5 Common Reasons Why PwC Rejects Graduate Job Applicants

As more and more university graduates pass out each year, the cut-throat competition faced by new university graduates in the corporate world has become fiercer. Have you ever wondered why you haven’t managed to get one positive response even after sending tens of applications? Rejection is the bitter pill that thousands of new graduate job applicants have to swallow every day.

In today’s fast paced corporate world, employers want quality more than quantity and this is one of the reasons why just getting a degree is no longer the only precondition for landing a job at top notch firms like PwC. Many employers nowadays reject far more job applicants than they ever hire due to the prevailing economic crisis around the globe. Take ‘rejection machine’ PwC for instance, that does more rejecting than recruiting. It is estimated that PwC receives a staggering amount of 20,000-25,000 job applications for 1,000 jobs in the UK alone.

But did you know that more than 80% new graduate job applicants get rejected even before they have a one-on-one meeting? In this article, we will analyze the 5 common reasons why PwC declines graduate job applications at different stages of the interview process.

Application Overload & Indecisiveness

Accountancy firm PwC rejects almost 80% graduate job applicants at the application stage simply because there are enough job openings and the quest for finding crème de la crème candidates becomes tougher. There is a wide disparity in the number of applications received against the total number of job openings and therefore, the acceptance rate is merely 5%.

According to PwC’s Campus and Schools Engagement Leader Andrew Bargery, the reason why many applicants are rejected at the first stage is because they fail to specify a particular business area they wish to excel in. Fresh grads usually make this mistake because they are either indecisive or haven’t thought much about what they want to do.

The two best strategies to make it through the first stage is to apply as early as you can since top 4 firms usually start hiring earlier than the university term starts and be articulate when filling the application form.

Assessment Is Stricter Than Before

PwC’s interviewing process usually lasts up to six weeks where candidates are thoroughly tested and only a few emerge victorious. One of the key candidate elimination stages is the online test divided into four parts including the following:

  • Logical (diagrammatic) – here, the SHL tests gauge the individual’s ability to perceive and educe relationships between sequences of shapes and symbols (patterns).
  • Numerical reasoning – the SHL test evaluates math-related skills like foreign currency conversions, ratios, fractions, percentages, etc.
  • Verbal reasoning – SHL test targeted at verbal critical reasoning skills of graduate applicants. It presents text passages and ask the test-taker to evaluate a statement based solely on the information given in the passage. It is set in True/False/Cannot Say format.
  • PwC Occupational Personality Questionnaire – a questionnaire tailor-made to judge workplace behavior of the applicants.

Although PwC recently eliminated its A-level requirement, the assessment is stricter than before. Quite a large portion of candidates score top marks verbal and numerical reasoning tests and essays but they are chucked out of the recruitment process at the online testing stage because they fail to meet “PwC personality type” as per the occupational personality questionnaire.

Telephone Interviews – A Deal-Breaker

The Big Four firms including PwC love telephone interviews. PwC is very forthcoming when it comes to the values and behaviours they look for in a candidate. At PwC, candidates are bombarded with a series of old fashion competency questions. For instance, you may be asked to talk about past experiences in which you’ve exhibited the behaviours and values they hold dear.

PwC is known to use the S.T.A.R. interview technique for preparing competency based questions. During this stage, more than 50% candidates are eliminated from the interview process either because they take the interview very lightly or fail to come up with relevant answers which in turn, makes the interviewer feel that they’re not a good fit for the job.

The Penultimate Assessment Centre Stage

Once the candidates clear the telephone interview, they are called in at the assessment centre for one final test. The competition becomes intense here as these SHL reasoning test for evaluating analytical skills becomes harder than the online tests cleared previously. Top scorers then proceed to the group interview.

In the group interview, a case study is usually discussed where candidates’ group work and project management skills are put to test. Candidates who perform well under pressure, able to analyze the situation and come up with viable solutions accordingly are handpicked at this stage for the final interview. According to Bargery, there are about 55-60% chances of success at this stage.

The Final Interview

During the final interview, a senior manager or partner at PwC will interview you and ask you a variety of different questions. If a candidate makes it to the final interview, he or she has about 90% chance of landing the job. In order to ace the final interview, stay calm, be confident and think rationally when answering the questions.

Many candidates are knowledgeable and capable of acing the interview. The only reason why they are rejected after the final job interview is because they try to memorize all Big Four success approaches from various sources and then get confused. The interviewer at this point in time pays attention to detail and focuses on the way the individual ‘thinks’ which is why it is important to tailor a specific approach to your thought process so it doesn’t seem forced.

These are the 5 common reasons why most graduate job applicants are rejected by PwC at various stages of the job interview process. We hope this article helps you understand how to manoeuvre through the interview process at PwC successfully without making those major blunders that most candidates make.

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