How to win at the LEK interview process even when applying from abroad

Recent grad Danika did something not many undergrads attempt – she applied to consulting firms while she was spending a semester studying abroad. Managing vast gaps in time and distance, she employed flexibility and persistence to land an offer from LEK.

From the beginning, she was upfront about her location and realistic about her prospects, while at the same time ready to fly home at the drop of a hat if the opportunity beckoned. Below, she tells us how she did it, why she chose LEK over other firms, and what she’s most nervous about as she embarks on her first full-time job after school.

1. Can you give us a summary of your background?  Where you are from, education, extracurriculars, previous internships/jobs, interests, etc.

Originally from southern California, I moved to Boston and just graduated with my undergraduate degree with a concentration in Finance. Growing up I worked a lot of server positions and beginning in my sophomore year of college I started interning. I’ve had both finance and marketing internships, which more than anything else helped me decide that I did not want to pursue a job exclusively in either of those fields.

Also, while in school, I traveled abroad to Europe twice – exploring other cities/countries is a major passion of mine. Some other extracurriculars include skiing/snowboarding trips and working with at-risk kids in the greater Boston area.

2. You were abroad when you applied to firms – and landed interviews, a nearly impossible feat. What key steps did you take to get the interview invite – from nuances of your application to any networking you did? How did you overcome the time and distance gap?

Applying from abroad was neither fun nor easy. I started networking long before I went abroad, however, and once I was abroad I was setting up Skype calls and sending numerous emails to try to get myself an interview. Also, while I was abroad I went to all the student career events at the foreign school and tried to figure out what getting an interview in Europe would entail, considering that a lot of the places I was applying to were international.

In terms of my application, I always wrote on the bottom of my cover letters something along the lines of  “currently studying abroad but able to interview with a week’s notice.” In my mind, interviewing was the most important thing, even more important than my experience abroad, and if I absolutely needed to, with enough notice I would fly back to the United States.

I had to be very flexible when it came to the time gap ( I was 6 hours ahead of the east coast) and I drank a lot…a lot…of coffee. The distance almost posed a problem because, after some phone interviews, companies wanted me to come in for an interview, which wasn’t exactly possible. I tried to set up Skype interviews, and even though I lost some job opportunities, for some places I got them to extend my application for about 2 months until I was back in the United States.

Note: Danika’s attitude here was huge. She didn’t let studying abroad deter her from pursuing top jobs – and she didn’t use her experience abroad as an excuse. Obviously, her approach paid off for some firms that were willing to work with her.

3. LEK is a great company, but there isn’t a lot of information about the recruiting process available.  Can you tell us the insider’s view of the interview process – how many you did, what seniority, case style, etc.?

The interview process consisted of 2 phone interviews with 2nd and 3rd-year associates. One was heavy on fit questions and a quantitative case and the other was just a qualitative case. Then in person, I met with 3 senior managers. I believe meeting with a partner is also common, however, none were available when I was being interviewed. I received many fit questions with all three and one case per person: two were qualitative and one was quantitative. Everyone I spoke to was very nice and seemed genuinely curious about how I was going to answer each question.

4. What were some of your other choices, and why did you decide to join LEK?

Some other options I was looking into involved traveling and doing startup work overseas. This still really interests me, but I am really drawn to LEK because I am still unclear what business path I would like to take and hope to gain a lot of experience from working in a consulting firm.

I chose LEK because of their broad scope of clientele and because they seem to be less intense/ internally competitive than some of the other firms I looked at. This is really important to me because I like the idea of collegial teamwork and feel that that environment could be negatively affected in an intensely competitive environment. I also like that LEK consultants travel exponentially less than other firms.

5. What are you most excited about as you prepare for your start in consulting?  What makes you the most nervous?

I am honestly just anxious to see what it is going to be like — the hours, the people, the environment, etc. I am excited to see what kind of work I am going to be doing and the different kinds of people I am going to meet.

I am the most nervous for my first assignment! But, I am also nervous about the transition from school/summer life into full-time job life. Not to mention that it all still feels very vague so it is hard to pinpoint what I am exactly nervous about. It’s more just an overarching feeling that I’m launching into this unknown future. 

6. What advice can you give MC readers about breaking into consulting?

My advice would be to practice as much as you can. Feeling confident answering a case is a great feeling — try and turn simple things in everyday life into a quantitative case and hopefully you enjoy thinking about the world that way. Also, I would say to not give up – it is an incredibly intimidating process and I was rejected before even given a chance at many companies, but there are a lot of management consulting firms out there so keep trying if it’s what you really want!

Have further questions about breaking into LEK? Email us today, and we’ll be happy to help.  Thanks for reading!

Filed Under: Consulting Case Interview