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8

What are the best preparation materials and how to prepare the whole journey in the most efficient way?

Hi, everyone, I just applied for a few consulting companies this week, and I plan to apply more positions at consulting companies(Tier 3, Tier 2, and Tier 1) in London/Shanghai after i feel fully-prepared in the coming 2-3 months. I've been checking tips for how to prepare the whole journey, but there are still some questions i have to ask here :

1. What are the best preparation materials for PST (for example), Case Interviews, FIT and etc? Case in Point may be outdated? Some free online cases might not guarantee their quality? etc... So, could someone recommend some high-quality materials?

2. What is the most efficient plan? Like the overal plan, how many hours should be devoted to which part, and how to prepare for each part, etc

3. One of my target company is McKinsey, i heard from a recruiter from McKinsey that they've replaced the PST test with the game accessment already in London office, could someone tell me more about this game accessment and advise me how to prepare for it? Plus, except London, does Shanghai office has also replaced the PST test?

4. If i apply for Shanghai office, will the interview be carried out in English or Mandarin?

Thanks guys, would be appreciate if you could help!

Hi, everyone, I just applied for a few consulting companies this week, and I plan to apply more positions at consulting companies(Tier 3, Tier 2, and Tier 1) in London/Shanghai after i feel fully-prepared in the coming 2-3 months. I've been checking tips for how to prepare the whole journey, but there are still some questions i have to ask here :

1. What are the best preparation materials for PST (for example), Case Interviews, FIT and etc? Case in Point may be outdated? Some free online cases might not guarantee their quality? etc... So, could someone recommend some high-quality materials?

2. What is the most efficient plan? Like the overal plan, how many hours should be devoted to which part, and how to prepare for each part, etc

3. One of my target company is McKinsey, i heard from a recruiter from McKinsey that they've replaced the PST test with the game accessment already in London office, could someone tell me more about this game accessment and advise me how to prepare for it? Plus, except London, does Shanghai office has also replaced the PST test?

4. If i apply for Shanghai office, will the interview be carried out in English or Mandarin?

Thanks guys, would be appreciate if you could help!

8 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer

Dear A,

I would recommend you the following algorithm:

1. Identify the companies interesting for you. Many people are interested mainly in MBB, you can start defining the exact list of companies interesting for you for the internship
2. Check the requirements and application details.
3. Start your preparation with reading Case In Point by Cosentino for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is.
4. Start learning and practicing the cases. Some you can find in Case Library and practice it with your partner or experience coach.
5. Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS


Once you feel you are not improving anymore, I would recommend you to take an expert coach for structured feedback and polishing your own performance.


Hope this helps,

If you need any further help or advice, feel free to reach out

Best,

André

Dear A,

I would recommend you the following algorithm:

1. Identify the companies interesting for you. Many people are interested mainly in MBB, you can start defining the exact list of companies interesting for you for the internship
2. Check the requirements and application details.
3. Start your preparation with reading Case In Point by Cosentino for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is.
4. Start learning and practicing the cases. Some you can find in Case Library and practice it with your partner or experience coach.
5. Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS


Once you feel you are not improving anymore, I would recommend you to take an expert coach for structured feedback and polishing your own performance.


Hope this helps,

If you need any further help or advice, feel free to reach out

Best,

André

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Hi Lulu,

I replied to your questions below.

1. What are the best preparation materials for PST (for example), Case Interviews, FIT and etc? Case in Point may be outdated? Some free online cases might not guarantee their quality? etc... So, could someone recommend some high-quality materials?

2. What is the most efficient plan? Like the overal plan, how many hours should be devoted to which part, and how to prepare for each part, etc

I would recommend the following steps to organize your preparation:

  1. Identify the companies interesting for you. Many people are interested mainly in MBB, you can start defining the exact list of companies interesting for you for the internship
  2. Define a calendar for your preparation. Check if there is any deadline for the internship applications. Then identify how many hours you have before that and allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day, working on the points below. Many people need 100+ hours to be ready before the interview so you can keep that as a benchmark
  3. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  4. Start reading good MBA Consulting Handbooks – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. PrepLounge also has a Case Library that you can use. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb better the information with constant learning.
  5. After the first 5-10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioural part and the case part. The case part should also cover market sizing, mental math and graph analysis.
  6. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a consulting application
  7. At least three weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals for your target companies. You can find some tips on how to do that here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176
  8. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using support from experts to strengthen your performance
  9. Before the interview, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression.

