Required Excel Skills for a Consulting Internship

Excel Excel case study
New answer on Jun 08, 2020
5 Answers
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Theresa asked on Feb 29, 2020

Before I start my internship in a consultancy I would like to improve and practice my excel skills. Which excel commands are required and needed? Insights and hints are highly appreciated :-) Thank you!

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Anonymous replied on Jun 08, 2020

Dear A,

Congratulations to your offer!

It would be helpful for you to learn the business-focused Excel features.

In business, about 80% of your work will come from 20% of the functionality of the Microsoft Excel.

The core skills of a competent business Excel user are something like:

  • Formatting & basic formulas
  • Mouse-free Excel navigation
  • Vlookups & conditional statements
  • Data analysis - filtering, sorting, and analyzing data
  • Data visualization - tables, charts, and dual axis charts
  • What-if-analysis
  • Pivot tables

If you can do these things, you’ll outperform 95% of people in the workplace.

To learn these concepts, you could:

  • Learn the concepts online for free
  • Take an online course

If you’re looking for something free, I’d recommend Googling & Youtube-ing those topics on my list. Tons of free material online. On Udemy you can also find some courses.

If you’re short on time, take a short business-focused online course.

I’d recommend the following business-focused course focused on mastering the 20% of functions that make up 80% of Excel work.



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replied on Feb 29, 2020
Former Bain (4+ years, UK & Italy) | Ardian (France) | Specialized in Case Structuring, Case Cracking and Non-verbal Comm.

Hi Theresa,

excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants. Good to hear you want to practice them. Please find below a list of the most popular commands. I would suggest you to follow some online courses and practice the commands on a dataset.

- 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

Sources/ Datasets:

There are literraly tons of online tutorials, I personally used:
- Microsoft Support:
- Kubicle: (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Good luck with your preparation!

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Theresa on Feb 29, 2020

Thank you very much!

Content Creator
replied on Feb 29, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello Theresa,

FIrst of all congratulations!:)

There are no advanced excel skills needed, the most complicate thing that you will use is a pivot table (no macros, if you were wondering). Being able to use excel in consulting is more about being really fast, using as many shortcuts as you can (forget about the mouse).

In terms of formulas, the most used and "complex" are VLOOKUP, ADDRESS, INDIRECT; MATCH, OFFSET and their combinations.


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Theresa on Feb 29, 2020

Thank you a lot!

replied on Mar 01, 2020
McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge

Hello Theresa,

COngrats for getting your internship!
I would suggest to focus on the following elements:

  • Pivot table - very crucial to sort through large data sets
  • Basic functions (AVERAGE, SUM, etc)
  • Conditional formatting - for heat map, etc

Hope it helps.

Kind regards,

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Content Creator
replied on Feb 29, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hi Theresa, congrats for that intership!

It is great that you want to use the time to prep. Excel is for sure a great idea -it will save you a lot if you are comfortable with it-, but don´t forget either about PPTX, particularly ThinkCell.

Regarding Excel, nothing difficult:

  • Pivots
  • Formulas -from the basics ones to medium ones such as INDEX MATCH, OFFSET at most.
  • Macros only if you really have a lot of time and interest in it. I only used it once.

Good luck!



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