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Ian

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8

Hi, I have just finished my phd in literature studies and have been invited to a job interview at a consulting firm.

I have been to prestigious universities in the US and Germany and have some work experience, but I don't have any knowledge as far as business is concerned. I'm reading a lot about case preparation and have tried to solve some cases, but I obviously won't be able to compete with people who have a business or math background. Does anyone know if there are different requirements for humanities graduates in the job interview and how I can prepare myself for the interview? I feel quite overwhelmed by all the new information und would greatly appreciate if someone could give me some recommendations. Thank you very much!

I have been to prestigious universities in the US and Germany and have some work experience, but I don't have any knowledge as far as business is concerned. I'm reading a lot about case preparation and have tried to solve some cases, but I obviously won't be able to compete with people who have a business or math background. Does anyone know if there are different requirements for humanities graduates in the job interview and how I can prepare myself for the interview? I feel quite overwhelmed by all the new information und would greatly appreciate if someone could give me some recommendations. Thank you very much!

8 answers

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Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi Lena,

I have good news and bad news.

Bad news: You will get no special treatment

Good news: You can learn

In terms of preparation the most important thing here is narrowing down the noise. There is a lot of content flying around, and you need to work hard to focus on what's important (much like when solving a case).

I recommend the following:

1) An initial planning session with a coach: 1 hour with a coach now will have a productivity multiplier effect on all your efforts moving forward. They will figure out what materials are best for you, guide you towards the best ways to learn, and come up with a preparation plan with you.

2) Leverage free resources first: PrepLounge Q&A and case library, Poets and Quants, SpencerTom, Google, etc.). Leverage these options, read-up, and over time you'll get a feel for what you really need and where you really need to invest your hard-earned $

Importantly, read The Economist and the Financial Times daily to build up your business acument.

3) Case with other PrepLoungers: Casing with other PrepLoungers is free. Not only do you get to practice casing, but you get direct feedback. Additionally, you learn a lot just from casing others. Finally, from other PrepLoungers you'll learn which materials/coaches are helpful.

Hi Lena,

I have good news and bad news.

Bad news: You will get no special treatment

Good news: You can learn

In terms of preparation the most important thing here is narrowing down the noise. There is a lot of content flying around, and you need to work hard to focus on what's important (much like when solving a case).

I recommend the following:

1) An initial planning session with a coach: 1 hour with a coach now will have a productivity multiplier effect on all your efforts moving forward. They will figure out what materials are best for you, guide you towards the best ways to learn, and come up with a preparation plan with you.

2) Leverage free resources first: PrepLounge Q&A and case library, Poets and Quants, SpencerTom, Google, etc.). Leverage these options, read-up, and over time you'll get a feel for what you really need and where you really need to invest your hard-earned $

Importantly, read The Economist and the Financial Times daily to build up your business acument.

3) Case with other PrepLoungers: Casing with other PrepLoungers is free. Not only do you get to practice casing, but you get direct feedback. Additionally, you learn a lot just from casing others. Finally, from other PrepLoungers you'll learn which materials/coaches are helpful.

Hi Ian, many thanks for your kind reply! This sounds like a very good approach. — Lena on Jun 12, 2020

Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi Lena,

the requirements are the same even if you don’t have a business background. However, you can definitely learn how to approach a case interview following the right plan.

I would recommend the following steps:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have available before your interview and allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day, working on the points below. Many people need 100+ hours to be ready before a consulting interview so you can keep that as a benchmark
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading good MBA Consulting Handbooks – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb better the information with constant learning.
  4. After the first 5-10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioural part and the case part. The case part should also cover market sizing, mental math and graph analysis.
  5. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using support from experts to strengthen your performance
  6. Before the interviews, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Lena,

the requirements are the same even if you don’t have a business background. However, you can definitely learn how to approach a case interview following the right plan.

I would recommend the following steps:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have available before your interview and allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day, working on the points below. Many people need 100+ hours to be ready before a consulting interview so you can keep that as a benchmark
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading good MBA Consulting Handbooks – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb better the information with constant learning.
  4. After the first 5-10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioural part and the case part. The case part should also cover market sizing, mental math and graph analysis.
  5. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using support from experts to strengthen your performance
  6. Before the interviews, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Many thanks for all the details, Francesco! — Lena on Jun 12, 2020

Book a coaching with Robert

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Hi Lena

The procedure and principal requirements are the same, independent of your specific educational background. From that perspective no difference for general interview prep.

