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Francesco

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5

Unusual process: 7th interview at a MBB

Hello all,

An unusual question:

I did the 3 rounds (6 interviews) at one on the MBBs. 5 of the 6 interviews went very well, but not the last one (no help from the interviewer, hardly replied my questions, kept looking somewhere else and so on).

The HR has just told me that the 5 interviewers gave very good feedbacks and she would like me to have a 7th interview, which is unusual. I am abroad for 3 weeks so it would have to be by skype (a Tier 2 firm is waiting for my answer...)

Hence my questions:

- What does this unusual process mean?

- Should I agree to do it by skype? Or should I wait 3 weeks, negotiate with the tier 2 firm and have the interview when I come back?

- Do you have any tips on how to handle a consulting interview by skype?

- Tips on how to improve creativity in cases?

Thank you!

Marine

Hello all,

An unusual question:

I did the 3 rounds (6 interviews) at one on the MBBs. 5 of the 6 interviews went very well, but not the last one (no help from the interviewer, hardly replied my questions, kept looking somewhere else and so on).

The HR has just told me that the 5 interviewers gave very good feedbacks and she would like me to have a 7th interview, which is unusual. I am abroad for 3 weeks so it would have to be by skype (a Tier 2 firm is waiting for my answer...)

Hence my questions:

- What does this unusual process mean?

- Should I agree to do it by skype? Or should I wait 3 weeks, negotiate with the tier 2 firm and have the interview when I come back?

- Do you have any tips on how to handle a consulting interview by skype?

- Tips on how to improve creativity in cases?

Thank you!

Marine

(edited)

5 answers

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Hi Marine,

please find below the answers to your questions:

Q1: What does this unusual process mean?

As Vlad said, that’s not so unusual. It seems they are uncertain about your performance and would like to have a final interview to decide

Q2: Should I agree to do it by skype? Or should I wait 3 weeks, negotiate with the tier 2 firm and have the interview when I come back?

As a general rule, it’s easier to connect in face-to-face, so everything equal that could be an advantage. In your specific case, though, there could be some reasons in favour of the Skype interview:

  • Negotiation with the alternative may not be possible
  • You may not be in full shape for preparation in three weeks compared to your current level (my hypothesis is that since you nailed 5 out of 6 and didn't bump the sixth, you would not need a lot of further prep)

If these points are not a concern, I would probably go for the face-to-face interview.

Q3: Do you have any tips on how to handle a consulting interview by skype?

Good internet connection, being properly dressed and a quite environment are definitely required, as mentioned by Vlad. I will quote a previous answer I wrote with some further tips:

# 1. Put all the material that may be interesting for you to look during the interview (structures, tips for fit part, etc) attached to the wall in front of you – in this way you do not have to look for information on the go

# 2. Go the extra mile in the case when presenting what you think. This is important in face-to-face interview, but even more in phone interviews where the interviewer cannot see you or your notes. In short, this implies:

  1. Explain clearly upfront why you need some information. Eg don’t say “do we have information on price?”. Rather “In order to understand where the problem is on revenues, I would need to analyse price and volume for this segment. Do we have any information on how price and volume changed in the last year?”
  2. Present with numbers in a structured way each area you want to introduce. I would suggest to do that in two steps:
  • STEP 1: mention first the macro areas of your framework. “In order to help our client, I would like to focus on three main areas. Number 1 we may work on [FIRST TOPIC], Number 2 on [SECOND TOPIC], Number 3 on [THIRD TOPIC]. If this is fine for you, let me go deeper in each of them”
  • STEP 2: provide details for each macro point. “In area Number 1, this is what I would analyse. First, I would like to cover [FIRST STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; second, I would like to focus on [SECOND STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; next, I would like to work on [THIRD STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]. In area Number 2, this is what I would analyse. First,(…)”

# 3. Smile and show positive attitude – that's needed of course also in the face to face interview, but it is particular relevant on Skype interviews, as there is less interaction with the interviewer

Q4: Tips on how to improve creativity in cases?

