Majority of the questions will fall into one of the three categories:
(1) Why management consulting ?
The majority of the time, candidates would include common answers such as opportunities of working in different industries with interesting people, solving challenging problems, and travelling.
When the interviewer asks why they want to work in different industries, with interesting people, on different topics, travel and work on challenging problems the answer is nearly always: self-development.
As a consultant you would put the answer first, then explain the rationale behind your answer (this communication style is also called pyramid principle):
For instance, if you are interested in honing your skills and talents for self-development, you need to think deeply about how you could achieve these goals. Usually, four major areas can lead to your self-development in management consulting:
1. Industries (whether it is trying out a variety of industries or a specific industry based on the firm's expertise)
Make sure to explain how management consulting will help you achieve the above goals through personal stories. An example schematic is shown below.
(2) Why [Name of company] ?
You will most likely get asked why you want to work for the company during the interview. Apart from slight differences, the bigger companies (e.g., McKinsey, BCG, and Bain) are very similar in their work and it is usually their culture that is the differentiating factor. Therefore, it is crucial to talk about the unique culture of the company and how its values align well with your personality. Think of experiences that will convince the firm of your personality and its alignment with the firm's culture.
In addition to culture, you can talk about your long term goals and how the company is going to help you achieve them. Most people don’t stay in consulting in the long run and it is important to know the general direction of your career and the role of consulting to help achieve these goals.
(3) Tell me about yourself!
This is another very common question and it is important that you don't read out your CV here. The interviewer has seen your CV and if he/she has further questions, you can always back them up with more details. The key to answering this question is to provide an answer that leaves a vivid impression about you and ideally gets the interviewer really interested to learn more about you. Here, you have a chance to shine and talk about interesting things regarding your personality that ultimately are linked to consulting. Ideally, the interviewer would want to know more not only to evaluate you but also because he/she finds you enthusiastic!
One approach is to pick 2-3 things that are really important for you and that show well how you think and approach situations, perhaps your CV-Highlights.
Another approach is to describe “the person behind the CV” using three adjectives (could be 3 key strengths) that really define you and that you can back up with anecdotes and examples (See our example exhibit).
So, those are the three most probable fit questions you would get during your consulting interview.
Most companies are interested in learning about your past actions in scenarios such as working in teams, resolving conflicts, challenges and other scenarios that reflect on your problem solving skills in a "client-friendly" manner.
Make sure to know the company really well including their culture through networking with consultants who work with the company and researching the company through their career page
Know how to talk about yourself by providing a brief and interesting introduction of who you are, either by the “3 Milestones approach” or with the “3 adjectives” described above
- Make sure to seriously practice fit interviews with a friend or another aspiring consultant
Get yourself prepared for the personal fit part of your interview with the self study mode!