Assessments - what to expect

We use various methods to assess candidates during our recruitment process.

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Often assessment tools are used in addition to reviewing candidates' CVs and application forms followed by formal interviewing.

Tools, such as ability tests, offer us objective information about candidates' abilities. Each candidate who applies for a role will offer a unique set of skills, experience and characteristics. If we identify key abilities required for a role we can introduce different tools into the process to measure these abilities. All candidates for the role can then be compared in terms of the level of skill they demonstrate in the assessment.

Our assessment tools

Ability tests

Ability tests are usually presented in a multiple-choice question and answer format for completion either online or in person at one of our offices. All questions have a single correct response and alternative incorrect responses. Your achievement is measured on the basis of the number of correct answers you can provide in the time allowed. The best strategy for tests of this nature is to work as quickly and accurately as you can, but not so quickly that you make careless mistakes. If you are not sure of an answer, mark your best choice but avoid wild guessing. 

  • Candidates applying for roles which require numerical reasoning skills, i.e. the ability to extract and understand numerical information provided in a range of formats (e.g. graphs or tables), may be asked to undertake a numerical reasoning exercise.
  • Candidates applying for roles which require an ability to understand written information in reports or briefs may be required to undertake a verbal reasoning exercise. These exercises typically consider a candidate's ability to extract relevant information from written text.

Case studies or in-tray exercises

These tools can take a variety of forms, including case studies or in-tray exercises. 

  • Candidates applying to a role where industry knowledge is essential, and consultation may be required, may be given a case study exercise. The content of the case study is directly relevant to the role for which candidates are applying. In these cases, candidates are required to use their existing knowledge and experience to identify key information from the brief. This information may then need to be reported on orally or in writing in the form of actions recommended for the client concerned. 
  • Candidates applying for roles which require planning, organising and coordination may be asked to undertake an in-tray exercise. In an in-tray exercise the candidate is presented with a number of pieces of information which they are asked to sort, prioritise and take action on.

Personality questionnaires

Personality questionnaires measure a candidate's preferences for certain types of behaviour. Candidates are asked to describe themselves - their preferences in communicating and interacting with others and their typical working style - by rating the extent to which a number of statements apply to themselves. The output is a report which describes the candidate's likely working style, interpersonal approach and preferences overall. Personality questionnaires are not used to sift candidates out of the recruitment process. Rather, they add to the richness of the information gathered in other parts of the assessment process which recruiters can use when considering a candidate's suitability for a particular role overall. There are no right or wrong answers in a personality questionnaire. The best response to offer is an honest one.

If you are asked to complete any assessment exercises as part of your application to PwC, you will be advised in advance of the particular tools that will be used.

Next Steps

Online Assessment

Ability tests as well as personality questionnaires can be administered online. If you are asked to undertake an online assessment, you will need access to the internet. Make the necessary preparations to ensure that you are not interrupted (e.g. turn off your phone and let people know that you should not be disturbed). Allow yourself more time than required for the actual test/assessment so that you can go through the instructions, and any example questions, at a relaxed pace. You can get first hand experience of taking online ability tests by doing an online practice test. You can visit and try one now.

Notes about SHL's practice tests

SHL is a company that specialises in producing psychometric tests. On the SHL Direct site you’ll find some examples of verbal and numerical reasoning test questions, similar to those you would find on real tests.

If you choose to complete the timed practice tests, you’ll be asked to register your details on this site. This is to help SHL develop a better understanding of who completes their practice tests and they will use this information to ensure the feedback you receive is relevant to you specifically. You won't have to wait for a login to be sent to you and you will be able to proceed directly to the test itself.

The actual test will be timed, so bear this in mind during your practice runs. The best approach is to work both quickly and accurately, so keep calm and think about your answers.

Assessment in person

If you’re invited to attend an assessment session, this will most often take place in one of our offices. You may be assessed on your own or with a group of candidates. If you are part of a group, please be considerate of any other candidates you meet, including respecting their privacy and confidentiality. If you are asked to take one or more psychometric tests at one of our offices, the testing session will be managed by a certified Test Administrator.

