Who Should I Work For: Big Four Or An Investment Bank?

deloitte, Pwc, kpmg, ernst and young, job interview

deloitte, Pwc, kpmg, ernst and young, job interview


Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC and Deloitte are the most prestigious firms in the professional services sector today. Every year, hundreds of fresh graduates come out with majors in finance or accounting and usually find themselves stuck in a dilemma – to work for one of the big four companies or start a career at an investment bank.

If you’re undecided between working for a big four company and an investment bank, read on to know the pros and cons of working for the big four vs. pursuing a career in investment banking.


With 170,000 employees, Deloitte is the largest firm in terms of manpower. Specializing in financial advisory, consulting, audit and tax, Deloitte LLP ranks number one in the US and around the world.


Deloitte is an ideal career choice for fresh grads for they hire hundreds of entry level employees through different universities.

Deloitte strives to reach out to a broader spectrum of individuals who wish to pursue a career in the accounting industry which is why the company is subdivided into 4 subsidiaries that provide countless job opportunities to individuals in categories like financial advisory services, taxes, consulting, growth enterprise, risk advisory, technology and Deloitte Real Estate.


For most fresh grads, gaining experience in the field of accounting is more important than the salary offered. However, the pay scale is still taken into consideration when applying for a job. The average salary earned by new graduate at Deloitte falls in the bracket of £31-33k.

Job Satisfaction

Here are some stats related to job satisfaction that we’ve picked from an anonymous survey conducted by GreatRated!. 96% employees working at Deloitte feel that the work given to them is both personally challenging and interesting.

92% described the work environment as collegial yet demanding. On the other hand, more than 85% employees agree that that Deloitte offers great rewards both, monetary and nonmonetary. Ample perks are offered by Deloitte including free snacks and beverages, personal travel service, fitness classes, etc.


With its main focus on environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, PwC services clients from various industries including pharmaceuticals, aerospace, banks, defence, media and biotechnology.

According to insiders, PwC is seen as the machine of the Big Four – just like the Terminator. The company is seen as the most posh out of the four and generates the most revenue too. However, employees at PwC don’t get enough free time as they normally would at another big four firm.


PwC is one of the best accounting firms to kick start your career in finance. The learning curve at PwC is steep but employees usually have to work under stringent deadlines and pressure. If you like challenging tasks and deal with tough situations, PwC is the place to be to. You’ll also make a lot of industry connections and networks when you start working at PwC.

On another note, this big four company truly values diversity and has a strong commitment towards training and development of its employees. However, one of the major disappointments that new graduates face at beginning their career at PwC is that working late nights and weekends is not uncommon.


An associate with minimum experience of 0-2 years makes earns an average salary of £ 29,406. The salary increases to an average of £ 41,806 once you gain 2-4 years of experience and become a senior associate at the firm.

Job Satisfaction

According to a recent survey conducted by Vault.com, PwC ranks second in terms of job satisfaction after Deloitte. Even though most employees find the work environment at PwC challenging yet stressful most of the times as they usually have to pitch in more work hours and even work on weekends, PwC stresses upon the wellbeing and psychological health of its employees.

PwC’s Business Fit programme is especially designed to indentify and treat health conditions like mental health issues, knee and back problems, etc. A lot of perks and work benefits are also offered to employees such as longer vacations, retirement benefits, insurance benefits and bonuses.

Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in providing transaction and advisory, assurance and tax services. EY provides its invaluable services to clients from various industries like technology, telecoms, aviation, energy and retail.


Working at Ernst & Young is a pleasant experience for fresh graduates who want to maintain a work-life balance since this firm truly believes in flexibility. Just like PwC, the work environment at Ernst & Young is challenging and provides its employees with great new opportunities to showcase their talents alongside other hugely capable people.

The experience one gains at Ernst & Young lasts a lifetime for it provides its employees the chance to work with the biggest and most thriving businesses in the world.


The average salary earned by an associate at Ernst & Young is £ 28,696. However, once the associate is promoted to the position of senior consultant, he or she may earn up to £ 49,661.

