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November 23, 2022

PwC UK is Being Very Picky About Who They Hire (Yes, Even in This Market)

PwC Chad vs KPMG Virgin

PwC has whipped out their prestige and is wagging it around in everyone’s faces.

eFinancialCareers reports that despite accounting firms everywhere struggling to recruit and retain any talent not just the best and brightest PwC is being picky about who it brings in:

There’s been no shortage of applications for PWC’s student jobs this year. 92,000 people in the UK have applied for its entry-level roles so far in 2022, up from 71,000 this time last year. PWC UK has around 1,900 starter-jobs to fill in total, implying an application ratio of 48:1, which looks favourable compared to the 100 people chasing every role at McKinsey & Co, or the 66 people chasing each internship at Goldman Sachs.

Despite being inundated with student applications, PWC still has jobs to fill. This time last year, 94% of the roles across its UK student programs were full. In 2022, only 80% are. Of the 92,000 applications, the implication is that 90,480 were not up to par.

I’m sure there’s some Nice Guy™ corollary to be made here about how the top 5% Chads get all the girls or something.

PwC Chad vs KPMG Virgin

Although a good chunk of PwC UK’s vacancies are in audit just like every other firm (there is an active and worsening auditor shortage in the US despite 66% of recently-graduated new hires being placed in audit), they’re not getting desperate about it like those other firms. “We’ve just increased our audit recruitment targets for September 2022 and for April next year,” said Cathy Baxter, head of UK talent engagement at the firm. “We need more students for the business, as there’s more work available at the moment.” But not so much work as to settle for any old candidate.

So how does one set themselves apart in a sea of candidates flooding into PwC UK HR inboxes? Via a methodical, seemingly nonsensical dive into your personality of course.

The firm is notoriously partial to the Arctic Shores personality test which uses games to measure big five personality factors like agreeableness, extraversion, openness to experience, optimism, altruism, says eFC. Top grades are nice but not a prerequisite per Baxter. We found a training tool that will let you practice PwC’s Career Unlocked aptitude test here:

Games include exercises like decoding the five-digit lock on a safe, selecting the next number in a sequence and identifying how a person is feeling based on their facial expression. In general, they are a mix between reaction games, logical reasoning games and behavioural assessment games.

Other games include a balloon game that’s about taking calculated risks, pressing on the balloons to inflate them as much as possible without bursting. There are also memory games, for which you should make sure you have pen and paper handy.

While the test isn’t explicitly timed, time is still important. Some candidates have said that if you spend too long on the test, you will simply fail. The recommended time to completion is around 75–85 minutes.

Don’t bother cheating, tests like these aren’t like the CPA exam where there’s an obvious right and three wrong answers. See this short Reddit thread for more insight on this test.

Earlier this month, US Chairman Tim Ryan told Insider PwC’s “hiring plans aren’t going through ‘any major shocks or changes right now‘ and that the firm is moving ahead with plans to fill thousands of open positions in areas such as auditing and consulting.”

PricewaterhouseChad proves that just because you’re desperate doesn’t mean you have to settle.

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