More about what happens at a test session

Ability tests are standardised to make sure all candidates' assessment experiences are consistent.

Following a brief introduction by your Test Administrator, the formal test will begin. The instructions for doing the test will be read to you. This may seem a little formal but we do it for good reason: we want to makes sure that each person taking the test is given all the relevant information, accurately and completely.

During each test's introduction, you will be given some example questions. These are provided to help you understand what you have to do before you start the test itself. You will also be offered an opportunity to ask questions before you start the test. If you have any questions in advance you might find answers to them on the frequently asked questions page.

Once your test session has been completed your scores will be considered, along with the other information gathered during the recruitment process, and a recruitment decision will be made. At that point you will receive a written report (usually by email) which provides you with a meaningful interpretation of your test scores.

Prepare for taking tests

We’re committed to making sure that all job applicants are treated fairly and with respect, irrespective of an applicants actual or assumed background including age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race (including nationality and national and ethnic origins), religion or belief, sex, pregnancy or maternity and sexual orientation.

As a member of The Employers' Forum on Disability, we are committed to becoming disability-confident. We’ll be happy to discuss with you any reasonable adjustments needed to adapt our process for you fairly. Please contact us via our recruitment queries webpage.

Interview types

The technical interview is your chance to provide additional evidence about how, in the past, you have applied you technical skills and knowledge to deliver exceptional work.

In addition, we will be keen to assess your commercial knowledge and industry expertise, including how this can apply in the current market and economic climate, alongside any relevant or current sector developments. Most importantly, consider what might differentiate you from our current employees and be prepared to talk about this in the context of what you have achieved so far in your career.

If you are used to speaking to colleagues and clients on the telephone, undertaking a telephone interview can appear to be relatively straightforward. However, even highly capable candidates can perform poorly at this early stage, sometimes failing to do themselves justice at all. Therefore, preparation for this element of the assessment process is as vital as stages much later on in the process.

For many candidates, the situation can feel rather contrived and impersonal, due to the lack of eye-contact and ability to build rapport. However, considering and adopting some of the points below can help you to make a positive impression and, ultimately, succeed at this stage:

  • Find a place where you will not be interrupted, lay your CV/ any notes out in front of you so you can refer to them quickly if you need to.
  • Have a pen and paper in case you need to make a note of anything, such as the question being asked or something you think you might want to explore later.
  • Answer the ‘phone with a smile! Smiling can help you to relax and, as a result, you will come across as more confident, friendly and assertive.
  • Talk clearly and distinctly and think about your pace; if the interviewer is asking you to repeat yourself it might be because you are talking too fast.
  • Try to connect with the interviewer in some way to build rapport. Consider what you might have in common and draw on this to create a dialogue
  • Take time to consider your answer, if necessary, and make it clear to the interviewer that this is what you are doing, rather than just going silent.
  • Ask the interviewer to clarify what they are asking you if you are unsure or repeat the question back to them if you want confirmation - listening on the phone can be challenging and interviewers will be sensitive to this.
  • Answer the question that was asked and be careful not to go off the point. Support your answers with real-life examples that you have prepared from previous experience.
  • Finally express your motivation for applying for the role coherently and try to end the call on a positive note; thanking the interviewer for their time.

Interview tips

Depending on where you are in the assessment process, you might be invited to attend a telephone-based interview, a knowledge-based technical interview or a face-to-face interview.

At PwC, our interviewers will consider what your experience and skills demonstrate you are able to offer. Your interview is as important to us as it is to you. Here are some valuable tips to help you to succeed.

Whichever interview you are working towards, we would always recommend you start to prepare well in advance. A good place to start in all instances is to begin to understand the topics which will be discussed in your interview and to think about how your experiences, skills and knowledge relate to these.

Some guidance is provided below in relation to the different types of interview.

Our recommendations for your technical interview

Our recommendations before arriving for your technical interview

What to do during your technical interview

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