Should I Ask An Interviewee What Their Managemnt Style Is Management Consultancy Interviews – Planning To Succeed

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Management Consultancy Interviews – Planning To Succeed

The following article arose out of discussions between Mindbench and its clients about where candidates go wrong during interviews. This prompted us to conduct a qualitative survey of clients, candidates, HR and recruitment consultants working in the management consulting sector to identify some of the key skills and major pitfalls…

Recruitment is active, as is the number of candidates

The current market for management consulting recruitment is very active – indeed, it looks set to reach an all-time high this year. However, competition for these positions is still intense and a record number of MBAs are seeking employment in this sector! There are over two hundred applicants for every position in strategy consulting—the vast majority of whom will be shortlisted at the CV stage and beyond—but if you do make it to the interview stage, the following tips can prove invaluable.

Understand who you are addressing

A significant skill set for advisers of all types is research – and the less information that is published, the more important advisers become to their clients – and the more these skills are tested. It’s very important that you don’t waste time on the interview and that you show a genuine interest in the company and what it does – good research is key! Research the company online – not just on their own website, but also follow any links they may provide, look for press articles, industry associations and browse their clients’ sites. Try to fully understand what work they do and what it’s like to work for them. Find out what industries and sectors they operate in and who their main customers are. Never be afraid to pick up the phone and ask other people’s opinions. Talk to anyone who has worked in this sector or ideally at this firm! Again, a good recruitment consultant should be able to put you in touch with such people.

As in life – everything is for sale! In this case, you’re here to sell yourself into consulting – make it easy for them to hire you! Show them how your qualifications, qualities and experience will match and enhance their own, but you can only do this successfully if you understand what they do and for whom. Corporate culture has become more important in recent years, and consulting firms in particular have embraced this idea. Again, their website should give you a good overview of how they see themselves as a work environment, but remember, this is how they see themselves. Talking to a current or former employee will give you a better understanding.

An ideal candidate

First of all, we discussed the key characteristics that a candidate should possess and, importantly, be able to demonstrate during an interview:

o Strategic thinking – is this candidate able to think in terms of strategic direction?

o Analytical accuracy – does this candidate think logically, methodically?

o Mathematical ability – does the candidate have the mathematical ability to cope with financial modelling, understanding of statistical analysis, corporate financial reporting, etc.

o Commercial awareness – is this candidate able to think in terms of pricing, competitive environment, etc.?

o Intellectual Curiosity – Is this candidate curious enough to look beyond the surface and find the details and root causes?

In addition to identifying these specific qualities, several less tangible aspects were discussed. These are traits that a consultant would ideally like all her consultants to have, but are much harder to identify or portray:

o Inspiration – Has the candidate demonstrated the necessary level of inspiration and ambition in their career?

o Focus – can the candidate demonstrate the ability to ignore distractions and follow the main goal of the project?

o Ability to manage people – Has the candidate demonstrated a willingness/ability to lead others in any environment? It can be downward management (staff, subordinates), peer management or top management

o Commitment – is there a willingness to work long hours under pressure

o And finally, “Depth of character” – this last trait turned out to be the most difficult to define.

The following quotes from the heads of the Consultancy’s recruitment department were helpful in summarizing their views:

“If a candidate is smart enough and willing to work hard, we have training plans and mentoring systems in place to enable us to impart all the skills our consultants need to fulfill their roles – the only thing that cannot be taught is character … and that, perhaps the most valuable trait of all!”

“How do you recognize this in interviews? We look at the prepared answers candidates give to the more predictable questions and also try to ask them some questions they won’t be prepared for! But in the end, you know it when you see it!

Successfully passing the interview

It is in the consultants’ interest to give you an opportunity to sell yourself to them. They want you to be able to demonstrate your qualifications, your abilities, your enthusiasm and – to some extent – ​​your personality!

You need to be able to do this efficiently and effectively, so BE READY!

Preparation will allow you to speak freely about any aspect you need to discuss, and to talk about yourself and your achievements in a structured and logical manner. All these are very attractive abilities of a consultant!

The best way to prepare for this is to PRACTICE!

o Think about the questions you are likely to be asked

o Search the Internet and libraries for additional examples

o Speak to a recruitment consultant or interview coordinator

Work out some answers to these questions that will allow you to bring out your best qualities and highlight your achievements.

We also strongly recommend that you practice answering these questions out loud. Find friends or colleagues and arrange to spend time asking each other interview-style questions and listening to the answers. Discuss your own work and other people’s work – nothing can replace a “performance” in front of other people!

The ultimate goal in such situations is balance, which is difficult to achieve:

“Be ready – sound spontaneous!”

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