Are you an aspiring management consultant? Do you plan on interviewing with top management consulting firms such as Mckinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Bain, Booz Allen Hamilton, Mercer, L.E.K Consulting, A.T. Kearney, Roland Berger or others? If you answered yes to both these questions then you are guaranteed to face several rounds of case interviews. So how do you answer consulting case interview questions?
When answering consulting case interview questions the most important thing above all else is to demonstrate to the interviewer your intelligence and ability to solve problems. There is a good chance that you will not even generate an answer nor will it be correct. Often case interviews can simply end up being an exploration of issues with the interviewer guiding you down one of many possible paths allowing you to formulate a solution to a problem, give recommendations or 'ball park' an estimate.
With this in mind never go too quick because you may overlook important elements of the problem and take too narrow a focus. Be sure to work at a steady pace however, to ensure you can at least give a final answer if required by the interviewer.
Interact with the interviewer and ask any questions to gauge the scope of the problem or fill in missing gaps of information. Often certain details of the case will be withheld purposely to see if you can determine what extra information would be useful. This demonstrates that you are both inquisitive and thorough.
Don't be afraid to be creative because management consulting requires a large element of 'thinking outside the square' and innovative ideas. Be enthusiastic, confident and comfortable. Always let your personality come through. You may get way off track in a case interview and think that there is no way you will make it to the next round, however your personality is what often will get you over the line.
A good point to make here is the importance of bringing structure to your problem solving. Common methods and frameworks such as Porters 5 forces, the BCG Matrix, SWOT Analysis, Revenue and Cost modeling, business life cycle analysis, Mind Mapping, key issues grouping and problem decomposition are great ways of bringing structure to your thoughts, however feel free to structure your solution anyway you can keeping in mind what feels appropriate given the nature of the case question. There is nothing worse than attempting to apply some kind of method framework to a problem when it is off context or inappropriate. It is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
The last point that should be made is in regard to the appearance of your key strengths. Consulting firms hire from a variety of backgrounds and degrees including engineering, science, law, business, economics, management and commerce. They take anyone who shows the right attitude and mind for the job. Management consulting firms look for the most intelligent individuals, 'all-rounders' with competencies and interests in a range of disciplines and despite your education or experience being in only one or two areas they will provide the best training and education to bring you up to speed. It is important, therefore, that if you are a business or commerce oriented individual you must be sure to demonstrate creativity, problem solving skills and a level of thinking outside of the traditional number crunching economist or accountant mind set. Conversely someone like an engineer needs to demonstrate a level of business acumen with at least some knowledge or interest in the commercial world. Play to your strengths but don't show the interviewer that you are only strong in solving problems from one particular approach or based on one educational style. In saying all this, number and math skills are a must, so make sure you can add, subtract, multiply and roughly divide large numbers in your head or on paper without the use of a calculator.
A face-to-face interview is the toughest part of getting you a job. Further, if you are from a science or a medical background, the situation becomes worst. Science is a vast subject and you need to cover a great deal of topics before going for an interview. If you are a medical professional or a doctor then, you must know that a doctor’s job involves competence, technical expertise, integrity and social ethics. Therefore, a medical job interview is considered to be one of the toughest job interviews.
This article covers a few questions that are generally asked in course of a medical interview. You need to go through this list and prepare potential, impressive answers for them. The first question is the most commonly asked questions. I have mentioned an answer to it.
7. The day before your final exam, one of your family members has expired. How will you deal with this situation? How will you manage your studies in such a crisis?
8. A young woman suffering from AIDS comes over to your clinic and requests you not to inform her spouse about it. What will you do?
9. A 7 year old child is suffering from cancer. The kid’s life expectancy is approximately five months. How will you tell her parents about it?
So, these were some of the question you may encounter on the road to become a doctor. You should answer them in a composed manner. And remember, besides being a doctor, you are a human too! So keep up the dignity of this post.
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To help you prepare for your Management Consultant Interview, here are some typical questions you can expect to hear...
Definition: Takes personal responsibility for decisions having considered both the short and long term implications.
1) Describe a situation where you were required to 'think on your feet' and come up with a quick decision in response to a colleague or customer:
a) What was the situation?
b) What was your immediate response?
c) What decision(s) did you arrive at?
d) What was the final outcome?
2) Tell us about a time when you had to analyze a problem based on incomplete information and decide on a solution:
a) What was the problem?
b) What was the information available?
c) What was the information missing?
d) What was your decision?
Definition: Working with others to accomplish objectives by respecting the needs and contributions of those involved.
1) Can you give us examples of how you ensure that your team works as a cohesive unit towards goals?
b) How define goals?
2) Can you give us an example of working with other areas of the office to ensure the efficiency of the business?
a) How were these measurement standards and/or feedback systems developed?
b) What useful information has the feedback given you?
c) Give one or two examples of how you personally have used this feedback?
d) What benefits has this delivered - for the business? For the customer?
Behaviour/Skill: Making Things Happen
Definition: Delivers results in line with strategic and operational plans. Has a 'can do, will do' approach to delivering consistently high performance and inspires others to also achieve high standards.
1) Describe a project or task you managed which required you to organise scant resources to achieve an important deadline:
a) How did you determine your priorities?
b) Did you have to modify the plan?
2) Give an example of a time when you had to "juggle" a number of important activities or priorities at once:
a) What problems did this present you with?
b) What steps did you take to deal with the situation?
c) What was the final outcome?
These are typical questions which you can expect to be asked...so prepare with real examples and ensure you 'wow' the interviewer.