Hay Group Interviews and Culture



In this firm profile, we do a deep dive into Philadelphia-based Hay Group, a darling in the boutique organizational consulting realm. A global firm with a very interesting history, they’re known for motivating, developing and training their clients’ staff as well as the for research they carry out on the companies they work with.

Basically, they’re HR and research gurus, and it all comes down to their founding father, Edward N. Hay, who said, “the most successful companies of the future will be the ones that take full advantage of improved personnel techniques.”


Hay Group Website: http://www.haygroup.com/

Hay Group Headquarters: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hay Group Employees: 2800 employees

Hay Group Locations: 87 offices, 49 countries

Hay Group Chief Executive: Stephen Kaye (President & CEO)

Hay Group Revenue: $700M

Hay Group Engagement Cost: $250K


The Hay Group was formed in 1943 by Edward N. Hay under the name “Edward N. Hay and Associates, Management Consultants.” The firm was started on the premise that maximizing companies’ people management skills would vastly improve their output, both in terms of quality and quantity. In 1951, an employee named Dale Purves invented the “Hay Guide Charts”. These charts were revolutionary, in that they allowed organizations to map out and align their jobs and roles within the wider context of the company’s entire structure.

In 1954, Hay continued its trailblazing ways, started the “Hay Compensation Survey Comparisons”, a tool that allowed companies to remain competitive in terms of the compensation they offered their staff, and continued to see sustained levels of growth. In 1958, Hay died, leaving the company to Dale Purves and Milton Rock (an Air Force veteran and prolific writer raised in North Philly). They opened their first non-Philadelphia office in 1960 in Toronto, and opened their first overseas office in London in 1963. Their second US office, San Francisco, was opened in 1965. Dale Purves died in 1966, and Milton Rock became the new Managing Director.

The Hay Group carried on growing for the next 20 years, expanding its operations and its global reach. In 1984, Saatchi & Saatchi bought The Hay Group and combined it with McBer & Company, which was a human resources planning and redevelopment firm. This resulted in Saatchi Consulting, of which Milton Rock was the Management Director.

McBer & Company’s founder, David McLelland, introduced a concept of the three social motives for human behavior: achievement, power and affiliation. His mantra formed the foundation for Hay Group’s new attitude towards leadership.

In a tumultuous next few years, Milton Rock retired in 1985 and Charles Fiero became the company CEO. Robert Rock (the son of Milton Rock), then succeeded Fiero in 1986, followed by Chris Matthews in 1987. Then, in 1990, Hay Group’s management bought Hay Group back form Saatchi & Saatchi.

1997 was a good year for the company. Not only did they launch PayNet, the first ever online portal for pay data, they also carried out their first ‘World’s Most Admired Companies’ review for Fortune Magazine. Things continued in this vein, with Daniel Goleman using Hay Group research to publish “Working With Emotional Intelligence” in 1999.

The first decade of the new millennium saw Hay Group experience a number of important victories. In 2002, World at Work posthumously honored Edward N. Hay for innovation and services to the HR profession. In 2005, the Hay Group was asked to provide the research for Chief Executive Magazine’s “Best Companies for Leaders”. In 2008, “Senior Leadership Teams” an article written by Hay Group staff members was published by Harvard Business School Press.

As for their recent history, it’s the same old story for Hay Group: growth and innovation. By 2012, PayNet, now the biggest pay database in the world, covered 100 countries, 14 million employees and 20,000 organizations. In 2013 they launched “Activate”, a suite of business apps designed to allow managers to improve performance within their companies. Most recently, in 2014, GMPC, Hay Group’s global mutual processing center was opened in Pilsen, Czech Republic.


The Hay Group is headed by a Chairman (currently Chris Matthews) and a President & CEO (currently Stephen Kaye). Below them is a team of five global managing directors, each owning a different sector: mature markets, fast-growing markets, productized services, people-delivered services, and expertise & knowledge management.

Practice Areas At Hay Group

1.    Leadership and talent

  • Capability assessment
  • Leadership transformation
  • Talent management

2.    Reward services

  • Reward strategies
  • Total Rewards framework
  • Total reward statements
  • Reward information services
  • Enterprise sales effectiveness
  • Job evaluation

3.    Building effective organizations

  • Turning strategies into reality

4.    Employee effectiveness surveys

Industries At Hay Group

  • Chemicals
  • Communications
  • Education
  • Financial Services
  • FMCG
  • Healthcare
  • Legal
  • Life sciences
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and gas
  • Public sector and not for profit
  • Retail services
  • Technology

Office Locations At Hay Group

Asia/ Australasia

  • Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Beijing, China
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Chennai, India
  • Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai, UAE
  • Guangzhou, China
  • Gurgaon, India
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Hong Kong
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Mumbai, India
  • Perth, Australia
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Shanghai, China
  • Shenzhen, China
  • Singapore
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Wellington, New Zealand

South America

  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Caracas, Venezuela
  • Lima, Peru
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil


  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Athens, Greece
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Birmingham, UK
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Bristol, UK
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edinburgh, UK
  • Enschede, Netherlands
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Kiev, Ukraine
  • Lille, France
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • London, UK
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Manchester, UK
  • Milan, Italy
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Paris, France
  • Pilsen, Czech Republic
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Rome, Italy
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Strasbourg, France
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Warsaw, Poland
  • Zurich, Switzerland

United States

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Kansas, MO
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Washington DC

North America

  • Calgary, Canada
  • Edmonton, Canada
  • Halifax, Canada
  • Montreal, Canada
  • Ottawa, Canada
  • Regina, Canada
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Vancouver, Canada


  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Pretoria, South Africa
  • Johannesburg, South Africa

Career Path At Hay Group

Undergraduates are hired as junior consultants, MBAs are hired as consultants and the top dogs serve as senior consultants.

