5 Consulting Recruiting Trends to Know for 2023

Consulting recruiting trends are constantly changing, and 2023 is no different. If you’re getting your information from 10-year-old YouTube videos or amateur blogs, you’ll be caught off guard by the changes that are taking place in the consulting recruiting process. No matter which position or firm you’re targeting, pay attention to these 5 consulting recruiting trends to set yourself up for success as you pursue a consulting role this year!

Consulting Recruiting

Consulting Recruiting Trends for 2023

  1. Full Time Hiring will Slow in 2023 while Internship Hiring will Maintain its Frenetic Pace

First, the good news – consulting firms have diversified their talent pipelines. The days of McKinsey hiring exclusively from HBS and Wharton are long gone. And this was before 2022 brought us the tightest global labor market in decades, as well as record demand for management consulting services. So, who are firms hiring this year? Expect to see an increase in candidates receiving offers from the following groups:

    • Undergraduate and MBA students from non-target programs
    • Specialty Masters’ students
    • PhDs, JDs, and MDs
    • Experienced professionals

Now, that’s not to say that being at HBS hurts your chances. It’s just that you don’t need to be at a top-tier MBA program to break into consulting. Case in point? Less than 20% of McKinsey’s intake last year were candidates coming directly from an MBA program. In addition, the firm hired analysts from over 370 universities.

Here’s the bad news for candidates – the tight global labor market of the last 2 years is loosening, consultant utilization is coming back down from a pandemic-era peak, and firms’ staffing has all but caught up with demand after a frenetic 2 years of hiring. The confluence of these factors gives us the expectation that full time hiring will slow in 2023. Firms will continue to invest in their internship pipelines as they think longer-term about talent needs.

  1. Consulting Recruiting Will Start Even EARLIER

If you’re a student, pay attention. Consulting firms will continue to move recruiting timelines up in 2023, so you need to start preparing for interviews as soon as possible. According to sources, here’s when we expect 2023 consulting application deadlines to hit:

    • Feb/Mar: Application deadlines for PhD/JD/MD bridge programs and Freshman/Sophomore diversity programs
    • April: First application deadline for undergraduate juniors applying for internships
    • Late June: First application deadline for undergraduate seniors applying for full time roles
    • August: First application deadline for U.S. MBAs applying for full-time roles
    • November: First application deadline for U.S. MBAs applying for internship roles

Note: non-U.S. deadlines are typically a few weeks later than U.S. deadlines, but that still means deadlines will move up from where they have traditionally been.

Diversity recruiting often takes place even earlier, so if you want to leverage a diversity pathway into your firm of choice, make sure you connect early with the specific affinity group who will be sponsoring your application. Learn more about which firms offer affinity groups in our firm directory.

  1. Prepare for Extra Interview Hurdles

Nontraditional interview methods have become commonplace across the industry as we head into the 2023 cycle. Here is what you should be prepared for in this year’s consulting recruiting cycle:

    • Digital assessments
      • Video game like simulations or GMAT-style timed tests
      • Include verbal reasoning, quant problem-solving components
      • Utilized most often at MBB as pre-interview screen
      • Used at McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, Capital One and others
    • Chatbot case interview
      • Multiple choice questions
      • Ends with 1-2min video recording of candidate’s final recommendation
      • Most common at BCG as part of Round 1
      • See our free chatbot case for practice
    • Virtual case interview
      • Case interview conducted virtually by human interviewer
      • Less exhibit-heavy
      • Requires over-communication and over-structuring
      • Most first round interviews remain virtual
    • Presentation case interview
      • You have 1-48 hours to build a ~5 slide deck from ~50 pages of data
      • You present live to multiple interviewers
      • Utilized across firms; almost always part of final round at ZS Associates
    • Group case interview
      • Case prompt structured and solved by 4-6 candidates
      • Common in final rounds

We break down each of these evaluation methods in more detail through the dedicated articles you can access through the above hyperlinks.

  1. Firms are Differentiating by Offering Value Beyond Base Compensation

In our 2023 Consulting Salary Report, you’ll see that beyond the dramatic base salary increases we saw last cycle, firms increased variable comp (i.e., performance bonus caps, profit sharing) and expanded benefits (i.e., unlimited PTO). Many firms are choosing to expand one or the other of these perks. Pay attention to which your target firms are doing – it will tell you a lot about the culture and what each firm perceives its market position to be.

Salaries won’t increase at the same rate for the 2024 cycle. The loosening labor market and increased retention will put downward pressure on salary increases, and layoffs on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley mean there is a detente in the traditional war for talent between consulting, banking, and tech.

  1. Internal Strategy Groups will Continue to Ascend as a Genuine Alternative to Management Consulting for Many Candidates

Hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies now boast their own internal strategy practices. This helps them own data & analytical output from end-to-end, ensure a dedicated team working on the business (not just in it), and reduces costs.

These internal practices are like mini consulting firms, and offer a certain type of candidate interesting benefits:

    • A specific industry focus
    • Better lifestyle (i.e., less or no travel)
    • Natural exit opportunities into other parts of the org

Keep in mind that comp at the junior levels of internal strategy houses is less than at the comparable level inside of consulting. Still, this is a fantastic alternative (or exit opp) for certain types of candidates who value singular company focus and a better lifestyle.

Consulting Recruiting Conclusions

The management consulting industry is strong – we expect the pace of salary increases to slow, keeping firm margins steady. As hiring slows from the frenzy of the last two years, there are more candidates than ever before looking to break into the industry, meaning that the consulting recruiting process is as competitive as we’ve seen it. Work with the expert team at Management Consulted to stand out from the crowd through resume edits or case coaching.

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Filed Under: Consulting Firms, consulting interviews, consulting recruiting, Where do I Start?