Best questions to ask at the end of interview

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New answer on May 22, 2020
64 Answers
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Anonymous F asked on Jul 22, 2018

Hello all,

I have a question regarding what insightful questions to ask the interviewer at the end of an interview that make you stand out?

Thank you.

Overview of answers

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Sidi
Expert
replied on May 16, 2018
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

There is a whole lot of great questions you can ask. My best advice is to really think through what interests you most about the job, the firm, or the industry! If you have a particular interest (industry sector, nonprofit area, social engagement, etc.) you can ask if there are touch points/adjacent areas in the firm you could explore. Also, make sure to relate your interests and questions to your background and/or career/life objectives.

That being said, here are a couple of example questions – but by no means exhaustive:

  1. "Can you tell me about your background, and in particular how you ended up as a [company name] consultant?" (if the interviewer has a rather exotic professional/educational background)
  2. "I’d be interested to hear what your most challenging case has been thus far in your career?"
  3. "What do you think are the biggest misperceptions that applicants have about consulting?"
  4. "I’m really interested in [particular interest, such as public sector consulting or renewable energy]. I’d be interested to hear what you know about that area at [company name]"
  5. "I’ve heard from various people who say your firm is [something good about the company] but also that [something bad about the company]. To what extent is this impression accurate?"
  6. "If the interviewer has enough tenure: From your position, how do you think the economic cycles have affected the consulting business over the years?"
  7. "What was your perspective on [company name] before you came in, and how was that changed in your time there?"
  8. "If you could recommend 2 books that all prospective management consultants should read, what would those be?"
  9. "When you think back to your university days, what would be the 2 or 3 things that you wish you’d learned that would have better prepared you for the job today?"

Cheers, Sidi

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Oct 25, 2018
#1 Coach for Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (www.case.tools/results) | Ex BCG | 8Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

relevant questions at the end are a great way to show your interest in the company and get additional points. Ideally, your questions should respect the following criteria:

  • Should not be related to something you could easily find online
  • Should not be related to the firm per se (eg how is XYZ in Bain), but to the experience of the consultant (How did you find XYZ in your experience as a consultant? Which challenges did it bring to you?). Ideally, you want the interviewer to feel important and/or share a positive experience. This is the easiest way to leave a final positive impression.
  • Should help you to understand better the core values of the company; this will help you to understand if that company is a good fit for you and evaluate your options in case you have multiple offers (if you don't have fit with the company, your growth there will be a lot more difficult).

In the first reply in the following thread, you can find some more information and some examples of questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/open-house-at-bcg-311

Best,

Francesco

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 25, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

The main objective is to have a good conversation and highlight your intellectual capacity and curiosity. Thus:

It is ok to ask:

  • Questions that cause positive emotions and highlight consulting pros (e.g. Mck people, making friends, building the network, relationships with clients)
  • Questions on the topics you are excited about (e.g. transformation of consulting in the age of data science and AI, questions about specific industries / functions (check McKinsey website for related articles), recent state of the economy in your country and implications on the projects and industries, Firm expansion and growth)
  • Non-business questions (e.g. team retreats, firm traditions and celebrations, etc)
  • Asking for advice (skills / behaviors / tools that help to develop as a consultant / work with clients, etc)

It's not ok to ask:

  • Questions that can cause negative emotions (e.g. work hours)
  • Information you should learn before the interview (e.g. typical career path)
  • Questions that may show that you are unfamiliar with consulting work (Are you specialized in strategy or operations?)

Be prepared and good luck!

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Originally answered question:

What questions to ask at end of an interview?

Ian
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on May 16, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Ask about them

People love to talk about themselves. Just ask them what they've worked on recently or what their journey at BCG has been like. Importantly, do your research beforehand - find out what they've done and try and pick something from their past that looks interesting to you. Tailor your questions just like they tailor their FIT questions to your resume."So, how did you end up in the Industrial Goods sector?"

Ask insightful questions

Ideally, your questions should also show them that you're insightful, inquisitive, bright, thinking about current topics, etc. For example:

"I saw you worked on a big digital transformation for a financial services company - I experienced one myself and it seemed so hard to move such a big organisation. What did you see as the major challenges and breakthrough moments?"

"I know that x big trend is happening. I also know that y types of companies exhibit z traits. How do you reconcile this difference when ensuring y companies adopt x trends?

Summary: Ask about THEM and ask insightful questions!

(edited)

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Benjamin
Expert
replied on Jul 23, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework

Hi Anonymous,

This is the moment where you can confirm the good fit you had with the interviewer during the 1h itw.
I personnally suggest to avoid every question that can be asnwered by the firm's website, as well as other question related to firm that could be answered by a consultant you could contact from the outside (alumni from your school, personal network etc.)

