The PwC Case Interview (Including Strategy&) – A Complete Guide

The PwC Case Interview (Including Strategy&) – A Complete Guide

 

PwC is an accounting firm with a huge consulting arm. Its consulting business is as large as those of Bain, BCG, and McKinsey combined. If you’re interested in landing a job in the consulting industry, it’s a great firm to apply to because its business combines strategy consulting (Strategy&) as well as business transformation/implementation (PwC).

If you want to know more about PwC consulting and Strategy&, you’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • An overview of PwC Consulting and Strategy&.
  • The PwC recruitment process.
  • The PwC case interview.
  • The behavioral/fit interview.
  • The PwC group case.
  • The PwC individual presentation.
  • Our 5 tips for preparing for PwC and Strategy& interviews.

Let’s get started!

PwC Consulting and Strategy& - An Overview

PwC employs over a quarter of a million people in 155 countries worldwide. Its operations are divided into two parts: Trust Solutions and Consulting Solutions. Trust Solutions focuses on its accounting and tax services. PwC Consulting Solutions help a broad spectrum of clients navigate complex business issues by leveraging PwC’s significant experience and range of capabilities.

Client case studies include:

How does PwC Consulting differ from Strategy&?

In 2014, PwC acquired Booz & Co., the commercial arm of consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, and renamed it Strategy&. While PwC Consulting focuses on typical management consulting cases and implementation projects, Strategy& specializes in strategy consulting.

Set up by PwC to attempt to compete with McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, Strategy& has over 3,000 consultants helping businesses shape their future strategies. Strategy& focuses on creating competitive advantage by “developing corporate and business unit strategies and building differentiating capabilities that outperform the competition.” (PwC, 2021)

Implementation of those strategies is handed over to PwC consulting teams. If you join PwC’s management consulting team you will, “help clients translate strategy into execution, closing the gap between ideas and outcomes, to transform the organization and achieve tangible business results.” (PwC, 2021)

The PwC Recruitment Process

Like most other Big 4 firms (EY, Deloitte, and KPMG), the PwC recruitment process has multiple stages:

Stage 1: The PwC Application

For entry-level recruitment, the first stage of the PwC process is to submit an application form for the particular roles you’re interested in. You can search for your school’s application deadline on PwC’s interactive campus map. If you can’t find your school or have recently graduated, you should submit by their September deadline. You’ll be asked to pick your top 2 preferred office locations and you’ll need to submit a resume.

To learn more about how to write a stellar consulting resume, read Consulting Resume: Everything You Need to Know.

Stage 2: The PwC Online Test

PwC Case Interview Online Test

A few hours after you’ve submitted your application, PwC will send you an assessment to complete via email. You have to complete the online test within 3 calendar days so it’s worth thinking about that when applying. The PwC online test is a series of games-based assessments to measure cognitive ability, behavioral preferences, and verbal and numerical reasoning.

Learn more by reading PwC Online Test.

Stage 3: The PwC Interview

If you successfully pass the online test, PwC will invite you to a series of interviews. These will include a case interview and behavioral interview and may include a group case and an individual presentation. The first of these interviews is sometimes conducted as a video interview where you’ll record your answers to a range of questions and case studies. Group interviews have traditionally been part of the recruiting process for sophomore consulting internship candidates and select other groups. It’s a good idea to clarify with your recruiting contact what types of interviews you’ll have.

In the past, the bulk of the remaining interviews, group, or individual activities took place during an assessment day. However, for 2021-22 recruitment, PwC US is moving to virtual interviewing. For Consulting Services, you’ll face two virtual, live interviews back-to-back. If you move forward in the process, there may be a final additional  interview.

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The PwC Case Interview (Including Strategy&)

The case interview process is similar for both PwC Consulting Services and Strategy&. The case interviews are both candidate-led, which means you’ll be responsible for deciding what analysis you want to do and what the approach should be.

The PwC case interviews for Consulting Services applicants typically focus on profit optimization, cost optimization, and market sizing. For example, a recent candidate was asked to “Run me through a market sizing estimate of the iPhone market in Asia.”

For a breakdown of precisely what each of these types is, read Case Interview Types: Master Common Ones Before Your Interview.

