Guide to PwC's Assessment Process and Graduate Schemes

PwC are one of the 'big 4' accountancy firms in the world, so the popularity of their jobs and graduate schemes is extremely high. We've sought the advice of PwC applicants to help create the perfect guide to help prepare you for your application.

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Josh Hancock Updated:

About PwC's Selection Process

To pass the PwC application process and secure a role is very challenging. PwC are one of the most popular employers with thousands of applicants each year for their various accounting roles. With jobs available across areas such as Audit, Risk Assurance, Finance, Tax, Legal and others, there are plenty of opportunities and graduate roles available. The opportunities at PwC are vast and so being prepared for the application process is vital. With the right advice and practise you can alleviate some of those nerves and be ready to tackle everything they throw at you.

PwC have a minimum qualification requirement you must meet in order to be considered. Generally, you'll need a 2:1 in any degree to apply for its roles. If you're wishing to apply for a consultancy position, then you need a 2:1 in Economics (as your first degree). Hopefully you meet those requirements and we can move onto the main application process advice.

The selection process may vary depending on what role you're applying for but usually it will involve an online application, career valuation and career unlocked (online assessments), career conversation (interview), and career focus (assessment centre).

We'll break down each of these section below, offering our advice and advice from fellow job-seekers that have been through these application processes.

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PwC Application Process Stages

As mentioned, your exact application process may not be identical to this but we have outlined the most common stages from recent PwC applicants and as well as their experiences and tips.

Stage 1

Online Application

Irrespective of the role you're applying for or the region, you will always have to start off with an online application submission. These are fairly similar across all companies and will simply ask for personal details, education, qualifications and a couple preliminary questions. You may be asked why you have chosen this particular role to apply to so make sure you can answer that, and that it is a role you're genuinely interested in.

Stage 2

Career Valuation

This section has been dropped and PwC explicitly state that they do not have any SJTs, at least as part of their graduate recruitment process. After you've submitted your application you previously would have been asked to complete 'Career valuation' which is PwC's Immersive Job Preview Assessment. This would have been a situational judgement test (SJT). One Applicant describes the immersive job preview assessment as:

Short pre-recorded videos of work-place scenarios and after each video you have to answer how you would respond if this was a real-life situation. There are four options to choose from and you have to rank them by selecting the answer which you'd most likely do and your least likely response.

SJT's are common amongst graduate schemes as they help the employer evaluate how suitable you are to the role and the company's culture. It's always best to not steer too far from the truth as these are designed to not only help the employer but also the candidate - if you're responses are not in-line with what they're after then it's likely you also wouldn't enjoy it too much there (More information on SJT's).

Stage 3

Career Unlocked

If you've managed to pass the situational judgement test and are seen as a good fit for PwC then you will be onto the next set of assessments, Career Unlocked. It's important to note, you are given around 21 days to complete all these assessments, so you can take your time and get good practise in beforehand.

The test(s) you face during career unlocked may vary depending on the role you're applying for, but will most commonly be a combination of game-based assessments, numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning, and/or verbal reasoning tests. The variations will be communicated to you, you won't have to enter into a test without knowing what it is beforehand.

The game-based assessments will be first, these are a fresher way to test a candidate's cognitive abilities and behaviour as the format makes it enjoyable for the user. These will look at how you overcome challenges, work towards certain goals and your decision-making ability. A risk assurance applicant describes her experience with the game-based assessments:

There were 10 levels with each level testing different abilities. There was one where you had to remember codes to unlock a safe and another where you had to blow up balloons which was interesting. It was just a selection of cool logical games.

These game-based assessments are provided by Arctic Shores. Some of the games are available for download for you to practise. PwC have stated that you can practise the games using the username and password 'pwcgo'.

Graduates and students are often also required to take a numerical reasoning test. This will be an 18 minute test consisting of 18 numerical questions. You will be presented with tables, graphs and maybe asked to undertake currency changes. PwC have recently started using SHL Verify Interactive Tests in their application process. These tests are a modern, fun and interactive way to test candidates. The skills tests will still be the same as previous numerical tests, but the format will be different. Try your hand at our free practice numerical test to evaluate your current numerical ability.

