as soon as possible if you can't attend for any reason
  • Get a good night's sleep before the session
  • If you need reading glasses or a hearing aid, remember to take these with you to the assessment session
  • Allow plenty of time to get to the session punctually

What happens during the ability testing session?

A certified Test Administrator manages each assessment session and will tell you clearly what to do and how to do it. We do everything we can to make all our candidates' assessment experiences professional and fair. Please help us by being considerate of other candidates, including respecting their privacy and confidentiality.

  • If you have a mobile phone with you, turn it off before the test session starts
  • Pay attention to test instructions
  • Make sure you have understood a question or a task before responding
  • Many tests have strict time limits. If you're being timed, try to work through questions quickly but accurately

Do you use negative marking for the tests?

Each assessment has its own scoring system. During the introduction to the test we'll explain the best way to answer.

For most ability tests, your accuracy can be checked. We advise working quickly and accurately. If you're unsure of an answer, mark your best choice and avoid wild or random guesses. Your 'best choice' is when you have narrowed the answer down to one probable answer or two likely answers, and then select one of them. Wild guessing is when you cannot decide which of the multiple-choice answers is correct and randomly pick one.

Is there a pass mark for the test?

Before using any assessment tool, we work out what level of achievement indicates that a candidate has the potential to do a specific job successfully.

We'll compare your results with the level of skill needed by the role you've applied for; and with those of candidates who have a similar educational background and have previously applied to similar roles.

Does it matter what order I answer the questions?

Sometimes the questions in a test become progressively more complex, but not always. It's best to listen closely to the instructions given at the assessment session. Usually the best strategy is to work through all questions in order, and as quickly and accurately as you can.

Am I expected to finish the test?

Some people will complete an ability test in the time allowed, others won't. Don't be too concerned if you can't finish all the questions. We score on the number of correct answers given in the time allowed, so just work as quickly and accurately as you can.

Will you tell me how I did?

Yes, we'll inform you of your result along with feedback on the rest of your application. This will be once a recruitment decision has been made.

Can I use a calculator during my numerical test?

You can use a calculator in many of our numerical ability tests. We'll let you know in advance if you'll be allowed to use one and the Test Administrator will let you know again at the start of the session. If you are allowed to use a calculator, we'll provide you with one. Or, if you prefer, you can bring your own.

In every case, the rules of your testing session will be the same for all other candidates applying for the same role.

I have substantial experience/qualifications for the role I applied for. Why do I need to take tests as well?

The assessment tools give us extra information on particular areas like reasoning ability or the quality of your team working skills. It's difficult to assess these skills objectively from other parts of the selection procedure.

Each assessment focuses on a specific, job-relevant skill. People who have little experience of a particular job may well be very capable of doing that job, and the test gives them the chance to prove it. All candidates for a role complete the same assessment exercises which means we can compare them fairly and objectively.

Can I fail the tests? And if so, what effect will this have on my chance of getting a role?

It is possible to fail the tests. Before using any assessment tool, we work out what level of achievement indicates that a candidate has the potential to do a specific job successfully. As such, if you fail to meet any of the criteria, at any stage of the recruitment process, your application will not progress any further.

What are your commitments to candidates completing the assessments?

We're committed to the fair and ethical use of assessment tools and provide information to help you understand why and how we use them in our recruitment process. We've also prepared a detailed statement of our commitment to all candidates.