I will quote a previous answer here as well. This is what I would suggest to improve creativity:

  1. Recap all the information received until that moment. This will give you time without sounding you don’t know where to go.
  2. Always try to identify 2-3 key elements that would constitute the fundamental pillars of your brainstorming. This requires knowing how to structure well. Some potential divisions are: Internal-External (eg reasons for an increase in costs); Current-New (eg product, customers, distribution channels); Financial-Non financial (eg benefits from a way to enter a market compared to another). Additional potential areas may be: long/short term; organic/inorganic; revenue/cost based. The important thing is that you stick to MECE.
  3. After having defined the key pillars, start to brainstorm for each of them. To improve brainstorming, best thing would be to read more cases (there are several good consulting MBA handbooks available for free online that could be a good source)

Bonus: you may ask for time after step 1 if needed, to think more on the appropriate structure to apply before brainstorming.

Let’s see a concrete example.

Interviewer: So, generally speaking, how would you decrease the cost of raw materials?

Step 1: Recap the situation

Interviewee: So, if I got it right, you would like now to move to the elements that could decrease this cost. If it is fine for you, I would like to do a small recap and then move through the key elements that can help to do so. At the beginning you asked me what brought a decline in profits. We have identified the problem lays in Product A, and in particular in the cost area. We then found out that the main increase in cost was related to raw material.

Interviewer: That’s right.

(Notice that you may have likely gained 30 seconds of additional time just summing up information)

Interviewee: Do you mind if I take 1 minute to think about it?

Interviewer: Please take your time.

Step 2: Present the key pillars of the structure

Interviewee: Thanks; I believe there are two key areas to decrease the cost of raw material; we may decrease the cost of each unit, or we may decrease the number of units we buy. I would like now to go a bit deeper in these two components.

(Notice that even if you are brainstorming, you are first putting down a list of the MECE pillars of a structure. This is fundamental to brainstorm correctly)

Step 3: Brainstorm elements inside each pillar

Interviewee: Well, in order to decrease the cost per unit we may do a couple of things, keeping in mind we want to maintain revenues at the same level: number one, decrease the quality of the units that we use; number two, negotiate with the supplier; number three, find another supplier.

In order to decrease the number of units, we may do two things; we may implement a more efficient method to use them, so that we would have to buy fewer of them. We may also substitute some of the units with something else that may be cheaper and with the same effect on the final product.

Of course, the best way to do correctly step 2 and 3 would be to have good structures already in place and/or have read a lot of cases, to backup your references.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Marine,

please find below the answers to your questions:

Q1: What does this unusual process mean?

As Vlad said, that’s not so unusual. It seems they are uncertain about your performance and would like to have a final interview to decide

Q2: Should I agree to do it by skype? Or should I wait 3 weeks, negotiate with the tier 2 firm and have the interview when I come back?

As a general rule, it’s easier to connect in face-to-face, so everything equal that could be an advantage. In your specific case, though, there could be some reasons in favour of the Skype interview:

  • Negotiation with the alternative may not be possible
  • You may not be in full shape for preparation in three weeks compared to your current level (my hypothesis is that since you nailed 5 out of 6 and didn't bump the sixth, you would not need a lot of further prep)

If these points are not a concern, I would probably go for the face-to-face interview.

Q3: Do you have any tips on how to handle a consulting interview by skype?

Good internet connection, being properly dressed and a quite environment are definitely required, as mentioned by Vlad. I will quote a previous answer I wrote with some further tips:

# 1. Put all the material that may be interesting for you to look during the interview (structures, tips for fit part, etc) attached to the wall in front of you – in this way you do not have to look for information on the go

# 2. Go the extra mile in the case when presenting what you think. This is important in face-to-face interview, but even more in phone interviews where the interviewer cannot see you or your notes. In short, this implies:

  1. Explain clearly upfront why you need some information. Eg don’t say “do we have information on price?”. Rather “In order to understand where the problem is on revenues, I would need to analyse price and volume for this segment. Do we have any information on how price and volume changed in the last year?”
  2. Present with numbers in a structured way each area you want to introduce. I would suggest to do that in two steps:
  • STEP 1: mention first the macro areas of your framework. “In order to help our client, I would like to focus on three main areas. Number 1 we may work on [FIRST TOPIC], Number 2 on [SECOND TOPIC], Number 3 on [THIRD TOPIC]. If this is fine for you, let me go deeper in each of them”
  • STEP 2: provide details for each macro point. “In area Number 1, this is what I would analyse. First, I would like to cover [FIRST STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; second, I would like to focus on [SECOND STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; next, I would like to work on [THIRD STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]. In area Number 2, this is what I would analyse. First,(…)”

# 3. Smile and show positive attitude – that's needed of course also in the face to face interview, but it is particular relevant on Skype interviews, as there is less interaction with the interviewer

Q4: Tips on how to improve creativity in cases?