Job Satisfaction

In order to retain employees, Ernst & Young offers amazing perks and work benefits. EY Discounts enable employees to get discounts on everything they buy – from restaurants to computers, cell phones, new and used cars, electronics, movie tickets and personal vacations.

A proper flexible benefits system is also in place that offers work benefits to employees pertaining to health and wellness, retirement, family and parenting, vacations, etc. To enhance the work experience of its valuable work staff, Ernst & Young spends millions of pounds of training and development programs for its employees.


KPMG is a big four accounting firm with a global presence in more than 140 countries. KPMG provides financial accounting services to clients from the government to public sector agencies and even non profit organizations.


To work at KPMG is a dream-come-true for fresh grads and professionals alike. According to Big Four insiders, KPMG works with a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality; making it one of the best companies to begin a career in financial accounting.

KPMG is also regarded as the friendliest firm out of the Big Four given its friendly work culture and laidback work environment. With plenty of great opportunities to bring one’s talent to the forefront when working with fast-paced career progression, the work experience at KPMG is unlike any other.


The salary range for an audit associate at KPMG is between £ 27,000 and £ 47,242. The average salary earned is £ 32,403.

Job Satisfaction

KPMG believes in rewarding its hard working employees with the best perks and benefits to make them stay. KPMG offers its employees an opportunity to pick and select perks and benefits according to their needs along with standard benefits pertaining to health and wellness, vacation, parenting, financial and retirement, etc.

Why Work For An Investment Bank?

Working at a top notch investment bank like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, etc. is another great career opportunity for those who want to excel in the field of investment banking.

It is believed that landing a job in an investment bank is relatively more difficult than starting a career at a big four firm. Here we analyze the pros and cons of working at an investment bank in terms of career, salary and job satisfaction.


A career in investment banking is financially rewarding and pretty stable. In public accounting, one has the opportunity to choose from a variety of financial and accounting roles and disciplines.

As you climb the career ladder, financial careers can result in narrower yet more successful positions with higher than average incomes. When it comes to kick starting a career in the investment banking field as a fresh grad, the only barrier to entry is cutthroat competition from competitors.


According to an article published in the International Business Times, salaries for entry level positions at top notch investment banks has now skyrocketed to £ 100,000. This is mainly due to a structural change that has resulted in more fresh graduates working for investment banks as compared to senior staff members.

Job Satisfaction

Even though putting in 80-90 hours a week when working in an investment bank is the norm, young investment bankers are fairly satisfied with their jobs. According to a survey conducted by Vault.com, it’s not just the high salary that makes investment bankers stay. It’s the work itself that is highly satisfying.

A day in the life of a young investment banker is action packed with challenging work and high pressure situations coupled with great opportunities to showcase their skills.

We hope this detailed comparison on Big Four vs. Investment Banks helps you in making a decision on where to begin your career once you graduate. Log on to www.graduatemonkey.com for SHL aptitude test tutorial packs today!

How to prepare for SHL reasoning tests

Being unemployed for a long period of time degrades the morale, especially if you are qualified and deserving. Coping up with the feeling of being unemployed is very difficult and a lot of candidates find it as a strenuous process.  You need to move in the right direction to let an opportunity to knock at your door. And, the first toward a dream job is preparing for the SHL aptitude tests. Did you know that more than 50% of job applicants are rejected at aptitude tests stage?

Three main test categories, namely, SHL numerical, verbal and logical reasoning tests are most commonly used by some of the largest companies in the world to compare the most relevant abilities in a candidate. If you are a graduate looking for a job opportunity, then you need to seriously devote time and prepare for the SHL tests because you need to achieve a desired level of performance to progress in the job recruitment process. The SHL tests include numerical reasoning, inductive reasoning, verbal reasoning, mechanical comprehension and spatial awareness. Coming out with flying colors in these tests is essential as it determines your capability in a given attribute, which is important for a job. Therefore, you need to thoroughly prepare for the reasoning tests. Hard work and practice should sail you to the next level.

  1. Understanding the test

Before starting the practice test, you need to understand the basic structure of the test and the number of questions in each category. Accordingly, you can maintain your speed and ensure that the majority of the questions are answered accurately.

