The Top PwC Audit Associate Interview Questions and How to Ace Your Interview

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the recruitment processes at the big professional services firms. The “Big Four” firms—Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC—all want to hire similar people, but the way they do interviews and the questions they ask can be very different. We’ve put together some notes on interview style and sample questions for the Big Four based on reviews of interviews from the last twelve months to help you prepare for the hiring round.

Interviewing for an audit associate role at one of the Big 4 accounting firms like PwC can be intimidating. However, going in prepared with an understanding of the types of questions you will face can help ease those nerves. In this article, we will outline some of the most common PwC audit associate interview questions along with tips for crafting winning responses.

Overview of the PwC Audit Associate Interview Process

The interview process will typically involve two or three rounds consisting of both technical questions related to auditing and accounting as well as behavioral questions aimed at assessing your soft skills. Some key things to expect:

  • First round: Often conducted over the phone or video, first round interviews with PwC tend to focus on getting to know your resume, background, and interest in the role and firm. Expect questions about why you want to work in audit and why you applied to PwC.

  • Second round Here is where you will face more technical questions to test your accounting and auditing knowledge. Be prepared to answer questions on accounting principles auditing standards and popular accounts on the balance sheet.

  • Final round The last interview is all about culture fit Be ready for situational behavioral questions to see how you would handle various workplace scenarios,

Throughout the process, PwC is evaluating both your technical capabilities and your interpersonal skills. Keep reading for examples of common questions and how to craft winning responses.

Technical PwC Audit Associate Interview Questions

Here are some of the most common technical accounting and audit knowledge questions faced in PwC audit associate interviews:

Q: Walk me through the steps of the audit process from start to finish.

This is a very common question to assess your understanding of audit workflows. Structure your response around the key phases of auditing:

  • Planning – risk assessment, assigning team, documentation review
  • Fieldwork – conducting tests of controls and substantive testing
  • Conclusion – evaluating results, forming the audit opinion
  • Reporting – issuing final deliverables and reporting to management

Emphasize key activities like identifying risks, gathering evidence, concluding on results, and maintaining independence.

Q: What are the difference between tests of controls and substantive testing?

This question tests your grasp of audit procedures. Keep your answer clear and concise:

  • Tests of controls: Procedures to evaluate the operating effectiveness of internal controls. Examples include walkthroughs, inquiries, and reperformance.

  • Substantive testing: Procedures to assess account balances and transaction classes. Examples include confirmations, reconciliations, and analytical reviews.

Explain that while tests of controls focus on processes, substantive tests focus directly on the accounts and transactions themselves.

Q: How would you test for unrecorded liabilities?

For this type of technical question, structure your response using the framework of audit procedures:

  • Inspection – vouching payables subledgers and vendor statements

  • Observation – observing inventory for obsolete items against an aging report

  • Inquiry – asking about pending lawsuits or contingencies

  • Recalculation – recalculating employee bonus accruals

  • Analytical tests – analyzing expense accounts and ratios related to liabilities

Q: What are some auditor responsibilities for detecting fraud?

This question is evaluating your understanding of audit requirements regarding fraud:

  • Maintaining professional skepticism – critically evaluating evidence

  • Conducting risk assessment procedures – inquiring about fraud risks

  • Testing controls and accounts susceptible to fraud – revenue recognition, management estimates

  • Responding to fraud risks with audit procedures – testing journal entries and assumptions

  • Communicating about fraud to management and potentially regulators

Emphasize how auditors have responsibility for detecting material misstatements caused by fraud.

Q: How would you modify the audit if you uncovered a material weakness in internal controls?

Your response should cover how material weaknesses demand more audit testing:

  • Expand scope of substantive audit procedures, relying less on controls

  • Increase extent of transaction testing with larger sample sizes

  • Perform more detailed analytics looking for unusual trends

  • Incorporate more robust methods like confirmation or reconciliation

  • Document findings and evaluate if audit opinion needs modification

Conclude by stating how the lack of controls necessitates more extensive substantive testing.

PwC Behavioral Interview Questions

In addition to technical questions, PwC interviews will contain several behavioral prompts to assess your soft skills and cultural fit:

Q: Tell me about a time you faced a challenge on a team project. How did you overcome it?

  • Set up the situation by explaining the team project challenge
  • Share the actions you personally took to address the issue
  • Be specific about how you leveraged skills like communication, problem-solving, leadership
  • Share the positive results of your actions and the impact on the team
  • Emphasize teamwork, persistence and a positive attitude

Q: Describe a time when you had to interact with a difficult client. What was the situation and how did you handle it?

  • Briefly explain the scenario with the difficult client
  • Focus most of your answer on the professional approach you took
  • Demonstrate emotional intelligence, understanding, and patience
  • Share how you relied on tone, empathy, or reasoning to resolve the situation
  • Conclude with the outcome and how you learned or improved from the experience

Q: Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. How did you handle it?

  • Be honest in describing your mistake without dwelling on the negative
  • Emphasize how you took ownership and acknowledged the error
  • Explain the actions you took to immediately remedy the situation
  • Share any lessons learned about processes or preparation
  • Focus your answer on maturity, accountability, and learning from experiences

Q: Why do you want to work for PwC specifically?

