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Francesco

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How to best prepare for a consulting position if you have a couple of months of free time?

MBB

Hello,

Was wondering about what are the best courses, online material, or things one can do to best prepare for a consulting position in a couple of months.

Hello,

Was wondering about what are the best courses, online material, or things one can do to best prepare for a consulting position in a couple of months.

7 answers

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Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi there,

I would recommend the following steps to organize your preparation:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Check if there is any deadline for the applications. Then identify how many hours you have before that 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 the 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. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a consulting application
  6. At least three weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals for your target companies. You can find some tips on how to do that here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176
  7. 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
  8. 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.

Best,

Francesco

Hi there,

I would recommend the following steps to organize your preparation:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Check if there is any deadline for the applications. Then identify how many hours you have before that 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 the 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. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a consulting application
  6. At least three weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals for your target companies. You can find some tips on how to do that here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176
  7. 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
  8. 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.

Best,

Francesco

Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello!

Congrats of that offer!

If there is one thing I wish I had done before joining McKinsey, that would have been Excel. It can really be a game changer, so I would really focus on that (more than pptx, industry knowledge, etc., that are nice-to-have, but not deal breakers).

Excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants, and it´s great that you want to practice them. PFB a list of the most popular commands:

Basic operations: SUM, SUMPRODUCT

Text transformations: CONCATENATE, LEFT, RIGHT, & operator,

Connecting different datasets: VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX(MATCH(),MATCH())

Conditional-based operations: SUMIF, COUNTIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, COUNTA

Learn how to analyze data using Pivot Tables

There are plenty of online materials:

Microsoft Support: https://support.office.com/en-us/excel

Kubicle: https://kubicle.com/personal (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Congrats of that offer!

If there is one thing I wish I had done before joining McKinsey, that would have been Excel. It can really be a game changer, so I would really focus on that (more than pptx, industry knowledge, etc., that are nice-to-have, but not deal breakers).

Excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants, and it´s great that you want to practice them. PFB a list of the most popular commands:

Basic operations: SUM, SUMPRODUCT

Text transformations: CONCATENATE, LEFT, RIGHT, & operator,

Connecting different datasets: VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX(MATCH(),MATCH())

Conditional-based operations: SUMIF, COUNTIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, COUNTA

Learn how to analyze data using Pivot Tables

There are plenty of online materials:

Microsoft Support: https://support.office.com/en-us/excel

Kubicle: https://kubicle.com/personal (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi there,

Timely question as it was askeed not too long ago!

Thread here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-be-prepared-to-start-new-role-in-one-month-6947

----------------------------------------------------------------

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fourth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

Hi there,

Timely question as it was askeed not too long ago!

Thread here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-be-prepared-to-start-new-role-in-one-month-6947

----------------------------------------------------------------

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fourth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

Book a coaching with Luca

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Hello,

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/Cover Letter 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,

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/Cover Letter 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,

Please find below some tips to prepare for case studies (+ illustration below)

  • Step 1 | Work on frameworks in books (e.g. case in point); amass content and build your tool box. Attention, the day of the interview in most cases you should not make a mapping between the frameworks you studied and the case stated by the interviewer. You often have to build a customized framework.
  • Step 2 | Train with peers. In a case study we test the structure of course, but also the business sense and the ability to use the indices or the data communicated by the interviewer. It is not a 1-way talk but a real discussion between two people. Here is the real limit of training using books.
  • Step 3 | Test yourself with people who have really been interviewer in consulting firms to benefit from cases that have been tested for real and feedback through the evaluation grids of consulting firms. Of course, I would be delighted to discuss it with you when will be in this phase of your preparation.
  • Step 4 | Multiply the applications and therefore the real interviews. Nothing prepares better than a case study in a real situation. Morever, the more applications you submit, the more you maximize your chances of having one or more offers. I recommend on the other hand, to start with the firms that you target less and to keep top priorities for later.

I finish by reminding that it's compulsory not to neglect the fit which is often less prepared than the case study. So please do not forget that this part of the interview counts as much as the case study, so it is very important not to improvise.

Case study preparation steps

Hello,

Please find below some tips to prepare for case studies (+ illustration below)

  • Step 1 | Work on frameworks in books (e.g. case in point); amass content and build your tool box. Attention, the day of the interview in most cases you should not make a mapping between the frameworks you studied and the case stated by the interviewer. You often have to build a customized framework.
  • Step 2 | Train with peers. In a case study we test the structure of course, but also the business sense and the ability to use the indices or the data communicated by the interviewer. It is not a 1-way talk but a real discussion between two people. Here is the real limit of training using books.
  • Step 3 | Test yourself with people who have really been interviewer in consulting firms to benefit from cases that have been tested for real and feedback through the evaluation grids of consulting firms. Of course, I would be delighted to discuss it with you when will be in this phase of your preparation.
  • Step 4 | Multiply the applications and therefore the real interviews. Nothing prepares better than a case study in a real situation. Morever, the more applications you submit, the more you maximize your chances of having one or more offers. I recommend on the other hand, to start with the firms that you target less and to keep top priorities for later.

I finish by reminding that it's compulsory not to neglect the fit which is often less prepared than the case study. So please do not forget that this part of the interview counts as much as the case study, so it is very important not to improvise.

Case study preparation steps

Book a coaching with Robert

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USD 219 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

What works for most of my candidates well is the following - obviously this is generic advice and needs to be adapted to your individual situation:

  • 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

Hope that helps - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Anonymous,

What works for most of my candidates well is the following - obviously this is generic advice and needs to be adapted to your individual situation:

  • 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

Hope that helps - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Robert, Thanks for your help. I was looking for something more on the job preparation side rather than interview prep. — Anonymous A on Jun 21, 2020

Dear A,

To prepare to your interview nicely it usually takes 1-2 months (in case you spend on preparation 4 hours daily) starting from zero on your own. This implies:

  1. Defining a calendar on what you need to prepare and how mach time it will take

  2. Learning the basic frameworks/theory for cases

  3. Prepare your answers to the fit part (including your questions at the end for the interview)

  4. Learn how to answer to market sizing questions

  5. Practice math and graph analysis

  6. Read examples of cases

  7. Practice the cases, fit and communication skills live

In case you prepare with a coach, experience partner or former consultant, you can assume that every hour you will do with him/her will be worth between 2-15 hours on your own, thus decreasing significantly the preparation time.

Best,

André

Dear A,

To prepare to your interview nicely it usually takes 1-2 months (in case you spend on preparation 4 hours daily) starting from zero on your own. This implies:

  1. Defining a calendar on what you need to prepare and how mach time it will take

  2. Learning the basic frameworks/theory for cases

  3. Prepare your answers to the fit part (including your questions at the end for the interview)

  4. Learn how to answer to market sizing questions

  5. Practice math and graph analysis

  6. Read examples of cases

  7. Practice the cases, fit and communication skills live

In case you prepare with a coach, experience partner or former consultant, you can assume that every hour you will do with him/her will be worth between 2-15 hours on your own, thus decreasing significantly the preparation time.

Best,

André

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