To get into professional services giant PwC in the U.S., even if you have experience in the sector, you must be in a select group of people. Specifically, you need to be in the top 2%. Therefore it is helpful to understand the recruitment, interviewing and hiring processes to give yourself a leg up.
In 2015, approximately 300,000 experienced professionals applied to non-entry-level roles at PwC, including senior associates, managers, directors, senior managers, managing directors and direct-admit partners. Of those, PwC hired around 6,000 people last year in the U.S., meaning only 2% of people got a job.
Taken together with the applications it received from students for internships and full-time entry-level positions, primarily associate roles, PwC received 370,000 applications in 2015. It hired 17,000 – 4.6% of all applications for U.S. roles.
Sifting through these applications is a gargantuan task, so it's no surprise that PwC's recruitment team is large. It has 450 people in the U.S. alone.
“Our recruiting team is responsible for the initial screen, so they considered all 370,000 applicants who reached out to us last year,” says Rod Adams, the Chicago-based U.S. talent acquisition leader at PwC. “They’re the first line of review, so they whittle that list down based on the experiences and skill sets that we need, depending on the roles we’re hiring for.
“They do an appropriate assessment and make a cut, then engage the client-service team,” he said. “Beyond that initial recruiter screen, there are a series of behavioral-based interviews.”
While a large percentage of the hires that PwC makes are accountants with their CPA certification, it now increasingly hires people with a variety of different backgrounds. Technologists are the second-largest segment, which includes new employees with an engineering or computer science degree.
PwC recruiters also target candidates with a CFA, an economics degree or an M.S. in Management Information Systems, among a range of other degrees and credentials.
What PwC looks for in its new recruits
PwC says that it looks at variety of criteria - whole leadership, business acumen, global acumen, relationships and technical capabilities.
Every candidate will go through an interview with a client-service specialist, who will ask questions based on those five criteria, then make an assessment.
In some cases, a candidate will meet with five different people, one per category, whereas sometimes client-service professional will double up and handle more than one category. Candidates rarely complete this stage of the process in a single day.
The PwC leadership-development experience for its employees is based on the five attributes listed above.
“Based on those interviews, we gauge whether a particular candidate someone who is capable of receiving and responding to feedback, evaluating whether someone will fit into culture, and whether they’re technically strong and really know their craft,” says Adams.
Impact of technology on recruitment
Technology is having a significant impact on the recruiting profession and the professional services and auditing industry. Video interviews are one obvious example, but it's becoming more sophisticated than this.
“We used to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on prints ads in school newspapers and the Wall Street Journal, but we don’t do that anymore,” he said. “Now we focus on how to get our messages out there digitally, which is a significant evolution.”
Using technology for candidate assessment will continue to grow in prominence, Adams predicts.
“In addition to one-on-one interviews, more people will use technology to do candidate assessments, which is a trend we’ll see,” he said. “In the next couple of years, we want to do much more to leverage technology for candidate assessment.”
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