‘Before anything else, preparation is the key to success’-Alexander Graham Bell

I have been under the weather this past week, I think there is a bug going round. What a week it has been though. I applied for a summer internship with PWC and had my telephone interview last week. For those of you looking for a summer internship, here are a few tips on how to do well in the telephone interview. They rang me back on Friday with good news, I had been successful in the interview stage.

With PWC, they will ask you questions on the following categories

  • Business acumen
  • Global acumen
  • Leadership
  • Relationship
  • Technical capabilities

These are the PWC competencies, make sure you have examples of situations where you have demonstrated these.

During the interview, they asked me about all of these so make sure you prepare for all of them!

Do your research! The PWC representative was impressed by my research as I knew a lot about the firm and the examples that I gave regarding these categories were well thought through. They did however say that some of my answers could have been more precise as she found she had to interrupt me in order to ask the next question.

Top tip: Try to sound confident, the feedback I received was that I was a bit nervous at the beginning but as the interview progressed I sounded more confident

To increase your business acumen, read the accountancy age or listen to the financial times podcast which is what I do as I can easily listen to it on the bus. For global acumen maybe have the BBC news app on your phone which notifies you of recent stories. Have a few prompts in front of you but don’t have mass amounts of paper as it will be difficult to decipher the key points if you have blocks of text in front of you. Also it sounds extremely unprofessional if the interviewer hears the rustling of paper.

For the leadership section I got asked when have I had to overcome a difficult situation regarding leadership so try to think of an example and describe the problem then how you overcame it, what was your solution? Another question that they asked me was think of a time where you have done a project or participated in something with little guidance. This was a difficult question but I mentioned that I volunteered at the school’s exclusion unit where challenging students that have breached the school regulations are put in isolation. I helped develop their mathematical skills, I didn’t receive any guidance on how to approach them or communicate with them. However, as I dedicated a lot of time to helping them over time I analyzed their behaviour realizing they responded well to praise. I soon learnt how to communicate and teach them. This was very rewarding.

I have now been invited to the assessment day. This is where I will go to the PWC headquarters and participate in a series of tests. I will need to do a 30-minute report followed by a logical and numerical reasoning test then a group assessment. I am quite nervous about the assessment tests as they are very difficult. However, there’s lots of support at Lancaster to guide you through these and you can book psychometric test workshops which will support you on your journey to PWC.

Top tip: Practice makes perfect, if you practice the numerical and logical tests as often as possible, you will find them easier

I am the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales) campus ambassador so I did some lecture shout-outs in order to promote the USS scheme which builds upon your CV and allows you to get an extra qualification CFAB. This was a nerve wracking experience as I had to do a presentation in front of many students. I don’t know how lecturers stand in front of students for an hour. They’re brave academics. However, this has developed my confidence and improved my skills in public speaking which I can utilize in the future when I have class presentations.

Good luck to those of you who are applying for placements or internships. If you practice, prepare and express confidence during your telephone interview, you are bound to be successful. It is also a good experience and helps you develop certain skills you may need again when applying for graduate jobs.

Thanks for reading