Could I use a personal story to answer "Why consulting?"

consulting why consulting
New answer on May 14, 2020
9 Answers
695 Views
Yan
Skilled
asked on May 13, 2020

Dear peers,

I am preparing the question "Why consulting?' for my upcoming interview. I want to know whether I can use a story (~2 min) to explain why I want to become a consultant? I found many answers online, such as "consulting helps me learning; consulting expands my horizon; consulting helps know the industry", are a little bit too general. But I am not very sure about my judgment.

Please share your opinion on this. Thank you very much.

Yan

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Anrian
Expert
replied on May 14, 2020
Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)

Hi Yan,

Actually, you should use your personal story, and you MUST avoid those general answers you found online.

In order to be distinctive and remembered, you really have to find a story that unique, genuine, and relevant to consulting. The interviewers have spent a lot of interviews and heard similar reasons over and over again, so if there is a different/distinctive answer (in a positive way) - we would make sure we take care of him/her.

Hope this helps!

Was this answer helpful?
Yan on May 14, 2020

Thank you very much, Anrian.

Emily
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi Yan,

For sure you can use your own story as long as it makes the logical connection to consulting. It would likely sound a lot more convincing.

My own "why consulting" answer relates to a past experience I had when I was in my pre-MBA job. It had some similarities to consulting. I enjoyed the project a lot and realised that's what I want to do. It works.

Cheers,

Emily

Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous replied on May 14, 2020

Hi Yan,

"Why consulting" is the applicant's chance to differentiate himself/herself from the rest and leave a mark on the interviewer who is probably interviewing 3-4 other applicants on the same day - interviewers hate getting the vanilla answers without a personal flavor.

Go for a personal story! Make it engaging, make the interviewer see the drive/passion you have for this line of business, because "vanilla applicants" don't last long as consultants...

Feel free to reach out if you want to fine-tune the answer or test it out.

I hope this helps,

Khaled

Was this answer helpful?
6
Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

It's really hard to say without hearing your story. Unfortunately, I keep hearing a lot of myths about consulting from the applicants, and pls be aware that the story may reveal the lack of knowledge about consulting. Let me give a couple of examples:

  • "In consulting I will be working on strategic projects like Profitability problems, M&A, Market Entry" - that's far from reality. Consulting is more and more about implementation and pure strategic projects are now rare.
  • "In consulting, I will be working with a lot of industries" - that can be true, but mostly at the beginning of your career. Consulting is about becoming a specialist in 1-2 industries and functional areas
  • "In consulting I will be working with many clients globally" - again, there might be multiple paths but this one is not the most common

So make sure that the story you want to tell is also in line with what consulting really is and not just the ideal picture.

Best

Was this answer helpful?
Iman
Expert
replied on May 14, 2020
BCG | Strategy& |Roland Berger | Interviewed >100 candidates in formal hiring process

Hi Yan,

Using personal story is absolutely fine.

Be sure to run it through someone else to make sure it is:

  1. Believable
  2. Real conections to "Why Consulting"
  3. Demonstrate your relevant experience, skills and character that will make you succeed in consulting
Was this answer helpful?
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 13, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Yan,

Absolutely you can! However, you have to make sure that this story isn't a "sob" story or a story about how you got inspired. You have to make sure that "Why Consulting" also answers why they want YOU.

So, in your personal story, make sure you highlight things you're good at, skills you have, some big accomplishments. You can pepper them in to make sure they're noted.

Was this answer helpful?
Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Not only you should, but you totally must!

Some advises:

  • In most cases, there is more than one reason. Write your ideas, in order of importance, in bullets points
  • Start your answer by an introduction to those bullet points (e.g., There are mainly 3 reasons why I would like to work in consulting)
  • Comment the bullets in order or importance, clearly separating the ideas. This makes it easier to follow, more structured and dynamic
  • Finish with a summary of the points, as long as a “tweet” (e.g., In a nutshell, the 3 reasons why I want to work in consulting are the multidisciplinary approach, global scope and client-facing engagements

Here you have an example:

There are two main reasons why consulting is the way that I want to start my career. I studied Architecture since I loved the multi-multidisciplinary approach: from Math to History, from Construction to Aesthetics. However, I realized that, when it comes to working as an architect, the scope narrows down a lot. Hence, the 1st reason why I want to transition to consulting is to keep the multi-discipline and multi-industry focus. Furthermore, I love being constantly challenged and learning at high speed, and I know that consulting has one of the steepest learning curves. In a nutshell, the 2 reasons why I would like to join consulting are the multi-disciplinary focus and the constant challenge that drives exponential growth

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Was this answer helpful?
Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Yan,

if by a personal story you mean connecting the answer to your previous experiences, that can definitely be a good idea (of course, it also depends on the story).

As Emily mentioned, so far that you show you had a “taste” of what some areas you will find in consulting are about, this will help the interviewer to feel you have an authentic interest. You should still be structured in the answer though – I coached several candidates that thought you don’t need to be structured answering fit questions, while that’s critical to leave a good impression.

Best,

Francesco

Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous replied on May 14, 2020

Dear Yan ,

Absolutely! It's the best way to be very authentic and share your story within an interview. It will also help you to be very convincing. So, go for it. But, please, structure it properly during your communication.


Good luck,

André

Was this answer helpful?
2
Anrian gave the best answer

Anrian

Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)
83
Meetings
355
Q&A Upvotes
7
Awards
49 Reviews