I got pass the first round interview for BCG New York and I am going into the second round in a couple of works. I am just wondering how much more difficult the second round is and also how different the interviews are? And what I will need to take note?
BCG Second Round
The process is the same, but it can be tougher; you are interviewing with Partners who will likely press further/deeper and move from the table stakes of can you do a case, to are you clever, curious, and a good cultural fit for the firm. Furthermore, extensive notes were taken, including marks on various categories. The Partners see this and will specifically look to test anything you appeared shaky on.
- More focus on fit
- More focus on any weaknesses you may have exhibited in the first round
- Make sure you have your story down, a strong set of responses to questions, and you know what personality traits to highligh
- If they gave you feedback from the first round, focus hard on improvement areas. If they didn't, try to reflect on where you weren't as strong, and practice that
Good luck! Homeplate is within reach!
the structure for second rounds is the same (fit + case+ your questions); however there is far more emphasis on communication and fit.
Specifically, the main differences you will find in a second round (in particular if it is with partners) are that the interviewers:
- Spend more time on fit questions and your alignment with the company
- Check more closely your communication (eg how you react to challenging questions, both verbally and in terms of body language. They know that if they make an offer you will soon represent the company in front of the client, so that’s critical)
- May not have a “proper” structured case to present – during one of my finals I had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and one brainteaser, without any business case. That's because at the final round they know you can structure and crack a case (you passed 1 or 2 rounds already) and are more interested in your logic, personality and fit with the company
So in order to prepare I would concentrate on:
- Review in details your fit stories – they will matter more than in the first round. In some finals I had almost exclusively behavioral questions.
- Work on your communication (reaction under pressure, how gain time when you do not have a structure ready, connect with the interviewer, body language, etc). This is something you can do almost exclusively in interviews with peers. Your communication will be far more important in the final compared to the first.
- Prepare cases as you did for the first round. More market sizing practice could be useful to think out of the box in case you get unusual questions.
- Bonus point: Research the partners’ background. Ask HR if it is possible to know who are the partners/interviewers you will interview with, if not disclosed. Be sure to know very well your interviewers profile and prepare questions specifically for them (eg: sectors they worked, specific career path). This can be a big differentiator from other candidates and a big plus.
In the final round, I would expect a bit more structured and demanding approach to the fit part. The partners in the last round are more experienced and they will challenge every single detail of your story. So make sure that you have a couple of backup stories. Thus:
1) Make sure that you've prepared everything: A story about yourself, motivational questions and the main FIT stories. Also, don't forget about your questions to the interviewer - you'd rather have an interesting conversation and score some point instead of a simple Q&A session
2) Then go through each story and think of the additional questions the interviewer may ask. It’s important since additional questions will take up to 50% of the interview. Try to remember the main details and facts and make sure that you know how to explain the key concepts quickly. Test your stories with your friends, ideally consultants, and ask for their feedback. There can be multiple groups of additional questions:
- The interviewer may be interested in details about the context
- He may want to check whether this was your effort or more sort of a team effort.
- “Have you faced any difficulties while implementing your solution?”- Typically an interviewer would like you to tell him how you’ve overcome those difficulties.
- Your interviewer will check how real your story is. You should be ready to provide even more granular actions, key milestones and a breakdown of potential effects.
3) Now work on 3-6 backup stories. During your interviews, you can then use these stories or adapt these stories to the additional questions your interviewer asks you.
You may be interested, why you need to prepare several stories for each question? At the end of the day, it's not that easy to come up with all of these stories. I've answered here: Repeating Fit Interview Stories
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