The interview process is a dialogue aimed at getting to know you personally, learning more about your analytical capabilities and also introducing you to the company, the people and the work. You are assessed on your ability to listen, communicate effectively and present yourself with tact, energy, and persuasiveness.
The interviewer looks for intellectual curiosity and creative thinking. And sometimes, they just want to find out what it would be like to spend a week on the road with you, working together on a client project. Interviewers value a sense of humour and a bit of ‘sparkle’ in your personality.
Most interviews are divided into three parts: personal background, consideration of a case study, and an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions.
During the interview, the interviewer wants to find out more about you and how you would fit in the company. For example, you might be asked to describe ways you have been able to make an impact in a team environment. You could be asked to describe a time when you were able to overcome obstacles, persuading others to go along with a decision that they had initially resisted. The interviewer may simply be curious to hear your motivation for choosing to pursue a career with the company
The case study gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. Because the case is likely based on a real client project your interviewer has worked on, you will gain a unique insight into what consulting is like.
The case study will feature a business problem that you will seek to solve during the interview. It will not require extensive knowledge of specific industries or processes and some cases have no right or wrong answers. Your questions and thought processes are more important than coming up with an actual solution.
Questions and answers
The interview is your chance to ask questions about working in a firm or your interviewer’s personal experience. It is an opportunity for you to get to know the people and the culture of the company. Come prepared with a handful of questions that matter to you, and your interviewer will make every effort to answer them
Preparation for the case study
To prepare for the case study discussion, you can review some practice cases from the BCG website. These examples will give you an idea of what to expect in the case study portion of the interview. You can also practice using BCG interactive online case.
On the day of the interview, relax and be yourself. While there are no set rules on how to solve a case study, you will find below some advice that can help you succeed.
Listen to the interviewer and ask questions
The interviewer will begin by laying out the problem. You should take time to align your thinking, ask clarifying questions, and communicate your line of reasoning to your interviewer. The interviewer will also give you hints and help along the way, so don’t be afraid to take notes.
Structure the problem and form a framework
Take a moment to think about the case to gain perspective. Putting together a structure and a framework will help you clarify each step and enable you to identify the analysis you may want to perform to reach a solution.
Think before speaking
Take some time to organise your ideas; don’t jump too fast to conclusions.
Focus on high-impact issues
Concentrate on the issues that will really make a difference and create value for your ‘client’, but make sure that you explain the reasons behind your choices.
Generate a hypothesis and explore options creatively
Make suggestions on how to solve the key issues you have identified. The interviewer will be looking for the same things a client would expect when working with a consulting firm – innovative approaches that can change the rules of the game and creation of lasting competitive advantage.
Demonstrate business judgment
Given that there is limited information available, the interviewer will ask you probing questions about your comments, hypotheses, or conclusions to test your capability to use your judgment.
Make quick and accurate calculations
At some point, the interviewer may ask you to make some simple calculations. Rather than testing computational skill, this is meant to see if you can use numbers to quickly form opinions and guide decisions. Your calculations should be accurate and integrated into what you have discovered so far.
Synthesise your thoughts and draw conclusions from your analysis
At the end of the interview, you should summarise the key hypotheses and options you have developed. Then, conclude with your recommended solution to the client’s problem.
Don’t rush into the analysis without developing an understanding of the problem
During the discussion, the interviewer will work with you to organise your thoughts and steer you towards a solution. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that check your understanding.
Don’t panic if the answer is not apparent
There is no right or wrong answer in our interviews, and you are not expected to know everything about business. The objective of the interview is for the interviewer to learn about your approach to solving business problems, so remember to discuss your line of thought with them.
Don’t defend your solution at all costs
If the interviewer challenges the solution you propose, don’t go on the defensive. Acknowledge the possibility that the interviewer has brought up a relevant perspective that you had not considered and re-examine your thinking accordingly.
Don’t internalise your thought process
The interview should be a dialogue between you and the interviewer, so make sure you communicate your logic and underlying assumptions.
One last piece of advice: be yourself and have fun discussing the case. If you find this conversation exciting and entertaining, you’ll likely enjoy being a consultant.