As part of the Inside Careers series of graduate Employer Q&As in February 2013, leading consulting employer PwC answered questions submitted by you.

Find out more about PwC.

The Questions


What are some core skills that students need to work in management consultancy for PwC? How would you suggest we show some of these skills in the application?

Should students with PhDs apply for PwC’s vacancies as graduates or experienced hires? Are there any benefits in entering Management Consultancy with a PhD? 

What’s the typical time frame between taking the online tests and receiving an invitation to a telephone interview? 

I’d like to know more about life after work at PwC: are there any societies or clubs? 

Is there much of a cross-over between PwC’s Financial Advisory and Consulting streams, as both mention things such as advising on M&A? 

I have fewer UCAS points than PwC requires, but since my A levels I have gone on to achieve a first class degree. Is this something you are able to take into consideration when recruiting? 

In what ways would you say PwC’s consultancy practice stands out from its competitors? 

I can’t attend the Fast Track event on 2 April – are there any similar events I could go to instead? 

Do graduates joining your Management Consulting stream have to choose a specialisation after two years or can they remain more general? Is it possible to move specialisations after you have chosen? 

Can you clarify whether or not you can directly enter PwC’s Sustainability & Climate Change practice on a graduate scheme, or whether you need to be recruited through the Summer Internship scheme for this? 

I would like to apply for PwC’s Strategy Consulting practice, but would i be possible to move into another area at a later date if I wanted to? 

Are there any opportunities outside of London for the spring 2014 intake? 

I haven’t got any work experience in consulting – is this likely to impact on my chances of joining PwC’s graduate scheme? 

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The Answers

What are some core skills that students need to work in management consultancy for PwC?  How would you suggest we show some of these skills in the application?
Paul-Emile, King College, University of London

Students need to demonstrate a good awareness of the business world. As a consultant you’ll need to identify the root of the problem and advise clients on potential solutions.

In the application process, especially at interview, it’s good to consider recent business stories that have caught your attention, consider the background to the case and the impact of the situation on the chosen business. You’ll also need to think about the wider marketplace and how a consultant could provide advice. Don’t be afraid to offer your own opinion.

Equally as important is the need to consider how you work with others and build and sustain relationships. It’s best to think of experiences you’ve had to date that link into these skills where you’ve demonstrated being a good team player and have needed to show the importance of building relationships.

We look for a full range of core competencies in our applicants for Management Consulting, so we’d highly recommend that you view the Employability section of our Student Careers website for guidance on what we look for.

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Should student with PhDs apply for PwC’s vacancies as graduates or experience hires? Are there any benefits in entering Management Consultancy with a PhD?
Noha, UCL, Chris, Newcastle University 

At PwC there’s a specific route into Risk Consulting aimed at those with a numerical PhD, but no work experience. The work here involves a great deal of analysis and modelling to assist clients in working through their problems.

For those with a PhD and a good level of commercial insight into their chosen area, we’d advise looking at our experienced hire opportunities. For experienced hire roles in consulting we’re looking for candidates with sector expertise.

Our graduate programme in Management Consulting is a great way to develop your overall skill set and knowledge in consulting. With a PhD you’ll have developed a number of skills especially analytical and research-based skills that will help you as a consultant. If your PhD links to one of our sector focus areas, you may be asked to work on a project that utilises your in-depth expertise.

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What’s the typical time frame between taking the online tests and receiving an invitation to a telephone interview?
James, Liverpool John Moore University 

Once you’ve submitted your online tests your application will be placed for review and your academics screened to make sure you meet the minimum requirements for the role. Following this, the answer you’ve provided for the career focus question will be reviewed and if successful you’ll be invited to a 1st round interview.

The process usually takes up to five working days.

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I’d like to know more about life after work at PwC: are there any societies or clubs?
Tom, University of York and Qi Peng, University of Warwick

We have a wide range of societies and clubs for employees to take advantage of. It’s actively encouraged that individuals have a healthy work/life balance and there are a range of networks to be involved in. There are networks for faith, gender and ethnicity, as well as sports teams ranging from squash to netball.

There are regular opportunities to become involved in charity work and volunteering all across the UK along with PwC. Also, each year all employees are invited to audition to be part of the PwC Pantomime with all proceeds going to charity!

