You did it! The lengthy interview preparation period is over, you've passed the tests before the actual interview and now you are sitting here in front of your interviewers. Your goal is, of course, to master every single question with excellence and to leave a positive impression.
In general, the question types of the consulting firms can be easily divided into different categories. This will help you prepare for those and shine during the interview. In the following, we have summarized which questions you may be asked in the various consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, or Bain and how you can confidently answer unusual questions.
While creating and preparing your answers, keep in mind that your interviewer will evaluate your answers on the following criteria:
- Can I work with this candidate closely in a team every day?
- Can I send the candidate to a client alone?
Make sure to follow the three basic rules for personal fit questions:
- Provision of a clear roadmap: You have the time to think of a structured answer.
- Using distinctive answers: Examples instead of generic answers help you to be remembered by the interviewer.
- Using the answer to sell yourself: The statements should still answer the question, but in a way that you convey useful skills.
In the following, you will find the top 5 interview questions in management consulting. Almost certainly, one of those questions will be used during the personal fit interview. The aim is to get to know you better, of course, but also to check how and whether you can communicate well and whether you can convey your thoughts in a structured way.
1. & 2. Tell me something about your background. Why should we hire you?
- Give a sentence or two that sets the stage for further discussion.
- Set yourself apart from others and give a unique selling proposition.
- Illustrate the biggest strength and the major benefit that a consulting company will derive from this strength.
- Don’t provide a long story via your consulting resume, repeating all the points.
- Don’t give a long list of skills and talents.
- Don’t tell irrelevant stories about the past that a not related to consulting requirements, like where you were born and raised.
3. Describe a difficult situation and how you handled it?
- Describe the situation you encountered in detail.
- Tell how you use your skills to analyze the problem before you considered solutions.
- Explain the solution that was selected and the approach – giving arguments why you chose this particular solution.
- Provide points that were learned from that situation.
4. What did your boss or colleagues criticize about you?
- Provide points that you have improved in and turned into a positive result.
- Give steps that you have taken after the critics and describe what you learned.
- Don’t bring up essential skills necessary for consulting
- Don’t state a strength covered as a weakness.
5. Do you rather work in a team or independently?
- Highlight the positives of both work styles.
- Highlight the negative aspects of both types and how to prevent them.
- Provide examples.
- Don’t focus on and prefer only one work style. Consulting needs both.
With the CV questions, your interviewer aims to dig a little bit deeper into your consulting resume and will try to better understand your intentions and goals behind your decisions in terms of your studies as well as your professional career.
1. Why did you decide to study (major/minor)?
- Show your vision behind the choice.
- Connect your college education to consulting.
- Show how your acquired skills fit consulting.
2. How was your boss at (work)? What did you like and dislike?
- Show that you are able to adapt to different leadership styles.
- Don’t blame and criticize a past supervisor.
3. Why do you not want to continue to work for (work/internship)?
- Describe how this new job as a consultant fits you better.
- Depict positive aspects of your past work.
- Don’t criticize your past work too much.
- Don’t make the impression of fleeing from an uncomfortable situation.
4. Explain the thinking process that went into making the decision to do (passage in the CV)?
- Give a structured approach.
- Consider advantages and disadvantages.
- Consider intuition and instincts.
- Choose the easiest way.
5. Have you convinced a team to work on a project they didn’t like? How did you do it?
- Have a structured approach.
- Don’t do the project by yourself.
- Don’t miss out on exploring and challenging the motives of the team members.
With unusual questions, the interviewers want to put you to the test and find out how you do in stressful situations and how you respond to questions that are out-of-the-box and non-standard.
1. What books/films have you enjoyed recently and why?
- Provide aspects of the film that had an impact on you personally or professionally.
- Let the choice of film convey positive aspects of your personality.
- Don’t only state the entertainment factor as the reason.
2. What is the worst thing that you have ever gotten away with?
- Take time to think of something and realize that this is a precarious question.
- Provide a light, anecdotal, and funny story.
- Don’t state illegal or unethical actions.
- Don’t fail to provide a consequence or a takeaway from this story (regarding the consulting interview or the future).
3. How do you define and evaluate successful work?
- Provide a concise answer.
- Use an example in which you had to define and evaluate successful work.
- Find the mix between high expectations towards successful work and pragmatic realism.
4. Do you fear anything?
- Show how fear drives you.
- Show how fear was overcome.
- Don’t provide a fear that is not a fear.
- Don’t convey psychological instabilities and insecurity.
5. How would you rate me as your interviewer?
- Provide aspects you liked and disliked and what you felt.
- State the reasons from a personal “me” perspective and tell why you would have done something different.
- Don’t correct the interviewer and state something as false or incorrect.
- Don’t be indifferent and have only general points.