There is already lots of excellent "content" advice on how to prepare for interviews. Looking at this question more from a "process" point of view and assuming that the candidates starts his prep in due time, this is what worked for most of my coaching candidates:

  • Starting off with basic case interview books like Marc Cosentino's "Case in Point" or Victor Cheng's "Case Interview Secrets"
  • At the same time watching Victor Cheng's youtube videos
  • Getting a professional case interview coaching, like here on PrepLoungequite early in the process, as a professional case interview coach will help you get things right immediately, so that you can focus on your weak spots and at the same time reinforce your positive habits during your further prep
  • Start having interactive mock interviews with peers, which you can find in masses also on PrepLounge - there is a strong correlation between number of interactive cases solved and interview success; I occasionally also do professional case interview coachings myself (Case Interview Coaching)
  • Once you feel you make progress in your case interview performance, start having some professional coaching sessions again to get some real-life benchmark and feedback for further improvement; what works best is approx. 1 professional coaching per week as there is enough time to improve weak spots with peer mock interviews until the next coaching, and at the same time this timeframe is short enough so that you keep up with you prep and do not lose track
  • Once you start feeling comfortable with solving cases in general, focus on being as structured as possible in every sentence you say and every answer you give ("ABS - always be structured"). For this, I wrote a distinct book with the most important frameworks and business concepts for case interviews (you can find it at http://cif.consulting-case-interviews.com/). This book not only gives you a short description and basic idea of the frameworks and concepts, but also a step-by-step guide on how to actually use and implement them (you would be surprised how many candidates don't have a clue about that!).
  • As soon as you master the case interview basics, start preparing the behavioural part of the interviews; this is especially important for McKinsey as this is the part where most candidates really fail. Recently I have added a blog with free expert advice on the McKinsey PEI where I am sharing some answers on the most common PEI questions that I receive from candidates (https://pei.consulting-case-interviews.com/blog/); I also wrote a distinct ebook for "The Ultimate McKinsey PEI Prep" (https://pei.consulting-case-interviews.com/).
  • If time permits, read some general books about consulting to get a good understanding how the industry works, like "The Firm" by Duff McDonald, "Managing the Professional Service Firm" by David Maister and "The McKinsey Way" by Ethan Rasiel

Looking at the different requirements, it's clear that I cannot expect the same level of business knowledge and acumen of a non-business-background candidate, so I have a higher tolerance level for those candidates. But the basics need to be there nevertheless.

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Lena

The procedure and principal requirements are the same, independent of your specific educational background. From that perspective no difference for general interview prep.

There is already lots of excellent "content" advice on how to prepare for interviews. Looking at this question more from a "process" point of view and assuming that the candidates starts his prep in due time, this is what worked for most of my coaching candidates:

  • Starting off with basic case interview books like Marc Cosentino's "Case in Point" or Victor Cheng's "Case Interview Secrets"
  • At the same time watching Victor Cheng's youtube videos
  • Getting a professional case interview coaching, like here on PrepLoungequite early in the process, as a professional case interview coach will help you get things right immediately, so that you can focus on your weak spots and at the same time reinforce your positive habits during your further prep
  • Start having interactive mock interviews with peers, which you can find in masses also on PrepLounge - there is a strong correlation between number of interactive cases solved and interview success; I occasionally also do professional case interview coachings myself (Case Interview Coaching)
  • Once you feel you make progress in your case interview performance, start having some professional coaching sessions again to get some real-life benchmark and feedback for further improvement; what works best is approx. 1 professional coaching per week as there is enough time to improve weak spots with peer mock interviews until the next coaching, and at the same time this timeframe is short enough so that you keep up with you prep and do not lose track
  • Once you start feeling comfortable with solving cases in general, focus on being as structured as possible in every sentence you say and every answer you give ("ABS - always be structured"). For this, I wrote a distinct book with the most important frameworks and business concepts for case interviews (you can find it at http://cif.consulting-case-interviews.com/). This book not only gives you a short description and basic idea of the frameworks and concepts, but also a step-by-step guide on how to actually use and implement them (you would be surprised how many candidates don't have a clue about that!).
  • As soon as you master the case interview basics, start preparing the behavioural part of the interviews; this is especially important for McKinsey as this is the part where most candidates really fail. Recently I have added a blog with free expert advice on the McKinsey PEI where I am sharing some answers on the most common PEI questions that I receive from candidates (https://pei.consulting-case-interviews.com/blog/); I also wrote a distinct ebook for "The Ultimate McKinsey PEI Prep" (https://pei.consulting-case-interviews.com/).
  • If time permits, read some general books about consulting to get a good understanding how the industry works, like "The Firm" by Duff McDonald, "Managing the Professional Service Firm" by David Maister and "The McKinsey Way" by Ethan Rasiel

Looking at the different requirements, it's clear that I cannot expect the same level of business knowledge and acumen of a non-business-background candidate, so I have a higher tolerance level for those candidates. But the basics need to be there nevertheless.

