From Business Insider
RACHEL GILLETT CAREERS MAR. 14, 2016, 11:56 PM
If you’re looking for a job with one of the most prestigious employers in the management consulting industry, you better start preparing.
According to The Gateway, an independent business and careers newspaper for students, the world’s biggest consulting firms, known as the “Big Three,” are extremely selective about who they hire, often taking on high-scoring graduates and MBAs from top universities.
Notable alumni include HP CEO Meg Whitman from Bain & Company, former GE CEO Jeff Immelt from The Boston Consulting Group, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg from McKinsey & Company.
According to Bain & Company, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and McKinsey & Company‘s respective careers pages, interview questions generally fall into one of two categories: case study questions and experience questions.
During the case study portion of the interview, interviewees analyze a real business problem and develop and discuss solutions to the client challenge it poses. During an interview job seekers may also be asked to solve logic questions. The experience portion of the interview is a more familiar format where interviewers can learn more about the job seeker’s background and personal experience.
From Glassdoor, here are some of the toughest non-case-study interview questions job seekers have been asked at “Big Three” firms (practice cases are available on each consulting firm’s careers page):
“How much does a 747 plane taking off from La Guardia en route to London Heathrow weigh?” — Bain consultant candidate
“Give me the book title and chapter titles for a major accomplishment [of yours].” — McKinsey summer associate candidate
“Who are your two favorite authors? Why? What have you read most recently by them?” — BCG consultant candidate
“Let’s say I’m your manager and you get hired at Bain. At the end of one year, what will I write in your performance review?” — Bain associate consultant candidate
“How many postmen are in this city?” — McKinsey business analyst candidate
“How do you manage your work-life balance?” — BCG consultant candidate
“Tell me a time when you were not a formal leader but became a leader.” — McKinsey associate candidate
“Tell me two characteristics of your personality you have to improve and how you’ll do that.” — BCG consultant candidate
“How would you evaluate the value of a cow?” — Bain intern candidate
“How many tennis balls can fit in a plane?” — McKinsey associate candidate
“What skill would you need to work on most in starting this position?” — BCG consultant candidate
“What is the exact angle formed by the hands on a clock when the time reads 9:30?” — Bain associate consultant candidate
“What should I know about you?” — McKinsey senior business analyst candidate
“Why were you the top student in your class? What’s the reason behind this?” — BCG associate consultant candidate
“What do you think is the biggest challenge for a consultant? How would you personally cope with that?” — Bain intern candidate
“What would you do if you didn’t come to work here?” — McKinsey associate candidate
“Who is the leader you admire most?” — BCG associate candidate
“What do you think is the biggest problem in the economy?” — McKinsey consultant candidate
“How many pianos are in Poland?” — BCG intern candidate
BCG doubled hires at London Business School — and McKinsey is catching upWritten by Seb Murray | MBA Careers | Tuesday 8th March 2016 21:35:00 GMT
It's been a robust recruitment season for consultancy firms at b-schools globally in 2015
Elite strategy house Boston Consulting Group doubled its number of hires atLondon Business School in 2015.
The top three recruiters for LBS’ Masters in Management graduates are BCG, Goldman Sachs, and McKinsey, which also boosted hiring.
It caps a robust recruitment season for consultancy firms at business schools globally in 2015. It also marks the latest increase in elite firm hiring at LBS; BCG, Bain and McKinsey were among the top four recruiters of MBAs last year. Consulting hired 33% of the entire MBA class.
Of the 96% of LBS’ MiM class who accepted job offers within three months of graduating, 40% accepted jobs in the consulting sector.
“This has increased from 31% the previous year,” said Lara Berkowitz, executive director of LBS’ career center.
“Firms such as Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey increased their LBS MiM hires,” she added.
This mirrors a trend across the b-school landscape. Demand for consultants from US MBA programs is particularly robust.
McKinsey doubled the number of MBAs it hired at the Fuqua School of Business last year. Sheryle Dirks, associate dean of career management, said the school has partnerships with McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, and BCG.
But she added: “While hiring has increased, these positions remain very competitive.” Other top US schools report similar excitement among MBAs for advisory careers.
Jonathan Masland, director of careers at the Tuck School of Business, said: “There is strong demand from students and from [consulting firm] recruiters.” McKinsey, Bain and BCG hired 18% of Tuck’s MBAs in 2015.
Sue Kline, at MIT Sloan’s MBA Career Development Office, said: “Consulting firms have been among our top hirers for 30 years and remain of strong interest to our students.”
These firms pushed up pay at LBS. There was an increase in overall MiM salaries, with the average salary rising more than 4% from £36,295 to £37,890. “The increase in salaries is largely driven by a 10.4% increase in the average consulting salary,” Lara said.
