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Best Preparation Strategy and Time-line

New answer on May 26, 2020
8 Answers
1.3 k Views
Anonymous A asked on May 25, 2020

Hi All,

I am a final year Ph.D student (life-science) in the U.K at a Russell Group university and I am looking to transition from academia to consulting. I am planning to apply to a broad range of firms, both generalist and life-science/Pharma specialists, come September/October. I have complemented my studies with pharmaceutical industry experience, business courses and pro-bono consulting work over the past 2 years. I am acutely aware of the difficulty of making this transition (especially now with the added challenge and decreased intake due to COVID-19) and I will be applying to boutiques, mid-tier firms, as well as MBB in order to try maximize my chances of securing a position.

I was hoping to get some guidance on how to best prepare myself. I have read “Case in point” and I am begun practicing case-studies from it on my own. I have also just received case interview secrets and will start working through it next week. I hope to be able to commit about 10-12-hrs a week to interview and application preparation going forward (This is on top of my Ph.D studies). I have found a partner (fellow Ph.D student) to practice live-cases with from mid July. Would someone be able to give me some additional pointers on how to prepare effectively and what to focus on, and not waste valuable time? Do I have enough time to be interview ready come Oct./Nov.? Otherwise I have the option to extend my Ph.D in order to apply next cycle. Would this be suggested?

Thank you in advance for your time and help, it is very appreciated.


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updated an answer on May 25, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers


I believe good advice can only be given if your priorities are clear. So in the following, I will just assume that MBB is your first priority (since this is what I am focusing on with my coaching). A well-tested and successful sequence can look like this:

1. Concentrate on proper preparation with excellent case partners/experts

2. Make sure your written applications (CV, cover letters, referrals) are on point!

3. Once you feel really comfortable on fit, cases and your application, apply to all Tier2 firms

4. Continue practicing cases!

5. Schedule interview days with the Tier 2 firms

6. Once T2 interviews are scheduled, apply to MBB

7. Finalize and polish your personal fit answers

8. Go through T2 interviews and get used to the setting (if you focused your preparation on MBB, you will realize that interview formats and cases might be a bit different at T2 firms, but don't get irritated by that fact). Try to get at least one offer (this is a great psychological help!)

9. Schedule interview days with the MBB firms that invited you

10. Continue practicing cases!

11. Nail interviews with MBB firms and celebrate your offer(s)!

Cheers, Sidi


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Content Creator
replied on May 25, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate


Yes, you 100% have enough time to be ready by Oct/Nov.

Of course, it depends person to person. But I have a few "baseline" suggestionss:

  • Aim for a few hours a day
  • Start "heavy" on fast math, and background knowledge/reading (building industry knowledge, reading case books, reading The Economist/FT/BCG insights)
  • Always go steady with actual casing (aim for a minimum 25 cases by the time you're done)
  • Work on fit/behavioural questions just 2-3 weeks before

Finally, 1 session with a coach at the very beginning goes a long way to maximizing your future efforts.

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Content Creator
replied on May 25, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Actually I wrote 2 blog posts on that subject a while ago, which you might find of interest. In order to not create duplicate content, here are the original links:

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

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Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2020
Bain Consultant | Interviewer for 3 years at Bain |Passionate about coaching |I will make you a case interview Rockstar


Below would be my tips to maximize your chances for success and what I would do if I were to do the process again.

1. Set the baseline - work with an experienced interviewer who can tell you exactly where you stand against your competition and what your relative strengths and weaknesses are

2. Develop a plan based on your baseline - Tailor a plan depending on your strengths and weaknesses. If your feedback si that you need more work on structuring then make this a bigger component of your preparation time spend.

3. Practice by yourself and with others - Combine working on the disaggregated components of case studies by yourself (maths, structuring, business judgment - experience, communication approach) with tying it all together in sessions where you practice with others or a professional coach.

4. Simulate real experience with non-target firms - Apply to some non-target firms to get a very realistic simulation of what the real day will look like

5. Get some regular check-ins with coaches - every few weeks do a check-in with a coach that can assess your progress vs. plan so you can continually recalibrate your approach.

I hope that is useful for you!


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Anonymous replied on May 26, 2020

Hi there,

Since you are planning for interviews round Oct/Nov, surely you have enough time to be really good at cases.

  • Case in Point and Case Interview Secrets are both good materials to get you started. So you are on the right track to begin with.
  • 10-12 hours per week sounds quite reasonable. If you keep doing that till Oct and make sure of the quality of each practice, you'd have more than enough practices by the time you interview
  • One thing I want to highlight is that it is very important you prioritize quality over quantity, make sure every practice case is well reviewed and you learn from each of them
  • Try to find more partners (you can find many on PrepLounge), and preferably including someone who has very different style from you. You never know what type of person would your interviewer be, so be prepared that you could run into many different styles.
  • Leverage coach from time to time to get assessment from an interviewer's perspective and get structured feedback.



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Anonymous replied on May 26, 2020

Dear A,

I would recommend you the following algorithm:

1. Identify the companies interesting for you. Many people are interested
mainly in MBB, you can start defining the exact list of companies interesting
for you for the internship
2. Check the requirements and application details.
3. Start your preparation with reading Case In Point by Cosentino for a
general understanding of what a consulting interview is.
4. Start learning and practicing the cases. Some you can find in Case
Library and practice it with your partner or experience coach.
5. Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen

Once you feel you are not improving anymore, I would recommend you to
take an expert coach for structured feedback and polishing your own

Hope this helps,



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Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

welcome to the community! I would recommend the following steps to organize your preparation:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Check if there is any deadline for the applications. Then identify how many hours you have before that and allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day, working on the points below. Many people need 100+ hours to be ready before the interview so you can keep that as a benchmark
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading good MBA Consulting Handbooks – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb better the information with constant learning.
  4. After the first 5-10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioural part and the case part. The case part should also cover market sizing, mental math and graph analysis.
  5. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a consulting application
  6. At least three weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals for your target companies. You can find some tips on how to do that here:
  7. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using support from experts to strengthen your performance
  8. Before the interviews, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression.

In terms of timeline, with 10 hours a week for 4 months you have 160 hours, which should be enough.

Please feel free to PM me if you need more help.



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Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


For sure you will be ready by then.

My thoughts:

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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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