I AM SCHEDULED FOR A COFFE CHAT, PLEASE WHAT KIND OF QUESTIONS DO I EXPECT?

ATKearney Bain coffee consulting
New answer on Jul 03, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous B asked on Feb 23, 2018

Bain & Company scheduled a coffee chat meeting for me. Please someone who has the experience should elaborate on what coffee chat is all about. How do I make it a means to my success?

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Francesco
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Content Creator
updated an answer on Feb 23, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

a coffee chat in consulting is an informal interview, usually to understand if you have the motivation and background for consulting. Rarely, it could evolve in a small case to also test your case skills. If you receive a case it will be normally a short market sizing.

The preparation for a coffee chat should be similar to the one for the fit part of the interview. I would actually recommend to prepare in advance for the questions you are going to get – this from all points of view is the first step in your assessment and you should be prepared accordingly. Some of the key questions to prepare will be:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why do you want to work for in our industry/company
  • What are your three top strengths and weaknesses
  • Tell me about a time when you failed
  • Tell me about a time when you lead your team in a difficult situation
  • Which role do you play in a team
  • Why should we hire you

To prepare, I would suggest the following steps:

  1. Write down your answers. Use bullets to structure them.
  2. Repeat loud the answers. Put a timer with 2 minutes (complex answers as “What are your three top strengths and weaknesses” may require more time). If feasible, do so with a partner or record yourself.
  3. Reiterate till when you are able to deliver the answer with such time constraint. After few attempts you will notice that your answers will automatically be more to the point.

One thing many candidates neglect to do is to prepare their own questions. Relevant questions at the end are a great way to show your interest in the company and get additional points. In the first reply at the following post you can find some more information on the ideal type of questions to ask at the end of your call:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/open-house-at-bcg-311

The key for a good question is that they should not be related to the firm per se (eg how is XYZ in Bain), but to the experience of the consultant (how did you find XYZ in your experience as a consultant? Which challenges did it bring to you?). This will make your questions far more interesting.

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Jul 03, 2020

Dear A,

It's great that you have a chance to talk with Bain partner.

Well, in general, you need to be lightly person on order to do so you need to google the most relevant information about your partner with whom you are going to talk about his background, his competence and focus, past projects. Maybe, you can even find any publications where he was an author. Through this, try to ask him the questions and find similarities with yourself: maybe you cam from the same school, town, or interested in the same topics. This will help you to establish both profesional and personal link.

Listen more than you speak, be an active listener. Partners normally like those person who are smart and listen to them. So make the partner feel great during this conversation. And I'm pretty sure that afterwards he will be eager to help you to get into the firm, which is your ultimate objective.

Hope it helps you,

If you need further tips, just drop me a message,

Good luck,

André

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Vlad
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replied on Feb 23, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

There may be 2 options:

  1. Personal coffee-chat that is usually scheduled if you are an experienced hire or if you have some valuable background
  2. Group coffee-chat

In the first option, it is mainly about your questions to the interviewer, thus try to ask the following:

  • Questions on the topics of your direct expertise (What types of projects, who are the partners, etc)
  • Asking for advice about your career and how consulting fit into it (! Only if they found you themselves. people love to give an advice)
  • Questions on the topics you are excited about that can demonstrate your intellectual capacity and help you make a good discussion (e.g. data science in consulting)
  • Questions that cause positive emotions and highlight consulting pros (e.g. Mck people)
  • Non-business questions (e.g. team retreats)

Don't ask the following:

  • Questions that can cause negative emotions (e.g. work hours)
  • Information you should learn before the interview (e.g. typical career path)
  • Questions that may show that you are unfamiliar with consulting work (Like are you specialized in strategy or operations?)

Group coffee chat is much easier since you just have to ask several questions. Although try to demonstrate your intellectual capacity sharing your experience and relevant facts

Be prepared and good luck!

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B
Expert
replied on Feb 23, 2018
NOT AVAILABLE

Hey anonymous,

I think you're seeing things using the wrong angle, you shouldn't focus on what questions to expect, but actually on what which questions to prepare (based on information you want to gather and clarify, image you want to convey) in order to have an fruitful coffee chat.

Bain representative is not going to be there to interview and you should aim to lead the conversation.

Best

Bruno

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Josephine on Feb 23, 2018
Thanks a lot on this
Francisco
Expert
replied on Nov 23, 2015
Bain & Co Manager and interviewer / Former A.T. Kearney / INSEAD MBA

Hi!

From what you described it seems like the consultant liked your profile so you're already on a good track.

I would use this conversation to understand the process in the office you're applying to, his view on the office and on the company overal. These three topics will help you understand practical details but also more qualitative info that would be harder to get from an HR person for instance.

Expect this interaction to be an informal conversation which means that you will probably also get some questions (I would ask them if I was him). I suggest that you browse the corporate website for the culture pillars and the vision 2020. Understanding the culture can help you understand/answer how you can be a fit and the vision will help you understand/answer why ATK is attractive.

Best regards,

Francisco

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Andrea
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 23, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

In general in a coffee chat the consultant will try to gauge (and report back) the following things:

  • Interest in consulting
  • Interest in firm
  • Relevancy of prior experience/readiness from day one
  • Fit with firm culture
  • Executive presence (credibility, eloquence, pithiness)

Since this has still to be a conversation I would, as other suggested, focus on what questions to ask vs. what questions you will be asked but make sure that doing so you give an opportunity to the interviewer to assess you in these areas. Also would strive to ask questions on things you can't find the answer for online or on forums and to keep questions very positive (e.g. don't ask what makes McK different from other consultancies? but ask what is unique in McK culture and what is the flair in your office?)

Hope it helps,

Andrea

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Josephine on Feb 23, 2018
Thanks a lot Mr Andrea
Anonymous replied on Dec 13, 2015

In addition to all the good points raised by Francisco, I would just advise you to be relaxed and friendly. The coffee chats are one way to size up the 'fit' of the candidate as well.

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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