Preparing for a PwC interview can be daunting, but we have pulled together what you need to be ready to interview with one of the world’s largest professional services firms. PwC is a Big 4 firm headquartered in London. It was formed from a merger between Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand in 1998. However, PwC has a long 160+ year history of offering client services including audit, tax and advisory.
Keep in mind that PwC divides its consulting into two main branches:
- Strategy& – focus on executive level strategy, cost reduction, growth opportunities, and streamlining operations.
- PwC Consulting – focus on technology tools and their implementation, executing deals, post-merger improvements, organizational restructuring, innovation and integration programs and digital strategy.
Pro Tip: You can expect to receive a case interview(s) with a focus in one or more of the above areas. Keep reading for more on what to expect during a case interview.
PwC Interview Considerations
Joining PwC means you will receive a few years of excellent experience and training well above your pay grade. PwC is known for its training program and how it prepares employees to be successful in their careers, including global opportunities. You will also receive what most people want when they join – the PwC brand name on your resume.
Most employees do not make a career out of staying with PwC. They come prepared to leave with a great deal of experience under their belts. You will put in a lot of hours working at PwC, with minimal work-life balance, but your job at PwC will set you up for many exciting exit opportunities.
If you are ready to dive into a job with PwC, preparing for the PwC interview is necessary to get a job with this massive firm. The PwC interview is designed to determine if you are a good fit for their collaborative organizational culture. You will be evaluated on how well you listen, synthesize information and problem-solve during a fast-paced interview. PwC plans to put you in front of clients, and how you handle the interview directly reflects your capability to perform well in a high-pressure client scenario.
What are PwC Interviews Like?
The PwC interview is designed to assist the interviewer in understanding your consulting abilities and your functional understanding of its business. Be prepared to know which professional services area you wish to join. Once you enter one, it will be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for you to change during your time with PwC. Take your pick of Tax, Audit or Consulting, but expect to stay there once hired.
PwC will evaluate how you behave as a consultant as part of your interview. You will experience both business case and behavioral interviews.
A business case interview is essentially a business test. PwC wants to see how you perform as a consultant. They are putting you through the paces now to test how you:
- Identify issues/problems
- Synthesize data/information
- Solve math and analytical problems
- Make recommendations to client problems/issues
Not Just About Business
PwC is interested in how you will deliver consistent value to its clients and if you will fit well within their collaborative culture. If you keep your cool during a case interview, you will likely do the same with their clients.
Behavioral interview questions allow you to showcase how you will perform on the job. PwC is interested in how you have specifically handled issues in the past. You can expect questions such as:
- “Tell me about a time when you had a significant challenge and overcame it”, or
- “Give me an example of how you had a challenging work situation and successfully resolved it”
PwC also wants to know more about you as a person, how you communicate, resolve issues and problems, and how you resolve conflict. They will likely ask why you want to join PwC in particular and why you want to be a consultant.
PwC needs to see that you have the interpersonal relationship skills and emotional IQ to be a consultant. Relationships matter in consulting. If you are not able to build rapport, they know you won’t be able to build it with clients.
Don’t be surprised if you are asked to provide a written presentation as well. Your written skills must be impeccable with no typos. PwC wants to see how you perform under pressure so you will need to practice your business cases and behavioral interview questions with an expert.
While you are at it, ensure your mental math is on point. There will be no calculators available during your interviews.
PwC Interview Process
You can expect up to four rounds of interviews if you count the first call with Human Resources, which you absolutely should. The first call with a PwC recruiter from HR determines if you will make it to your next interview. This is your chance to demonstrate your unique capabilities and fit with PwC. You will also likely be asked to take an assessment test.
If you make it through the initial screening call and an assessment test, you will be scheduled for what is referred to as “super day”. Expect to be evaluated for an entire day. You will be interviewed up to three to five times by different individuals.
You can expect to be interviewed by Managers, Directors, and by a Senior Partner. Be prepared for a combination of behavioral interviews and group and individual case interviews and to be interviewed one-on-one and/or with a panel of interviewers.