The PwC Strategy& case interview includes more strategy-focused cases (such as make-vs-buy decisions, new product introduction, M&A, etc.), but how you tackle a case interview is the same no matter which area you’re applying for.

Following this 4-step model gives you the best chance for success:

  • Understand the question. Make sure you understand what it is you’re being asked to do. Repeat back to the interviewing team what exactly you think the task is so they can correct you if necessary.
  • Create a structured approach to the problem. Analyze what data you’ve been given and identify areas where you need more information about the client’s problem. Use a business framework to explore the case further or, better yet, create one of your own that’s specific to the issues in your case.
  • Ask relevant questions and analyze the problem. Begin to share the assumptions you’re making about the case and ask the interviewing team questions about areas where you’re uncertain or need more data to inform your judgments.
  • Effectively communicate your recommendation. Walk the interviewing team through your recommendation(s), explaining how you used the data provided to back up your recommendations. Make sure you call out any assumptions made or any risks associated with the action you’re proposing.

The PwC Behavioral Interview

The fit or behavioral interview is a way for interviewers to figure out how well candidates would work within the firm’s culture and how they’d be in front of clients. Interviewers want to feel that they could work well with you if you were part of their team and that you’d represent the firm effectively on client projects.

While the exact questions will differ between firms, here are ten common questions asked in behavioral interviews:

The PwC Case Interview PwC Behavioral Interview Questions

PwC's Core Values

PwC has 5 core values that define its culture and approach:    

  • Act with integrity
  • Make a difference
  • Care
  • Work together
  • Reimagine the possible

It’s important to ensure that when answering interview questions, you keep these values in mind. For example, if the interviewer asks you to tell them more about yourself or what you do for fun, pick stories that show where you’ve made a difference, challenged the status quo, or tried something new.

If you’re interviewing for several different firms, it’s important to tailor your responses to each individual firm. Try not to rely on stock answers about why management consulting is the role for you. Many other candidates will also be waxing lyrical about working with the best people, on the most interesting projects, for the most exciting clients.

Try researching cases the firm has recently been involved in and explain why they’re interesting to you. Or look into work the firm does regarding corporate social responsibility and talk about how it aligns with your values.

The Best Answers to PwC Behavioral Interview Questions Are Stories

Frame your examples as stories. Stories engage interviewers even after a long day interviewing dozens of candidates. While you want to remain professional, it’s ok to talk with emotion as you share your stories. Interviewers want to see humans, not robots! One of PwC’s core values is ‘Care’ so interviewers want to know what’s important to you and more about the things that make you you.

Make sure you also reflect on your own learning from the examples you want to share in your interview. You’ll likely be asked about how you work in a team, how you handle conflict, and how you overcome failure. Using a model like the ASTAR(E) framework helps you remember to share the effect that going through that experience had on you and how it’s changed how you would approach things in the future.

For the Strategy& interview specifically, it’s worth noting that you may face more behavioral questions than you expect. PwC is keen to check that you’re not just using Strategy& as an MBB backup and wants to make sure you’re a great fit for the firm.

To learn more about acing the behavioral interview, read The Consulting Fit Interview: What to Say, What NOT to Say.

The PwC Group Case

PwC has traditionally used a group case as part of its recruiting process during the assessment day for some applicants (most frequently, undergraduate sophomores applying for internships). A typical group case experience involves you working within a small group to solve a business case.

Interviewers assess both analytical and behavioral competencies as you work in your team to solve the case. This means you have 2 roles during a group case. First, you need to contribute to solving the case — providing analysis, making logical assumptions and judgments, and offering insight to shape the overall recommendation you present to the client.

Secondly, you need to showcase how well you can work within a team — offering an opinion, demonstrating active listening, summarizing and building on others’ points of view, and leading the team towards consensus.

Recent interviewees have not had a group case as part of their PwC interview process. This is likely due to Covid restrictions, so make sure you are ready for a group case in the event PwC reintroduces them. If you want more help on preparing for a group case interview, read This Is What You Need to Know to Pass Your Group Case Interview.