3. One of my target company is McKinsey, i heard from a recruiter from McKinsey that they've replaced the PST test with the game accessment already in London office, could someone tell me more about this game accessment and advise me how to prepare for it? Plus, except London, does Shanghai office has also replaced the PST test?

I have some specific material to prepare on the Imbellus, please feel free to PM me for more information. Until end of 2019, Shanghai still had the PST – not sure if they changed in the very last months

4. If i apply for Shanghai office, will the interview be carried out in English or Mandarin?

Normally interviews are always in local language, plus they may check your English with some questions

Best,

Francesco

Hi Lulu,

I replied to your questions below.

1. What are the best preparation materials for PST (for example), Case Interviews, FIT and etc? Case in Point may be outdated? Some free online cases might not guarantee their quality? etc... So, could someone recommend some high-quality materials?

2. What is the most efficient plan? Like the overal plan, how many hours should be devoted to which part, and how to prepare for each part, etc

I would recommend the following steps to organize your preparation:

  1. Identify the companies interesting for you. Many people are interested mainly in MBB, you can start defining the exact list of companies interesting for you for the internship
  2. Define a calendar for your preparation. Check if there is any deadline for the internship applications. Then identify how many hours you have before that and allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day, working on the points below. Many people need 100+ hours to be ready before the interview so you can keep that as a benchmark
  3. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  4. Start reading good MBA Consulting Handbooks – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. PrepLounge also has a Case Library that you can use. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb better the information with constant learning.
  5. After the first 5-10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioural part and the case part. The case part should also cover market sizing, mental math and graph analysis.
  6. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a consulting application
  7. At least three weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals for your target companies. You can find some tips on how to do that here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176
  8. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using support from experts to strengthen your performance
  9. Before the interview, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression.

3. One of my target company is McKinsey, i heard from a recruiter from McKinsey that they've replaced the PST test with the game accessment already in London office, could someone tell me more about this game accessment and advise me how to prepare for it? Plus, except London, does Shanghai office has also replaced the PST test?

I have some specific material to prepare on the Imbellus, please feel free to PM me for more information. Until end of 2019, Shanghai still had the PST – not sure if they changed in the very last months

4. If i apply for Shanghai office, will the interview be carried out in English or Mandarin?

Normally interviews are always in local language, plus they may check your English with some questions

Best,

Francesco

Thanks a lot for your kindly and useful help, Francesco — Lulu on Feb 25, 2020

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Hi,

PST is indeed being replaced with Imbellus:

  • There are 2 tasks, 1 hour for each
  • One is based on logic, another one is closer to the online game (Tower defense)
  • Both tasks are super easy and an hour is more than enough
  • The key thing is to read carefully the descriptions

I believe there is no way to prepare, so just relax and have a good rest before that

One thing to know - it's not about winning the game, it's about how you do that. ML algorithms literally track the movements of your cursor and compare it vs the best consultants

For overall prep I recommend the following approach:

1) Start with "Case in point" book - you can download this book for free everywhere. It's not the best guide on how you should approach the cases, however, it will give you the basic understanding.

2) Start practicing cases with partners here or find them locally. !!! Find experienced partners or coaches who can provide a good feedback!!!

3) Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS (his website). I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

4) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo)
  • Learn the division table up to 1/11 (i.e. 5/6 = 83.3)
  • Learn how to work with zeros (Hint: 4000000 = 4*10ˆ6)
  • Use math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

5) Below you can find a list of the most common case types and some high-level recommendations on structuring:

  • Market sizing - structuring from the supply or demand side. Structuring using a formula or using an issue tree
  • Profitability - basic profitability framework. Remember about different revenue streams and product mix
  • Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). Always start with the big picture "market". Finish with something specific to the case (e.g. How to enter?"). Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project.
  • Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.) - Structuring as a process / value chain, with inflows, operations, and outflows
  • Cost cutting - I provided the recommendations on structuring it here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/operations-cases-mck-1105#a2134
  • Valuation - Purely financial structure with cash flows, growth rate, WACC / hurdle rate, etc.
  • Synergies - revenue synergies (price, qty, mix) and cost synergies (value chain).
  • Social / economics cases (e.g. How to improve the quality of life in the city? How to increase the revenues of the museum?) - huge variability. Practice 3-5 social cases before the interview

6) Also, I would try to focus on the most common industries in the following priority(sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

7) ! Important: don't forget about the FIT interview part. Crafting you stories and backups stories will require a couple of weeks!

PS

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Start with clarifying questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/clarifying-questions-1786#a3956

2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-communicate-its-structure-for-the-case-study-1313#a2806

3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-state-a-hypothesis-and-match-to-the-structure-1156#a2268

4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-much-answer-first-should-the-conclusion-be-1231#a249z

8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.

Best!

Hi,

PST is indeed being replaced with Imbellus:

  • There are 2 tasks, 1 hour for each
  • One is based on logic, another one is closer to the online game (Tower defense)
  • Both tasks are super easy and an hour is more than enough
  • The key thing is to read carefully the descriptions

I believe there is no way to prepare, so just relax and have a good rest before that

One thing to know - it's not about winning the game, it's about how you do that. ML algorithms literally track the movements of your cursor and compare it vs the best consultants

For overall prep I recommend the following approach:

1) Start with "Case in point" book - you can download this book for free everywhere. It's not the best guide on how you should approach the cases, however, it will give you the basic understanding.

2) Start practicing cases with partners here or find them locally. !!! Find experienced partners or coaches who can provide a good feedback!!!

3) Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS (his website). I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

4) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo)
  • Learn the division table up to 1/11 (i.e. 5/6 = 83.3)
  • Learn how to work with zeros (Hint: 4000000 = 4*10ˆ6)
  • Use math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

5) Below you can find a list of the most common case types and some high-level recommendations on structuring:

  • Market sizing - structuring from the supply or demand side. Structuring using a formula or using an issue tree
  • Profitability - basic profitability framework. Remember about different revenue streams and product mix
  • Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). Always start with the big picture "market". Finish with something specific to the case (e.g. How to enter?"). Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project.
  • Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.) - Structuring as a process / value chain, with inflows, operations, and outflows
  • Cost cutting - I provided the recommendations on structuring it here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/operations-cases-mck-1105#a2134
  • Valuation - Purely financial structure with cash flows, growth rate, WACC / hurdle rate, etc.
  • Synergies - revenue synergies (price, qty, mix) and cost synergies (value chain).
  • Social / economics cases (e.g. How to improve the quality of life in the city? How to increase the revenues of the museum?) - huge variability. Practice 3-5 social cases before the interview

6) Also, I would try to focus on the most common industries in the following priority(sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

7) ! Important: don't forget about the FIT interview part. Crafting you stories and backups stories will require a couple of weeks!

PS

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Start with clarifying questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/clarifying-questions-1786#a3956

2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-communicate-its-structure-for-the-case-study-1313#a2806

3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-state-a-hypothesis-and-match-to-the-structure-1156#a2268

4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-much-answer-first-should-the-conclusion-be-1231#a249z

8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.

Best!

Much appreciated, Vlad, really helpful!!!! — Lulu on Feb 25, 2020

You have a lot of questions, and hopefully, you have enough time to follow all the great advice that your questions will spur.

