How to demonstrate the qualities PwC recruiters look for during the assessment process
PwC states that the two main purposes of its assessment centre (which you will attend with up to 11 other participants) are to give you a chance to demonstrate your best qualities and to ‘find out as much about life at PwC as you can’. The latter will come from observation and talking to current employees and recruiters, and asking good questions. The former will be evaluated during all stages of the assessment centre (and at interview), namely: psychometric tests, group or individual exercises, a written exercise and, for those applying to strategy and economics consulting, a case study. Throughout the process, bear in mind the firm’s five core attributes. PwC believes these attributes make it stand out from its competitors, so ignore them at your peril and demonstrate them whenever possible:
Core attribute: relationships
If you can’t work with other people – whether they are colleagues or clients – you probably shouldn’t be applying to a firm that prides itself on the power of relationships. The best place to demonstrate your ability to get on with other people is during the group exercises. You will be given a pack of information and asked to use it as a team to come up with solutions to a range of issues. Try to communicate with all the members in the group, both the quieter ones and the more confident ones. Listen to others and make your points clearly and audibly so that the assessors can hear you.
Even if you’re asked to take part in an individual exercise (due to the size of the assessment centre and/or the location you’ve applied to), you’ll be interacting with a trained assessor so you can still demonstrate your communication and interaction skills.
Core attribute: whole leadership
A group exercise requires a fine balance of helping the team to complete the task and promoting your own cause so let your natural leadership abilities shine through – without being bossy! Can you encourage others to put their opinions forward, or persuade them to come round to your way of thinking? At interview, talk about any time when you took the lead – on a university project, for example, or in a part-time job.
Core attribute: business acumen
In both the group exercises and the written exercises, it’s important to show that you have good business sense, that you’re up to date with business and industry trends (make sure they’re relevant to the situation, however, and you’re not just showing off!). Can you show that you have considered all the facts in a situation and looked at it from different angles? If you're writing, make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect, and that you have written clear, logical sentences.
If you’re doing the case study, you’ll be assessed on your ability to answer a number of questions using the information provided, plus your own knowledge and experience. Recruiters will be looking to see if you can you think things through logically, and understand the impact a decision will have on a business. Show you can identify the most important aspects of the information you’ve been given.
Core attribute: global acumen
It’s easy to understand why an employer with c169,000 employees worldwide (16,000 in the UK) wants you to have a global mindset. When you’re coming up with solutions to tasks on assessment day (be they written, in a case study or during group exercises), show that you understand that business decisions have far-reaching consequences. You may not know exactly what these consequences would be, but make it clear that you understand that a business doesn’t exist in a bubble. During the social side of the day, when chatting to recruiters, take the time to ask them about the global aspects of the business.
Core attribute: technical capabilities
If you’re applying for a graduate role, PwC will not expect you to have a technical understanding of how it undertakes tax computations or evaluates a balance sheet, but recruiters will want to see that you are professional and capable of producing high quality work. Think of a time when you had to produce something to a high standard, or when you needed to increase your knowledge about a topic. How did you go about it? Then how did you apply that knowledge to achieve your goal? If you shared your insights with others, did you convey them convincingly? Make sure you do some research on the business area you’re applying to, so you can demonstrate that you understand some of the technical aspects of working in that area. If there are professional qualification on offer, for example, show you’ve looked into them and understand your options.