PWC (Strategy&) case interview: the only post you'll need to read

Interviewing at PWC and their strategy subsidiary (Strategy&) is very challenging compared to the interviews at a typical corporate firm. PWC uses a combination of case interviews, written presentations, and group case interviews to evaluate candidates.

This may sound overwhelming, but don't worry. We've put together the ultimate guide to PWC's recruitment process. With the information and resources below, you'll be one step closer to landing a job offer. 

Here's an overview of what we'll cover:

  1. About PWC
  2. Interview process
  3. Online assessment tests
  4. Fit and PEI questions
  5. Case interviews
  6. Group case interviews
  7. Presentation
  8. Preparation

Right, let's get into it.

1. PWC consulting is bigger than all the MBB firms

When it comes to consulting, PWC is a juggernaut. With $14bn in consulting revenue in 2018, PWC's consulting business line is bigger than McKinsey ($10bn), BCG ($6bn) or Bain ($4bn). 

    Perhaps the most incredible thing about PWC's consulting business, is how quickly it's been re-built. Just a few years ago (2002), PWC sold it's full consulting division to IBM. This came after the Sarbanes Oxley Act was passed by the US government, which imposed restrictions on the consulting activities of the Big 4 accounting firms.

    The re-establishment of PWC's consulting business has been driven primarily through acquisitions. This includes the acquisition of Booz & Company in 2014, which formed the PWC group known as Strategy&.

    PWC divides their consulting business into 2 primary branches.

    1. Strategy& focuses on executive level strategy, including capability identification, operating model, and market position. It also advises on creating growth, by increasing margins, reducing costs, and driving lean operations. 
      1. PWC Consulting focuses on digital strategy, implementation of technology tools, and integration and innovation programmes. But also M&A strategy, executing deals, restructuring organizations, and implementing post-merger improvements.

        The work you'd do in the Strategy& branch of PWC, is very similar to the work you'd find at McKinsey, BCG or Bain. Whereas the work you'd be doing in PWC Consulting is closer to the type of consulting the other Big 4 firms do. If this peaks your interest, you can learn more in our article that compares Big 4 to MBB firms

         2. PWC (Strategy&) interview process overview

         PWC Consulting and Strategy& use 4 steps in their recruitment process:

        1. Resume and cover letter screening
        2. Online assessment tests
        3. First round interviews
        4. Second round interviews

        This is a useful overview, but keep in mind that each step may vary based on location and role. It's always a good idea to check with your HR contact, to get more specific details based on your interview track. 

        First, recruiters will look at your resume and assess if your experience matches the open position. This is the most competitive step in the process—we’ve found that 90% of candidates don’t make it past this stage.

        You can use this free resume guide and this free cover letter guide to help tailor your application to the position you’re targeting. 

        And if you’re looking for expert feedback, you can also get input from our team of ex-MBB recruiters, who will cover what achievements to focus on (or ignore), how to fine tune your bullet points, and more.

        After the initial application, you'll face the online assessment. The assessment may be one or multiple tests. To get through to the next round, you'll need to score better than at least 50% of applicants (50th+ percentile).

        The first round interviews are typically focused on behavioral questions, but often include a case interview as well. In fact, some applicants have reported unexpected cases showing up in an interview that was advertised as behavioral. So be prepared for anything! 

        Second round interviews are usually a "Super Day", OR a case presentation. Note that the term "Super Day" is usually used in the US, and the term "Assessment Centre" is more common in Europe. 

        See an overview below:

        • Super Day (Assessment Centre)
          • All-day evaluation at a PWC facility
          • 2 behavioral interviews
          • 1-2 standard case interviews
          • 1 group case interview
        • Case presentation
          • Receive a case from the recruiter
          • Prepare a PPT deck with your analysis
          • Present in-person and engage in Q&A

        In the following sections, we'll provide more details on the recruitment steps for PWC Consulting and Strategy&, including tips and resources for how to prepare.

        3. PWC (Strategy&) online assessment tests

        If your resume and cover letter get through, you'll move on to the online assessment.  Many consultancies are using aptitude and problem solving tests to screen candidates. Here's a snapshot of the assessment tests used at PWC Consulting (note: you can expect similar tests at Strategy&).

        PWC Strategy& online assessments

        A lot of candidates are eliminated at this stage, so it's a great opportunity for you to get a leg-up on the competition. With the right preparation, you can crack the online tests and give your application a huge boost.

