So you've made it through your MBA or finance studies, have applied to everywhere you could think of and are faced with the singular most anxiety-inducing phase: the interview. No matter how well-prepared we think we are, there's no fighting the pre-performance jitters. This is especially true for fields where the interviews are less lenient like consulting, where competition is high and fierce. Like all things done well, an interview with a top-tier consulting firm requires the right preparation and motivation. Here's the rundown on how it'll go and how to make the application process that much smoother with Casecoach.
What's in an interview?
Consulting is a highly complex and versatile field that relies equally as much on soft skills (problem-solving, creativity) as hard skills. As such, due to the combination of a highly technical career requiring an ample amount of mental gymnastics, consulting interviews are divided into two rounds: the case interview and the fit interview also known as Personal Experience Interview (PEI). As compared to traditional interviews, a case interview is less general and a more direct evaluation of your skills.
Compared to the traditional interview, a case interview is a less general and more direct evaluation of your skills. During a case interview, you’re asked or handed, depending on whether the interview is written or not, specific questions pertaining to the position you’re applying for. Again, though they seem to be rooted in your technical knowledge of your field, consulting interviews are a direct evaluation of your adaptation and problem-solving skills. You could be asked to create a distribution strategy for a US-based distributor or calculate how many tennis balls fit inside a Boeing 747! The goal is less to show or display the rote memorization of skills you’ve learned in class but rather to articulate a strategy that is not only fully yours but also well-anchored in the given data sets.
If you manage to pass the impenetrable case interview, you get to (hopefully) move onto the objectively harder round of the consulting interview process: the fit or personal experience interview. Fit interviews are closer to traditional interviews but with an added consulting flair. The fit interview itself has 2 main parts. During the first, you might be asked to share personal experiences or stories that highlight skills essential to consulting. These could be examples of leadership, persuasion skills, argumentation—like the case interviews, fit interviews are rigorous evaluations of your consultancy skillset. A more traditional presentation of your motivation to be a consultant at that particular firm follow the experience-based section. This part is more about the person behind the skillset; it’s an opportunity to not only position yourself as a motivated candidate but also as an expert in your field.
Consulting interview best practices and strategies
The key to a good case interview is its structure. As a case interview is the direct analysis of your reasoning and analytical skills, the structure of your argument can make or break your interview. Before structuring your response, make sure you fully understand the question and don’t hesitate to ask questions! The interviewer is there to help guide you through the process. You should approach it as a business-centred conversation and exchange. Be able to recognize case archetypes! Though you shouldn’t arrive with a pre-prepared one-size-fits-all framework, you should have a basic methodology for working through cases.
Personal Experience Interview
Once again, like a regular job interview, the fit interviews require a constant referral back to the company. Every story you tell should have the end goal of illustrating how you’re a perfect fit for that company. For more advice on how to ace a personal interview, read through our job guide.
How Casecoach is a game changer
Sound hard? That’s because interviews, especially consulting interviews, require a set of skills which don’t come naturally to most of us. That’s why prep programs are so helpful. There’s nothing better than getting help from people who have been through and successfully completed a similar experience. CaseCoach is actually a comprehensive online prep course for consulting interviews, developed by former McKinsey consultants. The course covers both the case and fit interviews. It includes a library of 30+ cases with solutions, practice exercises, 12 bite-sized video lectures covering the skills assessed by the top firms and 14 interview videos featuring successful candidates.
Here at College Life, we’ve thought about those of you who are looking at venturing into consulting and are at a loss with the interview process. Through College Life, you can now get 34% off on their interview prep plan! All you need to do is:
- Go to CaseCoach.com and select Interview Prep Course
- Click on the Enroll button, for the Euro currency
- Sign up with coupon code DSC-IMJTQV at checkout
Interviews are hard enough, why not get a little help from Casecoach?