Hardwork/Persistence vs Knowing if you are not suitable to be a consultant?

Case Interview fit interview
New answer on Jun 12, 2020
11 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 26, 2020

Hi PrepLounge Experts,

I have been practising for 4 months. However, my case interview performance indicates that I have plateaued in terms of improvement. My peers with 1 month of practice are better than me.

How do I know if I should keep persisting ahead vs identifying that I don't have the natural ability to be a consultant?

Thanks in advance to all replies.

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Anrian
Expert
replied on May 26, 2020
Ex Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)

Hi There,

First thing first, there is no such natural ability to be a consultant (nobody is really born to be a consultant). No matter how genius, charming, charismatic - you still need to prep and practice to succeed in the interview.

Your problem seems similar to some of my coachees (Quantity > Quality), so 4 months of practice vs a month of practice really won't tell anything about the candidate performance.

So, how do you need to fix and improve it? Starting from today, plan your pre and focus on QUALITY - they are:

  1. Identify your discomfort when it comes to doing cases (e.g., articulation, being structured, body language, performing math, etc.)
  2. Pick your fundamental weakness and the gap
  3. Layout a plan to minimize/eliminate your discomfort and close gap on your fundamental
  4. Implement the plan by doing case practices with the right partners or coaches (those who will give you honest feedback and make sure your plan is well executed)
  5. Build your muscle memory by repeating it through practices (people say 20-30 practices to build this)
  6. Try real interview in between to judge how far you have improved

Hope this helps.

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

One important thing here is to see that not only we need to practice a lot, but we also need to do it well.

Hence, it could be that you did many cases but you were not lucky in terms of:

  • Getting the right partners
  • Getting the right feedback
  • Identifying and working on the improvement-needing areas
  • etc.

Have you considered working with a coach? It would help with a diagnosis and with a clear path-to-green.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Axel
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 27, 2020
Bain Consultant | Interviewer for 3 years at Bain |Passionate about coaching |I will make you a case interview Rockstar

Hello Anonymous,

As has been indicated by multiple people a lack of progress over the past 4 months can be either due to your training approach being wrong, you are not measuring progress the right way, or you have plateaued and reached your limits. From my experience in working with mentees I would say that the last one is the least likely scenario.

I would really recommend that you book a session with a coach who is an experienced interviewer that can give you an honest answer on where you stand vs. being able to secure an offer at your target firm. A good coach will be able to give you a view on your aptitude for the consulting profession and help you design the right plan to improve as quickly as possible and reach your goal.

-A

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Udayan
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updated an answer on May 27, 2020
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

Good on you for reflecting on your performance in an honest way. Not many people have the maturity to do that

My suggestion would be to book a session with a coach to help identify what your weakness areas are and where you need to focus on the most. Then see if this is something that excites you and you are willing to invest the required time and energy on. If yes you have a clear answer on next steps, if not then you also have a clear answer on next steps

All the best,

Udayan

(edited)

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Réka
Expert
replied on May 26, 2020
3+ years McKinsey consulting experience|Oxford MBA

Hi A,

Firstly, the fact that you have been practicing for 4 months and you don't feel that you are at a stage where you want to be, does not mean that you don't have the ability to be a consultant. There might be several factors that affect your performance (e.g., psychological reasons, lack of certain key skills that have to be mastered before you master case solving). It might be worth digging deeper into your situation with a professional coach.

Secondly, do you have a chance to interview with one of the consulting firms? If so, just go for it, and let the interviewers decide whether you are a suitable candidate or not. You have nothing to lose. I have friends who never applied to MBB because they were afraid of rejection, and to this date have second thoughts whether they could have been suitable or not.

Best,

Réka

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

You clearly need a mindset shift!

Take a step back, pause and breathe, and come up with a new approach. I get the feeling you are going about this in terms of rote memorization, as opposed to learning how to learn.

I highly recommend a coaching session to jolt you out of the bad habits and/or set way of operating that is clearly affecting you!

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Anonymous B replied on May 26, 2020

Hey,

doing a lot of cases does not necessarily mean that you will be an expert at one point in time. Often you have to really learn the basics, for instance, how to build a structure, how to brainstorm, do calculations, etc.. Therefore, I recommend craftingcases.com, which might help you to understand the basics of doing cases. If you do not know the basics, the effect of exercising cases will be probably marginal.

Best,

A

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 27, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

I have done 2500+ coaching sessions, and I can’t remember a case where I thought it was impossible for a candidate to get a job in consulting working on the right material and with the right plan. Thus don’t worry, I am pretty sure you have the potential to work in consulting if you really want to.

I would recommend the following:

  1. Identify which are the improvements you are aware of. Write them down in an ad-hoc spreadsheet
  2. Add to the spreadsheet the new improvements you notice for every future case
  3. Review regularly the file. Work on drills on the specific areas (eg math, graphs)
  4. Try to find cases related to your improvement area until you don’t repeat the mistakes
  5. Once you have fixed the mistakes you are aware of and your current partners cannot point out additional ones (or if you cannot find ways to fix them), move to a new partner or a coach for fine-tuning

Best,

Francesco

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Emily
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 27, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi there,

It might not be an apple to apple comparison if you just compare your 4 months to your peer's 1 months effort. Your starting points (business acumen, thinking approach, prep before mock cases, past experiences) might not be exactly the same, and everyone has his/her own learning curve.

You should keep a good track of your own progress - how does your performance this week/month compared to the previous week/month. Are you improving? How fast are you learning? Are you making similar mistakes?

If you review your progress and indeed you have been hitting bottleneck and plateaued, suggest you get a coach for assessment and discuss in more depth of where you get stuck and how to address the problem.

Best

Emily

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Anonymous replied on Jun 12, 2020

Hello everyone,

Sorry but I will make an answer which is not politically correct, but YES there are people who are not made for consulting, and consulting is absolutely not an end; there are many other exciting ways.

  • Someone who is a full entrepreneur and wants to decide everything by himself will never be a good consultant, for example.
  • Someone who is too rigid will sometimes not be able to succeed in front of a client
  • etc...

The most important is to really understand what consulting means , and see if it is for you ...

Happy do discuss it in PM, It's a topic that really interests me

Best

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Anonymous replied on May 27, 2020

Hi there,

To put it simply, if you really want a career in consulting, then persisting is the answer!

Now, how to persist is very important - if you are feeling stuck, then you have multiple options to shake things up a bit:

  • Change your case partner - maybe your partner isn't giving you the right feedback or is simply confusing you rather than guiding you towards cracking the case
  • Review your old cases, see what you have missed, formulate that into a learning outcome and write it down in your notebook
  • Find your root problem (structure/math/composure) and reach out to a coach to tailor a solution for it
  • Take your time -no one said you have to ace your cases in 1 month time - keep practicing, and pacing your practice (take some time off) until you feel you got the gist of things.

No one is "naturally more apt" to solve cases - it is just about finding and practicing the right mental processes to navigate the various type of cases in a medium-high pressure environment.

Best of luck in the process...f you want it, you can make it.

Best

Khaled

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Anrian gave the best answer

Anrian

Ex Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)
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