At the MBA-level, pay in consulting has been strong. At Virginia’s Darden School, Berkeley-Haas, Wharton, Stanford and Harvard, MBAs working in the sector earned $140,000 average starting salaries in 2015.
Regina Resnick, at Columbia Business School’s Career Management Center, said: “One cannot ignore the generous base salaries strategic consulting firms offer, especially when a new grad is faced with a high debt load.”
Conrad Chua, head of MBA careers at the UK’s Cambridge Judge Business School, anticipates solid consulting recruitment in 2016: “We are cautiously optimistic that the prospects are good,” he said.
Investments in People, New Capabilities, and New Businesses Fuel a 19% Gain in Global Revenues, Says CEO Rich Lesser
BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Mar 9, 2016) - The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world's leading management consulting firms, announced today that it reached the milestone of $5.0 billion in global sales last year, powered by organic revenue growth of 19% at constant exchange rates. In fueling this growth, the firm increased its worldwide workforce to 12,000.
BCG also announced the opening of three new offices this year -- in Lagos, Lima, and Denver -- enlarging its global footprint to 85 offices in 48 countries.
"BCG's strong and steady growth and our expanding footprint are a real tribute to the talent of our people and our close client relationships," said Rich Lesser, BCG's president and CEO. "These results also reflect major investments in building capabilities across our practices and particularly in digital-related opportunities for our clients."
Lesser, who was reelected to a second three-year term last year, said that the firm's investments in new businesses were also clearly paying off. As examples, he cited BCG Digital Ventures, a digital innovation, corporate venturing, and incubation business unit that started in early 2014, and last year's acquisition of BrightHouse, LLC, a pioneer in purpose-driven consulting. Both businesses are thriving.
As the firm grows around the world and broadens its offerings, its ambition remains the same: "to drive transformative change, challenge the status quo, deliver greater impact, and expand the boundaries of what is possible," Lesser said. "For the next few years, our priorities will include continuing our relentless focus on value creation, deepening our expertise and capabilities, driving innovation in our client offerings and operating model, and attracting and retaining top talent with an emphasis on diversity of backgrounds and experiences."
Lagos, BCG's first office in Nigeria and its fourth on the African continent, follows the opening of offices in Luanda (2013), Johannesburg (2011), and Casablanca (2010). Lima, Peru is the firm's eighth office in Latin America. Denver brings the total number of offices in the US to 16.
Late last week, BCG extended its remarkable streak near the top of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Ranking number three this year, the firm has made the top five for six years in a row and is one of only two companies to make the top dozen every year since 2006, when it began participating.
For more information, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or email@example.com.
By Beecher Tuttle | EFinancialCareers – Wed, Dec 11, 2013 10:17 PM SGT
Consulting interviews are a different breed. Following a more traditional “experience” interview, candidates are tasked with proving their ability to do the job in question: solving complex business problems through case studies.
Preparing for a case study interview at a top consulting company like Bain takes time, effort and a true understanding of the process. Truth be told, if you treat a case study as if it were a customary interview, you’ll likely fall short. Case studies are designed to be business discussions, not Q&As.
We talked to Keith Bevans, head of Bain’s global consultant recruiting team, to get some insight into how best to prepare for a case study interview and a few key tips on maximizing your opportunity. Like many other consulting firms, Bain is hiring.
Practice make perfect: While there are terrific resources available to help prepare for case study interviews, make sure to supplement your research with live practice sessions, says Bevans. “Reading can help you understand a framework and a potential answer, but the real skill is learning how to verbalize your thought process in a coherent business discussion,” he said. This takes practice.
While at Harvard Business School, Bevans knew a group of first-year students who would meet every Saturday morning for breakfast to conduct one-on-one practice interviews while the others watched. On top of their traditional studying, they spent just 90 minutes once a week working together. All four of ended up with consulting offers for the summer.
While teaming up with other students is helpful, also look to utilize your school’s alumni network and all the resources provided by the institution itself. Most top business schools bring full-time consultants back to campus to help the next generation prepare for the interview process. If you’re an undergrad, walk over to the business school to see how they can help, Bevans said.
Look beyond the frameworks: No doubt, preparing yourself for case study interviews involves understanding certain analytical frameworks that are covered in business school and often applied in the world of consulting, like, for example, fixed versus variable cost models. But don’t just memorize and regurgitate frameworks. Quickly prove that you understand the model and apply it to the situation, then move on with your analysis. Remember, Bevans said, the person across from you has their MBA too. You don’t need to act like you’re teaching them.
“Some struggle to pull up from frameworks and remember it’s a business conversation,” he said.
Ask the right questions early: Case study interviews aren’t static situations; the answers change as the dialogue develops. When presented with a problem, immediately follow with the key questions needed to fully understand the variables that may be at play. Good answers start with great questions.