Verbal reasoning test is used to assess the critical thinking and comprehension skills along with verbal abilities. A short text passage is followed by a statement and you need to evaluate it based upon the content of the passage. The time limit is usually 19 minutes for the set of 30 questions.

Numerical reasoning test is used to assess your comfort level with numbers. It assesses your ability to read and deduce answers from numerical, graphical, financial and statistical data. The test is made up of 18 questions and 25 minute time limit. You need to primarily focus on percentage, ratios, balance sheets, statistical analysis and graphical data.

Inductive (logical) reasoning test is used to assess the ability of an individual to draw conclusions and inferences based on a sequence of shapes and diagrams. You are given a set of 24 logical reasoning problems that must be answered within the 25 minute time limit.

Spatial Ability test is used to assess the ability to read, understand and manipulate 2 and 3 dimensional figures.

Mechanical Comprehension test is used to assess the ability to understand the basic mechanical principles.

You have now become well familiar with the SHL test. The next step of preparation is mastering the basics.

  1. Master the basics

If the foundation of a building is strong, the building will last for a long time, the same rule applies when preparing for SHL tests. Instead of memorizing the concepts, you need to thoroughly understand the concepts and master the basics. If the concepts are clear, you will save time and energy while answering the questions. Additionally, you will be able to understand the twists in the question and work accordingly. Apart from mastering the basics, you also need to focus on learning shortcuts to the solutions. Questions requiring intensive mathematical calculation can be answered accurately within fractions of second using shortcut methods. You also need to focus on interpretation of graphs as you might come across some similar questions. Other questions relating to mirror images, perspective, spatial reasoning cubes and organizing two dimensional shapes. Most mechanical reasoning questions are based on Newtonian mechanics and the calculation required in each is comparatively less. Focus on your weak areas and enhance your chances of clearing the initial round of a job recruitment process.

  1. Never spend too much time on a single question

Note that, on average, it takes half of the allocated time to understand each question, and the remaining half is spent on calculations. During the exam, if you are not able to understand a particular question, then move on to the next as soon as possible. It is futile to spend a lot of time on a single question when you are unable to crack it. You need to keep a track of the time because once if the time elapses, the test will cut-off and the remaining questions will be left unanswered. Therefore, never dwell too much time on a single question. Work and focus on answering the questions without distractions from others. A balance of speed and accuracy is the key to success. Read the question carefully before attempting because certain questions are tricky and requires careful analysis. Devote time on every answer and check before marking an option.

  1. Practice

Practice makes it perfect. The same applies when preparing for the SHL test. Practice as many as possible practice tests as possible to develop speed and accuracy. The sample question sets and the practice test material by Graduatemonkey.com are close approximations to actual SHL tests and will serve to prepare you for the real test. The video tutorials will help you understand the concepts, so that you will avoid making any mistakes while attempting the question paper. It is extremely important to practice in order to clear the test with a top score.

On the assessment day, go with a positive frame of mind because lack of confidence could have a detrimental effect on the way your brain will function during the test. The more you practice, the easier it will become to accurately answer the questions in the given span of time. Focus and believe in your abilities, you will surely clear the online test!

What it takes to get a job with Investment Bank?

The true reality of bagging an investment banking job in the extremely competitive world is different and difficult.  Working with an investment bank is not like working in a technology startup wherein anyone can work and acquire skills over a period of time. These banks are traditional and conservative organizations thriving on values, passion and hunger for more money. Most top Wall Street investment banks want to recruit an intelligent, proactive, entrepreneurial and disciplined graduate. Excellent analytical and personal skills are a prerequisite for starting a prosperous career in a high paying investment banking job.

At investment banks, the candidate selection is a meticulously planned process. It includes application screening, online aptitude tests, initial telephone interview, assessment centre with further tests and even a senior partner interview. The whole selection process may last for several months. Practicing and preparing for aptitude tests such as SHL and Kenexa numerical reasoning tests will help you gain a better test score and pass the initial phase of the job recruitment process. Note that top academic degree is not enough. You should have an optimal combination of soft and technical skills. For example, significant programming background and experience will definitely help in securing your dream job at one of the top investment banks. Remember, you will be working in an extremely dynamic environment, with highly intelligent colleagues, high salary and commensurate responsibilities. Here are a few steps you can follow to get hired by an investment bank.

