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:
- Write down your answers. Use bullets to structure them.
- 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.
- 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:
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.