As for internships, you have a few different options at Hay Group. You can be a summer intern or a regular intern, and you can get a work placement or you can get a research placement. Whichever one you are, make sure you start in the place you want to end up, because if they like you, you’ll get a job offer.

Exit Opportunities

Not many Hay Group employees go into pure strategy consulting right after working there. Most tend toward jobs as an HR consultant (independent or a larger firm) or operations manager. This is where Hay Group differs from MBB and other top firms, and is something you should consider when applying here. If you are looking at transitioning right into larger pure strategy firm directly from Hay Group, you may have difficulty doing this. You may also struggle to jump right into a CEO/CFO role as many MBB alum do.

Notable Alumni

HR work, while incredibly important, can be behind-the-scenes, not sexy, and certainly doesn’t represent the road to fame. Still, there are a few notable Alumni (and many more alums represented in senior HR roles at top firms all over the world):

  • Milton Rock – leader of Hay Group for 20+ years, Ph.D. in Psychology, owner of MLR Holdings (owns Directors & Boards and Family Business Magazines, as well as Philly’s City Paper)
  • Diana Kim – Director, Asia Pacific Compensation, Benefits & HRIS at United Technologies
  • Robert Rock – Milton Rock’s son and co-author of the Compensation Handbook and Mergers & Acquisitions Handbook
  • Todd Cowgill – Vice President, Global Compensation at Hewlett-Packard
  • Damion Sanders – Director, Talent/Executive Development at UnitedHealth Group
  • Brian Beckstein – Vice President, Learning & Leadership Development at Bank of America


As a workplace, Hay Group is known to be very relaxed, light hearted and easy-going. They are very flexible in terms of different working styles, and as HR specialists they apply best practices to their own organization. In particular, the firm – which has a legacy of thought leadership – encourages outside-the-box thinking. If you do work there, you can expect to be given a significant amount of freedom to get your work done in whichever way suits you best, so long as it gets done. You can expect to have a good time with your work colleagues too, because Hay Group workers are usually known to be friendly, cooperative and clever.

Although Hay Group does a lot of things right, it’s not perfect. One thing you should be wary of at Hay Group, in particular, is favoritism/cliques. If you do find yourself in the “cool kids” group, then all power to you, but a lot of staff members, understandably, dislike this aspect of the firm’s culture, especially if it means people who don’t pull their weight are still kept around. There is also high turnover at Hay Group, which is not unusual for consulting in general, but which some staff members find difficult. Most attribute the turnover to a disconnect and poor communication between management and lower level employees.

Salary is also a relevant consideration to take into account. If you work at Hay Group, you will not be earning as much as consultants at top management firms. Further still, it’s possible that you’ll be working long hours on consistent clients and industries over a standard 2-3 year stint, without the project variety that draws so many people to consulting, all for less pay.

Most enter the field not to maximize the road to the top of the food chain, however, but because they are interested in the people side of business more than pure dollars and cents. Hay Group, while still quantitative and analytical in nature, is more qualitatively focused than other top firms – and profit is not the only determinant of people-oriented success.


Applicants will have two interviews; the first may be over the phone and will be with more junior staff members or on campus, with the second usually being in person with a director or a manager.

Hay Group are unusual in consulting, in that they do not place as much emphasis on cases as other firms do. Applicants will be put through the standard fit interview to assess how well they will get along with other and adjust to the culture at the firm, but their interviews are often easy going. Don’t be surprised if you get given some psychometric tests to complete, or even if you get asked to complete these tests at home before sending them in. Also don’t be surprised if you don’t get put through a rigorous case either – the hiring process is largely left up to the interviewer.

In terms of the fit interview, make sure you highlight  any experience you have in research and life sciences – don’t just focus on your love for people, as HR today is highly quantitative and independent tasks in research will be the core of your early work at the firm. You should also get your resume up to scratch and know it from back to front so you can walk your interview through it with ease.

In addition, be prepared for specific questions about trends in HR – many people use Hay Group as a backup plan for MBB firms, and one way to tick off an interviewer and create distance is to be unfamiliar with the work Hay Group actually does both generating and curating industry-leading HR and compensation data resources, but also the advisory work they do for clients. If you’re able to set up a networking conversation prior to an interview with a current consultant, it will help significantly – just ask them to walk through a day in their life to get a better feel for what they do and what they value.

If you’re applying to Hay Group and would like some help, particularly with your fit interview preparation, grab a resume edit from us here or grab a session with us here.

Target Schools

One of the most exciting things about Hay Group is that they have a broad practice that focuses on many interdisciplinary backgrounds that are often underrepresented in standard management consulting, such as psychology (and its sister subjects organizational psychology and behavioral psychology).

In addition, because of the firm’s focus on the east coast in the U.S. and on Philadelphia in particular, there are schools Hay Group targets that are not on standard lists:

  • Cornell University
  • Drexel University
  • Emory University, Goizueta School of Business
  • London School of Economics
  • New York University
  • Penn State University
  • UCLA
  • University of Amsterdam
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • USC
  • Utrecht University
  • Temple University
  • Yale University


MC Links


Social Media

Filed Under: Consulting Firms