Consulting Lessons Learned 33: Getting into consulting

Getting into top consulting firms isn’t an easy path. It will require you to succeed in a 2-step approach, with two very different sets of capabilities you need to master.

First: Your Application

It will be your entry card to get invited to interviews. Your application will be checked by HR managers, which will mostly go through a checklist of topics the firms wants to see in your CV. Those are:

  • Outstanding academic results (for MBB, you should belong to the top 25% of your class)
  • Several significant internships and other work experiences. This one is becoming more and more important nowadays. There are super many people that don’t even get invited although they belong to the top 5% of their class because of this. You should have at least 3-4 internships in different relevant industries. Ideal are internships at corporates, start-ups and other consultancies.
  • International experience: Most firms will require you to show international experience, for example from a study semester or an internship abroad.
  • Optional: Voluntary work. This can get you some extra points.

The first three topics are mandatory, meaning that even if you performed outstanding in 2 out of 3, you will probably still not be invited, if you lack the third one. Cover letters are nice and can give some extra points, but you would really have to mess around here to not get invited if you show a perfect profile in your CV.

Second: The interview

The interview will require a totally different set of capabilities from you. The good thing is: Being outstanding in consulting interviews can be trained!

You should be prepared for highly challenging personal fit questions. I’m always shocked how many candidates have super bad answers even to standard questions, for example on their weaknesses. If you tell your interviewer that your perfectionism and impatience are your two biggest weaknesses, this is a sure way to not scoring any offer.

Next big element of every consulting interview: Case studies. These are typical real-life projects that are compromised into a 30min case, you will have to solve. At most firms, you will have to moderate the entire discussion. There are two success factors to performing exceptionally well in case studies:

  1. You need to learn about how the different industries work and how consultants would approach typical client problems (e.g. cost cutting, due dilligence, …). We at ConsultingPerfection have taken a significant effort with dozens of active consultants to consolidate the key learnings you need to know.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. But please practice at least 1/3 of your interviews with active consultants, like us at ConsultingPerfection. Practicing with other candidates is great to gain confidence, but your interview partners probably won’t be able to give you the feedback you need to succeed in the actual interview.

Getting ready for your application or internship in consulting? Apply now for a free strategy call with us to discuss your individual preparation plan!

Categories: Best practices