PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) is one of the Big Four Consulting Firms (along with KPMG, Deloitte, and EY). Every candidate who wishes to land the offer from PwC must go through an essential round called a “case interview” in the Assessment Center.
In this article, we’ll cover the complete overview of the PwC case interview and the tips and techniques to help you ace your case interview round.
The PwC case interview is a candidate-led interview used to assess candidates for technology and management consulting positions. Candidates are required to go through three to four 45-minute case study sessions, which simulate the actual work of consultants in the firm.
The three common case types in the PwC case interview are individual case, group case, and written case.
A candidate must go through the case interview round in a full-day event consisting of two to three stages, known as “Assessment Center” in Europe/Middle East and “Super Day” in the US.
The PwC case interviews occur after the video interview
Candidates have to pass three rounds (Application -> Online test -> Video Interview) before getting into the case interview round.
If you successfully pass the case interview round, you will advance into the final round - partner interview. If you pass this final round, you will receive an offer from PwC within two weeks.
PwC Online test: Take a series of online psychometric assessments, including situational judgment and numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning.
Video interview: includes fit/behavioral interview and workplace case studies. You will record yourself answering the given questions. PwC has an e-learn preparation for the video interviews. You can check it out!
Case interview: includes a series of case interviews (individual and group) to assess candidates’ traits and abilities as consultants.
Partner interview: candidates will go through an “informal” talk with the partner or senior manager of the local office they apply. This is similar to the fit interview at Bain and BCG.
PwC interviewers value leadership and business acumen
To ace the PwC case interview, candidates must demonstrate they have the five crucial qualities needed by PwC. “Whole leadership” and “Business acumen” are highly valued since these two are essential qualities for an aspiring consultant.
The five qualities, as stated in their “The PwC Professional” framework, are:
Whole leadership: Lead yourself and others to make a difference and create a positive impact in a responsible, authentic, resilient, inclusive, and passionate manner.
Business acumen: Bring business knowledge, innovation, and insight to create distinctive value for clients and PwC.
Technical and digital: Apply a range of technical, digital, and other professional capabilities to deliver quality and value.
Global and inclusive: Operate and collaborate effectively with a mindset that transcends boundaries and embraces diverse perspectives.
Relationships: Build relationships of high value that are genuine and meaningful.
Source: PwC Global
PwC case interview is a candidate-led case interview, similar to the BCG case interview and Deloitte case interview. The interviewer will present the issue and require the applicant to lead and control every stage to solve the case: structure the problem, develop frameworks, request data, synthesize results, and provide solutions.
Candidate-led cases focus on one big problem
In candidate-led cases, you have to figure out how to solve a big case. This is opposed to interviewer-led cases, where the interviewer presents smaller questions about the case to the candidate.
You should take a top-down approach - break the problem into small parts of the issue tree and tackle each one at a time.
Candidate-led cases are flexible
In a candidate-led interview, the candidate can choose their own suitable approach.
The interviewer usually forms a “universe” of data on the client and their problems for you to explore. If your issue trees and solutions seem to go beyond the given information (in a good direction), the interviewer can “make up” new information on the spot to help you solve the case in your way.
Candidate-led cases focus less on being right
In a candidate-led interview, you put less emphasis on giving a definite “correct” answer and focus more on creating a structured, reasonable approach.
An “acceptable” margin of error is allowed in the candidate-led interview since you must break down the problems by yourself without much assistance from the interviewer.
To ace the candidate-led case interview, you need to understand the fundamentals of a candidate-led case. Our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program features countless instant-result tips and techniques for case interviews to help you maximize your performance!
After learning the tips and some sample cases, you will need exclusive feedback. Book a meeting with our coaches at MConsultingPrep now! Those ex-consultants will help you practice specific candidate-led case interviews, give you the most detailed and concrete feedback, and suggest the most suitable improvement methods.
PwC case interviews usually include three types of interviews: individual case interview, group case interview, and written case interview.
PwC individual case interview
This is the standard type of PwC case interview. PwC has a similar candidate-led case interview style to BCG and Deloitte. Candidates will receive the case from the interviewer, which they need to define the issue and give solutions. There will be two or three cases for a 45-minute session.
PwC group case interview
The group case interview is popular in BCG, Bain and Big Four firms. A group case interview will usually go through five stages:
Stage 1: You will be assigned to a group of 3–6 applicants.
Stage 2: The group will be given a case and relevant information to solve.
Stage 3: You will be given 10 minutes to examine the case and prepare alone or in collaboration with another team member.