The entire interview process can take up to four weeks to complete, or up to three months if you are applying through your University.
How are PwC Interviews Unique?
Expect your PwC interview to be very different to what you will experience at a corporate firm. Knowing your resume well is only the first step to a successful interview with PwC. Your successful interview will go beyond what you have accomplished and how well you collaborate with others, even though highly valued at PwC. You must be prepared to nail your case interview.
As you present your business cases, be careful to not be too formal (focused on structure) or appear too strong-willed. This may work during other consulting firm interviews, such as at McKinsey, but will not work well for your PwC interview. PwC wants to ensure you are a good fit for their collaborative culture and will work well within a team environment.
PwC is also going to test your functional understanding of their firm as well. Are you interested in their Audit, Advisory or Consulting division? Keep in mind that once you enter one division it is very hard to move to another once you are hired. For example, you will likely need to move to another Big 4 consulting firm to change from one division to another (e.g., Audit to Advisory).
PwC Case Interview Structure
Dependent upon the practice you are applying for, and where you are applying, the PwC interview structure and questions will vary. You can expect a behavioral-style interview as discussed above, where you receive questions that showcase how you have delivered tangible results in varying business situations.
Expect those case interviews to show up when you are expecting a behavioral interview, so it pays to be ready for any type of interview. You can expect very fast-paced interviews, but they should be straight-forward interviews without any interview tricks.
The case interviews are generally candidate-led. So be ready to answer PwC case interview questions that focus on creativity and an associated recommendation, framework development, framework exploration, situation, or quant question (you may or may not have any data).
Structuring Your Case
Structuring your case is key to your success in a case interview. Determine how you will structure the problem as this will guide the interview as you work to solve the proposed problem.
As you work to solve a case during your interview be prepared to:
- Isolate categories – identify your focus and ensure your interviewer agrees with you.
- Draw on your practical experience.
- Prioritize – ensure you are focused on what the interviewer is asking you to solve.
- Identify data required to solve your business problem. Always follow your data, not your structure.
Remember, a wide range of skills is needed to solve a case interview. However, most importantly, remember these three most critical things:
- The problem you are being asked to solve
- The metric you will use to measure success
- The data you need to measure the metric
Make sure to ask the right questions as you clarify the business problem at hand. Keep in mind that there is not one correct way to solve a case.
Finally, ensure you make a solid recommendation, even if you have limited data. You can always say that you would like to explore certain opportunities further, but always leave your interviewer with a solid, data-based recommendation.
Preparing for the PwC Interview
As you prepare for your interview, reach out to anyone you may know at PwC. They can help you understand what to expect during the interview process. They may be able to help you to network within the organization, and possibly provide a reference for you ahead of your interview.
PwC case interviews are similar to those found in Case in Point. You can expect case interviews similar to what is highlighted in this book. Practicing business case questions in advance is a critical part of your interview preparations. Our biggest tip: make sure you practice out loud, either with a partner or an expert.
Your PwC case interview will likely not be as challenging as one with McKinsey, and not as quantitative as with other firms (e.g., Deloitte or Accenture).
Next Steps for PwC Interview Prep
In addition to the resources mentioned above, spend time researching PwC, what it stands for and what it is looking for in a candidate. Ensure you are prepared for PwC case interview questions, and practice behavior-based interview questions as well. YouTube has a lot of videos of case interviews that will help you prepare. However, you need to make sure you are practicing cases out loud as well.
The most successful candidates take the time to prepare for this interview process including practicing business cases and behavioral interviews with an expert coach. At Management Consulted, our expert team can help you prepare for your PwC Interview.
Being PwC Interview Ready
Keep in mind that the PwC interview is intended for the firm to get to know you as a person
and how you will perform as a consultant. They are looking to see how you communicate, listen, and if you are willing to learn. They are also especially looking to see if you are a good cultural fit for their organization and their clients. Good luck!