Hi, I'm just wondering if there are certain things Ph.D. applicants must demonstrate (business acumen?) in addition to the standard skills required (structured problem-solving, MECE, excellent communication, good listening skills) that are vital during the interview?
Are there specific things to look out for as a Ph.D. applicant when applying to MBB as consultant?
theoretically, you will be assessed as any other candidate, thus with the usual fit (motivation and stories) and case (analytical skills, business sense, structuring, communication, etc). From a practical point of view, if you come from a PhD the interviewer will pay particular attention to two specific parts in the fit part:
- Non-theoretical business sense – the interviewer will check what concrete experience do you have in real business settings. The more you can refer to actual business experience – even just related to extracurricular activities conducted during the PhD – the better.
- Leadership/teamwork experiences – the interviewer will check which experiences you have in working with others / relate with a boss / relate with direct reports.
Questions related to these topics are asked to non-PhD as well, they are just more frequent with PhDs as they represent common weaknesses in the candidate’s background.
I am an MD/PhD and I used to work for one of the big three. When I was interviewing, the cases were pretty much the same as for MBAs, although I think I got away with small mistakes due to my background that they wouldn't have let slide for an MBA. What was different though was the personal fit part of the interviews, as it was considerably longer than for the other candidates. I really had to make the interviewers understand why I chose consulting instead of working as a medical doctor.
So my advice is to really prepare for the fit part of the interviews and to practice answering "Why consulting?" and to convince people with your answer.
Hope that helps!
There are no specific requirements and the recruiting process is the same. However, although officially most of the companies would say that you don't need any specific business knowledge, in reality, it is hard to solve a case purely based on common sense. So the lack of business knowledge becomes a very common problem among the people with PHD.
Business Acumen is actually about building proper industry and functional knowledge.
Focus on the most common industries in the following priority (sorted by probability of geting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech
There are several sources of information that will help you develop the business sense:
1) Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies
2) Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries.
3) HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying
4) Industry Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge
5) News, Industry blogs
For each industry, you should understand:
- Revenue streams
- Cost structure
- Key performance indicators
- Key revenue drivers
- Industry trends
I strongly recommend drawing the typical structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc
Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge:
- Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc)
- Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc)
- Operations (Process optimization basics)
- Finance (Very basic Finance and Valuation)
Related BootCamp article(s)
The case study is the most important element of the case interview, which you'll have to nail in order to get into strategic consulting. Here you can learn the specific skills and concepts necessary to solve them.
Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases
Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly
Getting Up to Speed
In order to repeatedly demonstrate prerequisite skills under the pressure of a real case interview, you need to learn the basics and practice cases.
LubricantsCo, a very successful Asian premium producer of lubricants in their native region, would like to further increase their revenue and profit. The product range ranges from lubricants in the automotive sector (e.g. motor and gear oil) to industrial applications (e.g. fats, heavy-duty oils). ... Open whole case
You have inherited the “Old Winery” from your grandfather, a winery which has been family owned for five generations and can be dated back to the 16th century. Half of the eleven hectares are used to grow white grapes, the other half to grow red grapes. They are grown in the conventional way, i.e. ... Open whole case
Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion and no one seemed to agree with you. What was your goal when you decided to join university / work / clubs / a sports team? Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do? What do you want to be remembered for and how are you a ... Open whole case
What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where y ... Open whole case
Tell me about a difficult situation you had to cope with. Tell me of a task which you didn’t like doing and explain why you performed it nevertheless. Why do you do things? What do you like doing most / What is your favorite hobby? Walk me through a situation where you showed leadership skills. Open whole case