The PwC Individual Presentation

PwC case interview Presentation

As part of the recruitment process, you may be asked to prepare an individual presentation. This comes in the form of a written case presentation. Unlike other firms, PwC releases the information you’ll need to prepare your recommendation 48 hours in advance of the interview.

Using the information provided, you’ll have to prepare a PowerPoint presentation showing your analysis of the data, explaining any assumptions you’ve made, and detailing your client recommendations.

On the day of the interview, you’ll spend 15–30 minutes presenting your findings and then 15–30 minutes taking questions on them from the interviewing team.

Bain and BCG commonly request a written case, so this may feel familiar if you’ve interviewed for them. For more information on preparing for a written case interview, check out Written Case Interviews – Everything You Need To Know.

5 Tips for Preparing for PwC and Strategy& Interviews

Now you’re clear on the different elements that make up the PwC interviews, here are our top 5 tips for acing them:

1. Research

Make sure you do your research before your PwC or Strategy& interview. Understand what it is about the firm that appeals to you, what type of case work they’re involved in, and how else they get involved in the community.

It can sometimes be helpful to figure out what a company isn’t as much as what it is. So compare PwC to other firms and note the differences and why PwC still appeals. Learn their core values and what a typical day would involve as an analyst, or the specific role you’re applying for.

Ensure you also know as much as possible about the format for the interview. Are you expected to complete several tasks or just one? How much time will you have? Will you have a single interviewer or multiple? Company websites often describe the people they’re looking for to join their team — those will be the attributes you’ll be assessed against, so make sure you’re clear on what they are.

2. Prepare and Practice

Once you’ve done all your research, start your preparation. Use case interview examples to practice your casing skills. The linked page includes several PwC case examples as well as ones from other consulting firms. Make sure you feel confident in your case interview math skills too.

For your behavioral interview, make sure you’ve prepared answers to typical questions such as “Tell me about yourself” and “How would you manage a challenging team member?” Make sure your answers follow the ASTAR(E) framework and that you’ve tailored them to show off how you meet the PwC core values. You can practice answering these questions with a friend or coach until you feel confident in your responses.

3. Follow a Structure

Consulting firms are looking for structured thinkers who can solve a wide variety of business problems. Show your structured problem-solving skills by creating a framework that identifies the key issues you want to address in the case and use this framework to keep your progress in the case on track. Building your answers around a framework can help ensure you cover all the important points succinctly and confidently.

4. Explain Your Approach and Any Assumptions

Remember your math teacher always used to tell you to show your work? Well, it’s the same during consulting interviews. If you’re using data or solving math problems during your PwC case interview and you end up with an incorrect answer, it’s important to gain as much credit as possible.

Maybe you just made a small error in your calculation but your assumptions and approach were sound. The interviewer will never know that unless you walk them through the steps you take as you’re solving the case. Make sure you talk aloud as you’re putting together the pieces of the case and ensure you clearly state any assumptions you’ve made as you present your final recommendation. By making your assumptions clear, you‘ll allow your interviewer to guide you if you get off-track.

5. Communicate Confidently

In the PwC case interview, once you’ve decided on a recommendation, make sure you communicate your thoughts confidently. While interviewers are obviously interested in your analytical skills, business acumen, and logical approach, they also care about how you’re going to appear in front of clients. They need you to be able to effectively communicate your thoughts and respond appropriately to questions and feedback.

This is also true of the behavioral interview, where your interviewers also care about how you’ll fit within their team and what it’d be like to work long hours on a project with you. They’ll expect you to talk with passion about things you care about, offer thoughtful or interesting stories in response to questions, and seem friendly, competent, and approachable.

– – – – –

In this article, we’ve covered:

  • The difference between PwC Consulting and Strategy&.
  • The stages of the PwC recruiting process.
  • What you need to know about the PwC case interview, behavioral interview, group interview, and individual presentation.
  • 5 tips for success in PwC interviews.

Still have questions?

If you have more questions about the PwC case interview, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them.

Other people prepping for Pwc case interviews found the following pages helpful:

Help with Case Study Interview Prep

Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for advice on PwC case interviews. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 85% of the people we’ve worked with to get a job in management consulting. We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too. For example, here is how Alex was able to get his offer from Strategy&.

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Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 85% of our clients pass the case interview.

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