Preview of the upcoming “Consulting Bible” – the 2 most important and most common interview questions you’ll ever hear

Readers will notice that the posting rate has slowed here at Management Consulted. The reason? I’ve been developing a “Consulting Bible” – an insider’s guide to consulting interviews that will cover:

  • More than 50 fit/personality interview questions with example answers for each. I’m shooting for quality and not quantity – so mastering these 50 will give you the content, preparation, and flexibility to answer just about any fit or behavioral question thrown at you
  • 3 technical “sizing” questions and multiple solutions – including secrets on how you can conquer any sizing question, no matter how complex or unstructured
  • 2 extensive, never-before-seen case studies – testing you on the 5 case study principles that all top candidates instinctively know and which you must excel at to receive an offer

Below, I’ll give you a quick preview of the 2 most common and most important fit/behavioral interview questions

#1. Take a few minutes and run me through the key things I should know from your resume

They’re looking for: this question is usually asked for several reasons –

  • The interviewer was too busy and didn’t have time to review your resume
  • The interviewer wants to see what you think are your most important experiences and accomplishments
  • The interviewer wants to test your presentation skills and ability to give an effective soundbite

The secret to this question is to prepare in advance. I guarantee it will be asked of you multiple times in your interviewing life. It’s that common and it’s something that the successful candidates nail

You should:

  • Briefly highlight your educational background
  • Highlight at least 2 work experiences touching upon at least 2 bullet points in each
  • Focus on results and not process (eg, “I implemented a new process that saved each employee 30 minutes/day” and not “I worked on creating a new process for how employees would document how they spent their time”)
  • Speak slowly and calmly

You shouldn’t:

  • Speak quickly and rush
  • Spend all of your time talking about your educational background
  • Focus on only one work experience – unless that’s truly all you have

Sample response:

No problem. Let’s start with the education portion of my resume: I graduated Yale in 2007, majoring in Economics and Political Science. During my time there, I was actively involved with both the Yale Finance Club – serving as its president while tripling the size of the group, and the school newspaper, where I worked for 3 years before rising to editor-in-chief in my last year. In terms of work experience, the one job I’d highlight is my summer as an investment analyst with Prudential. I spent 3 months with the firm analyzing stocks, providing buy/sell recommendations, and doing fundamental and technical research on a large portfolio. In fact, one of my recommendations ended up being their “stock pick of the month”. It taught me a lot about financial markets and how to value companies and their equity.

#2. Why are you interested in management consulting as a career?

They’re looking for: a solid understanding of the job and industry. An appreciation for the skills/personality traits needed to be successful in management consulting. A “subtle sell” of your strengths – as opposed to “direct sell” (an example of a subtle sell would be: “I’ve always been a very curious person with a passion for learning. My understanding of management consulting is that learning is an integral part of the job.”)

You should:

  • Include components of the items listed above
  • Keep the answer to a minute or less
  • Mention the people – it’s a very reliable response to mention the talent/intelligence/ambition/hard-work of management consultants. Not only does it compliment the interviewer indirectly, it tells the interviewer what personality traits you respect and emulate

You shouldn’t:

  • Forget any of the above 3 components
  • Discuss the particular company you’re interviewing with unless specifically asked – their question is not why you want to work for them, but why you’re interested in their line of work
  • Discuss the superficial characteristics such as pay and perks. Travel is OK

Sample response:

I’ve talked to many former and current consultants, and have done a lot of research on the industry.  From what I see, management consulting is an intellectually challenging profession.  I’ve been impressed with the people far more than those in any other job – they’re not just great speakers and presenters, but they have a curiosity that I haven’t seen from anyone else.  I think consulting is a very demanding job – from all accounts there are long hours, lots of travel, and challenging work – but all of that excites me because I feel like I’ll learn a lot, be able to help some of the world’s most prominent businesses solve major problems, and work closely with people who I’d consider to be lifelong role models.

Filed Under: consulting interviews