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

BCG bcg german office original cases consulting English German germany HR Interview MBB Roland Berger
New answer on Apr 30, 2020
2 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 08, 2018

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!

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Anonymous replied on Apr 30, 2020

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.


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replied on Jun 09, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

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!

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