Instead I will take this opportunity to really create a connexion with the interviewer as a person, and ask question about his own experience that can somehow relate to your own projection in the job. Therefore I would advise to

- Listen carefully the introduction of the interviewer : his profile, experience prior to consulting, and as a consultant. This will help for you to think about questions. You can even write down the question you have at this time for the end of the itw

- Ask questions related to his experience and personal appreciation / decision making : ex. if he joined consulting as experienced hire, ask about his previous job, the reason to move to consulting, and ultimately how he feels now in consulting compared to what he expected

- Ask questions about his consulting experience, especially if they are related to industries / topic that make sense for you : ex. more details about a job he has done in as FMCG industry if this make sense to you, and since this is an industry you are really interested in how strong is the firm in that industry and what are the perspectives at the moment for future business there / who is the partner, etc.

Hope this helps

Benjamin

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Originally answered question:

What Questions to Ask in Partner Interview

Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Nov 13, 2019
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,
questions about interviewer experience are always great, showing your curiosity in her motivation and expertise. If you have the chance to know before the name of the interviewer (you can ask it to HR the day before or discovering it in the waiting room), look at her LinkedIn profile to develope some tailored questions (e.g. about the MBA, the industry or practice specialization, etc.)

I also recommend you not to make questions about the firm that you can easily find online or through friends/other candidates (e.g. clients of the office, projects, typical workday, international opportunities, client exposure, your role, numbers of the office, ...).

Best,
Antonello

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Originally answered question:

Questions at the end of interview?

Dorothea
Expert
replied on Jun 13, 2018
Ex-Oliver Wyman with 100% interview success rate - specialized in female career coaching

Hi Anonymous,

the last part of the interview is often used by interviewers to confirm the impression they got over the first part of the interview, which means:

Situation A: They trust in your abilities and are likely to vote for you during the discussion round following the round of interviews - they expect you to show genuine interest in what the firm and its consultants do in order to figure out whether this particular consultancy is the right place for you

Situation B: They do not trust in your abilities and are likely to vote against you during the subsequent discussion round - they expect you to ask some general questions, but will be positively surprised if this last part of the interview turns out to be more interesting than expected and that may even change their overall impression

What does this mean for you?

  • Prepare: Prepare a structured set of questions, i.e.
    • Projects (e.g. Does your firm focus on any particular topics / industries, Is there any particular topic that is particularly popular among clients right now?)
    • Team & Culture (e.g. how would you describe your culture, what made you start with this firm, what is the typical background of consultants working with your firm)
    • Skills & Role (e.g. in your opinion, what skills are required to be successful within the firm, how does the training schedule for a junior consultant look like, how much responsibility may junior consultants typically take on?)
    • etc.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the questions you prepared: it is important that you figure out during the interview whether this is a firm you can imagine to work for (that also includes any questions regarding work life balance!) - this is also what the interviewer wants, there is no point in hiring someone who did not dare to ask questions and is disappointed once he starts to work for the firm
  • Add questions that came up during the interview, e.g. based on what the interviewer told about any projects he did or his background - this shows the interviewer that you are not only reading out a ready made list of questions but that you are having a real conversation

The key to any job interview is to be prepared - that includes not only cases and the personal fit part, but also the final Q&A part.

Good luck!

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Anonymous replied on Aug 10, 2020

Dear A,

There might be questions that could show your intrinsic interest in the company, person, or both ideally.

So one of the greatest question could be for example the following:

"Now, look at your career XX long, what is the one project assignment, by looking back, makes you very proud of accomplishing smth great?"

Hope it helps,

André

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4
Originally answered question:

What questions to ask at end of an interview?

Tan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 17, 2020
Ex BCG | 4+ years experience as interviewer

Like Vai mentioned, there have been a lot of discussions on this in the past on this Q&A panel. Do take a look at those.

In short, it would never go wrong if you ask about: company culture, interviewer's experience in the firm, development opportunities (but don't ask very obvious questions that you can just google).

Best,

Emily

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Anonymous replied on Oct 25, 2018

My suggestions:

  • Ask questions you genuinely want to know the answer to - this part of the interview is ultimately for you, so use it as a chance to clarify anything you want to know about the firm or office. First make sure that the information is not easily available online, though, as this will make you seem like you haven't done your proper research
  • I always suggest to ask questions about the interviewer / their experience at the firm. People much prefer to talk about themselves than where they work. Try draw on what you know about them - for example, if in their bio you see that they worked in advertising before, ask them about the difference and how they've adjusted.

