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One question that is often asked by candidates is “How can I get into consulting?”. I will give you the answer to this question today.
Let me begin by saying this, getting into consulting needs disciplined and structured preparation. Case interviews are not one of those interviews where you walk in and trick your way to the offer.
It is an extremely rigorous and structured process that is designed to select only the best among the best.
Consulting firms put a candidate through multiple rounds of interviews (at least 2) with each round having 2 case studies with 2 different interviewers.
You can imagine, getting into consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain, BCG is not something that can happen by chance.
The idea behind multiple rounds of interviews at consulting is to eliminate the element of chance in the selection process.
What is rewarded is consistency across all the rounds till you get the offer in your hand.
The selection rate at MBB (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) is around 1-2%, which is basically even more competitive than top business schools such as Harvard, Wharton and INSEAD.
As I said, MBB firms are highly selective and they look for polished candidates who are ready to be trained and coached upon joining the firm.
If you’re targeting other consulting firms such as Kearney, Oliver Wyman, Accenture Strategy, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, etc. , the following would still apply to you.
Let’s break down at things that top consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain and BCG look at in their selection process:
Pre Interview Stage
- College brand : Consulting companies have a list of target schools that they visit every year for recruitment. If you happen to be at a target school, your life is a lot easier than your counterparts. The arguable assumption here is that if you are at target school, you have already gone through the first round of filtering. Target schools are assumed to have the highest concentration of talented and high-caliber candidates. However, in the last few years, consulting firms have expanded their horizon and are looking beyond tier-1 colleges.
- Grades : When it comes to consulting firms, the higher your CGPA, the better your chances are to make the cut. Consulting firms look for academic performers who know they have strong analytical ability.
- Internship : Your chances of making it to the first round magnify, if you have an outstanding internship experience
Now we come to the interview part at consulting firms. If you are checking the boxes in the pre-interview stage, you should be ready for the main game at the interview:
1. Logical Thinking: If you have logical thinking ability and are able to analyze and reason under basic business logic then you can make it to consulting. Consultants are structured in their thinking in their engagements, so if your thinking is sufficiently structured, it will help you rise above the rest.
2. Communication : Only logical thinking isn’t sufficient, your expressive ability, i.e. your ability to express your thoughts clearly and precisely take centerstage in case interviews. You need to have a certain degree of persuasiveness and at least be able to express your thoughts fluently in English and understand each other’s questions.
3. Handling stress: Consulting is not for faint hearted. If you have the psychological ability to justify your assumptions under challenge and repeated questioning without panicking then you’ll make the cut. The key is to be able to explain your reasoning without sounding too stuck up.
4. Professional demeanour : You need to look professional and be comfortable in formal business attire for most part of your management consulting job. During the case interview, you should be able to carry yourself well to espouse confidence in your ability to handle business situations.
And last and most important aspect, extremely strong Case Interview Performance.
I have covered case interview preparation in detail here and where most of the candidates go wrong in their preparation. Case interview performance is the key to everything that is consulting.
If you can achieve the above four items can be achieved, it is very likely that you can get an offer.