The Alexander Group
The Alexander Group Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
Associate Consultant Interview (Neutral Experience)
Interviewed at The Alexander Group
Interview Details – Stringent yet fair
Negotiation Details – Fine
Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at The Alexander Group in December 2013.
Interview Details – Very impressed by the caliber and professionalism of AGI from start to finish. The interview process was smooth; I was able to represent myself transparently while learning about AGI. Hard to ask for more.
Phone interviews by talent management were detailed but for good reason---a ton of consulting knowledge was demonstrated by AGI's talent manager, which is often not a given at this stage. In-person interviews were equally positive. I had the chance to meet with senior management. Everyone was kind, respectful and super bright. Questions asked were insightful and gave me a chance to talk about my background while learning about AGI simultaneously.
It was perhaps the best introduction to a company that I've been given. Culture seemed very inviting and respectful. Great place.
Weeks 1-2: 2-3 phone interviews for screening. Many about my professional experience and how that was relevant. Others were perhaps a bit more behavioral in nature.
Week 3: One full day on-site in Stamford. 3-4 interviews and a case. The case was reasonable and gave me the chance to demonstrate my presentation, excel and powerpoint skills. The discussion that followed was insightful and not meant to intimidate.
Interview Question – Nothing overtly difficult or unexpected. I might note that the upfront screening/phone interview process was perhaps more thorough than I've seen with other firms. I support this wholeheartedly, however, and feel that it makes for a better and more efficient on-site experience. Talent acquisition did a solid job of communicating with the Stamford office prior to my visit. Answer Question
Reason for Declining – Decided to pursue a start-up opportunity.
Consultant Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at The Alexander Group in April 2013.
Interview Details – I initially applied to The Alexander Group (AGI) in late February of 2013. In March, I got a call from a Manager at the firm, who conducted essentially a screening interview (the standard: why AGI, why now, why you). We got along really well, and loved how personable he was, which was a great reflection of the culture here.
In April, I progressed to the next round, which was essentially a marathon of interviews, each an hour long, over 5 hours. The first interview I had was with a VP, which in AGI is the most senior position, mostly around the kind of work AGI does and some CV-based questions.
The second interview was a mini-case conducted by a Director. There was a prepared set of data on Excel and I was asked present analysis on this data. Specifically, it was compensation data for a hypothetical sales team, and I was asked to develop 2 or three different charts and then make observations based on those charts in a small set of slides. I had 45 minutes. If you don't have a huge amount of experience with Excel, I could see the time being tight, but the main point of this round was to understand if you were able to draw insights and observations from data.
The third round was with another VP of the firm. We went to lunch and the basis of this interview was an understanding of what I was looking for in my next role and some CV-based questions. Evaluating my motivation for working for AGI was an important area of exploration here.
The fourth was an interview via phone with another Director in the firm. Again, it was mainly CV-based.
The final interview was with a Principal, which in AGI is a thought leader and spends a lot of time augmenting intellectual capital. This was the most intellectually difficult interview, and its purpose was to evaluate your mental stamina as well as agility. He asked some standard questions about my CV, exploring my technical ability in statistics, data, and standard math. This interview closed with 2 brainteasers.
All the interviewers were friendly and engaging. They wanted you to succeed, even though they would challenge you. The marathon of interviews was intense, and by the last one you're pretty tired. It's important to remain sharp, though- the point of this is to make sure you're able to handle pressure and keep going intellectually, which is important in consulting.
Interview Question – 1) VP: What are the top 3 things you're looking for from your next job?
2) Principal: Can you ever really reach an optimum?
3) Brainteaser: You are in a basement with 3 light switches. In the attic, there are 3 light bulbs connected to the light switches. You don't know which switch goes to which light bulb. One of those light bulbs is not working. How do you determine which light bulb is not working by making only one trip upstairs? Answer Question
Consultant Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 2 months - interviewed at The Alexander Group.
Interview Details – My initial contact with AGI was through my campus career center. I submitted my resume and heard back shortly after the deadline. First round was on campus with a director (surprised that it was not a lower level) and it lasted about 30 minutes. It was mostly behavioral questions to assess personality and fit, fairly simple and straightforward.