Good luck!

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4
Originally answered question:

Final round candidate questions

Andrea
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 18, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

A question I find interesting for people who stayed in same firm for more than 5 years is asking for what is making them stick around. Both in the industry, since it can be grueling in the long term with all the travel, but also in the specific company. Another question I think you can get a great perspective on is what characteristics they see in consultants (first level post-MBA) that stick around long term. Finally all questions about industry evolution (strategy shop expanding their solutions offerings, etc) are great.

In general this is the moment to ask things you are curious about but that are not “dangerous” - in the sense that they uncover unpleasant answers and might make question the partner on whether you did the proper due diligence about the job. This because at this point in time (well actually always) partners objective is to sell you on the job if they think you are a great addition to the company.

hope this helps,

andrea

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B
Expert
replied on Mar 12, 2018
NOT AVAILABLE

Hey Andrés,

You don't find much information on how to structure the final questions to ask to the interviewer... because there's not supposed to be one at all.

Candidates are increasingly trying to approach that final part of the interview as an alternative opportunity to impress or ask very smart questions, but most of the consulting firms are clear on what they want with it: give an opportunity to candidates to ask about whatsoever is really important for them! So, the best questions are the ones about what you are really curious and interested to know and that you can't easily find online (through a 2min google search).

Best

Bruno

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Originally answered question:

What questions to ask at end of an interview?

Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 18, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Try to use this time to connect better with the interviewer.

Hence, ask for their experience, the practice/industry they work for, etc.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Originally answered question:

What questions to ask at end of an interview?

Vai
CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 16, 2020
Consultant at BCG Nordics| PE and Due Diligence | BCG London, Boston & Dubai office experience
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3
Originally answered question:

What is ok to ask an interviewer during Q&A?

Tyrion Lannister
Skilled
replied on Jun 28, 2017
High-borns only! Targaryens preferred. Absolutely NO Lannisters! :-)

Great response from Vlad.

I did want to clarify for the benefit of others: 100% of my first- and second-round interviews with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) were scheduled with disclosure of the interviewers' names complete with personal and professional biographies. It would appear then that Bain & Company is not alone in this practice.

These biographies in the case with BCG were always shared up to 48 hours in advance (sometimes longer), and I tailored all of my post-session questions for each to the information contained in their biographies, and to other information gleaned from third-party sources.

I will add that I never stated to my interviewers that I'd researched them. Personally, I feel this runs the risk of coming off as obsequious.

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3
Originally answered question:

Final round candidate questions

Anonymous replied on Apr 19, 2018

I had great experiences with the following variations on the theme:

- what was your fav case at <firm> so far and why?

- what was your most important learning exp so far?

- what did you discover about yourself as a consultant that you did not know before and was surprising to you

- looking back on your career, what do you want to tell yourself on your first day of job

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Originally answered question:

Final round candidate questions

Anonymous N replied on Apr 18, 2018

You can ask some questions about their work - you will get info about their background and industries on the interview day. Another idea is trends of the industy, e.g. do they see more trend towards specialization early on? Do they think generalist consultants will survive? Do they see move to loval vs regional/global staffing?

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 25, 2020
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

Some helpful tips on what to ask interviewers - even the senior ones are as follows

1. Questions related to the role - examples here include asking how staffing decisions are made, how much ownership you can expect to have on your workstreams, what it takes to succeed etc.

2. Questions related to their profssional journey - what excited them about the firm, what got them there, what are some interesting problems they are working on

3. Questions on culture - for example, how does the firm promote diversity, is there a formal mentorship program to help newcomers succeed, how does the firm ensure its values are upheld

4. Questions on projects that interest you and is relevant to the interviewer - for example if you read something interesting where the interviewer had a critical role to play, express your interest and ask meaningful questions

Questions to avoid

1. Anything personal

2. The usual no-nos (salary, benefits, hours worked etc.)

3. Anything you can answer yourself via google search

4. Questions that are overtly negative - such as negative press

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Originally answered question:

What Questions to Ask in Partner Interview

Anonymous updated the answer on Nov 14, 2019

Hi,

Firstly, well done on reaching the partner round!

Partner round interviews are going to be more about how well you fit within the firm's work and social culture. To answer your question, you can be very flexible in deciding what to ask him of course - you don't want to sound like every other candidate by asking him roted questions. But keep in mind the following while framing the same:

1. How long has he been at the firm? This will help you understand if he has seen the firm evolve over time or even revolutionalise in the different market eras (eg. the current digital). You can then ask related questions.