Stage 4: The group will discuss case questions for 20 minutes while the interviewers observe and take notes.
Stage 5: The interviewers will ask questions about the cases in the next 20 minutes.
PwC written case interview
The final type of case interview at PwC is the written case presentation.
At PwC, the case question and data are usually provided 48 hours before the presentation. Candidates must prepare PowerPoint slides and evidence to support their findings on presentation day.
Each candidate would have 15-30 minutes for presentation and another 15-30 minutes for Q&A with the interviewer.
To solve the PwC case interview, you need to develop an issue tree to break down your case. To create a suitable issue tree, you can use common frameworks for case interviews: Profitability framework, Business situation framework, McKinsey M&A framework, 4P/7P marketing mix, or Porter’s five forces model.
To further enhance your case interview performance, you can also apply five effective tools (or mini-frameworks): External vs Internal, Quantitative vs Qualitative, Costs vs Benefits, 2x2 Matrix, and SWOT analysis.
Five common frameworks for case interview
Profitability framework is mostly used to mathematically break down problems before switching to the qualitative framework for solutions. To use the profitability framework, candidates will split profits into revenues and costs.
Business situation framework is used to analyze a company situation in four areas - Company, Competitor, Customer, Products (3C-1P). This 3C-1P framework is flexible for many purposes, however it may be too generic and need customization depending on the situations.
McKinsey M&A framework is used to assess a proposed merger and/or acquisition on three aspects: standalone values of each involved company, their synergy, and other factors. This framework is MECE and promotes customizations, and is one of the best M&A frameworks.
4P/7P marketing mix in marketing for tangible work analyzes the 4P - Product, Price, Place and Promotion; while in service marketing three other Ps will be added in - People, Process, and Physical evidence. This framework focuses on the marketing aspect, hence unsuitable for multi-function strategies.
Porter’s five forces model analyzes the industry surrounding a business in five aspects - Suppliers, Customers, Competitors, New entrants, and Substitutes. This framework is used to get an industry overview and understand the client’s context.
Five effective tools for case interview
External vs Internal method is quick and easy to segment information about a particular entity. The internal branch concern what is inside or intrinsic of the said entity, and the external branch concerns the outside factors.
Qualitative vs Quantitative mini-framework is used for evaluations. Dividing items into two MECE groups reduces confusion and minimizes the risk of missing an essential item.
Cost vs Benefit in the decision-making process is very straightforward - if the benefits of an option outweigh its costs, that option can be chosen.
2x2 Matrix is a decision-making tool where options are examined using two criteria, each of which forms an axis of the matrix.
SWOT analysis mini-framework is seldom used in case interviews for being too generic. However, it can be used for a quick and easy evaluation of a company’s positioning within the industry context.
To have a deeper understanding of the common framework used in the case interview, you can check our free article on Case Interview Framework.
To ensure the best performance possible in the PwC case interview, you can follow this 5-step preparation.
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with candidate-led case examples
PwC hasn’t provided any case examples on its official site. Still, you can start with candidate-led case interview examples from Bain to familiarize yourself with the format and how to interact with the interviewer.
You can also get familiar with more case interview samples and all instantly-effective tricks for case interviews with our Case Interview E2E Secret Program. You can learn all the fundamentals and expose to a more detailed and in-depth analysis of case interview samples with suggestions.
Step 2: Practice consulting math
Interviewers intensely evaluate potential consultants' mental math because consultants have to deal with quantitative data daily. It might take too long for them to bring out a calculator whenever they need to calculate anything, and doing so during a negotiation appears unprofessional.
Some people find consulting math challenging at first; however, a few techniques can help you ease into the process while still practicing effectively, such as:
Train your head: Do your daily calculations mentally unless an EXACT answer is required.
Start with small steps: At the start, a piece of scratch paper and a 5% margin of error help; once you are confident, discard the paper and narrow down the margin.
Establish a routine: Allocate some time for daily practice. This may be hard at first, but you can feel the improvement once you’ve overcome the inertia.
Step 3: Develop business intuition
Having business intuition sharpens your performance significantly in case interviews. Working on intuition is a gradual process that takes practice every day. You can improve your business intuition through two means:
Written material: It's a good idea to read business papers daily. You can also find excellent articles on the McKinsey, Bain, and BCG websites. Be careful, though, Because the important thing is not how many pages you read but what you learn from them.
Experience and observations: Don't just show up to work; try to figure out what the senior managers are doing, the reasoning behind each decision they made, and how it has affected the organization.