  1. Understand the industry

A majority of banks are inflexible when it comes to hiring graduates and they usually prefer candidates from top schools or universities because if you are not from the elite schools, you will have to show something extra about you that should make up for the “shortcoming”. Note that you will have to sacrifice your social and personal life to work long late night hours (close to 100 hours per week) for the bank, especially during the first three years. Therefore, understanding the investment banking industry before facing the job recruitment process is essential. The industry requires you to put in extremely long working hours that should lead to strong results. Banks also look out for people who engage in extra-curricular activities to relieve stress and get a new perspective about problems and tasks. Strong logical reasoning, abstract reasoning and verbal reasoning are also required to work efficiently in a bank.

  1. Prepare for the initial phase

The initial phase is usually in the form of online aptitude test – an effort to filter out “undeserving” applicants at a minimal cost. The throttling trouble faced by applicants is the difficulty to clear the verbal reasoning, logical reasoning and numerical reasoning tests. These aptitude tests determine the analytical and logical ability of the candidate under high time pressure. The HR managers believe that a high score in these tests reflects the candidate ability to quickly learn and adapt to challenging conditions as one will have to use his analytical and logical skills to deal with real life problems. And, whether or not you have a mathematical background, make sure to prepare for the SHL, Kenexa reasoning tests to help you prepare better for the upcoming assessment day.

  1. Tell your story

A plethora of graduates wants to enter the investment banking field because of money. However, this cannot be explicitly told during an interview, even if it is the truth. Displaying the finance spark is essential to win an offer. Tell them why you want to enter the tough field of investment banking and how you are a good fit for the job. Craft your story in a way it is authentic. Start from the beginning and entail how you developed an interest in this field. And, once you have understood what the banks are looking for, you need to persuade them that you possess all the desired skills and quality. In the end, you should be able to communicate the message that you possess all the skills to excel in such a profile. The story should be genuine and not filled with unrealistic stuff such as “it was my childhood dream” because investment banking is not everyone’s cup of tea.

  1. Build your resume

Investment banks require a different kind of resume and if you apply using a resume meant for a marketing job, you are sure to get rejected within seconds. Never bank upon the resumes or cover letters available online. Craft your resume in a way it reflects the financial and numerical ability instead of simple words.

For example, a candidate applied with the following line:

Developed a software which reduced the manual hours of employees at an organization

These lines sound as if the person is tech nerd. You can change it to:

Reduced the manual hours of employees by 25% resulting in a 10% increase in the ROI.

Giving specific number and analyzing the financial returns will help you create an impression as the same is done in the real world. You only need to sound ‘finance savvy’ and you will be successful in leaving an impression.

  1. Crack the technical round

One of the most difficult parts of the recruitment process is clearing the technical round wherein you are bombarded with finance terminologies which tests your financial aptitude. Technical questions are tough and can be answered if the concepts are clear. Additionally, if you vomit whatever you have read in a book, the interviewer will know it within seconds. Therefore, it is essential to inject some flavor to every answer you give during the interview. While preparing focus on accounting, modeling and valuation as these three areas are often tested. Apart from the technical questions, you need to stay at par with the recent deals completed in the industry as an interviewer may want to know your passion and enthusiasm about this field.

Whether you land up with an offer or not, leave no stone unturned while preparing for the interview process because you never know which stone will lead to a lucrative job profile at an investment bank. Portray your strengths, spin your resume, show your passion and increase your enthusiasm to grab a job offer.

How to fail a job interview with Deloitte

There are many ways to fail any job interview. You may not see the mistake at all (even after the interview) since there are millions ways of doing it wrong. When talking about Deloitte and their recruitment process, the stakes get astronomically higher and failing an interview is easier than you think.

It is very important to know what to do during an interview, but most people forget the job interview ‘don’t’s. With a company like Deloitte you would think that the reasons for failure run deep, but in fact most mistakes are right on the surface for them to see. Remember, every candidate interviewed is taken into consideration, and unless you behave as their next hire all the way through the interviews you will not get the job.

