How to interview for senior management role?

Senior position
New answer on May 08, 2020
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 06, 2020

Hi everyone. Many people know or have access to online guides on interviewing for positions from entry level to Manager roles. But what is the assessment method for senior management roles (e.g. 1 level below Partner)?

Aside from content knowledge and project management skills, I think demonstrating sales capabilities would be key. How do interviewers assess this among candidates coming in as Principal/ Senior Manager / Director?

What else will be assessed? Any input from senior leaders would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Raj
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updated an answer on May 08, 2020
Strategy&| ex-interviewer | 78+ coached |95% success @ MBB, S&, RB, LEK, OW, Big4 [SUCCESS STORIES BELOW]| engineer

I helped experienced hires in the past week go for Principal / Director positions.

I'll answer this by splitting in terms of What is Common with the Manager and below process, and then What is bespoke for the Senior Level process

In common

  1. Expect fit questions
  2. Case interviews still the norm and as many rounds of these
  3. Multiple rounds

Different

  1. Partners / Principals for the cases (vs. Manager/Principals for juniors)
  2. More focus on fit questions
  3. Expected industry knowledge or niche functional experience
  4. Sales experience and examples of clients you could target or bring
  5. Focus on competency

There will be certain skills you will want to accentuate in the fit / competency rounds if going for Manager plus, such as :

  • Stakeholder management - upwards and downwards mgmt, handling tricky clients, managing scope creep
  • Sales acumen - skilled at selling, winning work, at seeking sell-on opportunities within client organisations, ability to influence peers to support sales activities
  • Project Management - can manage a team and push for delivery i.e. a safe pair of hands

You may surprised about the cases still being there. The reason being even though you're a senior guy, they have to know that given some of the junior staff you'll be able to guide them through their work, if not know every little detail no matter what kind of project you get hit with in the future.

Hope that helps. Ping me if any questions

Raj

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Ian
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updated an answer on May 07, 2020
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Hi,

In addition to the standard expectations (MECE/structured thinking, clear comms, analytical ability, etc.). You should be prepared to demonstrate the following:

1) Project scoping + planning (i.e. timeline, resourcing, business case etc)

2) Project management (i.e. running teams, setting up processes, sticking to budgets/timelines, etc.)

3) Stakeholder management (i.e. exec-level exposure)

4) Proposals + Sales (i.e. contract winning, how to write/structure proposals, etc)

5) Expertise (i.e. you are a true expert in whatever field/area you're coming from, not a generalist)

(edited)

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Emily
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replied on May 06, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

First, if you interview for a senior role, you are likely to meet a lot more senior people than the junior roles. E.g. for junior level, there are typically 2 or 3 rounds, with 2 interviewers each round, and the interviewers are a mix of manager/principal/partner. But for senior roles, you can meet up more than 6 partners.

Second, for senior interviews, you likely would have fewer cases interviews. You would still have in the first 1 or 2 interviews, but afterwards, the interviews are a lot more focused on the experience and the fit. You would be asked more in depth about how you handle stakeholders, leading teams etc.

Hope it helps,

Emily

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Norah
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replied on May 06, 2020
I am here to get you an offer! | Got 8 offers including the 3 MBBs and non MBB like Wyman, Roland Berger, Strategy&.

Hello Anonymous,
Thanks for reaching out - that's a great question

For principal/ senior management roles, they will definitely assess you on typical criteria such as structure & communication skills. Furthermore, they will have discussions with you in order to assess:
1. Project management skills: situations where you had to manage tough clients / contain the pace of work and workload for your team / manage expectations of your client and partner
2. Team management skills: your process to develop your team members (most juniors to most senior), how often, and how you deliver feedback...
3. Ideas & insight providing: a situation where you handled content complexity, clients who were on top of their game
4. Relationship development: How you build and maintain trusted advisor relationship with your sponsors
5. Some companies will ask for references (especially in the UK and the US) from previous clients/partners but it's rare in the rest of Europe
I hope that helps - do not hesitate to send me a private message with more questions.
Norah

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Anonymous B on May 06, 2020
Thanks a lot super useful!
Anonymous A on May 06, 2020
Thanks very much, Norah! These are good criteria you have laid out. I believe I can gather some Partners and clients who can be my references. My follow-up question is: is that enough to win the job? Do they have additional/more stringent assessments, e.g. should I prepare a list of ready-to-sell clients and type of projects that can be done? Thanks! Your replies (and any other senior leaders) are much appreciated by many here.
Norah on May 07, 2020
Sure, you can DM me to answer these questions more in detail. No need to prepare ready-to-sell clients and type of projects that can be done
Francesco
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replied on May 07, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

I helped a couple of experienced hires (Principal level) in the past months. The basic structure of the interview still involves fit + cases + your questions. The main difference is that in the fit part you will cover some elements in more details and with different expectations, such as the following:

  • Motivation for shifting from your current position/career path
  • Examples of leading team/launching products
  • Example of managing difficult clients/stakeholders
  • Sales experiences/customers you may bring
  • Industry knowledge/experience in your area of specialization

Also, you may not have cases in all the rounds – some may be fit only

As mentioned by Emily, it is also likely you will interview only with other Principals and Partners.

Best,

Francesco

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Anton
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replied on May 07, 2020
FREE 1st session in November | From Lawyer to MBB | Top in FIT | 10x your structuring skills | Message to get Free Prep Checklist

Hi,

Please do not underestimate the importance of problem solving part/ cases. I have seen numerous senior candidates fail on this (even partner level candidates).

Good luck in your preparation!

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Clara
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replied on May 07, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

It does change, but not fully:

  • There is still a business case
  • FIT is more extense and relevant:
    • Particularly deep-diving on:
      • Why the change
      • What you can add
  • The bar is higher, since you will need to demostrate a lot with your examples.

At the end, you need to demostrate that you can hit the ground running.

Finally, I´ve coached two candidates for McK and Bain senior roles (EM equivalent) so feel free to ping me if you want to discuss.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Vlad
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replied on May 06, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

You would be surprised but you'll still have cases. However, the focus will be shifted. You have to tell:

  • How you would structure the teams
  • What will be the timeline
  • What will be the deliverables
  • etc

Best

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Raj gave the best answer

Raj

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Strategy&| ex-interviewer | 78+ coached |95% success @ MBB, S&, RB, LEK, OW, Big4 [SUCCESS STORIES BELOW]| engineer
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