PA Consulting - Speed of Processing?

#1

I’ve been applying around consultancy firms over the last few weeks and a position at PA Consulting really caught my eye as it sounded verymuch up my street and specifically wanted someone with entertainment industry experience, which I have several years of experience in.

I was quite hopeful that this combined with my grades would at least get me through to the first stage, but it’s been 2 weeks and I haven’t heard anything. Has anyone else applied to this company and if so how long did it take to hear from them?

#2

Yes, I applied around mid October and I have reached the next stage, - telephone interview - but it seems like a longgggggggggggggggg road ahead.

I applied for about 4 Graduate jobs and got through on one of them. Check your application status in your account or just give them a call/email to get an update.

#3

Hello,

Just wanted to know if you guys knew about the case studies at PA consulting? Are they similar to the ones given by McKinsey, Bain etc. or more like the case studies at Accenture or Capgemini (where they give a chunk of material and you have to come up with the problems and potential solutions within the space of about 45 mins).

Thanks in advance for the help.

#4

Hi guys,

I have a phone interview scheduled for next week and was wondering if anyone could shed some light on the questions that I might be asked?

Thanks for your help

#5

hey

what programme did everyone apply for?

I’ve a phone interview in about two weeks time. Any tips would be much appreciated! :slight_smile:

#6

I applied for the project management grad scheme.

I haven’t been able to find any information about the phone interview.

#7

I’ve had my phone interview now and am awaiting the onsite assessment centre. I’d say revising the competency questions that companies such as KPMG and PWC ask is a good place to start. The PA Consulting interviewer put me much more at ease during the interview compared to other companies, so keep calm and you’ll be fine.

#8

Hi,

I had my phone interview on Wednesday and found out a few hours after that I had made it through to the next stage. I have to do an online numerical and verbal test now and then the next stage is an assessment centre.

@marello: what scheme have you applied for? did you not have to take any online tests before the assessment centre?

#9

Hi everyone,

Seeing as there wasn’t much out there on the PA application process, I thought I would give you a post covering my expereinces from the beginning to (near) the end.

Some things to know about PA:

  • they are structured in two ways: there are service sections (strategy, change etc) and specialist sections (government, defence, etc). Two or more areas will combine for specific projects.
  • They’ve had an up and down financial history over the last ten to twenty years, with profits falling dramatically recently with the start of the financial crisis and an embarrassing incident where they lost a USB with government data on it - which lead to the end of some contracts with the government.

Applying:

  • As I understand it, you can apply to any of the service sections or the specialist sections, but (despite their internet site telling you differently) HR will only allow you to one area.
  • The whole process takes around 3 months and most of the deadlines are in December.
  • If you are applying for a specialist area - like defence say - they expect you to have 18 months to 2 years experience (approx.) and you will come up against expereinced candidates.
  • Within one of the specialist sections, there are about 4 - 8 places each year. APPLY EARLY - don’t wait for the deadline. They do fill up their limited number of places.

The application process:

  • First of all you have to submit a cv and covering letter. I gave my letter a simple structure (3 reasons why I thought i was right for the role and 3 reasons why PA was right for me).

  • Without too much fuss, I passed onto the telephone interview. This was relatively easy compared to KPMG’s. There were the normal questions based on the compentencies (see a post on telephone interviews at KPMG or similar), but none on a current news or business story. The whole thing only lasted around 25 to 30 mins and at the end the HR person (yes you are interviewed by an HR person rather than someone from your business line) told me that I had passed it.

  • online tests: normal thing, SHL again. Maths and Verbal.

  • Assessment centre: after applying back in December, I finally got to the assessment centre over 2 months later. This is effectively the final stage, and the one most tailored to PA. I prepared pretty intensely for it, doing practice case studies from Case In Point and revising up on PA and my interview answers.

I arrived at around 9.40 for a 10am start. The PA offices can be a little hard to find. Go out of Victoria station, turn left (away from Buckingham Palace and Westminster), cross a small road and up a wide step of stairs into what looks like a covered row of shops.

Arriving on the fourth floor of the building, there were 3 others waiting to also take the assessment centre, mostly with similar levels of experience (1 or 2 years) except for one person who had a bit more.