Not knowing where you stand

You have to keep in mind when you apply for a job at Deloitte that it hires as little as 3.5% of all applicants on average. In most cases the company is looking for one single person for the position, no more – regardless of how big the competition is and how many candidates have an impressive CV to their name.

While this company is a household name, the usual things that fail an interview at Deloitte are the basic job interview ‘don’t’s that apply elsewhere. You may know these very well, but take note again.

  • Being late. Unless you go to the interview with plenty of time, you are setting yourself up to fall victim to traffic, being stuck in an elevator or another extraordinary happening.
  • Dressing for the wrong job and the wrong company. You are sure to fail Deloitte’s policy regarding clothing if you do not check it and carefully plan your outfit for the big day.
  • Not doing your homework. Failing to know the company, what they do and the answers to all the questions about Deloitte that will surely be thrown at you. Deloitte recruiters will be very unimpressed if you have not taken your time to research and learn about the company.
  • Asking the wrong questions, or no questions at all. Just like bad answers will kill your changes to work at Deloitte, so will having the wrong questions. Asking about the company and the position shows interest and seriousness about being hired, but asking bad questions shows that you failed to prepare.
  • Letting your anxiety get the best of you. Unless you are fully prepared, your anxiety will be overwhelming and prevent you from focusing or doing anything calmly.

Poor behaviour

Recruiters can smell what kind of applicant you are from how you behave. Showing up all over the place is a sure way to present yourself as someone who just wants a better job – or a job at all – rather than an applicant who actively wants to be a part of Deloitte.

Another way to fail a Deloitte job interview is to contradict your cover letter. No matter how great, short and straightforward your cover letter is, if you fail to answer questions related to it the recruiters will know you are not Deloitte material.

Many rules that apply to cover letters also go for the interview, only instead of typing you will be talking. Coming across as a qualified professional encompasses all aspects of speech including tone, grammar, wording and even your timing. Whenever you open your mouth, if your grammar is anything short of impeccable you are not fit for the job. Deloitte is looking for the best, and the 3.5% that make the cut have excellent command of the language (or languages) they work in instead of making beginner mistakes. The way you talk also tells volumes about your mindset and how you operate professionally. If you fail to be to the point, if your ideas are scattered or you need to go on for 3 minutes to convey a simple point, you clearly are not someone Deloitte wants in its ranks. Ignoring basics of politeness such as not interrupting an interviewer or talking for longer than you should are also ways to fail the interview.

Not listening is a guaranteed way to flunk too. If your replies do not perfectly answer any questions posed to you by the recruiters, including questions which are not explicit but implied, you will be out before you know it. Failing to pay attention at a Deloitte interview means you might ignore some important detail of a document if they hire you, thus causing a major problem for the company. Deloitte does not want to hire a risk, it wants a solution. Anyone who may become a nuisance later is undesirable.

Working at Deloitte is not for everyone, and the recruiters will push you to the limit. If you are being considered, prepare for a marathon of three up to ten interviews where doing good in the interview before does not save you from the next, and screwing up anything from a handshake to eye contact could throw all your effort out of the window. If you forget to follow up after any one of them, they may take note of this too.

Presentation matters

Your presentation throughout the recruitment process will be scrutinised, and no mistakes will be tolerated. While you may want or need this job badly, Deloitte is sure they do not need you.

References come into play further down the line, when Deloitte is sure they are interested in closing the deal with you. Failing to provide a stellar reference from your previous employers ends your application there and then. If you are fresh after graduation and never had a job before, unless you know young employees who went to university with you there is no way they will hire you. Referrals are the game-changer for 45% of all Deloitte hires, so everyone who fails to bring a good name with them is positively out.

