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Easy ways to distinguish yourself during interviews

Anonymous A

Hi,

What do you think are some of the easier ways to distinguish yourself from the rest of interviewees?

Let's say we have a 2x2 matrix: rare skills and abundant skills VS easy to acquire and hard to acquire. I'm looking for rare skills that are easy to acquire. It doesn't have to be too easy, but I'm trying to contrast these skills to such skills as strong communication, which takes many years to develop.

Thank you!

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Benjamin replied on 07/20/2018
Manager - Get you MBB offers - Pragmatic and result oriented coaching - Fair price

Hi,

Here are the skills that I value particularly as interviewer. Most candidates have some of them, but the difficulty here is to combine them :

  • Hard solving skills
  1. Structuring : ​building a clear, simple and easy to understand approach that cover the key dimensions of the main issue, in 2 minutes is really challenging and in my experience few candidates got it perfectly
  2. insights generation : while performing maths, you should focus on the "so what" not on computing the numbers correctly. Most candidate do it right but then forget about deriving an insight. If you do it immediately on your own it's excellent
  3. Judgement : When formulating a final reco. it sometimes requires to step back and try to see the big picture to make a strong recommandation, instead of jumping into what seems immediately obvious
  • Soft Skills
  1. ​​behaviour : project confidence without being arrogant
  2. Leadership (BCG style) : take the lead on the case resolution, acting like you are consultant and the interviewer is client
  3. active listening : take into account what have been said, and if necessary adapt you reasonning on the fly

This is obviously not exhaustive, and I am sure other coach will add more dimensions important to them.


Best
Benjamin

Ankit
Expert
replied on 07/20/2018
Consultant at A.T. Kearney | Part of campus recruitment & coaching core team| Coached 75+ candidates converting McK, BCG, ATK

Hi,

I will try to answer your specific question to the best of my abilities. As correctly pointed out by my fellow experts, there is a whole gamut of skills that we look for while interviewing. The skills that would typically lie in your quadrant would be:

  1. Idea generation: This is one of the rarest skills among interviewees. Most of the coaching that the candidates get is centred around case structuring and navigating through the scenario. This results in a candidate who is excellent at getting to the root cause of the issue. However, only a few candidates are able to "wow" the interviewer with their recommendations. While it may seem trivial, it's quite a high impact and often underplayed area of an interview. After solving the issue for around 30 minutes, you get 5-7 minutes to share ideas on how to solve the particular issue. Most candidates just run through a list of 2-3 obvious recommendations without really thinking through or trying to be innovative. Hence, if you are able to practice idea-generation to such an extent that it becomes second nature just like the first part of the interview, it will generate a great return on your efforts. Just consider this: you could create the same impact with a 5-7 minutes conversation as you did with a 30-minute one (assumption is that you are able to crack the issue). This one sits right in the sweet spot in your skill-effort 2x2. It will definitely differentiate you from others.​
  2. Opening and synthesizing of the case: I am sure you must have already heard about the importance of synthesizing a case well. Think of it as a project summary that you have to provide to your Partner, who cannot be bored with all the details. Similarly, opening a case and clarifying objectives/ assumptions at the beginning is crucial and goes a long way in creating the right impression. Like everything related to case studies, these need practice - but just a conscious effort in each case you practice can help you differentiate from others.​
  3. Confidence and poise: The interviewers want to know if you can handle yourself in front of the Client. Hence, confidence (not arrogance) is another highly valued "skill" that we look for. I call it a skill because it can be mastered within a month of practice. Here, the key is to practice on your voice modulation and the way you communicate, including non-verbal communication.

Please feel free to contact me if you need help with any of the skills. Wish you all the best!

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