How to ask "smart questions" to ask partners in networking and leave good impression?

networking
New answer on Jun 04, 2021
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 03, 2021

I have read a few posts regarding what to ask partners during networking, and many experts on PrepLounge recommended to ask questions about the partner himself, in order to show your interest in this person and build rapport.

On the other hand, partners value "smart questions". What would be some suitable "smart questions" for example? Given that I don't have much connection and common background with this partner, is it really suitable to ask him questions about himself (such as questions on his work experience)? This doesn't seem to be a "smart question" to me.

On the other hand, is it okay to ask him company specific questions (such as: what specific candidate profile are they looking for at this moment), project related question (such as, is XYZ type of project common in our local office), industry related questions (such as his view on XYZ trend). These are specific questions that I would really want to know, and the answers are not "easy to google". However, I'm not sure whether it is a "smart question" to leave a good impression.

Appreciate your advice!

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Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 04, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | Imbellus Expert

Hi there,

It is not about the smart questions. Whenever you try to appear to be something it's inauthentic.

I always recommend that people ask questions that they are truly curious about and want to learn more about, e.g. questions

  • related to industry expertise, trends, etc.
  • about the development of the office pre-, during, and post- COVID
  • the personal road from starting out in the firm to becoming a partner
  • on their future outlook
  • on the recruiting process (can highlight implicitly your motivation and interest to apply)
  • ...

Don't make a science out of human interaction. :-)

Cheers,

Florian

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Adi
CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 03, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience
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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 03, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

This is so hard to truly explain, but let me give you an example:

The Partner currently works in the automotive industry and/or the case was on an EV firm. At the end of the interview you ask him "So, I'm really fascinated by this space actually and the ways in which different firms are approaching the AV/EV problem. You have the go-it-all-alone approach of Tesla, the partnership/JV model of VW, and the M&A model of GM, among others. I'm curious, do you see one model as a more optimal/likely to succeed model? As in, is it better to have 2 firms specialize and then coordinate, or actually have all the expertise in one entity? Or, rather, do you think that's a secondary factor and what's much more important is the culture, leadership, and people that the firm has?"

^This is a great "smart question" to ask. How do you improve this skill? 1) Read daily! (The Economist, the FT, BCG Insights, etc.) and 2) Practice! (With other candidates or coaches)

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Ken
Expert
replied on Jun 03, 2021
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

Listen well and ask relevant/thoughtful questions. My personal tip is ask questions that puts you in the frame of mind of "a recently joined consultant" than "a desparate candidate who is looking for a referral". You want them to see you already as an "insider" not an "outsider". For example, "how do you choose which consultants to staff on your projects?" instead of "how would define the culture and could you please refer me to your HR if you think I am a good fit...".

Good luck!

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Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 04, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, I would only add to the discussion of avoiding standard questions related to the role and the type of projects, that you can find online or with a quick check with junior candidates

Best,
Antonello

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Florian gave the best answer

Florian

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#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | Imbellus Expert
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