We recently caught up with Sophie about securing a graduate role with PwC, how she built up her commercial awareness before the interview and her top tips for Bright Network members looking to follow in her footsteps.
What stood out to you about PwC?
PwC stood out to me for four main reasons: the employees, clients, brand and training. I loved the idea of working with industry-leading businesses and professionals across different projects. As I was applying for Audit, the fact that PwC provides audit services to the largest share of FTSE 100 companies of any UK audit business was a considerable attraction. The PwC culture seemed like it would challenge me and help me realise my career goals by giving me exposure to a range of industries. I was also excited by the disruptive technology PwC uses, such as the drones that are sometimes deployed for remote auditing of factory sites. Overall, I believed that PwC would help me build my professional skill set and offer me unrivalled opportunities in the long term.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
I checked The Times' and The Guardian's business sections, as well as the Financial Times (FT). I also listened to the FT's News Briefing podcast each morning; it's only 10 minutes long so perfect for during the shower or whilst having breakfast! FT's 'Tech Tonic' podcast is another good one. Depending on the specific role you are applying for, I’d also recommend PwC's 'A-Z of tech' and accounting podcasts. It's also a good idea to keep an eye on PwC's website and LinkedIn, and sign up to their Talent Network communications for recent stories and updates that you can drop in during an interview. I also subscribed to some email newsletters, such as The Economist, TechCrunch, City AM and BBC News Daily to help boost my commercial awareness in the lead-up to the assessment centre.
What would be your top tip to members going through the application process?
My top tip would be to have some facts and articles about PwC that you can cite during an interview. Ideally, these would be ones that interest you and that you have garnered from more niche sources, perhaps from a podcast, a newsletter article or PwC’s annual report. That way, you’re showing you are passionate about joining the company and highly motivated to do well there. You’ll need to make sure that these articles resonate with you as it’s likely the interviewer will discuss them with you and ask for your opinions too. They’ll also want to learn more about you as a person so try and be yourself and let your personality shine through in the interview!
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
Bright Network was such a valuable resource for helping me secure this role. Internship Experience UK last summer gave such a good insight into industry-leading companies and the workshops within this were very useful for thinking about the kinds of skills you want to showcase during the application process. Bright Network Festival was equally as useful for networking and creating a better picture of different firms. All the previous success stories and blogs discussing a ‘day in the life’ at PwC were also invaluable. They gave me an insight into the Audit role as well as the culture at PwC, reassuring me that I was applying for the right position at the right company. Bright Network’s ‘Thinking Commercially’ podcast also gave me plenty of information to draw upon in interviews, demonstrating the commercial awareness that employers really look for. Overall, the information and virtual events on Bright Network hugely helped in boosting my confidence.
What’s been the toughest interview question you've faced and how did you tackle it?
I think the toughest question I’ve faced is “what makes you stand out from other candidates?” This is because you really must think outside the box and say something which will make you memorable. It’s likely that all candidates will be equally as motivated and qualified with similar skill sets, so it was important to say something unique that would differentiate me from the crowd. I tackled this question by giving an example of a time when I showed tenacity and kept going despite being under pressure. By going into detail with the example I chose, I showed some of my character and it was hopefully something that the interviewer would remember.
Did you use Bright Network Academy in your career search and if so, how did that help you?
I did use Bright Network Academy in my job search, particularly the ‘application processes’ and ‘commercial awareness’ courses. The application process modules were extremely useful for demystifying stages like video interviews and the assessment centre, which I hadn’t done before. By knowing what to expect, I felt calmer and more prepared. The commercial awareness modules were helpful for an overview of city firms and understanding where Audit at PwC fit into this. I also used the psychometric tests to practise my numerical and analytical skills ahead of applying, which I’d highly recommend doing.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Do as much research as possible on the employer and role you’re applying to – this will help showcase how passionate you are!
- Sign up to a couple of email newsletters (including your employers of interest) and listen to one or two podcasts to boost your commercial awareness.
- Be yourself in the interview and ask lots of questions at the end to show how interested you are in the role!