2. Is he an operating or a selling partner? This can help you quickly understand his day-to-day activities. You can then ask questions regarding this.

3. Does he operate within a specific sector (retail, tourism, healthcare) or area (operations, marketing, procurement)? If any of this relates to your profile, good for you! Strike up a discussion.

4. Values of the firm are important and understanding how much a partner encourages their prevelance in the firm is even more. Ask a question that helps you understand the firm's work culture - what are the short term goals they are working towards? Is there a Vision 2020 they have? How does he think they're doing on it and what remains to be done?

Yes, as mentioned, please do not ask obvious questions which can be found on the firm website. Do your homework as the partner has to feel that you're genuinely interested in joining the firm. These are senior people with long years of client, business and interview experience. With them, it's all about making the interview hour a pleasant break from their busy schedule.

Little tip: Make the questions personal and not generic eg. his roles, his ideas, his experiences.

Good luck with your preparation and interview!

(edited)

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Originally answered question:

What Questions to Ask in Partner Interview

Anonymous updated the answer on Nov 13, 2019

Hi There,

I reccomend to ask some questions that express your real interest in the company.Of course you can ask about the sectors/opportunities in the the specific country/market but I suggest to ask some personal questions.

For instance, if you are a sports guy, ask how some of his collegues deal with the consulting life, when they do sports. Or if you have kids ask how to strike a balance between having a kid and consulting.

I think that this kind of personal questions better show your ambition to be part of this work environment.

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Sep 28, 2018

Also, I would assume that depends on the country/culture. So some questions may be ok in Germany, but less ok in the US, or vice versa.

So a bit of context may be helpful.

Also: You have to feel out the person across from you. If they are funny and laid-back, you might want to go with something more lighthearted than with someone who is a lot more formal. Same goes for you - if you feel uncomfortable with lighthearted small talk, try to stay clear. If talking about pro bono work is a good segway to a volunteer project you are passionate about, that's a good place to start.

Recommendation: Listen/read Tim Ferriss' blog posts and podcast episodes on "how to ask better questions".

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Anonymous O replied on May 17, 2018

I quite like to ask questions that give an opportunity for the interviewer to talk a little bit about themselves.. After probably 45mins of you talking, now is the chance to listen to the interviewer and get to know him/her better.

- do you specialise in a particular sector?

- best project so far?

- any favourite client?

- do you see yourself in consulting in the next few years?

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1
Originally answered question:

What to ask interviewer?

An
Expert
replied on Dec 26, 2017
Google Product Manager | Ex- BCG Consultant | References Available

Hi there,

I would say it depends on the profile of the interviewer, stage of interview, anything "interesting" that the interviewer may have said earlier, and of course what you are really interested in learning about.

When I was recruiting, the ultimate goal I had in mind was to give the impression that I am eager, curious and also someone who listens and can hold a conversation well.

As such, I would have a few buckets of prepared questions but try hard to tailor the question depending on some of the factors above. For example, I would usually try to start the question by linking it to something particular about the interviewer's background or something the interviewer said.

For example:

1. [For a partner / later round interview] I loved hearing about your consulting experience earlier - if I was also looking for long term success in this profession, what do you think were some of the key things that you think is important to being a successful consultant in the long term?

2. [For a more junior consultant / early round interview] As you know I am just starting out in my career, so learning and development is really important for me - how have you found the amount of learning and development you've had at Firm X? What do you think were some of the biggest learning areas?

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1
Originally answered question:

What Questions to Ask in Partner Interview

Henning
Expert
replied on Sep 15, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Think about questions that others can't answer; some examples:

  • Anything that aim's at they long experience of making a tough job work with (presumably) family life
  • Insights into long-term trends in the industry or a shared industry you have with them
  • Any specific experience you can read from their CV - just not something generic like "How did you go into consulting?"
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Nathaniel
Expert
replied on Feb 26, 2020
McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge

Hello there,

Some insightful and critical questions to ask:

  • Their professional journeys - what are the ups and downs? what made them stays? what is their original career aspiration and how it changes overtime?
  • What do they personally like of the firm? - culture, ways of workings, the colleagues, job desk, client exposure, etc.
  • What is their aspiration for the firm?
  • What is their vision for future successors of firm's leaderships?
  • How are they able to balance work with their lives? - whats's their hobbies? etc.

Hope it helps.

Kind regards,
Nathan

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Shalom replied on May 31, 2018
Seeking Practice Partners for R2 McKInsey Interviews

I like to ask interviewers:

What criteria is the success (or lack of) of a consultant measured by?

In two years time - how will my performance be evaluated?

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers
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