Limit your inner monologue: Candidates who tend to fare poorly in case study interviews prioritize the answer over the thought process. Firms like Bain certainly take note of your final conclusion and recommendation, but they care just as much, if not more so, about how you got there. Always provide insight into your thinking and all the variables that you are considering, Bevans said.
“If you missed something in the answer and didn’t give me insight into you thinking, I don’t even know if you were considering the right things” he said. “It would be like me asking you to do math problem, and you turn around and say ‘27.’ I want to know how you got there.”
It’s OK – frankly, it’s even recommended – to say that you would move forward based on certain facts but you’re also concerned about variables that you don’t have visibility over, Bevans said. It’s only a 30-minute interview, but firms like Bain want to know you at least considered them.
But you still need an answer: While the key of acing a consulting interview is to ask questions and promote dialogue, it’s still critical to offer a firm recommendation. Some candidates get so caught up in the analysis that they forget to answer the original question, Bevans said.
While it is fine to offer a recommendation fairly early in the conversation, know the rest of the interview time will likely be spent considering other variables.
Be empathetic: Case study interviews are meant to mirror real-life consulting situations. In fact, every one of Bain’s case studies is based on a project that they’ve already completed. So, it’s important to show a human touch and not treat a situation dispassionately. “We might ask you how you would position a difficult decision to management,” Bevans said. Say you are recommending ending a new store pilot in part of the country. A firm like Bain may ask to see how you would deliver that message.
Keep your butterflies in formation: Another common mistake that candidates make – usually those who are less prepared – is to concentrate so much on the question that they forget “interviewing 101 skills,” according to Bevans.
Having a firm handshake, making eye contact, smiling and looking up from your notes – these are all basic interview rules that still apply, despite the pressure of the moment. “We can’t take the risk that your head will be down while a CEO is speaking with you,” Bevans said. “You may have butterflies in your stomach, but you need them flying in formation.”
Those who fail to follow common interview protocol tend to be those who only study from books and websites rather than taking part in practice interviews, he said.
Take your time: When faced with a follow up question that’s a bit of a curveball, it’s not a bad thing to ask for a short period of time to think things over. You’re always better off taking 10-15 seconds to collect your thoughts rather than stumbling through an answer.
“And know we aren’t out to trick you,” Bevans said. Recruiters and hiring managers will support you and lead you back to center if you’ve gone down the wrong path, he said. Recognizing this can help with the nerves.
Ask industry questions: If you are faced with a case study involving an industry that you don’t know all that well, don’t hide it. Ask all the questions that you need.
When Bevans interviewed at Bain, he had only taken part in technical internships. But during one case study, he was asked to offer a recommendation to an insurance client. “I spent several minutes asking him to explain how premiums worked,” Bevans said. “Bain doesn’t expect you to have a thorough understanding of every industry.”
However, if you are confronted with a case study in an industry in which you have worked, expectations will rise, he said. “If I’m asking you a question about an airline – and I can see you have worked for a competitor – your framework should be more robust.”
Take notes: While eye contact is critical, candidates should write down whatever they need to keep track of the data. “When you are nervous, you may forget half the information you’re given,” Bevans said. “Always leave a breadcrumb trail to get back to framework.”
For more Bain-specific tips, check out the firm’s career advice page. Bain recently added a video with examples of good, better and best answers to real case study questions.
From Bloomberg Business
Interview Cheat Sheet #22
The MethodFirst Round:
Meet with two consultants, project leaders, or principals on staff at BCG for a 45-minute, on-campus recruiting session. (Or meet elsewhere, if the candidate is out of school.) The panel asks candidates about their backgrounds and requests they complete a real-life case study to demonstrate problem-solving skills and creativity.
Interviews at a BCG office with partners or principals, wherein the candidate goes through a more rigorous case interview than the first one. “We want to see how you adjust your thinking based on new information and insights from data.”
Interviewers discuss the candidate’s performance and decide on the right candidate over the course of a conversation. Partners put the most weight on how innovative the candidate was during the case study, along with how well they think on their feet.
How to Ace It Do lead with your impressive track record. “We tend to look beyond intellect for this role. Give us concrete ways you’ve capitalized on opportunities and executed them.”
Do look at all the angles of a case. “We’re impressed by someone who is creative and hypothesis-driven, not necessarily the person who gets the right answer the fastest.”
Do explain your academic background. “Not having an MBA won’t disqualify you. Our consultants hold an array of diplomas, from PhD’s to M.D’s and JD’s.”
Don’t over-prepare. “Planning everything you’re going to say and do in the case study portion of the interview makes for a stale presentation and misses the mark. The point of the case is to see how you approach problems in real time.”