I was worried about the numerical assessment as I don't feel very confident with maths, especially under pressure. I took some time between the game-based assessment to practise all the numerical tests on [Assessmentday], practising every question. It was definitely very helpful and felt like I was ready.

For exeperienced career level applications, you may also have to take a verbal reasoning test or a logical/deductive reasoning test. These will also be adminsitered by SHL, and will most likely be from their Verify Interactive Series.

With the game-based assessments they measure more how you work under pressure and who you are, rather than how well you do exactly. Having platforms like Assessmentday and the chance to practise is helpful. With numerical and logical tests, they're not really things or concepts that you study at university - they're abstract - so having a chance to practise is really useful.

Stage 4

Career Conversation

Once you've managed to pass the online assessments, you move onto the next stage called Career Conversation which is a video interview.

Career Conversation will record your responses to a number of questions and case studies. You will be asked why you wish to work for PwC, what interests you about the role and other questions that are related to work life and the skills they're after.

PwC recommend for candidates to check the skills that PwC are looking for in order to ensure you align with what they're after.

The following video is from PwC and it breaks down what a PwC professional should be:

pwc application advice video

Stage 5

Career Focus

Upon passing the psychometric tests, you will then be asked to take part in the final stage assessment which is an assessment centre. PwC's immersive assessment centre is called 'Career Focus'. In this final assessment you will be working on some exercises and case studies on your own and also as part of a group.

The PwC group exercise involves reading some general information which provides all the relevant context and background to the task, with some calculations that need to be made. There are 4-6 people in a group and each person also has some unique information about a particular investment. After 20 minutes reading time, the group has 30 minutes to discuss and share, in order to reach a recommendation for a fictitious company.

Everyone will be nervous, even if they don't seem it, so just relax and try your best. Speak calmly, confidently and at a volume that everyone can hear. This is when you can showcase your personality - most of these stages have been impersonal, where PwC have been assessing your cognitive ability, but now you can show them who you really are.

Dress smart, be prepared, be confident and just enjoy the experience.

IMPORTANT: Since the coronavirus pandemic, Career Focus is now an online assessment day. The same advice applies, but also make sure your connection and microphone are working well and wherever you decide to join the online call from that it's quiet and clean (having a messy bed in the background won't give off the best impression!).

Do as much practise as possible, when I started practising I was like 'OMG, I don't understand any of this!' for me practise was the key. As I did more and more tests, I got much more confident, and then when I sat the actual test it was easy and it was due to practise. I found the Assessmentday tests were actually more challenging than the PwC ones which was a very good thing. Now, I feel like I'm even more prepared for more numerical assessments in the future.

If you would like to share your PwC experience with us and help others, then contact us and email in!

Buy Practice Logical Reasoning Tests

Our logical reasoning practice test pack is suitable for preparing for the PwC logical reasoning test.

Logical Reasoning Test Pack (suitable for preparing for PwC)

Prepare for all logical reasoning tests including the PwC logical reasoning test. Includes 25+ practice tests covering all major test publishers.

Excellent variety of practice tests ranging in difficulty levels. Really helped me feel prepared for, and pass, my actual online tests.

Answered questions

Are these tests suitable for PwC?

No. PwC use Arctic Shores' game-based assessments to assess its candidates. They have memory-related games, which you can practise something similar on our game-based assessments page called Memory Cards. The other tests use SHL Verify Interactive, which is again an interactive test. Unfortunately, we do not have suitable practice for this for the moment.

How difficult are your tests?

The same difficulty as real tests. Generally real employer selection tests don't differ that much in terms of difficulty which is why they compare your score against norm groups. Our practice tests are pitched roughly at graduate level, but this means they are actually suitable for preparing for all levels of job: entry; apprentice; graduate; senior; director.

Are they compatible with my Mac / Tablet / Phone?

Yes, and PC, and Linux and smartphone and Android and...everything. Our practice tests will run on all systems and they are responsive so they will work well on tablets and smartphones too!

How many times can I take the tests?

Unlimited. You can take our practice tests as many times as you like; there is no limit. But to be honest, after taking the same test a few times you start to remember the answers, so that’s why we have lots of tests.