  • Show enthusiasm and share what excites you about PwC
  • Spotlight any experiences you have with the firm such as internships
  • Discuss values you share with PwC like quality, integrity, stewardship
  • Share how PwC’s culture, training programs, or expertise appeals specifically to you
  • Expresses genuine interest and show how PwC aligns to your career aspirations

Questions to Ask Your PwC Interviewer

Along with preparing your own responses, you should have thoughtful questions ready to ask your PwC interviewers, such as:

  • How would you describe the culture and work environment at PwC?

  • What opportunities are there for professional development and training?

  • What types of clients could I expect to work with in this role?

  • What attributes does PwC look for in top talent seeking advancement?

  • What makes you enjoy working at PwC?

Key Takeaways for Acing Your PwC Audit Associate Interview

With preparation and practice, you can confidently conquer the PwC interview process. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Understand the standard steps of the audit process and how to perform key procedures

  • Review accounting concepts and principles you may need to explain or apply

  • Prepare examples that showcase your communication, analytical, and problem-solving abilities

  • Research PwC’s values, mission, and culture so you can express genuine interest

  • Practice answers aloud to common technical and behavioral interview questions

  • Prepare smart questions to ask that demonstrate enthusiasm for the firm

  • Present yourself professionally from your interview attire to your body language

Landing a role as an audit associate at a prestigious firm like PwC takes dedication and diligence. Preparing for the recruiting process using the guidelines above will help ensure you put your best foot forward. With your knowledge, skills, and sincere passion for the work, you will be well on your way to success.

The interview process at Deloitte

Deloitte switched all of its recruitment on-line following the UK government’s most recent response to the Omicron variant. Simon Hallet, Resourcing Director says the firm takes a hybrid approach to its assessment and selection activities. “Hiring Managers may also want to meet in person,” Hallet says. “But we will listen to what the candidate feels comfortable with and be open to in-person interviews at the end.” “We are thinking about whether to let candidates choose between a virtual and an in-person assessment center.” The assessment exercises and elements are the same. ”.

Hallet says that Deloitte’s interview questions are meant to find out about the candidate’s relevant experience, what drives them, and their strengths and subject matter expertise. For roles that involve more technology, there may be a skills test to see how well they know how to use a certain technology. Case studies are a good way for job candidates to get a feel for the job and show how knowledgeable they are about the job in a real-life setting. ”.

Hallett says Deloitte asks a variety of competency, strength and scenario style questions. Some examples of questions that could be asked during the process include;.

  • We’re all better at Deloitte when we look out for each other and put our health and happiness first. How would you describe the way you help the people around you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to get things done with the help of other people.

The following questions are also known to crop up in Deloittes interview process:

  • Talk about a time when you worked with others to reach a goal.
  • Give me an example of a tough character you had to deal with.
  • How would people describe you in three words?
  • Why Deloitte?
  • Why audit?
  • Please describe a long-term project you’ve worked on.
  • If you want to work as an accountant, why did you go to college?
  • What’s good about you?
  • Describe a time you defended a friend.
  • How would you sell yourself?
  • Which other companies are you applying to?
  • You had to decide what to do at one point. Tell me about it. What were your thought processes when you made this decision?.
  • What do you do to get better?
  • Tell us about a time you led a team.
  • What can you bring to Deloitte?
  • How do you handle stress at work?
  • Tell me about a time when you dealt with something new.
  • Why are pot holes round?
  • How many pens can I fit in this room?
  • Why should Deloitte invest in you?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • What are you reading right now?

The interview questions of EY

There are surprisingly few up-to-date reviews of the interview process with Ernst & Young. What is available suggests that there are “Lots of behavioural and situational questions”, and “Very fast, informative interviews”.

EY tells applicants to get ready by thinking about relevant work experience and how they feel about current market trends and changes in the sector.

The interview could happen in person, over the phone, or via video chat. The company also says it might give candidates a written test, which could happen online or at a testing center.

EY seems to believe in case studies as an interview method and focuses on “personality and match with the firm.” They also have a slightly more structured and less conversational approach. “Tell me about a time when you had to show leadership” seems to be a question that people ask a lot.

Past questions include:

  • Why do you want to work for EY?
  • Describe a time you contributed to a high-performing team.
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with someone and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a skill you haven’t talked about yet.
  • What are you good at?
  • What do you most enjoy studying?
  • What gives you a buzz?
  • Are you a starter or a finisher?
  • Are you into big picture or detail?
  • Describe a successful day you had recently.
  • Have you ever done something differently the second time around?
  • Tell me about your friends.
  • Which three words would you friends use to describe you?
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • Have you ever wanted to stop doing something?
  • Do you believe that to lead a group, you need to know a lot?
  • Would you say you’re organized? Would your friends?

PwC Audit Interview Questions and Sample Answers


What skills do you need to be an audit associate at PwC?

Communicate confidently in a clear, concise and articulate manner – verbally and in the materials I produce. Build and maintain an internal and external network. Seek opportunities to learn about how PwC works as a global network of firms. Uphold the firm’s code of ethics and business conduct.

Why should we hire you as an audit associate?

Answer it directly, honestly, and succinctly. Tell a story and describe how your passion for the profession will provide tangible benefits for the employer. Example: “I have always enjoyed working with numbers and facts in pursuit of information that can be used to achieve an objective or make a decision.

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