Don’t fumble your elevator pitch. “Know your personal stories inside and out, because you’ll only have time to give the interviewer one or two anecdotes to take away from the interview.”
by James Smith
If you want to be the one person who secures a strategy consulting role of the 100 people who apply, you need to know how to get through multiple case study interviews. Consultants and investment banks tend to attract similar types of candidates, but it’s this interview style that really proves a stumbling block for most people.
I’ve worked at a big three strategy company for the last three years, and now interview graduates coming on to our training programme. Here’s a few insider tips to get you ahead…
It’s all about practiceNo one has an innate talent for to solve case studies; it’s a learned skill like everything else. Once you’re in a strategy consulting role, firms will invest significant resources in training new hires to tackle real life scenarios according to their own style and philosophy. In the meantime, you’re on your own.
At interview, candidates are expected to show an elementary understanding of how to solve case studies and demonstrate significant potential to become ‘expert’ problem solvers with practice. They want to see that you are able to construct logical and efficient approaches to tackle varied scenarios.
This means you have to tackle the materials that these firms put online, and those of their competitors, before you step into an interview. All the best candidates practice, and it’s this practice that gives them the confidence to tackle new problems during the interview process.
Still, the best practice you will get is actually at the interviews. Explicitly or through nudges and steers, you will receive feedback and guidance during each interview you have. If you seem to be receiving hints, you probably are. Graciously accept them and don’t be afraid to change course based upon them – or argue why your approach is better. Give your interviewer confidence in your ability to learn by demonstrating to them that you understand feedback well.
Use the frameworks as a starting pointYou should study all the analysis frameworks needed to tackle case study problems. These need to be in your back pocket at an interview.
As simple examples, you should know to break cost problems into variable and fixed cost parts, or revenue problems into price and volume parts. Then dive into more problem-specific approaches, using things like the 4Ps of marketing (product, place price, promotion), for instance.
Interviewers will expect you to know a handful of these ‘frameworks’ or business logics. Consultants use them day-to-day. They give structure to your thought process and help you to quickly come up with a solid set of mutually exclusive but contextually exhaustive (MECE) options to solve a problem.
Stand-out by doing two things with your frameworks, however.
First, don’t labour through what your frameworks are or why you’re using them. They should structure your answer, not be your answer. Clients do not care about how a framework works – they will just care about what it means for them. Treat your interviewer as though they’re a client.
Second, think ‘outside of the box’ that your framework sets up for you. Moulding the known to solve the unknown is how top tier consulting differentiates itself. So acknowledge where your framework is relevant and where its assumptions are less relevant for your scenario too.
If you can, then go on to suggest adjustments to it given this. As an example, in a heavily regulated industry, the primary stakeholder could be a Government rather than any ‘customers’, which may change the way you would operate and promote your goods. Show deep understanding and intuition by adapting well to the specific problem.
Don’t make the interview into something it’s notConsulting interviews are a test of potential ability, not maths. Interviews do involve maths, however, and lots of candidates (I’d say up to half) fail in part because of concerns over their ability to handle data. Many candidates bring this upon themselves, trying to impress interviewers with unnecessarily complicated approaches to problems.
For detailed calculations consultants use Excel. In discussions we stick to round numbers and simplified calculations. Take the initiative to do the same in your interviews. Don’t actively avoid maths, but do actively simplify it. Often you get to choose the numbers, so be smart and do so strategically.
Know the personality of your firmEach of McKinsey, Bain and BCG have distinct personalities that they look for. If you can, speak to an employee or two to scope this out. Very broadly, McKinsey is the most ‘white-collar’, BCG is the most academic and Bain is the most down-to-earth.
You should adapt your interview style to project yourself as a perfect ‘fit’ for each culture. Competition between the rivals is fierce, and if you project yourself as a great consultant, but perhaps better suited to a rival, the chances are that you will be rejected. Courting a candidate likely to opt for a rival is an expensive game that firms are reluctant to play. Make it known why you are specifically keen in that firm over its competitors.
Whatever you do, seem assuredAs a consultant you will quickly be put in front of clients. Partners (typically the final round interviewers) therefore want to be confident that you’ll be a ‘safe pair of hands’ for their brand. This will be tested in particular if you’re applying straight from university. They want to hire candidates that possess the gravitas to get clients to buy-in to difficult concepts, or de-stress challenging situations.
Always act professionally and project self assurance in your ability to manage each situation, even when being asked difficult questions. They are purposefully testing your resilience. If you can demonstrate an ability to remain composed and persuasive under pressure, partners are sure to be impressed.
These are the guidelines I have to make it through the consulting interview, but remember there’s no secret recipe. Consultants value diversity in their new recruits, so show your personality throughout and have some fun…
From Business Insider