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Best questions to ask at the end of interview

Anonymous F asked on Jul 22, 2018 - 27 answers

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.

27 answers

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Sidi
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replied on May 16, 2018
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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

Benjamin replied on Jul 23, 2018
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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

Originally answered:

Questions at the end of interview?

Dorothea
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replied on Jun 13, 2018
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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!

Vlad replied on Jun 22, 2017
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HI,

In most of the cases, you'll have no chance to research in profile. From what I've seen only Bain shares interviewers names.

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)
  • Questions on the topics you are excited about (e.g. data science)
  • Non-business questions (e.g. team retreats)

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 (Like are you specialized in strategy or operations?)

Be prepared and good luck!

Originally answered:

Questions at the end of interview?

Alessandro
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updated his answer on Jun 11, 2018
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Hi there,

I will firstly caveat that in my experience the final part of the interview has never been a "make it or break it" scenario, and in 99% of cases by that point the interviewer will have already decided if he will pass you or not. However, the final questions can still be an important part of the interview. In my view there's two types of questions you should be asking:

1) Genuine information about the firm you could not find online: you should really take this as an opportunity to ask questions that you genuinely want to know the answer to. However, you shouldn't ask questions that can easily be answered with a google search, as this will make you seem unprepared/not that committed to the firm.

2) Personal questions about the interviewer: Chances are, the interviewer will have either introduced himself and given a short bio at the start of the interview, or you will have a received an interviewer bio before the interviewer. You should tailor your questions to them, and their experience.

Did they do a 6 month transfer to an office in Asia? Ask them about it and how the two offices differed. Was he/she a lawyer before doing an MBA? Ask about it and what made them switch to consulting.

People will much prefer talking about themselves than generic facts about the firm they work for. You are also much more likely to build a rapport with the interviewer this way - therefore, he is more likely to remember you and vouch for you if needed during the recruiting (of potentially, even when you join the firm).

(edited)

Originally answered:

Final round candidate questions

Andrea
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replied on Apr 18, 2018
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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

Anonymous replied on Mar 12, 2018

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

Originally answered:

Final round candidate questions

Hemant
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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

Originally answered:

Final round candidate questions

Anonymous H 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?

Francesco replied on Mar 13, 2018
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Hi Andrés,

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 points:

  • 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, making him feeling important. 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. If that’s not the case, your growth there will be a lot more difficult. Good questions at the end can help you to understand better such point.

In the first reply at the following thread you can find some more information on the ideal type of questions to ask at the end:

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

Best,

Francesco

Tyrion Lannister replied on Jun 28, 2017
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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.

Elias
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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".

Anonymous I 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?

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?

Originally answered:

What to ask interviewer?

An (Jack)
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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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