Majority of the questions will fall into one of the three categories:

(1) Why management consulting ?

Majority of the times, 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 firms' expertise)

2. Topics

3. Cultures

4. People

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 their culture is usually the differentiating factor. Therefore, its 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 those goals.

(3) Tell me about yourself!

Another very common question and its 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 answer this question is provide an answer that leaves a vivid impression about you and ideally get the interviewer really interested to learn more about you. Here, you have a chance to shine and talk about interesting things about 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, your, 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.

Key takeaways

  • 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 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” describes above.

  • Make sure to seriously practice fit interviews with a friend or another aspiring consultant
9 Comment(s)
December 19, 2014 09:27 -
ritika

Hi Vladislav,
Thank you for the clarification. I understand what you mean and you are absolutely correct in pointing out that firms such as BCG are probably more convincing than other top consulting firms in their publications. However, keeping that point that aside, MBBs in general are known to work in different industries and if a candidate is interested in trying out various industries, he/she can justify all 3 firms.
Now, if a candidate is especially interested in pharmaceutical industry, that can also certainly be justified because firms such as McKinsey is as a rated top firm in pharma consulting.
At the end of the day, according to the framework, it will depend on your "homework" about the firm and how you justify your goals with companies expertise.
Now, on to even more important point:
While it is crucial for you to justify the kind of industry (s) you want to work and how the firm helps in achieving that goal, it is even more important that you justify your "personality" that would be in alignment with their work culture. Why? because at the end of the day - consulting is about people's business and it is indispensable for you to be happy with the people of the firm. Therefore, if you are able to convince the firm that your personality is well-suited to their firms' culture and prove that you have excellent problem solving skills by acing the case interview, getting an offer becomes a lot easier :)
In order to be a little more specific, we have also made some changes to some of the paragraphs such that it reflects the meaning better.
Let us know if you have more questions!

December 18, 2014 10:09 -
Vladislav

Hi Ritika, thanks a lot for your thorough explanation. Sorry for not being precise enough, I actually meant the framework "Personal Development". My comment was, that ruling out industries as differentiating factor from the beginning is not universally applicable as different consulting companies might have different impact/expertise/network/approach in different industries. Cheers

December 18, 2014 01:11 -
ritika

Hi Vladislav,
Thank you for your question. We are assuming that you mean the framework that has "long term goal" as the title? If so, let us try to convey the big picture and hopefully it would make more sense.

The framework above is to demonstrate how you can justify your choices of industries with various companies. The examples shown, such as Bain (&Private Equity) or McK (&industry such as healthcare/chemical), are only given as examples. This does not mean that a candidate cannot get into private equity after McKinsey or industry after Bain. The choice of industry will obviously differ from candidate to candidate. However, the reason Bain is associated with Private Equity is that they are more known in that sector than perhaps other consulting firms.

The overall take away is that, as a candidate, make sure to know both what industries each company serves and what industries the consulting firms are known for. Only by knowing this information you can align your interests/goals with the companies interests/goals.

December 17, 2014 18:56 -
Vladislav

I actually disagree with the framework about the companies. Even BCG and McKinsey display significantly different activities in different industries. You can clearly see that from the publications on their homepages. So if you have a preference for a certein industry, the framework won't work for you. Except you can see, that both have different approaches also from the publications. May be I'm being too specific, but for my area pharma/chem BCG is also more convincing in their publications in scientific journals (e. g. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery). Same for A. T. Kearney and Bain with industry insights. In general, I think, if you're really interested in a certain industry, you should be able to argue on a more factual basis.

October 20, 2014 11:51 -
ritika

Vasilios, Thanks for asking the question. For figuring out the culture of a firm, its usually best to contact consultants at the firm you are interested in for an informational interview and learn more about the lifestyle at work. This is important because cultures can occasionally vary from office to office and especially country to country:)
Alternatively, you can do research on cultural values of a particular firm you are going to interview with online before your fit interview.

May 22, 2014 04:14 -
Luis Miguel

I would speak with the professionals at the various firms, or see what projects they are staffed on. At the various investment banks, the book of client relationships and the types of assignments awarded vary greatly.

May 13, 2014 01:30 -
Vasilios

So which are the fundamental cultural differences between the major firms?

May 07, 2014 15:53 -
Rupprecht

nope

April 16, 2014 19:18 -
Alan

Hi, I recently participated in Booz's (or Strategy&, as you wish) presentation, and they specifically present themselves as 'not particularly strong' in the public sector, arguing that they we'll become 'stronger' with this merger with PwC. This might be something to be look at in the diagram above.

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CV Questions

Solved 4338 times | Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit interview | Topics: Personal fit
  • Why did you decide to study (major/minor)?
  • How was your boss at (work)? What did you like and dislike?
  • Why do you not want to continue to work for (work/internship)?
  • Explain the thinking process that went into making the decision to do (passage in the CV)?
  • Have you convinced a team to work on a project they didn’t like? How did you do it?