About two weeks later, I learned that I was moving on to the second round in their office. My contact booked my travel and answered any questions I had which I found to be a plus. The second round consisted of two interviews to assess qualifications and desire to work at the firm, one phone interview with brain teaser type questions, one case study to test Excel skills and interpret data (very helpful to know how to do pivot tables and simple graphs), and an informal lunch with one of the managers. Overall it was a good experience, everyone was on time and cordial, and I didn't feel too stressed or burnt out by the end of the day. In retrospect, I wish I brushed up on my Excel skills more beforehand.
It took a little longer to hear back afterwards, a few weeks at least, before I found out that the firm was interested but that I had to speak to two more people (essentially getting the "okay" from everyone in the office). These phone interviews consisted of a case study that was more qualitative (market strategy based) and another fit interview. Case study wasn't too bad and my business school background definitely helped.
After the (unexpected) third round, I was given an offer a few weeks later, but not after I followed up for an update. Overall, a good experience, but could have been quicker with the turnaround since the entire process (from initial contact to offer) took about two months.
Interview Question – A brain-teaser that consisted of weighing marbles using a scale and finding the one that did not weigh the same as the others. View Answer
Negotiation Details – They are open to negotiation but with not much movement.
Business Analyst Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 3 months - interviewed at The Alexander Group in February 2012.
Interview Details – Applied through school's career website, got a call a little while later asking for phone interview. Had phone interview, was asked to go into the office. They reimbursed me for the trip and lodging which was very considerate. Had an in person interview which was supposed to be with 4 team members. 1 of them forgot about me during the case study, one was out of town and another had about 20 minutes to speak to me before having to leave. The last interview was done over the phone because he wasn't even in the office.
Waited a few weeks and they called back asking for references and salary requirements while telling me they were moving towards an offer. Waiting a few more weeks before I'm asked to have a phone screen with the VP of the office. After that I wait another three weeks and they finally inform me that they have chosen another candidate after giving me every indication I had the job.
They should have kept me in the loop that I was not their number one option. I emailed between these three week hiatuses to get updates on the process. They were very considerate and responsive until I was no longer on their list. Overall a terrible process that was dragged out to unnecessary lengths.
Interview Question – Simple case study using excel. Answer Question
Associate Consultant Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at The Alexander Group in January 2013.
Interview Details – I applied online for the associate consultant position. The overall interview process starts with an initial HR recruiter 30 minute conversation about your background and experience, then an over the phone 45 minute interview with a Manager and finally an on-site interview with 3 Managers.
The HR interview was pretty simple and straightforward, more of a screening process. The recruiter was extremely friendly and attentive to what you want in your next role.
The next step was an over the phone interview with a Manager from the Alexander Group. We discussed my experience with CRM and Sales. He provided a few mini case scenarios that related to sales coverage, distribution channels, product messaging, etc. It was a pleasant conversation. One week later I was contacted by the recruiter and she asked me to come in for an on-site interview. We then scheduled a time that fit for both of us for an on-site interview.
At the onsite interview, I was scheduled to meet with three managers. When I got to the office I was finally able to meet the recruiter in person and we then struck up a friendly conversation. During our conversation she informs me that one of the interviewers would not be able to meet with me today. When they found out that the interviewer was not going to be able to come in for the interview, I wish they filled his spot with a current associate consultant just so I can get a better understanding of the role and the work that I would be doing rather than not filling his time slot at all. However I understand that the recruiter may have received a late notice of the no show as well so I can't fault her entirely. So, this brought me down to two interviews.
When it was time for my first interview, he was not prepared to start on time. So I continue to chat with the recruiter until he was ready to conduct the interview. 15-20 minutes after our start time he was finally ready to talk. This put me off quite a bit in the beginning but he apologized for the delay and when we started talking I felt like we had a good connection so most of the initial bad impression dissipated.
After my first interview the recruiter took me to do the Excel skills test. It’s pretty straightforward, just some pivot tables, developing pie and bar charts and some sorting exercises. They give you about 45 minutes to complete the Excel skills test.