As for high-quality materials, I will suggest that you, by all means, avoid "Case-in-point". I suggest you start with Firmsconsulting (https://www.firmsconsulting.com/). Subscribe to "The Consulting Offer". They have one of the most effective and extensive case-interview training pathways, and they create all training materials using Ex-MBB partners and directors. They also have an incredibly high placement rate (80% or so last time I checked), considering the help place candidates with the most challenging profiles in MBBs.

Another great resource that teaches you how to build your own framework at the most basic level is https://students.craftingcases.com/. You will never have to cram any cases with these resources.

Firmsconsulting provides you more, in that they training you to think beyond just getting the offer. They make you think of how you can keep the offer for as long as you want and then helping you leverage your Mckinsey experience for an even greater role after you leave.

I hope this helps.

Cheers

You have a lot of questions, and hopefully, you have enough time to follow all the great advice that your questions will spur.

As for high-quality materials, I will suggest that you, by all means, avoid "Case-in-point". I suggest you start with Firmsconsulting (https://www.firmsconsulting.com/). Subscribe to "The Consulting Offer". They have one of the most effective and extensive case-interview training pathways, and they create all training materials using Ex-MBB partners and directors. They also have an incredibly high placement rate (80% or so last time I checked), considering the help place candidates with the most challenging profiles in MBBs.

Another great resource that teaches you how to build your own framework at the most basic level is https://students.craftingcases.com/. You will never have to cram any cases with these resources.

Firmsconsulting provides you more, in that they training you to think beyond just getting the offer. They make you think of how you can keep the offer for as long as you want and then helping you leverage your Mckinsey experience for an even greater role after you leave.

I hope this helps.

Cheers

Hi,Samuel, thanks a lot for your advise, firmsconsulting is a great resource! — Lulu on Feb 24, 2020

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Hello Lulu,

1) Case in point and Victor Cheng are the most common and suitable books to start with. Have a look also at LOMS recordings

2) There is no general answer for this, it depends on your preparation status and on your personal weaknesses and strengths. Every plan has to be customized

3) PM me if you want more informations on Imbellus

4) Mandarin

Hello Lulu,

1) Case in point and Victor Cheng are the most common and suitable books to start with. Have a look also at LOMS recordings

2) There is no general answer for this, it depends on your preparation status and on your personal weaknesses and strengths. Every plan has to be customized

3) PM me if you want more informations on Imbellus

4) Mandarin

Thanks very much for your help, Luca! — Lulu on Feb 26, 2020

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Thanks a lot Antonello for your help! — Lulu on Feb 26, 2020

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Hi Lulu,

No one size fits all and you will certainly have information overload. I highly recommend hiring a coach (even for one session) to help you figure out what approach/materials suit you best...don't waste 10s of hours of time trying to work through this all yourself (and using content etc. that doesn't work best for you!)

Hi Lulu,

No one size fits all and you will certainly have information overload. I highly recommend hiring a coach (even for one session) to help you figure out what approach/materials suit you best...don't waste 10s of hours of time trying to work through this all yourself (and using content etc. that doesn't work best for you!)

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Hello!

In a nutshell:

1. Best prep is doing as many cases as possible. Case in Point and Cheng are good pre-reads, but this is a learning-by-doing.

2. Depends a lot of the person, availability and background. Again, casing is the only way.

3. Yes, look in the Q&A since there are many posts describing all about it.

4. Most liketly both

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

In a nutshell:

1. Best prep is doing as many cases as possible. Case in Point and Cheng are good pre-reads, but this is a learning-by-doing.

2. Depends a lot of the person, availability and background. Again, casing is the only way.

3. Yes, look in the Q&A since there are many posts describing all about it.

4. Most liketly both

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

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MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
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Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

The Top 5 Questions

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The Top 5 Questions Questions Tell me something about your background. Why should we hire you? Describe a difficult situation and how you handled it? What did your boss or colleagues criticize about you? Do you rather work in a team or independently?
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Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit Interview | Topics: Personal fit

Questions Tell me something about your background. Why should we hire you? Describe a difficult situation and how you handled it? What did your boss or colleagues criticize about you? Do you rather work in a team or independently? Open whole case