Consulting Interview Preparation.pdf - Compiledby AnkitMisra ShrutiDube

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Unformatted text preview: Consulting Interview Preparation Guide Compiled by: Ankit Misra Shruti Dube McKinsey Interview Experiences by: Ankit Misra • Cherian Mathew • Gopesh Mittal Harshit Arora • Karan Malhotra • Krishna Khandelwal Mayank Mandava • Mayur Dixit • Nishith Khantal • Sheeraz Ahmad Shivangi Lal • Shruti Dube • Smita Agarwal • Sumeet Kale IIT Kanpur ‐ Class of 2008 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide Table of Contents Preface........................................................................................................................................................... 3 1. Tailoring the Resume............................................................................................................................. 4 2. Interview Preparation ........................................................................................................................... 6 2.1 Basic Do’s and Don’ts for the Interview ................................................................................... 6 2.2 Experience Interviews ................................................................................................................. 8 2.3 Case Interviews ............................................................................................................................ 8 2.4 Questions To Ask ......................................................................................................................... 9 2.5 Sample Case Structuring............................................................................................................. 9 3. First Hand Interview Experiences .................................................................................................... 12 4. Concluding Thoughts......................................................................................................................... 45 5. Bibliography ........................................................................................................................................ 46 2 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide Preface The purpose of this guide is to give you a head start for consulting interview preparation. We have included tips on resume making and personal interviews. For first hand feedback we have also included the interview experiences of the students shortlisted by McKinsey this year. Hoping that this guide would be useful in making you better prepared for consulting interviews. 3 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide 1. Tailoring the Resume Your resume serves as an important tool for recruiters in the selection/elimination process. According to McKinsey & Company “Your resume should be the best possible reflection of your abilities and achievements to highlight your leadership, problem‐solving skills, and examples of personal impact”. It is much more than a tool used to shortlist candidates. A good resume not only yields an interview call but also lays down the foundation for the interview process by creating a good first impression. McKinsey look for the following on resumes: • Problem Solving Skills and Academic Strength. Mention your projects/internships/ other awards reflecting your contribution and its impact. • Leadership and Teamwork. Indicate on your resume the instances where you displayed or acquired leadership and teamwork skills during your term in IIT/school. • Accomplishments. McKinsey seek people who boast long lists of accomplishments that demonstrate reliability, commitment,motivation, and high standards of excellence. • Distinctions. If you can differentiate yourself on your resume – highlighting technical skills, foreign languages, publications and awards ‐ it will be to your advantage. • People skills. This is also an important area which is examined so try to help the examiner by highlighting your commitments where you acquired/employed your interpersonal skills. How you write and structure your resume says a lot about how you communicate with others so put in lots of effort on your resume. Make your resume as terse as possible. Use bulleted phrases (preferably starting with verbs) rather than complete sentences. Wherever possible, quantify your results to make your achievements more concrete. Tailor your resume to meet the skills set mentioned. And finally get your resume reviewed by as many people as you can. The standard McKinsey resume that most of us used is as given below. It was not mandatory to follow this format but most of the student found the format to be good. Contact Information Education Year Degree/ Certificate Institute/ School, City B.Tech., <Branch> Class XII: <Board> Class X: <Board> • Scholastic achievements, if any; year • Exchange programs, if any; key achievements; period • Key academic projects undertaken, if any; key achievements; period 4 CGPA/ % Rank Consulting Interview Preparation Guide Summer training(s) Organization: _____________________________ Department: ____________________, City: _____________, Period: ________________ • What you did: • What you achieved: Extra-Curricular Activities • • Positions of responsibility Position, Organisation Period Key achievements Key extra-curricular activities/ interests (cultural activities/ sports/ others) Please include your accomplishments / awards in these areas 5 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide 2. Interview Preparation Interviews taken by McKinsey, as by other consulting firms, fall into two types: the experience interview and the case interview. The former determines the extent to which you fit the consultant profile and the firm’s culture. The latter tests your problem solving skills. Both the types are equally important and hence students should prepare well for both. 2.1 Basic Do’s and Don’ts for the Interview • • • • • • • • • • • Arrive a little early. If you arrive about fifteen minutes before the scheduled interview time, you will have time to collect your thoughts, wipe the perspiration from your hands, and scan the lobby for current company information. You will also show your interviewer that you value his or her time. Do your homework. Know the interviewer’s name and how to pronounce it (including proper title: Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.). Know the company’s major products or services, the organization of the company (divisions, parent company, etc.), current business news about the company and the company’s major customers and competitors. You can learn most or all of this information from the company’s website, annual report or company literature. Bring a Spare Copy of