expert
Expert with best answer

Andre

100% Recommendation Rate

60 Meetings

2,382 Q&A Upvotes

USD 219 / Coaching

2

German Consulting Firms: HR slower in August? Use of English?

Hi All, this question is directed at those of you who have interviewed/worked for the larger consulting firms here in Germany:

Background: I'm originally from the US but live in Germany doing my Masters, which I plan to complete end of November. I want to stay in Germany and am aiming for a job in consulting at a large firm with an international presence. My German level is good enough to talk casually at a job fair, but not solid/proper/eloquent enough for a job interview. I'm studying intensively now for a fluency exam I will take mid-July and will obviously continue improving as I finish my degree. I'm aiming to find a job to start in January and am not tied down to a particular city, I just want to stay in Germany.

Q 1: Do consulting firm HR departments slow down in August?

The websites of consulting firms in Germany say they have a rolling application process for general entry-level consulting positions (such as Associate with BCG). However, having lived in Germany for several years I know a lot of things come to standstill in August. Does this generally include HR departments? As I'm under a lot of pressure with my German exam right now I was planning to apply in August so I can put proper thought into it, network a bit more, and also be prepared/confident if I get offered an interview. Would it be wise to wait until early September to apply instead?

Q: Has anyone ever interviewed for a consulting firm in Germany partly in English?

No matter how confident I'm able to get with my German, it'll never be on par with my English. My listening skills are quite good but honestly, a main concern is that I know at this point I don't sound as intelligent speaking in German as I do in English.

I spoke with a Consultant from BCG at a job fair last week and he said as I'm a native English speaker, depending on the office/luck, if I had 3 interviews I could probably conduct 2 in English. Of course I will use German with coworkers, but when it comes to something like an interview where you get one chance to put your best foot forward, being able to partly interview in English would be an advantage. Does anyone have any insight on any firms where part of the interview might be conducted in English?

Should I also assume that in Germany the pre-interview tests/cases are all laid out in German? I've been told contradicting things on this point so I'd like some different perspectives. My Masters is in the Humanities, so I'm new to cases/refreshing my math skills, etc...

Thanks in advance for any insight!

Hi All, this question is directed at those of you who have interviewed/worked for the larger consulting firms here in Germany:

Background: I'm originally from the US but live in Germany doing my Masters, which I plan to complete end of November. I want to stay in Germany and am aiming for a job in consulting at a large firm with an international presence. My German level is good enough to talk casually at a job fair, but not solid/proper/eloquent enough for a job interview. I'm studying intensively now for a fluency exam I will take mid-July and will obviously continue improving as I finish my degree. I'm aiming to find a job to start in January and am not tied down to a particular city, I just want to stay in Germany.

Q 1: Do consulting firm HR departments slow down in August?

The websites of consulting firms in Germany say they have a rolling application process for general entry-level consulting positions (such as Associate with BCG). However, having lived in Germany for several years I know a lot of things come to standstill in August. Does this generally include HR departments? As I'm under a lot of pressure with my German exam right now I was planning to apply in August so I can put proper thought into it, network a bit more, and also be prepared/confident if I get offered an interview. Would it be wise to wait until early September to apply instead?

Q: Has anyone ever interviewed for a consulting firm in Germany partly in English?

No matter how confident I'm able to get with my German, it'll never be on par with my English. My listening skills are quite good but honestly, a main concern is that I know at this point I don't sound as intelligent speaking in German as I do in English.

I spoke with a Consultant from BCG at a job fair last week and he said as I'm a native English speaker, depending on the office/luck, if I had 3 interviews I could probably conduct 2 in English. Of course I will use German with coworkers, but when it comes to something like an interview where you get one chance to put your best foot forward, being able to partly interview in English would be an advantage. Does anyone have any insight on any firms where part of the interview might be conducted in English?

Should I also assume that in Germany the pre-interview tests/cases are all laid out in German? I've been told contradicting things on this point so I'd like some different perspectives. My Masters is in the Humanities, so I'm new to cases/refreshing my math skills, etc...

Thanks in advance for any insight!

2 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Andre

100% Recommendation Rate

60 Meetings

2,382 Q&A Upvotes

USD 219 / Coaching

Hi A,


I was in your shoes back in 2011-12, when I also came from Ukraine to start i Germany, and search for consulting jobs. So I can really understand your challenges. Regarding slow down in August, it could really happen, because most HR people plan for vacations for August. Therefore, in general it is a slow season. So I would rather recommend you to apply in June-July or later, in September.