5 mistakes that keep graduates unemployed for a long time

You possess the right qualification for the job and it seems that the job description is written keeping you in mind. Still, you don’t get hired and remain unemployed. So why weren’t you offered the job? Did you completely mess up the interview? Or did you overlook certain attributes while applying for the job or during an interview? The reasons can be numerous, but the fact is that you remain unemployed. In an ideal world, the job is offered to a qualified and deserving candidate and there can be numerous reasons why you are not hired – even if possess all the desired skills. During the job interview process, you will be in direct competition with other qualified candidates and internal candidates (who obviously might have a better chance of grabbing the job offer thanks to having some close contacts). Until you are able to create a lasting positive impression on the interviewer, you have a minimal chance of getting hired. Here are a few mistakes that keep graduates unemployed for a long time, even after scoring well on many points including psychometric assessment (personality traits) and aptitude tests (such as verbal reasoning, logical reasoning and abstract reasoning tests).

  1. The celebrity syndrome

Celebrities usually do not have to impress people, admirers follow them wherever they wander. If you think you fall under the celebrity syndrome, then you need to change your thinking as it will not help you acquire a job especially if you are a graduate. If you face an interview with an instinct that the resume will speak, you are wrong. The competition is fierce and you need to sell yourself in the market. A majority of the companies conducts reasoning test, aptitude test, SHL numerical test and Kenexa numerical test to filter in  the worthy applicants. The resume will not help you come out with flying colors in these tests, but your inherent skills will surely help. Therefore, it is essential to come out of the celebrity syndrome mood and undergo an intensive numerical test preparation and prepare using verbal test tutorials.

  1. The shy syndrome

Modesty is the best quality to lead a happy and prosperous life. Boasting your strengths and achievements in the public is a habit to inculcate, but if you fail to portray these skills during a job interview, you are killing the chances of grabbing a lucrative offer.  If you are a humble person, you need to present the best qualities in a confident manner only then you will be able to impress the interviewer. Remember, no one else will discuss your selling points. During an interview, you have exactly one chance to impress the panel and present your case. Your shy behavior should not come in your path of whooping the interviewer. Stand in front of the mirror and answer probable interview questions. It will surely boost the confidence and you will face the job recruitment process confidently.

  1. Going into the job interview with little industry knowledge

You have probably put in all your efforts to build a resume and cover letter, but you have missed out something very important – industry knowledge. Review the website of the company and ensure you know everything about them before facing the interview. Dive into the recent news about the company as being armed with a plethora of knowledge regarding a prospective company is the key to your next or first job. You need to understand that becoming an advocate for the company is different from becoming an advocate for yourself during the job interview. Not only this, after reading a plethora of information about the company and the industry it is in (e.g. trends, threats or opportunities), you can decide whether the company will see dark days ahead (pursuing a job in such company can be avoided) or investors are keen on investing. Based on your research about the company, you can craft a better cover letter and tailor the resume to suit the culture, mission statement and core values of the prospect company. Try to obtain as much knowledge about the industry and company because knowledge is the ultimate power.

  1. Avoiding learning technical skills

Nothing can be worse than saying a ‘no’ or ‘I do not know’ during a technical round. This usually occurs when the technical skills are restricted and you only have the bookish knowledge. Bookish knowledge rarely comes in handy during an interview because companies look for candidates with clear concepts, memorizing the technical questions will not help as one bouncer from the interviewer and you will be clean bowled. Based upon the job profile, you should be well-versed in programming languages or spreadsheets or accounting. Negative answers lead to failure and instead of saying a direct ‘no’ try to attempt the question and draw reasonable parallels from the question itself. A positive motivation will help you seek the job easily. Therefore, for graduates it is extremely essential to polish the technical skills on a regular basis, otherwise you will remain unemployed for an indefinite period of time.

  1. Other miscellaneous mistakes

Communication skills both verbal and non-verbal are extremely important to excel in an interview. Facial expression, voice modulation and eye contact form the non-verbal communication skills show whether the candidate is nervous or not. Non-verbal communication includes the mannerism in which you talk during the interview, your body language, pitch, tone and timbre of your voice, etc. Additionally, during the interview if you do not ask the interviewer any questions, it might be assumed that the candidate has little commitment to the position. It is a good move to ask questions geared to the position for which you have applied. Another reason for candidates being rejected in the job recruitment process is giving long-winded answers. You have to remember that the questions being asked in an interview can usually be answered in 30-60 seconds. Long winded answers are an indication of nervousness which may signal to the interviewer that you have a lot of weaknesses as a candidate.

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.