Your Resume in a Briefcase or Folder. This demonstrates that you are prepared. It also gives the interviewer something to take notes on. Expect to Spend Some Time Developing Rapport. Personal chemistry is a main ingredient in the hiring process. Try to relax and become comfortable with the interviewer. Prepare for basic open‐ended questions. The interview is a process by which the interviewer gets to know you and judge whether you match the requirements both academically and as a person. Generally, the interviewer will throw up some open‐ended question like “Tell me about you”. This is meant to relax the applicant. This can be used as an opportunity to divert the interview into your areas of strength. Open‐ended questions like those on hobbies, achievements, etc reveal a great deal about you as a person. Treat these questions very seriously. Listen. Listen to the question before answering it. Understand what the interviewer is looking for. If you need time to think about the answer, request for the same. Most interviewers would comply with such a request. But after you have taken time to think, better come up with a good answer. Watch Your Non‐Verbal Communication. Maintain an open body posture. Seat yourself at a reasonable distance from the other person. Smile. Always maintain eye contact with the interviewer. It shows your confidence. Never droop in the chair. Sit upright and keep track of your hand movements while answering questions. Don’t Be Embarrassed by Nervousness. Interviewers are human, and they often become nervous, too. In fact, nervousness is a good sign ‐ it shows that you are taking the interview seriously. Avoid nervous mannerisms such as tapping your fingers, feet, playing with pens, etc. Body language is powerful! Good eye contact, a warm, natural smile and a firm handshake can help you overcome nervousness, develop a personal rapport and present a confident image. Don’t Play Comedian or Try to Entertain the Interviewer. It is important to be personable, but do not overdo it. Don’t Exaggerate or Lie. You might be tempted to embellish your achievements in the interview, but it will come back to haunt you on the job! 6 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide • • • • • • • • • • • Follow the Interviewer’s Lead. Don’t try to take over the interview. Stick to the main subject at hand, but do not dwell too long on one point. It is better to deal with many questions rather than just one or two in‐depth questions, unless that’s where the interviewer leads you. Be Prepared For Personal Questions, Even Some Inappropriate Ones. Anticipate how you will handle personal questions without blowing your cool. Some interviewers may not be aware of what they can and cannot legally ask you. Be sure you understand the question. It is okay to ask for clarification. Emphasize the Positive. Be frank and honest, but never apologize for lack of experience or weaknesses. You can be self‐confident without being overconfident or flippant. If you are new to the job market, your lack of experience has one very positive feature: you do not have to “unlearn” bad habits or different practices learned from previous employers. Many employers like the idea that you can be taught their individual company procedures without needing to get rid of other training first. Don’t be Afraid to Think before You Speak. Use silence and intentional pause to your advantage. Time is occasionally needed to think and to reflect. The interviewer will respect you for taking a question seriously enough to give it a moment or two of consideration before answering. Emphasize What You Can Do For The Organization. This means emphasizing your transferable skills. However, be careful not to reveal trade secrets from a previous employer. Employers are concerned most with what you can do for them. Focus on your ability to tackle new situations, your communication skills, interpersonal abilities, analytical thinking talents, and other skills developed while in college or in previous positions. Don’t give “Prepared Answers”. Most employers know a these stock answers when they hear them. This is a good reason to use interview question / answer guide as just that ‐ guides. If your answers are not personalized to your situation, they will sound forced and unnatural. You might be surprised to learn how often interviewers hear the phrase, “I really like working with people”. The phrase is used so often that it has lost its meaning! Watch Your Grammar and your manners. Employers are interested in candidates who can express themselves properly. Even if you have to slow down to correct yourself ‐do it! Use slang expressions very sparingly. If your knowledge of rules of etiquette is rusty, take a “refresher course” from a knowledgeable friend. Be Prepared to Ask Questions. Almost all interviewers will ask if you have any questions. You should have some ready and should have at least one that is related to the conversation you have just completed. This demonstrates that you are both prepared and interested. Your questions should be related to details about the company and should be based on the information you learned from the homework you have done. You should not ask questions like “How long to I have to wait before I can take a vacation?” Save those what’s‐in‐it‐for‐me questions for later. If you do not ask any questions at this point, chances are that you may come across as a person who is not keen to join the company. Be Careful With the Closing. Do not linger. End quickly and courteously. Thank your interviewer for the interview. Smile. Be Yourself! You do not want to get hired on the basis of something you are not. You want to be hired for who you are! Do not try to be someone you are not during an interview. Be natural. An interview is a process by which the candidate and the interviewer get to know each other and the candidate’s role in the organization is established. Any mask that you may don for the interview will wear down in no time. Mock Interviews: It is always a good idea to attend mock interviews and use the feedback to improve your interview skills. 7 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide 2.2 Experience Interviews Experience Interviews are designed to measure “softer” attributes of the candidates. It also confirms the skills you claim on your resume and hence also acts as a “sanity check”. McKinsey expects candidates to be prepared to discuss specific instances of when youʹve used skills and been challenged. Usually your resume decides the course of this part of the interview and hence there is even greater incentive to prepare your resume well. Focus on the same skills highlighted in your resume, but use different examples of teamwork, leadership, and other soft skills. Needless to say provide only relevant examples. Your answers should belogical and structured. Irrelevant answers are pretty evident on the other side of the table and don’t do any good to your evaluation. To prepare, practice answering the more frequently asked behavioral questions until you can answer them smoothly. If time permits try to write an essay about yourself and get it reviewed by your peers. Such an exercise not only leads to be better prepared for the interview but also make you better aware of yourself, which helps in answering the questions confidently. 