Thursday, October 20, 2011
By Pallavi Pal
Consultancy is a fancy title for those who are paid to give their advice in their field of specialty. Although consultants exist in all types of industries, from health care to sports, management consultant positions seem to be a hot commodity for the recent graduate. With their high pay, great benefits, constant travel and not to mention the luxurious lifestyle, it is not a surprise that many choose this industry.
Management consultants or business consultants are those paid by large companies to help make strategic decisions for company’s internal processes, such as change in corporate structure, or external processes, such as entrance into different markets or industries. The consulting firms tend to look for analytical thinking and proper application of business processes that have been learned in a classroom environment and applied to real world examples. Also if you have a strong mathematical ability as well as intellectual curiosity, you could be the perfect candidate.
However, being the ideal candidate isn’t the end all be all. Acing the rigorous consulting interview is the end goal in this highly competitive process. Since this type of job is a hot commodity, the hiring process is far more competitive than an average job interview. Usually, the best and brightest find themselves receiving offers from consulting firms and only with a lot of preparation and practice can one navigate through these interviews effectively. Take a look at a few tips below to get yourself started.
Normally, the first round or the beginning of the interviews will be based on a generic interview prototype. Many questions will be asked to get you to talk about yourself and your past experiences. These are behavioral questions and if you follow the link below you can get more help on preparing for this portion of the interview.
The second part is the killer part of the consulting interview process. These will consist of a mix of case and estimation questions. This requires that you prepare yourself well in advance; some even start preparing 6-8 months in advance. Questions such as these will test your level of analytical reasoning, ability to work under pressure, ability to advise others as well as your mathematical capability.
For case questions you will be given a case that consultants typically work on such as a case regarding entrance of company A into a specific industry. You are expected to know how to effectively reason out the situation given a few pieces of information, make accurate assumptions and provide the interviewers with a confident response. They are not necessarily looking for the correct answer but rather a correct manner of approaching the problem and reasoning it out.
Furthermore, the estimation type questions are a little more abstract and require creativity in how you maneuver your response. An example would be “estimate how many shoes are sold in the U.S. each year.” Given no further information or assumptions, you are expected to come up with an answer with a pen and paper. Although daunting at first, practicing these types of questions will make responding a lot easier and pain-free. Usually one would respond by considering the possible assumptions for the question and estimating an answer.
Do you have any further questions? Well, you should! As an ever curious candidate, you should learn everything you can about the industry and prepare yourself fifty times harder than what you did to prepare yourself for the SAT. Learning about the industry and the type of questions is key and the best industry guides can be found on Vault.com. Since Toppel has subscribed on behalf of all UMiami students, the easiest (and cheapest) was to access it would be by logging into HireACane.com. Then once you have logged in scroll down until you see “Career Insider: Vault Career Online Library.” After that click the “Industries” and type in “Consulting” and you will find a multitude of articles.
Moreover, read up on the case interviews, especially, Case in Point by Marc Cosentino should be your guidebook. Also, check out the following links for more guidance!
Case Interview Frameworks
Nailing that Consulting Interview