The McKinsey PEI questions try to assess the qualities of candidates in terms of
- Personal impact
1. Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion, and no one seemed to agree with you.
- Tell a challenge in which one or more people were influenced to adopt your particular agenda.
- Show a strategic approach to solve the situation.
- Listen to others’ opinions and show empathy.
- Don’t choose a point where people already agreed mostly to the candidate’s opinion.
- Don’t give up your stand too easily.
2. What was your goal when you decided to join university/work/clubs / a sports team?
- Set a high, yet reachable goal.
- Have obstacles to overcome on the journey.
- Show a high energy level and perseverance.
- Don’t achieve a goal set by others or follow a goal that was part of the job.
3. Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do?
- Analyze the causing reasons.
- Show problem-solving skills.
- Use intellectual capacity and creativity.
- Don’t come across as if you are not able to cope with failure.
4. What do you want to be remembered for and how are you achieving it?
- Show that you want to have a personal impact.
- Show that you have inspirational and motivational abilities.
5. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?
- Take the initiative and show leadership.
- Guide and lead the task of solving the issue.
- Show empathy.
- Don’t try to push your opinions too hard or not at all.
- Don’t avoid conflict all the time.
The BCG personal fit questions try to assess your qualities as a candidate in terms of
- Path Finding / Creativity
1. What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)?
- Show drive and passion.
- Answer persuasive while arousing interest.
- Don’t come across as if you have no values or principles.
- Don’t come across as being driven by others.
2. Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing.
- Try to understand the situation.
- Ask questions and being curious.
- Aspire to learn and find a path in unknown situations.
- Don’t cover up inexperience.
- Don’t show that no learning or takeaway has been acquired during that time.
3. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something?
- Show your creativity.
- Show that you can surprise other people with ideas.
- Show that you can solve the problem spontaneously.
4. Have you ever had responsibility for other people?
- Show empathy and communicative skills.
- Show that you can guide others as a team member.
- Don’t show that you never had to face obstacles.
- Don’t come across as if you have no impact on the group.
5. Tell me of a situation where you were not the official leader.
- Show that you had an active part.
- Contribute valuable input into the group.
- Show that you supported the leader.
- Don’t take the leadership role.
- Don’t do the work alone without including the actual leader or other group members.
The Bain personal fit questions try to assess your qualities as a candidate in terms of
- Result orientation
1. Tell me about a difficult situation you had to cope with.
- Analyze the problem analytically.
- Find several creative solutions and applying the best.
- State the achieved results.
- Don’t focus too much on the problem.
- Don’t show any process while solving the difficult situation.
2. Tell me about a task which you didn’t like doing and explain why you performed it, nevertheless.
- Concentrate on the possible outcomes of the task.
- Define a goal that motivated you to follow through.
- Don’t create the feeling that you only did the task because others wanted it.
- Don’t come across as you take no initiative to make the best out of the situation.
3. Why do you do things? / What do you like doing most / What is your favorite hobby?
- Show active drive and passion.
- Answer persuasive while arousing interest.
- Try to achieve the goals that you set for yourself.
- Analyze the action/hobby/work and try to improve.
- Don’t create the feeling that you have no values or principles.
- Don’t come across as being driven by others.
4. Walk me through a situation where you showed leadership skills.
- Communicate effectively with other persons (listening and speaking).
- Take ownership and responsibility.
- Show that there were obstacles that were solved together with the other team members.
- Don’t come across as too pushy and neither listening nor considering the team members’ opinions.
- Don’t delegate the important tasks and not delegating minor assignments.
If you want to start practicing your answers, try out our interactive Stress Question tool. Here you can go through more than 110 possible questions that could come up during the personal fit part of your interview.
For more information on the personal fit interview, check out our articles:
- Tell Me About Yourself – Interview Questions: Why Me? Why Consulting? Why Company? – The comprehensive article, case coach Ian will give you insights into the most relevant behavioral interview questions.
- Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers – How You Should Prepare and Respond – Within this article, our case interview coach Clara gives you an introduction to the most common behavioral questions in the dimensions of leadership, entrepreneurial drive, and personal impact. Each section is accompanied by a list of possible behavioral questions, giving you tips and strategies to phrase interview answers that will blow the interviewer away.
- ''Why Consulting?'' – How to Deliver an Answer That Will Impress Your Interviewer – This article will introduce a best practice approach that will help you answer any personal fit question at companies like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
- McKinsey PEI (Personal Experience Interview) – How to Prepare and Ace PEI Questions in the Best Way Possible – In this article, Florian wants to demystify the McKinsey PEI and highlight what it really is about, how you can prepare most effectively for it and how to answer the questions in the best way possible.
This should prepare you perfectly for your Fit Interview. Only with the right preparation can you present yourself confidently, communicate your background and motivation effectively, and convince the interviewer of your merits. We wish you every success with your interview!