For my second and last interview I was meeting with another Manager. We started some small talk and then got into my experience, background, why sales management consulting, sale mini-cases, etc. When I would respond to his questions he would type on his computer and it seemed like he only half-listening to what I was saying. I looked at his computer monitor to see if maybe he had an electronic form for writing down interview notes but I saw that he was just sending out emails for work. This made me really upset. Usually with smaller firms you expect a more personable experience since that’s their biggest competitive advantage for recruiting against the larger firms, but this was downright disrespectful. I took 4 hours out of my day to meet with the Alexander Group and a Manager can’t take 45 minutes to focus on me and not work while I talk. At this point I was ready to leave. After I finished up my interview, the manager handed me off to the recruiter. She asked me how things went and I told her that unfortunately during the interview the manager was typing on his computer and he was only half-listening to my responses. She responded with an “I’m sorry to hear that” statement. I told her I appreciated her time for setting up these interviews and that if she has any questions she can contact me through my email.
Later that day, after cooling off, I decided to withdraw my application for the position. I did not want to work with people who did not respect commitments, my time or me as a person.
Overall, this was the worst experience I had for an on-site interview. One of three of my interviewers dropping out in the last minute, starting 15-20 minutes late for my first interview and then a manager conducting work while I was responding to his questions for my second interview. Just a complete lack of respect in general.
Interview Question – How would you approach developing a sales compensation plan for a B2B salesforce? Answer Question
Reason for Declining – The Alexander Group had a complete lack of respect for me as an individual and for my time.
Consultant Interview (Negative Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at The Alexander Group.
Interview Details – Lengthy interview process. Consisted of a preliminary phone interview, then a phone interview with a Partner, then flying to ofifce for an overnight and day of one-on-one interviews. The firm, or at least the office I interviewed with, has no HR department or HR person, so some of the delays may have been due to that.
I found it was most important to emphasize why consulting, why Sales-centric consulting, and any prior experience working with/in Sales. They also wanted to confirm I did want to relocate to that particular office site, and they also tested me on the firm's core strategies. There was also a case study involving basic Excel skills (i.e. Pivot tables, sorting, etc).
Following my interviews, the firm contacted me for references and additional information. They set up appointments with my references and never followed through with some of them, which was embarassing, as well as unprofessional as these references were busy and had carved out time in their day for the firm.
The firm never followed up regarding the three week interview process, even though I made the effort to fly to their offices and spent over 24 hours in transit and in interviews. Overall the worst interview experience I have ever had.
Interview Question – Why Sales consulting? Answer Question
Business Analyst Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied through other source and the process took 5 days - interviewed at The Alexander Group in August 2010.
Interview Details – A few interviews with employees at various levels. Nothing too difficult was asked and they often walked you through the questions. There was no hiring specialist so you dealt directly with people you'd work with on the day-to-day which was very good.
Interview Question – Here is Business X that faces Problem Y. Walk me through how you would solve the Problem and what you would take into consideration before doing so. Answer Question
Consultant Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took a day - interviewed at The Alexander Group in June 2010.
Interview Details – In-person interview with principals and directors; beware of inconsistency between interviews. Principals will spend most of the time talking, focusing on the experience and the data that the firm has gathered. Do not use this advice during the case interview, as it is way out of sync with what directors are actually looking for during the case review - focus on the customer, NOT on what Alexander Group claims to have learned and accumulated in the past.
Interview Question – (Role play question): What good is your experience with other clients? You don't know our industry and you certainly don't know my customers or sales people. Answer Question
Associate Consultant Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at The Alexander Group in July 2011.
Interview Details – Had a 20 minute phone screen initially discussing my background, what I was looking to do, and answered some standard behavioral questions. Went in for an in office interview with 4 people (principals, managers) and took an excel skills test which combined took roughly 3 hrs. Interviewers all ask you to go through your background/experience, honing in on skills you would use in a sales consulting environment. Know what the company does as they all ask you what you know about the company and what they do. Some questions "case study type questions" are also asked to gauge your thought process on sales consulting scenarios - i.e if you had $10M budget and were the VP of sales, how would you spend it? If your client was X company, give me your though process on ...... Excel test is fairly simple, they give you a set of data and you answer questions based on manipulation of the data - if you've done some data analysis it shouldnt be a problem. Company is on the smaller boutique side and the people seem pretty smart and had good credentials.