Step 4: Learn the fundamentals and frameworks
Practice the use of hypotheses and issue trees, the MECE principle, and the frameworks until you are comfortable using them– they are the backbone of candidate-led case interviews.
It might be tempting at first to go straight for the frameworks – if you make this common mistake, get ready for some very unpleasant surprises in the interview. Frameworks need a lot of customization to fit actual cases, and to customize effectively; you need fundamental knowledge.
Step 5: Perform mock interviews
Mock interviews are a great way to simulate the actual case interview session. Find a former consultant to help you practice; they have been through countless case interviews, both real and mock, and they know what’s required of a candidate, so they’re the best people to run your simulations with.
MConsultingPrep can help you connect with ex-consultant coaches to receive more personalized feedback to improve what is lacking in your performance and enhance your chances of landing the offer. Book your mock case interview session with us right now!
Nine tips for the perfect PwC individual case interview
Tip #1: Understand the procedure of a candidate-led case interview
There is a five-step procedure to approach the PwC candidate-led case interview.
Taking the case: You need to take notes on all information regarding the clients and the case situation. Keep your notes organized to refer back to them easier.
Clarifying: You will have time to gain more information and/or clarify the points you haven’t fully understood about the cases.
Structuring: You will need to break down the case business problem into smaller components to create the issue tree, allowing you to solve it in an effective and cohesive manner.
Hypothesizing: You must develop the hypothesis based on evidence and available data about the problems and find the root cause. If the initial hypothesis in a branch of the issue tree no longer makes sense, go to the next branch. If the hypothesis matches, stick to it to find the root causes and solutions.
Pitching: The pitch is your case interview's final product, where you summarize all findings and recommendations to solve the case. You need to deliver the pitch in a structured, top-down manner.
Tip #2: Have a perfect case opening
There are four reasons to make a good case opening while you deliver your case interview:
First, it shows you have complete control of the upcoming problem-solving process, which is critical in candidate-led cases.
Second, you can demonstrate your whole leadership and relationships with proactiveness - aligning yourself with PwC's five qualities mentioned above.
Third, a good case opening creates a great first impression. Consultants are expected to perfect everything from the beginning to the end, so this could make a good head start for a 30-minute interview.
Finally, this is an opportunity to align during the interview. After the interviewer has outlined the case details, explain the case to the interviewer in your own words to ensure you grasp the issue and align with the interviewer.
Watch more: How to open a case perfectly?
Tip #3: Map your next moves
Pause occasionally to summarize where you are and where you’re going next. It gives you a sense of direction and authority; additionally, you get plus points in the interview for an organized approach.
This also gives your interviewer a chance to help you with your mistake. If your interviewer gives you advice, take it – assume it’s intended to be helpful.
Tip #4: Be consistent with your intended hypotheses
Always speak with the current hypothesis in mind, and that hypothesis must be in the issue tree. The sole purpose of the hypothesis-driven approach is to have your efforts and problem-solving steps guided and structured.
Therefore, to avoid being overwhelmed by piles of data in your case interview, do a sanity check by returning to your issue tree - if what you're doing does not correspond to your present place on it, go back immediately!
Tip #5: Deliver your pitch in one structured manner
This is the most important tip to take because you need to show that you own the consultant qualities - being structured and straight to the point. Present your analyzes in one perfect, insightful, top-down, concise, and captivating final pitch.
Find a way to structure the problem; this will guide your discussion with the interviewer. Briefly explain the framework you plan to use, allowing the interviewer to comment. In general, the simpler the framework, the better. Once the interviewer endorses your framework, stick to it.
To structure your speech:
Begin with a summary line that states the key takeaway/intention.
Separate what you want to say into distinct sections. As much as possible, avoid jumping back and forth between items.
Number your items so you and your interviewer can keep track of them. It's even better to specify how many things you'll be discussing beforehand.
Make your recommendation based on the conclusions you reached from your discussion, even if you are unsure with so little data and time to discuss all the issues.
Tip #6: Make a personalized script
Make a script of what you're going to say and rehearse it a hundred times. Practice all of the formulaic phrases, such as the opening or data request. With enough practice, those lines will become second nature to you.
The secret to seeming professional in a case interview is to talk in a systematic and formal manner. Using scripts also saves brainpower, which you will undoubtedly want in case interviews.
Tip #7: Keep your notes organized
Neat note-taking greatly assists with your train of thought, making storing and organizing information easier. You're also demonstrating to the interviewer that you're well-organized and meticulous.