2.3 Case Interviews According to McKinsey “case interviews are broad, two‐way discussions, rather than one‐way tests and there is no perfect answer”. One is required to analyze the case based on the information provided making apt assumptions as and when required. How you arrive at your answer is much more important than if you answer correctly. Hence in such situations it is very important to engage with the interviewer by constantly communicating your thought process. Case interview questions fall into two broad categories: business cases and estimation cases. Business case is nothing but a problem‐solving exercise. Though most interviewers give real world business cases, industry knowledge is not a pre‐requisite to ace a business case. Key facts and issues pertaining to the case will be narrated by the interviewer. Feel free to ask any aspect of the case that you don’t comprehend well or are not familiar with. The interviewer is more interested in checking out your thought process and assessing your analytical ability, creativity, and poise. To prepare for business cases we suggest that one should read Macroeconomics basics and practice a few sample case studies from casebooks [8],[9],[10],[11]. This shall help you gain a good understanding of standard frameworks for solving business cases. You should then start practicing case studies with a partner and become comfortable in structuring the problem at hand into manageable sub problems. If you are able to assign a 2‐3 level deep tree structure for case study questions and are also able to come up with your own framework (which may be inspired from standard frameworks, but is actually a customized framework tailored according to the problem at hand) your preparation for tackling business cases is going on track. Estimation cases usually involve estimation of market size for a product/service or estimation of any other variable (e.g. Number of marriages happening in India each year). The key objective of the interviewer is to observe your reasoning process. Arriving at the correct answer is not something the interviewer is looking for, but yes concluding your analysis towards a final answer is desirable. Assumptions made during the analysis should be chosen sensibly and should be properly stated. 8 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide Case Study Time‐Line Clarify Terms in Case Narration: (Understand properly the Product/Customers in question) Begin your analysis by clarifying ambiguous term in the case narration. Something like: “I would like to clarify few terms before I suggest a structure to take forward the discussion” or “Since I do not know much about this sector, I would like to know how …” Repeat the Case Back: To ensure that you have understood the problem well, narrate back the case clearly identifying key players and pinpointing the objective. You can say something like: “All right, let me play back the situation to you, just to make sure I’m clear.” Asking for Time to Frame the Solution: Don’t hesitate in asking for some time to chalk out your analysis. Interviewers never mind giving time to the candidates, so you can take your own sweet time. Polite request like: “I would like to develop a plan for approaching this problem. May I take a minute to do so?” would usually get a positive response. (Beware that in Stress Interviews however, you could be very harshly denied any time you ask for, or could be given a time frame in which it is almost impossible to think about the problem from all perspectives. What to do in such cases? It is easier said than done: Do not give up. Start from most relevant issue and continue thereon depending on interviewer’s response.) Lay the Road Map Keep the interviewer aware of your overall approach by communicating it before you start to analyze at microscopic level. E.g. “The way I have planned to approach the case is that: first, I’m going to discuss critical issues related to … then, I’m going to try to figure out … then I would also want to assess… finally, I’m making a recommendation”. Analyze the Case and Conclude: Discuss each of the issues you raised while laying up the road map and finally conclude the case. Keep your interviewer engaged during the analysis. One way is to keep asking your interviewer if you are on the right track so far. You should finally make your recommendation about the problem asked in the case. Merely restating the points addressed during the case analysis is not sufficient. 2.4 Questions To Ask Towards the culmination of interviews, interviewers almost always give the candidate an opportunity to ask a few questions about the firm. This is great chance to reflect your genuine interest in a career in consulting by asking some deep‐thought questions. This also requires a bit of homework but provides a great chance to finish up the interview on a positive note. Also, remember to thank the interviewer for making time to take your interview. 2.5 Sample Case Structuring Case analysis seems very easy once you read through the solutions in the guides. However when you solve it in real time then it’s a totally different ball game. It is recommended that you try to come up with your own structures to tackle the interviews rather than blindly following the 4P’s or 9 Consulting Interview Preparation Guide 4C’s etc. For example suppose that the case is regarding a commodity manufacturer trying to cope with falling profits. There are lots of factors that could have gone wrong which lead to falling profits. Instead of randomly guessing the factors it is desired that one should present the thought process in a structured manner. The following table tries to give a structure to the analysis: Driver Inbound Logistics Raw Material Procurement Cost Incurred • Alternative Materials/ Substitutes • Alternative Suppliers • Backward Integration/ de‐Integration • Hedging against volatility in Raw Material Markets to focus on Core Competencies • Permutations of Means/Routes Of Transportation • Offloading/Loading Costs • Just In Time Procurement • Rent of Storehouse (space/duration/rate) • Controlled Environment Mainten...
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