        PWC also has a few practice questions on their website to work with here, and here.

        4. Top behavioral interview questions asked at PWC (Strategy&)

        Behavioural interview questions asked at PWC Consulting and Strategy& fall into two main categories:

        1. Fit questions. These are generic questions such as “Why consulting?” or “Why PWC?”.
        2. Personal Experience Interview (PEI) questions. These are questions such as “Tell me about a time when you lead a team through a difficult situation.” Or “Tell me about a time where you had to manage a team conflict”

          We've written extensively about consulting fit / PEI questions in the past. But in summary here are the top 5 fit and PEI questions you should prepare for at PWC, Strategy&, or other consulting firms.

          Top 5 fit questions:

          • Why PWC?
          • Why consulting?
          • Walk me through your resume
          • Tell me about something not on your resume
          • Tell me about your greatest accomplishment

          Top 5 PEI questions. Tell me about a time when ...

          • You lead a team through a difficult situation
          • You worked in a team and had to manage a conflict
          • You had a disagreement with a colleague / boss
          • You had to change someone's / a group's mind
          • You overcame a really difficult challenge

          If you would like guidance on how to answer PEI questions, you can check our article on the topic here.

          Now, let's crack some cases!

          5. PWC (Strategy&) case interviews

          Case interviews at PWC Consulting and Strategy& are candidate-led. The style is similar to what you will experience in a BCG case interview or a Bain case interview.

          For a candidate-led case interview, there are 7 types of questions you need to prepare for:

          • Situation
          • Framework development
          • Framework exploration
          • Quant question – Data provided
          • Quant question – No data provided
          • Creativity question
          • Recommendation

          You can read more about case interviews and how to prepare for them, in our free case interview guide. You can also get a sense of what candidate-led case interviews are like, using the video below. As we mentioned, case interviews at PWC Consulting (and Strategy&) are typically candidate-led and therefore use the same format as BCG and Bain.

          6. PWC (Strategy&) group case interviews

          As mentioned in the overview above, group case interviews are sometimes used in the second round at PWC Consulting and Strategy&. Here is the key information you need to be aware of for this type of interview:

          • Candidates get divided into groups of 4 to 6
          • Each group is given information about a case (i.e. a client facing a problem)
          • You are given 10mins to review the materials by yourself or with another person in your group
          • You are then asked to discuss a few questions about the case for 20mins with the rest of your group in front of your interviewers
          • The interviewers will ask a few questions to the group for 15 to 20mins

          This type of case mainly tests your ability to work with others. Interviewers won't intervene during the group discussion. They will just observe the group dynamics and mark each participant based on how they are contributing to the discussion.

          Here are the top 3 things you should aim to do in your group interview:

          • Speak with a purpose. At the beginning of a group discussion, a lot of candidates will want to speak their mind as they know participating is important. But participating is not enough. The QUALITY of your input is crucial. Sometimes, it's better to let two or three people get the discussion started. And to then make a very thoughtful point based on how they started the discussion. Focus on the quality of your input, not the quantity.
          • Involve everyone. Another tip that's easy to apply is to keep an eye on who's participating in the conversation and who's not. If you identify a member of the group who's struggling to make themselves heard, you should not hesitate to help them be heard by saying something like: "We haven't heard everyone's opinion on this yet. John, Rebecca what do you think?"
          • Summarise. Finally, at the end of the 20 minutes group discussion it's a good idea to summarise the different points people have made. This will position you as the person bringing everyone together and making sure all candidates are on the same page. It is something some partners in consulting like doing with clients in real life and will therefore reflect positively on you.

          And the top 3 things you should really avoid doing:

          • Being easy to read. Group interviews is the time to put your poker face on. Everyone is stressed in a group interview. But you need to try your best to come across as confident. A good way to do this is to focus on basic body language: look at people in the eye, sit confidently, don't cross your arms, etc.
          • Interrupting others. Consultants need to be client-friendly, and interrupting someone in a discussion is not client-friendly at all. You should listen carefully to what others are saying. Try to have a genuine interest in what they think. Before making your point, summarise their point to show that you understand what they mean.
          • Dominating the conversation. Finally, some candidates are so eager to participate in the conversation that they end up completely dominating the rest of the group without realising it. A good tip to avoid this is to keep an eye on how much time you talk. If you are in a 5-person group you should aim to speak 20% (1/5th) of the time and really no more than 25%.

