What interviewers are looking for?

Live with Andrew Nicholls

Andrew Nicholls 1ABOUT

Andrew Nicholls has been with PwC for the past 9 years. He started his career at PwC UK following the completion of his degree at Newcastle University. Using the PwC Global Mobility Programme he moved to New Zealand in 2010. Andy is currently working as a Senior Manager in the assurance practice at PwC New Zealand (Auckland office).

Andy is involved in conducting second interviews with candidates following the screening process at PwC New Zealand and will help throw some light on the topic “What interviewers are looking for in potential candidates” 

  • So Andy what do you think are the three must-haves in potential candidates: Curiosity and eagerness to learn, strong interpersonal skills, humble attitude and good work ethic
  • When conducting interviews, what is the first thing that you notice about candidates and how much impact does it have in their being ultimately hired: Their communication style! To be successful in the role it is important that the candidate is able to relate to people and quickly build a rapport.
  • When it comes to communication skills and candidates being able to express themselves during an interview, how important do you think they are versus a candidate being technically sound: Very important! At PwC, we have great training, coaching and mentoring programmes which focus on developing the required technical skills for the job. Whilst we do look for people who demonstrate sound \technical capabilities, it is recognised that such skills can be taught. I look for someone who is engaging, can communicate clearly and has a good attitude.

(sounds fair enough Andy)

  • Besides communication skills and technical knowledge of the potential candidates is there anything in particular that you look for: Breadth of experience. We look for people who are well-rounded through the activities they are passionate about outside of their study or work. This might include sports teams, music, arts, volunteer work, travel, societies, part-time employment etc.
  • Since you have conducted numerous interviews, what would you say are the most important and least important attributes for a potential candidate, starting with the most important?
    • Communication skills – the candidate being able to express themselves
    • Positivity and eagerness
    • Technical knowledge
    • Confidence of candidate
    • Fluency of English language
    • Breadth of experience
    • Appearance of the candidate (properly dressed, presentable)
    • Knowledge about the job and the firm
    • Ability to ask smart questions
  • What is the one big blunder that you’ve seen candidates make that has ultimately led them on not being hired: The obvious is not being punctual, well dressed and polite. Otherwise, I wouldn’t call it a blunder but when interviewee’s lack depth in their examples of key experience or skills
  • Before we end the interview, would you like to share a little advice with our readers: I would recommend that you prepare well. Research the company, understand what their strategic priorities are, and think about how you are a good fit for the organisation. Lastly, a firm handshake never goes astray!

(excellent advice Andy!)


Please note:

  • All questions have been answered by Andy in his personal capacity and will have no impact on the organisation he works for;
  • Please do not spam Andy with questions about opportunities at PwC, he has answered the questions in good faith to help people prepare better for interviews. If you have any questions for Andy or me, feel free to comment below and we will try and answer them. However considering the fact that this is a very busy period for Andy (thank you, Andy, for still doing this 🙂 ) we can’t promise responses.


Up next:

Interview with Gul Zaib Shakeel, Screenwriter at Geo Productions – Pakistan

When: 7 May , 2016

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