Divide your notes into three categories to make them easier to read and interpret: data, presentation, and scratch paper. When the interview begins, take three pieces of paper and name them appropriately. Here is the content that should be on each type of note:
Datasheet: note down and process any data the interviewer gives you, as well as your calculations.
Presentation sheets: draft things you’ll say to the interviewer.
Scratch paper: anything else you need to write out, such as brainstorming ideas.
Tip #8: Avoid long pauses
Take a minute to think; don't be afraid of the silence. If you really need silence to think, ask for a timeout or announce think-out-loud mode. However, taking it too long will backfire, especially if you can’t come up with something worthy of the long wait. Use the pause prudently, and always try to think as fast as possible while still being “correct”.
Tip #9: Find and ask for more insights
Try your best to be in-depth and comprehensive with your analyzes. Always ask yourself, “Am I overlooking something?” and “Can I drill down further?”.
This is also helpful when you are stuck in your analysis. You can try asking for insights from the interviewer (remember to state your purpose clearly) like this:
If you have a piece of data and don’t know what to make of it, ask for benchmarks to put the data into perspective.
If you are unsure which framework to employ, consider "segmentation" - look at how the customer or the industry often segments that item. If you need to know how they do it, ask the interviewer.
When you cannot see the problems in the case (probably resulting from the “MECE” of your issue tree), ask the interviewer nicely for a way out.
However, remember to manage your time well. If you take too long, the interviewer might force you to move on, and you will lose the time to solve the case holistically.
Four tips for the perfect PwC group case interview
You are being evaluated with many other candidates in group case interviews. So, how can you make yourself stand out? Here are six helpful recommendations to ace a group case interview.
Tip #1: Manage your ideas
Take your time processing the question and developing an orderly and structured response. If you allow yourself time to analyze, your answer will be more robust. Ask the interviewer for a few minutes to organize your thoughts, but avoid excessive silence when necessary.
Try not to intervene forcefully while others are speaking in group interviews. If you have a brilliant idea, write it down. That way, the flash of brightness won't fade from your memory.
Tip #2: Decide whether your role is a leader or team member.
This is the decision that needs to be made on the spot - other candidates are going for the “leadership role” of the discussion. If you want to lead, go right at it. However, you can still demonstrate desirable consultant qualities even as a team member.
If you decide to be the team leader, emphasize your facilitator role.
It’s a good idea to be proactive in proposing what topics to discuss, in what order they should be addressed, and how much time should be allocated to each issue. You can bring the group’s focus back together if the group gets off track.
By the end of the group discussion, make a point to compile people's different points. This puts you in a position to bring everyone together and ensure all candidates are on the same page.
If you decide to be a team member, speak to add value.
Candidates will take turns presenting answers to the interviewer. Before it’s your turn, listen carefully to other people’s answers and the interviewer’s feedback. This way, you can add valuable and helpful insights to the discussion. Remember, good points go to the quality of what you say, not the number of times you speak up.
Tip #3: Ask good questions
Asking outstanding questions will set you apart. It demonstrates that you are attentive and willing to learn more.
Great questions often target one or more objectives: explaining an unfamiliar term, clarifying the issue's purpose, or expanding the team's understanding of the setting or business.
Tip #4: View others as teammates
Seeing people as colleagues puts you in a collaborative attitude, which allows you to work successfully with others. You look to be both a helpful leader and a team player in this manner.
You can be the first to answer your interviewer's question to avoid seeming timid. You can encourage co-interviewees by emphasizing their excellent ideas, adding what you believe is lacking, and explaining your reasoning.
Three tips for the perfect PwC written case presentation
Tip #1: Skim and scan to gain an overview of the case quickly
Skim the data for a summary, then focus on supporting evidence. You need to remove irrelevant data by starting with a defined goal to find the data that answers questions or supports your findings.
You can practice speed-reading in daily activities. When reading newspapers, for example, ask yourself questions regarding the topics being covered, then explicitly hunt for solutions in the articles.
Tip #2: Timebox your activities during the presentation
To ensure adequate time management, allocate a precise time limit for each activity.
When that time limit is nearly over, quickly wrap up what you’ve been doing (e.g., skimming data) and move on to the next (structuring the problem).
In such a pressured interview setting, you easily make mistakes, so set aside some time for contingencies.
Tip #3: Present recommendations first
Tell them your solutions first, and explain later – it’s the results that count!
On a consultant's slide, the chart titles contain the most valuable insights, and their presentations and pitches start with the conclusion. You are an aspiring consultant, so act the same way during case interviews.