I will quote a previous answer here as well. This is what I would suggest to improve creativity:

  1. Recap all the information received until that moment. This will give you time without sounding you don’t know where to go.
  2. Always try to identify 2-3 key elements that would constitute the fundamental pillars of your brainstorming. This requires knowing how to structure well. Some potential divisions are: Internal-External (eg reasons for an increase in costs); Current-New (eg product, customers, distribution channels); Financial-Non financial (eg benefits from a way to enter a market compared to another). Additional potential areas may be: long/short term; organic/inorganic; revenue/cost based. The important thing is that you stick to MECE.
  3. After having defined the key pillars, start to brainstorm for each of them. To improve brainstorming, best thing would be to read more cases (there are several good consulting MBA handbooks available for free online that could be a good source)

Bonus: you may ask for time after step 1 if needed, to think more on the appropriate structure to apply before brainstorming.

Let’s see a concrete example.

Interviewer: So, generally speaking, how would you decrease the cost of raw materials?

Step 1: Recap the situation

Interviewee: So, if I got it right, you would like now to move to the elements that could decrease this cost. If it is fine for you, I would like to do a small recap and then move through the key elements that can help to do so. At the beginning you asked me what brought a decline in profits. We have identified the problem lays in Product A, and in particular in the cost area. We then found out that the main increase in cost was related to raw material.

Interviewer: That’s right.

(Notice that you may have likely gained 30 seconds of additional time just summing up information)

Interviewee: Do you mind if I take 1 minute to think about it?

Interviewer: Please take your time.

Step 2: Present the key pillars of the structure

Interviewee: Thanks; I believe there are two key areas to decrease the cost of raw material; we may decrease the cost of each unit, or we may decrease the number of units we buy. I would like now to go a bit deeper in these two components.

(Notice that even if you are brainstorming, you are first putting down a list of the MECE pillars of a structure. This is fundamental to brainstorm correctly)

Step 3: Brainstorm elements inside each pillar

Interviewee: Well, in order to decrease the cost per unit we may do a couple of things, keeping in mind we want to maintain revenues at the same level: number one, decrease the quality of the units that we use; number two, negotiate with the supplier; number three, find another supplier.

In order to decrease the number of units, we may do two things; we may implement a more efficient method to use them, so that we would have to buy fewer of them. We may also substitute some of the units with something else that may be cheaper and with the same effect on the final product.

Of course, the best way to do correctly step 2 and 3 would be to have good structures already in place and/or have read a lot of cases, to backup your references.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

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Hi,

It's not completely unusual - it happens sometimes when the firm is not sure about you.

1) First of all - take as much time as possible to prep. It's your last chance. If you are travelling for 3 weeks - have your interview later and prepare as much as possible. The bar will be very high for you

2) A video interview is a bit harder since you have less personal contact. In your particular case, I would do my best to have a live interview.

3) Negotiate with a tier 2 firm to wait. Tier 1 offer is definitely more important, especially when you are almost there.

4) If you still want to have an interview on skype, here are some general recommendations:

  1. First of all, check whether they are providing a conference room in a local office
  2. If not - find a place with good internet speed and test it multiple times before the interview. Also, think of nice room / proper light for the video conference if you do it from home
  3. You should be dressed the same as for the regular interview
  4. Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions if there are problems with connection or you were not able to hear something
  5. Don't forget to look at the camera and smile - same as you do on a regular interview

Best

Hi,

It's not completely unusual - it happens sometimes when the firm is not sure about you.

1) First of all - take as much time as possible to prep. It's your last chance. If you are travelling for 3 weeks - have your interview later and prepare as much as possible. The bar will be very high for you

2) A video interview is a bit harder since you have less personal contact. In your particular case, I would do my best to have a live interview.

