I have to say I enjoyed the PA Assessment day.
Keep in mind I was applying for the Project Mgt practice so if you apply for another practice it may be different.
The day started with an introduction to the company, some information about how it works, etc. The Managing Consultant presenting was very open to questions and we could interrupt at any stage. The most interesting part of this for me was hearing stories from him about engagements he'd worked on. Least interesting was having slide upon slide of PA's MCA awards, because I'd read all this on the website beforehand.
We then went onto a group exercise which was excellent. I was being interviewed with five very capable people and we sailed through this section. Great atmosphere and energy.
Tips for exercises:
Nominate someone to keep track of time.
Nominate a facilitator.
Split up the tasks.
Keep your responses short - dont waste time talking and putting across only your point of view.
Dont see this as a competition. If you are trying to get one over on other members of the team you'll look like a twerp. And they said about four times that it was not a competition - I chose to take the hint.
Make your presentation in diagrams... the guys who tried to write things out in bullet points took far too long. Stick to headlines. Myself and the guy I was working with used a mindmap, and it worked a dream.
Then we went onto a competency interview, a case interview and a review of the PAPI personality test, not necessarily in that order.
For competency interview, I was challenged, but it was not too scary. Make sure you know your CV and can point out your competencies. You will find the values PA and any of their practices concentrate on in the literature on the website. The obvious compentencies are problem solving, communication, presentation skills, teamworking, leadership, etc.
Also try to answer questions relating to your experience in a logical manner: present the issue, say what your role was, say what you did, say what the outcome was.
Exactly what you would expect it to be. The tip here is to not make the mistake that I made - think of the context ie that you are PA consulting in the case and from the particular practice that you are working in. At first I was being vaguely strategic in an interview for the Projects Practice... d'oh!
Personality Questionnaire interview
There really is no right or wrong here. When I first saw the diagram I was petrified but actually when the categories are explained to you it makes perfect sense. You are also asked to elaborate on the computer's evaluation of your personality, which I think is more than fair.
At lunch I had the chance to meet other members of the practice, which I thought was excellent.