After an introduction by HR, I had a pretty simple interview with someone from my service line: the usually competency questions (tell me about a time when you had to communicate to a difficult person) and “what would your friends say about you” and “where do you see yourself in ten years.” Practice and doing research on PA pays off here. The only tricky bit was a case study question at the end. They ask it like it’s a flippant thing, but take your time to answer and take it seriously. They don’t want you to solve it, but rather just to outline how you would go about solving it. Plan your response before answering because there’s usually a catch in the question.

The second part was to a case study/ role play. The task was to prepare for a meeting with a senior executive from a fictional firm. You were given an outline of the situation, with objectives for the meeting, and a mock newspaper article (note the date to see if it is current - mine was from 2008). You’ve 40 mins to prepare. I took the time to break down the problem and then plan how I was going to take the senior executive through my thinking. There isn’t much data to look through or work with.

Some tips:

  • don’t worry if you slightly run out of preparation time. I did and they didn’t comment on it in my feedback.
  • plan how you will use the time you have with the executive (you only have 20 mins), then tell them the plan at the start of the meeting.
  • The senior executive (played by a member of PA, not an actor) won’t try to be disruptive, but they do want to see you pick up on their ideas and work with them towards a conclusion. I was worried that I led the conversation too much, but they were very appreciative of my style in my feedback.
  • Think how you will use to flipchart to help faciliate the conversation: you can use it to write up the structure of the meeting, to highlight key words, to graph different options or to issue tree (google it) the different options the executive has. Not all of these will or are possible, but be creative.

We then had lunch with the people from PA. They seemed alright, if hardly likely to set the world alight. They weren’t as smooth or insightful as people I’ve met from BCG, McKinsey or even KPMG, but seemed like a nicer bunch to work with.

The final part was a group exercise. This was another business problem. This time there were more numbers involved. You had 5 minutes to read the paper through, before you had 30 mins to discuss it as a group, observed by 6 people from PA. Our group did alright, though the person next to me kept cutting it. We delegated some of the number crunching to one of the group and then went through each of the questions they had asked us to consider. At the end, we had to present back our thoughts for a total of 5 minutes (which we divided between us). The PA consultants then asked us a few mildly challenging questions which we had to think up decent responses to. They were mostly things like: have you remembered to include this in your costing (we hadn’t), why not?

The only feedback I got about this stage was that I was slow to get involved at the beginning, before warming to the task and then presenting very well.

The HR person rang me whilst I was on the train home to say that I had performed well - they only had two small pieces of feedback - but benchmarked against the other candidates and one from another assessment centre, I hadn’t won the one space they had left. (Hence why you should apply early). And that was that.

#10

Hey all,

Sorry I didn’t respond to this sooner. I’ll leave my experience for people applying next year I guess!

When I arrived at the office a more “business like” looking person was speaking so abysmally to the very nice receptionist that I was pretty put off by the company.

Prior to the interview I’d prepared by watching Victor Cheung’s videos and reading Case in Point. When I was given my business case study the brief was short and vague, with an out of date newspaper article. I prepared as if it is was a Cheung- type case study and outlined the questions I needed to make a proposal. When my interviewer arrived (who was meant to be in character), he decided to give me an impromptu 15 minute general interview, then asked for the case study answer. When I began to start asking questions to gather more information he just kept telling me he didn’t know what the case study was and he didn’t have any data. Generally he was very unreceptive, unhelpful and at times quite distruptive. I had a 2nd interview with someone who seemed very fair and a group case excercise which was pretty standard compared with other companies.

As you can imagine I didn’t get through to the next stage, generally I felt a little hard done to that they seemed to take an extremely unusual approach to case studies. I really don’t know what I’d recommend in order to deal with it. Another person I went to the interview with set out a proposal of ways to improve sales and was told it was more like a marketing pitch than solving the case so who knows what they’re after!

#11

Guys what roles was this for ? Coz I applied to strategy and decision science and have my first interview next week …

#12

Hi Kris,

mine was for a government advisory place. But (and this is only a guess) I would expect your interview would be much the same as mine.

Assuming that yours is also a telephone interview, then, all that happened in mine was that an HR person asked a number of standard questions. By using the STAR technique and having written out a number of possible examples, I passed quite easily. Seriously, good luck and hope it goes well!

#13

styxandstones thanks :slight_smile:

It went quite well I think, but should hear back this week, however the HR person told me that there are only 4 positions left for the division I applied to so my chances are quite slim but hey fingers crossed :slight_smile:

#14

Has anyone else here heard back about the remaining positions starting in 2012?