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Thank you very much for your detailed answer, Robert! — Lena on Jun 11, 2020

Book a coaching with Luca

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Hello,

Case interviews are gonna be basically the same of the traditional candidates, but they could be more transigent on your business knowledge/terminology.
In order to prepare for case interview, I suggest the following approach:

  • Read the Case in Point (Cosentino) in order to get a first approach with the Case interviews
  • When you have read most of it, start doing cases on yourself practicing with frameworks, math and structure of the interview.
  • Practice with other people (candidates/coaches)
  • Read some chapters of the Case Interview Secrets
  • Listen to the recordings of the LOMS program

While you are practicing for your cases, you have to consider also some time to prepare your CV and the Fit Interview that is a fundamental part of the interview. Consider that you will need around 1.5/2 months to prepare and at least 40/50 cases.

Feel free to contact me if you want to have some help to stucture your workplan.

Best,
Luca

Hello,

Case interviews are gonna be basically the same of the traditional candidates, but they could be more transigent on your business knowledge/terminology.
In order to prepare for case interview, I suggest the following approach:

  • Read the Case in Point (Cosentino) in order to get a first approach with the Case interviews
  • When you have read most of it, start doing cases on yourself practicing with frameworks, math and structure of the interview.
  • Practice with other people (candidates/coaches)
  • Read some chapters of the Case Interview Secrets
  • Listen to the recordings of the LOMS program

While you are practicing for your cases, you have to consider also some time to prepare your CV and the Fit Interview that is a fundamental part of the interview. Consider that you will need around 1.5/2 months to prepare and at least 40/50 cases.

Feel free to contact me if you want to have some help to stucture your workplan.

Best,
Luca

Hi Luca, thank you very much for your reply! — Lena on Jun 12, 2020

Book a coaching with Antonello

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Hi Lena,

Feel free to text me for some tips about the preparation. I have supported tens of experienced professionals in crafting impactful stories and structuring business cases. Being an aerospace engineer I have specific programs for non-business candidates.

Best,
Antonello

Hi Lena,

Feel free to text me for some tips about the preparation. I have supported tens of experienced professionals in crafting impactful stories and structuring business cases. Being an aerospace engineer I have specific programs for non-business candidates.

Best,
Antonello

Hello,

You can see below my proposed approach to prepare for case studies.

Happy to further discuss in PM.

Consulting interview preparation steps

David

Hello,

You can see below my proposed approach to prepare for case studies.

Happy to further discuss in PM.

Consulting interview preparation steps

David

Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello Lena,

I felt very identified with your case, since I am an Architect and, when I discovered the world of Consulting, I did not have any business background either.

However, it´s really a matter of dedication and you will get there. PM if you chat to chat about it.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello Lena,

I felt very identified with your case, since I am an Architect and, when I discovered the world of Consulting, I did not have any business background either.

However, it´s really a matter of dedication and you will get there. PM if you chat to chat about it.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hi Clara, thank you very much for your encouraging reply! — Lena on Jun 12, 2020

Dear Lena!

My congrats, that's going to be an interesting path!

Below some tips for your preparation:

1) Practice mental math (percentages, decimal places, large numbers, arithmetic) – even though it's not the most important part of the interview and it's allowed to make mistakes, you need to master your numbers very comfortably.

2) Do as many cases as you can. After you gather a bit of experience of practicing with your fellow students, try to find a person who is now working or has worked in the past at the MBB's recruiting and ask them to simulate an interview with you.

3) Prepare and practice personal fit interviews – they are as important as the cases. Write down your stories, practice telling them with your fellow students, or with an expert (again, here on Preplounge)

4) Be aware of your mental state – try not to stress too much before and during the interview. Do sports, take care of your health, try yoga, meditation – whatever makes you less stressed.

Good luck! If you need any help with preparation, just drop me a line!

Best,

André

Dear Lena!

My congrats, that's going to be an interesting path!

Below some tips for your preparation:

1) Practice mental math (percentages, decimal places, large numbers, arithmetic) – even though it's not the most important part of the interview and it's allowed to make mistakes, you need to master your numbers very comfortably.

2) Do as many cases as you can. After you gather a bit of experience of practicing with your fellow students, try to find a person who is now working or has worked in the past at the MBB's recruiting and ask them to simulate an interview with you.

3) Prepare and practice personal fit interviews – they are as important as the cases. Write down your stories, practice telling them with your fellow students, or with an expert (again, here on Preplounge)

4) Be aware of your mental state – try not to stress too much before and during the interview. Do sports, take care of your health, try yoga, meditation – whatever makes you less stressed.

Good luck! If you need any help with preparation, just drop me a line!

Best,

André

(edited)

Dear André, thank you very much for your reply, that sounds good! Best, Lena — Lena on Sep 27, 2020 (edited)