The Inside Scoop on a PwC Insight Day

Not too long ago, I took part in a PwC Insight Day in London. I found it to be dynamic, challenging but most of all completely different from my expectations. Here I will share some advice that was given over the course of the event, as well as give a general outline on what you should expect from the day. 

They are looking for applicants with strong teamwork skills and commercial awareness. 

The true beginning to an Insight Day is in the lobby, which tends to be a quiet time with students looking around uncomfortably and perhaps sizing up the competition. Regardless of whether or not you're already being monitored, take the initiative to engage and introduce yourself to everyone. It’ll instantly get everyone chatting, set a more comfortable atmosphere, and get you in the right state-of-mind for group tasks.

Yes, forget a tour of the offices, and instead be expecting group tasks within the first fifteen minutes of the Insight Day. These were two timed activities of around forty-minutes each, with a short coffee-break in-between. The first task was to prepare a group presentation on any article in the days newspaper, which had to including an analysis of the documented situation and areas where PwC could provide its services. The second exercise was a fictional case study revolving around a merger between two companies.

The task was to play the role of a fictional PwC analyst to analyse the situation, identify problematic areas, and consider what advice and services you could give to the companies. Each group also had an employee from PwC providing advice throughout the exercises.

The best candidates were the ones who not only contributed by also encouraged others to share their opinions.

These two group activities formed the morning of the Insight Day - essentially, it was a mock assessment centre. The message PwC were sending out was completely clear: they were looking for applicants with strong teamwork skills and commercial awareness. Other important competencies included communication, leadership and courage. They look for people who aren't hesitant to contribute towards a team's success, but not people who are argumentative or overly dominant. The best candidates were the ones who not only contributed by also encouraged others to share their opinions. For anyone that has an insight day planned, my advice is to make the most of the morning session, as it's so rare to have the chance to practice for an assessment centre situation.

I was given a few helpful tips on Partner Interviews, which is the final stage of the application process where your interviewer is one of the highest ranking members in the PwC hierarchy.

The lunch-break doubled as a networking event. As tempting as the buffet it, it's probably more important that you talk to one of the employees in your target area before he or she gets crowded by like-minded students. I was given a few helpful tips on Partner Interviews, which is the final stage of the application process where your interviewer is one of the highest ranking members in the PwC hierarchy.

I was told that once you get to such a late stage, it's clear that you've proved your competencies and skills, and the partners are instead looking ot connect with you on a personal level. The ultimate question will be whether they could see themselves working alongside you.

The afternoon was a workshop on interview skills. Important points were to give well structured answers, preferably in the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format, and to know about the ACA qualification. When asked about your past experiences in group situations, be sure to talk about the exact role you played, as well as the overall dynamic within the group.

Commercial awareness is also vital, as is knowing what all branches of PwC do. We finished off by looking at quick examples of the questions asked in online tests.

The trick to mastering these is just to practice a lot and get used to what they're asking, since so many companies use very similar test systems. The most difficult part is often the strict time limit, so be sure to practice in timed conditions.

In all, the day made clear the key skills that PwC were primarily looking for in candidates and providing training for the application process. While veterans of the application process may find it to be little more than a small networking event, for the rest of us it's an excellent workshop from a professional company, a valuable tool for preparation, and a great experience overall.

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