          Your performance in regular and group case interviews will play a big role in the firm's decision to give you an offer. If you'd like to learn more about group case interviews, check-out our separate detailed guide here.

          7. PWC (Strategy&) case presentations

          The final type of case interview used by PWC Consulting, is a written case presentation.

          Here's a quick overview of what to expect:

          • Receive the case 2 days in advance
          • Prepare PPT slides with your recommendations and supporting data
          • On the day of your interview, you'll have a...
            • 15-30 minute rehearsed presentation
            • 15-30 minute Q&A discussion with the interviewer

          PWC Consulting does written cases a bit differently than other firms. For example, BCG would only give you 1-2 hours to prepare, but PWC Consulting sends the case 48 hours in advance. 

          For this type of interview, Strategy& more closely resembles BCG and Bain, because they may not provide the case until you're at the interview location. 

          As a note, a written case presentation is MUCH different than a normal case interview, so don't think you can get through on your normal case interview skills. In order to prepare, we recommend you study our in-depth written case interview guide.

          8. PWC (Strategy&) case interview preparation plan

          In this section, we're going to cover the most important things you can do in order to prepare for your interview and land that consultant job at PWC.  Let's begin with maths preparation.

          8.1 Become really confident at maths

          You don't have to have a perfect GPA or GMAT score to succeed at case interview maths. However, during your PWC / Strategy& interviews, you will be expected to quickly perform accurate mental maths. 

          In order to do this, it’s essential to know the formulas for common metrics, like return on investment or breakeven point. And it’s also helpful to know a few maths shortcuts to help you solve problems more quickly. To learn more about these topics, check out our free guide to case interview maths

          In our experience, the most successful applicants start their interview preparation by practising maths skills, so make sure you prioritise this step.  

          8.2 Develop a consistent method to crack cases

          One of the biggest challenges of interviewing with PWC / Strategy& is solving cases that you’ve never seen before. Each case can be difficult, and you’ll have to perform well across multiple case interviews in order to get an offer.

          As a result, it’s critical for you to have a consistent approach for solving cases. PWC / Strategy& uses candidate-led case interviews, which can be broken down into the following types of questions:

          • Situation
          • Framework development
          • Framework exploration
          • Quant question – Data provided
          • Quant question – No data provided
          • Creativity question
          • Recommendation

          If you can crack each type of question (within a case), then you can crack the overall case. To learn how to use this process to solve PWC / Strategy& cases, you can use our BCG & Bain Case Interview Training Programme. PWC / Strategy& uses the same type of case interviews as BCG and Bain, so you can use that programme to prepare.

          8.3 Learn from every mistake you make

          During case interview preparation, the quality of your preparation is just as important as the quantity of time that you dedicate. It's better to do 20 cases thoughtfully than to rush through 40 cases. 

          We recommend that you keep a notebook where you record improvement opportunities and specific things you did well for each case. 

          The notebook and self-evaluation will help you to be more strategic (and efficient) with your preparation. It's also a good idea to go back and re-do old cases. For example, after you have done case #20, you could go back to case #1, to make sure you are not repeating the same mistakes.

          The minimum preparation time required to succeed in case interviews is probably around 30 hours. However, if you don't prepare thoughtfully, it may take much longer. So take notes, be strategic, and keep practicing!

          8.4 Do mock interviews

          How you solve each case is important, but your interviewers will also be evaluating how you COMMUNICATE your answers. It's important to speak in a structured way that makes it easy to clearly understand your points.

          The best way to hone your communication skills is to practise interviewing out loud, and you can do that in three main ways:

          1. Interview yourself (out loud)
          2. Practise interviewing with friends or family
          3. Practise interviewing with ex-interviewers

          To help you with this process, here is a broad list of consulting interview questions you can practice with. Practising by yourself is a great way to get started, and can help you get more comfortable with the flow of a case interview. However, this type of practice won’t prepare you for realistic interview conditions.

          After getting some practice on your own, you should find someone who can do a mock interview with you, like a friend or family member.

          We’d also recommend that you practise 1-1 with ex-interviewers from PWC / Strategy&. This is the best way to replicate the conditions of a real case interview, and to get feedback from someone who understands the process extremely well. Meet our MBB ex-interviewers who’d love to work with you.

          cta_illustration arrow_left Browse MBB ex-interviewers
          Any questions about PWC / Strategy& case interviews?
          If you have any questions about case interviews, do not hesitate to ask them below and we will be more than happy to answer them. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!

          The IGotAnOffer team