As for the second question, I recommend you to practice cases in German. It would be very tough n the beginning, but I also did it and I practiced 100+ cases in English and in German, and that is what help me to get all the offer, including MBB and then finally choosing Roland Berger.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Best,
André

Hi A,


I was in your shoes back in 2011-12, when I also came from Ukraine to start i Germany, and search for consulting jobs. So I can really understand your challenges. Regarding slow down in August, it could really happen, because most HR people plan for vacations for August. Therefore, in general it is a slow season. So I would rather recommend you to apply in June-July or later, in September.

As for the second question, I recommend you to practice cases in German. It would be very tough n the beginning, but I also did it and I practiced 100+ cases in English and in German, and that is what help me to get all the offer, including MBB and then finally choosing Roland Berger.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Best,
André

Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

266 Meetings

1,309 Q&A Upvotes

USD 269 / Coaching

Question 1: Summer is always slower, not only in Germany

Question 2: A few years ago (ok, in the late 1990s), I did what you are trying to do, with a comparable level in German. Some companies were open in saying I wasn't good enough in German; others expressed interest due to my English and French skills. I ultimately got an offer in one of these (CSC Ploenzke, which was at the time the premier German-speaking IT consultancy, on par with with Accenture)

Bottom line: You aren't choosing the easiest path, and may need to find someone looking for a specific skill set that you offer - but it is definitely possible. I think German or Dutch companies (Northern Europe in general) are a lot more open to this scenario than French, Italian or Spanish ones (Southern Europe).

Good luck!

Question 1: Summer is always slower, not only in Germany

Question 2: A few years ago (ok, in the late 1990s), I did what you are trying to do, with a comparable level in German. Some companies were open in saying I wasn't good enough in German; others expressed interest due to my English and French skills. I ultimately got an offer in one of these (CSC Ploenzke, which was at the time the premier German-speaking IT consultancy, on par with with Accenture)

Bottom line: You aren't choosing the easiest path, and may need to find someone looking for a specific skill set that you offer - but it is definitely possible. I think German or Dutch companies (Northern Europe in general) are a lot more open to this scenario than French, Italian or Spanish ones (Southern Europe).

Good luck!

Related BootCamp article(s)

Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases

Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly

Which companies are currently using written tests ?

All major firms like McKinsey, BCG and Bain use tests to assess a candidate's analytical skills. However the design of those tests can differ a lot.

Related case(s)

Roland Berger Case: Onlinestar

Solved 35.4k times
Roland Berger Case: Onlinestar Onlinestar, an online retailer of furniture and garden products (core business), has grown significantly in recent years as a result of an expansion of its product portfolio. The company mainly imports goods from Chinese manufacturers but also operates its own production of cat lavatories (special business) in Eastern Europe. The company sells its goods via Amazon and ebay, and recently via an online shop on its website. Despite this development, the financial ratios have deteriorated in recent years. In particular, gross profit margin decreased significantly. Combined with a significant increase in shipping costs, this led to a negative result for the first time in the recently ended fiscal year and a resulting strained financial situation. Against the background of expected stagnating sales for the current financial year, short-term action is required. The board of Onlinestar asks you for an analysis of the reasons for the negative result as well as a derived recommendation for action. As a consultant, you should bring in your knowledge in online trading and develop solutions. In addition, the management board would like to receive a sales and gross profit plan from you for the current financial year.
4.3 5 748
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

Onlinestar, an online retailer of furniture and garden products (core business), has grown significantly in recent years as a result of an expansion of its product portfolio. The company mainly imports goods from Chinese manufacturers but also operates its own production of cat lavatories (special b ... Open whole case

BCG Questions

Solved 25.0k times
BCG Questions What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where you were not the official leader.
4.5 5 206
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit interview | Topics: Personal fit

What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where ... Open whole case

Financial CRM

Solved 7.8k times
Financial CRM Your client is a big financial services company in Germany that just implemented a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. Its intention is to provide the leadership with a real time view into the organisation’s sales channel. Before the introduction of the CRM system the sales teams have maintained the client sales information in separate Excel spread sheets. This made it very complicated for the managers to have an overview of the latest information. At the end of the fiscal year, all sales teams have to migrate their sales data into the new system. They want our advice regarding the necessary change management.
4.1 5 168
| Rating: (4.1 / 5.0) |

Your client is a big financial services company in Germany that just implemented a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. Its intention is to provide the leadership with a real time view into the organisation’s sales channel. Before the introduction of the CRM system the sales teams have main ... Open whole case

Recruitment of Junior Attorneys

Solved 4.6k times
Recruitment of Junior Attorneys We are a reputed law firm. We are thinking of hiring associates right out of college at $120,000 per year. Do you think it is a good idea?
4.3 5 132
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

We are a reputed law firm. We are thinking of hiring associates right out of college at $120,000 per year. Do you think it is a good idea? Open whole case

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 2.6k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.6 5 109
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case