Hi! Due to the fact that I participated in several business courses (multiple day recruitment events) in the past, for which the selection procedure resembled a normal first round, I can now move straight on to the second (final) round interviews at several consulting firms. It's been several years since I had the first round interviews and so I'm feeling a little rusty to begin with, but I'm also wondering whether these final round interviews will differ from the first round type of interviews. Is the focus different? Should I practice differently? Do they look for different things? Any tips would be much appreciated!
Difference between first round and second round interviews?
Completely agree w/ Matteo, I was just coming to basically write the same thing. Also, the partners may just decide to push the interview in a different direction based on their own interest: They own the company, they do what they want :)
As a result, your interviews might be a little less structured. In my particular case for example, I don't think I even did a true case with the partner - we did talk about a variety of topics however, during which he was able to assess some of my social skills, general culture, creativity... all things that are potentially important to create rapport with a client.
from my experience I believe there are 2 key differences between a first round and a second round, at least regarding Mck, Bain and BCG.
1) during the first round the interviewers will be senior managers and/or junior partners, wheather in the second round you will generally meet senior partners or directors
2) Therefore since the two profiles mentioned above have a different seniority during the first round it is more likely that you will be asked more analytical questions and the business cases will be more detaild (e.g. estimate the market share at the endo of the third year knowing that.. ecc.), on the other side in the second round the you might have to tackle more broad and strategical questions (e.g. what would you outsource in a marketing department)
I hope this is useful!
Generally, the first round interviews tend to be conducted by more junior staff, and further rounds conducted by those who are more senior. This has some potential implications:
1. Junior staff may be more lenient and may not have their standards set as high as those more senior.
2. Junior staff are much more likely to stick to the 'script' of a case, fit questions, and an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions.
3. More senior members (such as partners and senior partners) might vary from the traditional script and take the interview in another direction. Perhaps only doing an entire fit interview, or making up some sort of case on the spot. For example, I once had a partner ask me how my flight was, and then question me on how I might adjust the strategy of that airline. This is rare though.
The second (or further rounds) are usually testing for the same things as the first round, and candidates are judged using the same assessment framework. However, if a candidate lacked a particular skill, or if there was an issue regarding 'fit', then the second interview round might test specifically for that issue.
Nearly all cases that are given have been written by the interviewer, and are based on a case that they themselves took part in. It takes a lot of effort, and so typically Principals and Partners will still be using the same cases that have been for years.
My advice is to prepare for the final round as you did for the first. Good luck!
Agree with both colleagues with an additional remark. Due to the seniority of the interviewers, not only questions will be more strategical but they will aim other skills ("softer" like empathy, communication...) and specially: If you fit the firms' values. So, express explicitly your adherence to ethical and other values, when possible, and above all, be yourself.
Thank you so much for these anwers! Do you reckon there's a specific way to prepare for second round interviews? I mean differently from preparing for first round interviews?