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When to start with preparation for an interview in consulting?

Jonas asked on Aug 14, 2017 - 9 answers
Management Consultant at Strategy&
9 answers

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Francesco
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replied on Aug 26, 2017
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Hi Jonas,

in my experience, preparing for a consulting interview so that you can land at least an offer will require 150-200 hours starting from zero on your own. This should cover:

  1. Define a calendar on how to prepare
  2. Learn the basic frameworks/theory for cases
  3. Learn how to answer to the fit part (including your questions at the end for the interview)
  4. Learn how to answer to market sizing questions
  5. Practice math and graph analysis
  6. Read examples of cases
  7. Practice the cases, fit and communication skills live

The time you should spend thus would depend on how much time you have available to dedicate to consulting. Typical situations include:

  1. You are full time on preparation and can dedicate 4 hours every single day (even if you have more time you are likely not productive anyway if you spend more than 4 hours on consulting prep per day) --> 6 weeks
  2. You are working and can dedicate 2 hours per day during weekdays and 4 hours per day during weekends --> 10 weeks
  3. You are working and can dedicate 1 hours per day during weekdays and 2 hours per day during weekends --> 20 weeks

In case you can count on a very experience partner/former consultant/expert for your preparation, you can assume that every hour you will do with him/her will be worth between 2-15 hours on your own, thus decreasing significantly the preparation time.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Anonymous replied on Aug 23, 2017

Hi Jonas,

In my experience, you should better focus 1-2 months on your preparation and have a very stringent preparation plan rather than practicing for many months.

Limiting your preparation time allows you to
- stay motivated during the interview period
- be authentic during your interviews (rather than making visible that you have covered your ability by learning cases by heart)

To enable a focused and short preparation time, I would suggest these FOUR PRINCIPLES:

PRINCIPLE 1) Start with a real interview process at a consultancy which is your fourth or fifth preference early on => This enables you to focus on your specific improvement areas early on rather reading a lot of broad material

PRINCIPLE 2) Always prioritize real practice (e.g. at Preplounge) over reading about case cracking theory

PRINCIPLE 3) Invest some time (or money) in finding high-quality case partners for practice

PRINCIPLE 4) Don't prepare more than others but prepare differently: Consulting is a people business, we want to see that you are a personality who is able to differentiate from the masses - why not e.g. reading articles from MBBs on a topic you like and reference it during the case/personal interview

I hope that helps! No need to get nervous if there is only 1-2 months left before your interview processes :).

Best,

Jan-Philipp

Hemant
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replied on Aug 15, 2017
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Everyone has their own pace for these things with different outcomes. Here's my rule of thumb:

1) If you are a full-time anything (student, employee), give it 3 months minimum. Otherwise 2 months OK.
2) If you are weak in math/analytics, ADD 2 months to above.
3) If you have never done anything business-focused (e.g. finance, strategy, etc), ADD 1 month to above.

Yes, it's a roughly 2-6 month commit before you are ready for MBB starting from scratch.

Anonymous B replied on Aug 14, 2017

the sooner the better, the more cases you practice the calmer and more confident you'll be in the interview itself

Originally answered:

Ideal time to start preparing

Anonymous replied on Jun 15, 2016

A bit late to this, but let me add a few points:

  • Everything you did in life, all the exams, applications, tests, papers, extra-curricular activities, and everything else -- just got you the interview. Every candidate starts from scratch, the stuff before was just the ticket to get to play.
  • Every candidate who gets a consulting interview is far, far above average. Typically, these people have very rarely failed at anything or gotten rejected.
  • You cannot have studied or prepared too much for this. How much would a consulting job offer matter to you? Compared to getting half a grade better on your final thesis? The last exams? 2-3 months of your life? Many, many applicants study way more for one of the final exams they take, than for getting the job interview right. Which is completely wrong in my opinion.
  • Case interviews can be prepared. Other interview processes in other industries tend to be a bit random, so harder to study. Here, time is invested well.
  • Even if you fail the interviews, you still learn from doing the case studies. It's not a waste at all, doing cases are an intense problem solving/structuring course that will help you in almost any career.
  • Hack: For top consultancies, you can always postpone the interview date. Don't do it last minute, but if you cancel 2-3 weeks in advance they won't like it but also couldn't care less if you come up with an ok reason. And only HR will know that you rescheduled, your interviewer will not.
  • Lastly, the study/prep time is not about grasping the interview process intellectually. You're smart, you will get it quickly. It's about internalizing it and having it come out naturally -- for this, you need practice, practice, practice. It's like a theater play. If you go out on stage and your main worry is to remember the words, how good will you be acting? Only after you master and internalize the basics, you will be able to shine in a live interview.

By the way, in case you wonder, I failed my first interview at Bain badly. One of the case questions was whether a Swiss mayor of a small village should have a ski resort built. After thinking about it for a while, my response was: "Is there enough snow?". (true story)

Afterwards, I postponed all future interviews for a few months, and studied this thing full time. Still bugs me sometimes that I screwed up the Bain interview as I really liked the firm :)

Anonymous A replied on Aug 14, 2017

You should start practicing cases as soon as possible. It takes some time to develop the skills required to ace in case interviews.

Originally answered:

Ideal time to start preparing

Anonymous replied on Jun 05, 2016

Good question - a question I am struggling with right now. Victor lays out both options you have:

1. Prepare BEFORE securing an interview - and thus having more time.

2. Prepare AFTER securing an interview - and this limits your time.

Both options have pros and cons: #1 gives you more time, but there is a chance your preparation will be ''wasted'' if you don't secure an offer. #2 does the opposite.

I am currently in the first group, but like the topic starter, still unsure where to focus on in terms of time spend on LOMS/Cases/Frameworks/Math/etc. Of course it all depends on your needs, but it seems that there are a ton of info out there on how to do this whole prep thing, that it gets hard to focus.

Originally answered:

Ideal time to start preparing

Alex replied on Jun 04, 2016

H! Frank! I think you can find the answer here: http://www.caseinterview.com/case-interview-preparation-time

Personally, I agree with the author - good performance is fostered after about 50 hours net of effective preparation.

Originally answered:

Ideal time to start preparing

Peter
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replied on Jun 03, 2016
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I'd recommend you find some kind of decent literature on how to do a case, watch a real case video, try a real case and then *in an ideal world* do 10-25 practice cases along with maybe 10 hours practice just by yourself. At the minimum I would go with 3-4 real cases and 10 hours by yourself.

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