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Interview talking tempo / speed

Anonymous A

Hi everyone, going through MBB final rounds now and noticed something very different from first rounds - the Partners tend to speak a lot faster, ask more questions, and jump around more. With regards to this, the question I have is, would you recommend:

1. Following pace of the partners and move faster? Imagine this would be "client friendly" and would keep the pace of the conversation. Partners also seemed a little impatient when I stalled a little.

2. Continue to maintain your pace / try to slow the Partner down - will partners see this as a positive thing? I.e. in a real client setting, would this be the right thing to do?

Keen to hear your thoughts!

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Andrea
Expert
replied on 04/15/2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

apologies for the typical consultant/lawyer caveat here: it depends on the specific situation. You can start with approach #2, because that clearly has some advantages for the interviewee (more time to think, ability to come across as polished, etc) but if you see that the partner in front of you is becoming impatient, then quickly switch to #1. But by the time you do it, it might be too late. For that reason, if you do not have a problem with a fast pace and you still come across as credible and polished, I would bias towards #1 from the beginning.

hope it helps,

andrea

Vlad replied on 04/15/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I think it just happens naturally since the partners are more confident:

  • In general
  • In the case
  • In this particular situation (Authority, older, etc)

You should have the pace that is comfortable for you but have in mind you can get the feedback that you are not driving the case enough or that you have low energy. Thus:

  1. Practice to speed up the way you are solving the case
  2. If you don't have enough time, it is always fine to ask the interviewer in a polite manner to repeat what he just said. Basically, you have no choice.
  3. Another way is to increase the speed of taking the notes. Use acronyms, and practice to write short descriptions.
  4. Make a recap - usually, I recommend making a recap after asking clarifying questions, but in your case, it may be beneficial to make a recap right in the beginning. "Do I Understand correctly that..."
  5. Never stop using the structures. Make an initial structure, present the structure (literally, rotate your paper and show your structure) and then dig deeper using the new structures. If you get stuck - make a structure. If you need to isolate the problem - make a structure. And go through the structure as fast as possible, trying to narrow down to the problem part of it.

Best!

Francesco replied on 04/17/2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1700+) | Ex BCG | 850+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

that’s pretty normal and potentially structured to see how you act under pressure. Candidates at final rounds mostly know how to crack cases (they have already done one-two rounds of interviews), thus partners pay more attention to you alignment with the company and communication. Looking how you react under pressure/under impatience is a way to test your communication in a common scenario for a consultant (dealing with impatient clients).

They key for your reaction is to maintain confidence and show you can proceed with your analysis without feeling too much pressure. Thus, you should not necessarily adapt to a faster communication at the first signs of urgency from the other side. It could be a simple test to see how you react. And in general, it is better to keep control, go slightly slower and provide a correct analysis then speed up, show anxiety, and provide wrong/unstructured analysis.

The best way to gain additional time/slow down is to:

  • Use ice breakers for challenging questions (eg rather than keeping silent 10 seconds say right after asked “That’s an interesting question”, even if you don’t know how to structure on the spot)
  • Recap the situation until that moment
  • Ask a minute of time to structure if needed

Finally, although as mentioned you should not jump to speed up the process immediately, you should also be able to read the messages from the interviewers: if you get repeated signals you should go faster, or concentrate on a particular area, it would make sense to follow the hint.

Best,

Francesco