Personal Experience Question and Personal Fit

personal experience interview Personal Fit
New answer on Jan 21, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 20, 2020

Dear community,

I have struggles to explain why I don't want to continue my last job and I would be more than happy if anyone can help me.

This is my story: during my last semester at University some fellow students and I decided to start a startup after graduation. So, for six months, we were working on it (building a MVP, applying for funds, etc. ). As we didn't get funded and the team split, I was forced to find a new career. After some time thinking about my future career, I came across management consulting and was immediately interested in the way consultants work. Now I am about to have interviews at consulting firms.

What would be the best answer for the Question, why I don't want to continue with the startup? Also, if this was my biggest "failure" so far, how can I explain why the startup failed without saying that team was not a good fit?

Thank you so much!

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Jan 20, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

I would strongly recommend to focus your answer on the future, not on the past! So the precondition for this is for you to do some introspection:

  • What are your mid- to long-term objectives?
  • What kind of professional do you want to become?
  • Why is consulting in general, and the target company in particular, a great platform to achieve these objectives?

On why you don't want to continue with the startup - just be honest and clearly state that it is not an option anymore. But make sure to outline and highlight the learnings for your personal growth that you could draw from this experience, and how it will benefit you when embarking on your consulting career.

General rule: don't try to guess what they "want to hear"! Just do some HONEST THINKING on why you want to do consulting, what it will help you achieving (other than "I am fascinated by the work"), and what qualities you can bring to the table.

Cheers, Sidi

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 20, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

for the interviewer it will probably be clear why you don’t want to go on with your previous startup (in the end, many startups fail. And if the interviewer asks, you can definitely say it did not work out). However, the interviewer may ask why you don’t want to work on a new startup. You probably have your reasons for that, but in general possible reasons to work for a consulting company related to elements missing in a startup are:

  • Presence of experienced teammates from which you can learn
  • Opportunity to see multiple sectors
  • Opportunity to have impact on important clients from the beginning

In terms of the reasons why the startup failed, I would focus on your personal improvements without relating to the weaknesses of the team – otherwise the interviewer may perceive you are justifying the end result blaming your teammates. Whatever the possible improvements, be sure to mention how you are working/have learned on those points to get better – basically as you would do for the question “Which are your weaknesses” (you can find more on that at the following link - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-are-your-weaknesses-317)

Best,

Francesco

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Daniel
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 20, 2020
McKinsey / ex-Interviewer at McKinsey / I will coach you to rock those interviews

You can formulate your answer in a positive manner by selling it as going beyond of what you could learn in a start-up environment, i.e. you are striving for more (for example, getting to know how big businesses work, working in complex organisational structures, etc.)

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 20, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

You can tell the story in two modes:

  • You are running from something
  • You are trying to achieve something

As you can guess, only the second mode works! No need to talk about the failure - just talk about what you would like to achieve with consulting

Re reasons why the startup failed if they ask - it's totally fine to say that its failed because of the team mismatch. 75% startups fail each round of financing, and on the first rounds, team is one of the top 3 reasons
Best!

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Jessica
Expert
replied on Jan 20, 2020
Oliver Wyman | University of Oxford | MBA | Experienced Career Coach

Hi Anonymous,

I like to view the fit interview as a marketing exercise; it is your opportunity to show that you are a great "product" that fits the needs of your potential employer, and, ultimately, to convince them to "purchase" you.

As with marketing any traditional product, a clear and consistent brand story is an effective tool to make you, the "product", both attractive and memorable to the interviewer/s. While marketing certainly isn't about lying, it is about telling a specifically honed version of the truth to make your product that much more appealing. I am quite sure that your past experience could be reshaped into an effective brand story that shows exposure, growth, and self-awareness (which I am sure in reality it does!) - an interesting narrative to consulting firms.

It can be quite challenging to build a personal brand and story on your own, so do feel free to contact me if you need any further advice on this.

Jessica

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Luca
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 20, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello,

It's completely fine to say something like "I have been always interested into management consulting but during last year I came across the opportunity to start a startup with some colleagues". Bear in mind that:

  1. Startup experiences are a big plus for consulting profiles, especially if you were the founder. Entrepreneurial drive is one of the core dimension to evaluate you as candidate.
  2. A "failure" like this is not always seen as something negative. It depends on the culture of your country but in some countries is considered a strong and positive experience. More over, 6 months can not be considered a significant failure

I would just suggest to prepare a story telling in order to justify the failure of the startup idea, they will for sure investigate and ask about it. There could be a lot of different casuses, try to choose something that gives you an important "takeaway" to improve.

Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss it further.

Luca

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 21, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

There is nothing wrong in your story, so don´t be afraid to tell it.

Try to to structure the narrative arround what you learned there and the valuable skills you adquired -and, cherry to the cake, how would this make you a good consultant-.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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