3) Negotiate with a tier 2 firm to wait. Tier 1 offer is definitely more important, especially when you are almost there.

4) If you still want to have an interview on skype, here are some general recommendations:

  1. First of all, check whether they are providing a conference room in a local office
  2. If not - find a place with good internet speed and test it multiple times before the interview. Also, think of nice room / proper light for the video conference if you do it from home
  3. You should be dressed the same as for the regular interview
  4. Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions if there are problems with connection or you were not able to hear something
  5. Don't forget to look at the camera and smile - same as you do on a regular interview

Best

(edited)

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These things happen if some doubt remains and they want to test a bit further. The Tier 2 will wait for you. so feel free to do it on your terms.

These things happen if some doubt remains and they want to test a bit further. The Tier 2 will wait for you. so feel free to do it on your terms.

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Hi Marine,

  • I guess you're a bit surprised, but this happens from time to time when they see your potential, though not 100% sure about your candidature yet. Consider this as a good sign to do your best in the 7th interview and to convince them to give you an offer!
  • If you have an opportunity to have a face-to-face interview, I would recommend doing so. Personal meetings are more comprehensive, emotional. You have a chance to perform better, considering your live presence.
  • Again, if you have an opportunity to negotiate with the tier 2 firm, do so. Serious decisions should not be taken hastily, especially when you're about to get your dream offer.
  • In case you still have the interview by skype, prepare the following:

- Check your Internet connection carefully 15 min before the meeting, also check the sound and the camera because you won't have time to fix them if you do have some issues;

- Look professional. Even though it is an online interview, you should dress up just like for a live one;

- Get well-rested one day before to show up stress-free. Smile and be confident;

- What you can also do is having notes right in front of you. They might help you out at some point while the interviewer won't see them.

  • Imagine that you are playing a solving case role game. Consider the interviewer your client, ask good clarifying questions to define the final structure, and drive the case confidently.

Was this helpful? Do you need any further help in preparation?

GB

Hi Marine,

  • I guess you're a bit surprised, but this happens from time to time when they see your potential, though not 100% sure about your candidature yet. Consider this as a good sign to do your best in the 7th interview and to convince them to give you an offer!
  • If you have an opportunity to have a face-to-face interview, I would recommend doing so. Personal meetings are more comprehensive, emotional. You have a chance to perform better, considering your live presence.
  • Again, if you have an opportunity to negotiate with the tier 2 firm, do so. Serious decisions should not be taken hastily, especially when you're about to get your dream offer.
  • In case you still have the interview by skype, prepare the following:

- Check your Internet connection carefully 15 min before the meeting, also check the sound and the camera because you won't have time to fix them if you do have some issues;

- Look professional. Even though it is an online interview, you should dress up just like for a live one;

- Get well-rested one day before to show up stress-free. Smile and be confident;

- What you can also do is having notes right in front of you. They might help you out at some point while the interviewer won't see them.

  • Imagine that you are playing a solving case role game. Consider the interviewer your client, ask good clarifying questions to define the final structure, and drive the case confidently.

Was this helpful? Do you need any further help in preparation?

GB

Dear Marine,

7th interview isn't an unusual, most probably partner are not sure about your performance. So what you can do is to shine bright at your upcoming interview.

Of course, face to face interview is better, but now, during the COVID time skype interview is also quite a common practice. So to keep yourself toned, I wouldn't go for 3 weeks break.

For skype interview you have already recieved lots of recommendations and advices, from my side I want to stress the following: good internet connection, calm and quiet atmosphere around, good light and sound.

Wish you best of luck,

André

Dear Marine,

7th interview isn't an unusual, most probably partner are not sure about your performance. So what you can do is to shine bright at your upcoming interview.

Of course, face to face interview is better, but now, during the COVID time skype interview is also quite a common practice. So to keep yourself toned, I wouldn't go for 3 weeks break.

For skype interview you have already recieved lots of recommendations and advices, from my side I want to stress the following: good internet connection, calm and quiet atmosphere around, good light and sound.

Wish you best of luck,

André

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