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Is there much of a cross-over between PwC’s Financial Advisory and Consulting streams, as both mention things such as advising on M&A?
Emmie, UCL

When working with clients, the team from PwC will typically involve a number of individuals from different work streams. However, the type of tasks conducted by Consulting will differ from those within Advisory.

For example, if you’re working in a project which affects Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), the Strategy Consulting team may be approached to consider who could be suitable targets for acquisition and where they could work in synergy. The Corporate Finance M&A team may be more involved in the details as to where capital could be raised for the purchase. So there’s definitely a cross over, but it’s clear where the specialism of knowledge lies.

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I have fewer UCAS points than PwC requires, but since my A levels I have gone on to achieve a first class degree. Is this something you are able to take into consideration when recruiting?
Abdul-Rahim, Brunel University

Would you consider a student with a 2:2 degree if they can show other qualities that you look for?
Nikita, Swansea Metropolitan University 

‘Inspired Talent’ is an alternative route into PwC. It’s aimed at those who may not have performed to the best of their abilities at A level (or equivalent), but are on course or have achieved a 1st class honours degree.

The route is also open to those who may have achieved a 2:2 or lower than the  UCAS requirements, due to undertaking something exceptional; such as representing the country at sport or setting up your own business.

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In what ways would you say PwC’s consultancy practice stands out from its competitors?
Qi Peng, University of Warwick 

PwC has the fastest growing consulting practice of the Big Four with a full service offering across consulting, ranging from strategy to implementation.  On our graduate programme there are opportunities to specialise early or gain a general insight into consulting before specialising in a particular area. We think this provides a unique training which involves hands-on client work with headline projects.

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I can’t attend the Fast Track event on 2 April – are there any similar events I could go to instead?
Rhys, Cardiff University 

A number of consulting specific events will be taking place in the Autumn. There’s also a diversity consulting event taking place 6 March. Found out more about PwC’s events.

For all of PwC’s student and graduate events, don’t forget to check Inside Careers’ events calendar.

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Do graduates joining your Management Consulting stream have to choose a specialisation after two years or can they remain more general? Is it possible to move specialisations after you have chosen?
James, Birmingham University

After two years you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in one of the eight areas. These are what we refer to internally as competencies, and they focus on different things, e.g. People & Change, Finance and Technology, but you’ll still work across a number of industry sectors.  It’s also possible to move between these competencies during your career.

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Could you clarify whether or not you can directly enter  PwC’s Sustainability & Climate Change practice on a graduate scheme, or whether you need to be recruited through the Summer Internship scheme for this?
Martha, Edinburgh University 

The entry route for Sustainability & Climate Change is to undertake a summer internship during your Masters or post completion of a Masters (in an Environmental or Sustainable Development background).

If successful on the internship an offer will be made to you to join the graduate programme on completion of your masters. To give you an example, you could be on an internship that runs from June – August and then you’d be able to join us in October of the same year.

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I would like to apply for PwC’s Strategy consulting practice, but would it be possible to move into another area at a later date if I wanted to?
Aamir, LSE 

There are opportunities for secondments within PwC to different areas of the business, and there are also opportunities to transfer internationally into a different network. Once you’ve trained and developed a little in the role you join us in, it’s then possible for you to have conversations with your People Manager to discuss if you’d want to try out another area of consulting on a secondment, or even a different business area.

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Are there any opportunities outside of London for the spring 2014 intake?
James, Sheffield University 

Keep your eye on our careers and facebook pages to be kept up to date with when we have further roles advertised past Spring 2014! We’ll be opening these around Autumn time of this year.

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I haven’t got any work experience in consulting – is this likely to impact on my chances of joining PwC’s graduate scheme?
Michael, Essex University

A number of individuals come in to PwC with no relevant work experience. This has no impact on your application; the key element is showing an understanding of what consulting is and the type of task you will undertake as a graduate, as well as conveying your desire to begin a career in this area and in particular with PwC.

Attending events to interact with consultants is a great way to increase your awareness of the area.  Additionally, all candidates are assessed against PwC’s Global Core Competencies and demonstrating strong evidence of where you have displayed these skills will greatly assist your application.

Take a look at our Employability section for information on the skills we’re looking for from students.

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