I wonder what kind of questions will leave a particularly strong impression when interviewing with consulting firms? Any thoughts?
What are good questions to asks at the end of the interview?
There is a whole lot of great questions you can ask. My best advice is to really think through what interests you most about the job, the firm, or the industry! If you have a particular interest (industry sector, nonprofit area, social engagement, etc.) you can ask if there are touch points/adjacent areas in the firm you could explore. Also, make sure to relate your interests and questions to your background and/or career/life objectives.
That being said, here are a couple of example questions – but by no means exhaustive:
- "Can you tell me about your background, and in particular how you ended up as a [company name] consultant?" (if the interviewer has a rather exotic professional/educational background)
- "I’d be interested to hear what your most challenging case has been thus far in your career?"
- "What do you think are the biggest misperceptions that applicants have about consulting?"
- "I’m really interested in [particular interest, such as public sector consulting or renewable energy]. I’d be interested to hear what you know about that area at [company name]"
- "I’ve heard from various people who say your firm is [something good about the company] but also that [something bad about the company]. To what extent is this impression accurate?"
- "If the interviewer has enough tenure: From your position, how do you think the economic cycles have affected the consulting business over the years?"
- "What was your perspective on [company name] before you came in, and how was that changed in your time there?"
- "If you could recommend 2 books that all prospective management consultants should read, what would those be?"
- "When you think back to your university days, what would be the 2 or 3 things that you wish you’d learned that would have better prepared you for the job today?"
I quite like to ask questions that give an opportunity for the interviewer to talk a little bit about themselves.. After probably 45mins of you talking, now is the chance to listen to the interviewer and get to know him/her better.
- do you specialise in a particular sector?
- best project so far?
- any favourite client?
- do you see yourself in consulting in the next few years?
I like to ask interviewers:
What criteria is the success (or lack of) of a consultant measured by?
In two years time - how will my performance be evaluated?
The main objective is to have a good conversation and highlight your intellectual capacity and curiosity. Thus:
It is ok to ask:
- Questions that cause positive emotions and highlight consulting pros (e.g. Mck people)
- Questions on the topics you are excited about (e.g. data science)
- Non-business questions (e.g. team retreats)
It's not ok to ask:
- Questions that can cause negative emotions (e.g. work hours)
- Information you should learn before the interview (e.g. typical career path)
- Questions that may show that you are unfamiliar with consulting work (Like are you specialized in strategy or operations?)
Be prepared and good luck!