Consulting Case Interviews: How Well Am I Really Doing?

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep, Consulting Application

Congratulations

Firstly, if you’ve made it to the final phase of the recruitment process, you’re on the right track. This means that you have the credentials, as well as the mental and social capacity to fill in the vacant consulting position. However, the case interview can get the best out of anyone. Applicants have been known to buckle under pressure, making the process extremely unbearable.

Even if you think you are on the right track, misleading questions can easily make you question whether or not you are really qualified for the position. Furthermore, the body language of the recruiter can be influenced by a number of external factors that may not be related to the case interview.

As confusing as these elements might be, there are ways to tell how well you’re doing during a consulting case interview.

Clear Signs

In most cases, the signs of how well you’re doing are obvious. Interviewers don’t have much time to entertain applicants who they see are not fit for a spot in the firm. Case interviews normally take some time to complete. If your interview was cut or seemed noticeably short, this could be a sign that you did not do so well.

If you aced the case interview, interviewers may talk a bit longer about what it’s like to work in the firm, or more about the vacant position. They will be specific about the steps ahead, such as providing specific dates on when you should come back or set an appointment with the secretary for your next visit. If he or she willingly gave you a personal business card without you asking for it, you may very well be in the running to become part of your target firm.

Body Language

The interviewer’s body language can also be used to tell if you’re in the clear or in a hole. As mentioned earlier, body language may not be an entirely reliable method due to external factors. If the interviewer is having a bad day or is burned out from the week, he or she may naturally look stressed even while giving you praise.

Body language that is directed towards the applicant in a blunt manner should be taken in consideration. If the interviewer makes direct eye contact with you and rolls his or her eyes, this could be a sign that you need to do some serious catching up. Furthermore, if the interviewer shows clear signs of boredom and is uninterested in your answers chances are you are not doing so well.

If you catch yourself in this unfavorable position, it is best to make some adjustments. Don’t continue to go in the direction you’re heading and hope that something you say will turn things around. It usually never happens, because one right phrase doesn’t make up for several wrong answers.

The Role of the Interviewer

The interviewer serves a strong purpose during the case interview. They are there to guide applicants through questions and facts. They drop small hints, which will let you know if your answers are sufficient, or are running cold. If the consulting interviewer asks the same question in several different forms, this is a sign that you need to elaborate more in your answer. When this happens, simply take the time to recompose yourself and provide a thorough solution. Repeatedly guessing in small phrases is not advisable, as it can make you appear unreliable.

If the interviewer moves on to a new question in a positive manner and stops providing hints, then chances are you were able to steer clear of trouble. On the contrary, if he or she gives up and provides you with the answer in a condescending tone, then you can’t afford to make any more mistakes.

Signs of Success

There are several ways to tell if you are on the road towards a successful case interview. If you have the undivided attention of the interviewer and he or she apologizes for distractions, such as notifications or phone calls, then it shows that you are providing the right answers. Part of the recruitment process usually includes a tour of the firm. If the interviewer casually introduces you as the next person to fill in the open consulting position in a non-joking manner, then it is safe to say that you left a striking impression during the interview. Although these are clear signs of success, it is never final until you’ve signed the employment contract.

How Did Everyone Else Do?

In some cases, you did well and were scheduled to return in a few days. Then you received a call the following day saying that they already found a candidate to fill the position. Your case interview wasn’t cut short and the recruiter praised you for a job well done. What happened?

The margin of error during the case interview is incredibly thin. If you were part of a very competitive batch, simply providing the right solution or meeting the interviewer’s standards won’t do. If everyone else did the same, and the applicants before you set the bar extremely high, you need to exceed the expectations of the interviewer. Additionally, if the other applicants who came after you aced the case flawlessly, then it could also be a reason why the firm had to reconsider in choosing you as the final candidate.

It’s not recommended to form small groups in the lobby immediately after the case interview to discuss how everyone did. Instead, leave the premises and evaluate yourself personally before contacting the other applicants. Did you miss any signs or hints the may have predicted the results of your case interview?

Are You the Perfect Candidate?

Interviewers are looking for not only looking for the smartest applicant, but also one who has exemplary social skills. Because consulting is a team-oriented profession, recruiters need to be sure that the candidate has the personality to rub shoulders with the other consultants. Each member of the firm, from partner all the way to the IT staff, was handpicked to represent the company.

During the case interview, you would be able to gauge if you are able to connect well with the recruiter and everyone else whom you had an encounter with, such as the secretary and other consultants. That connection matters. If you felt that despite providing correct solutions, you and the interviewer are not on the same wavelength or line of thought, then something might be off.

It is normal for the first few minutes of the case interview to be awkward or a bit shaky. After all, it’s your dream job on the line and interviewers can understand what you’re going through. From here it’s up to you to break the ice quickly. Make the necessary adjustments to not just think about yourself, but also from the point of view of the recruiter.

Personal Evaluation and Reassessment

How an interviewer is assessing your performance during the case interview is not a complete mystery. Taking a few minutes to evaluate yourself on a personal level can help you determine how well you actually did. While it is best to be optimistic, a reassessment of your performance can help you patch up gaps in your character, career and personal development.

For example, if you struggled when selecting a framework to apply during the start of the business case, then (even if you were given the position) it would be a good idea to go back and review that key aspect of the case. Because the entire consulting interview process is highly structured, the results are also somewhat predictable.

If you’re coming in with the exact same educational background and credentials as the other associates in your target firm, it is likely that you will be favored compared to an applicant who has a number of questionable components in his or her resume. Additionally, if you’re hoping that the interviewer will overlook some of your answers during the case and focus on your strengths, it is a sign that your preparation was lacking in some crucial areas. When it comes to the case interview, if you were unable to direct yourself towards find the right solution in the first 5-10 minutes, it would be nearly impossible to suddenly stumble upon the solution during the latter parts of the process.

What Does a Successful Case Interview Look Like?

A successful case interview is one that goes very smoothly. The applicant’s answers are in sync with the interviewer’s guidance. It will almost seem like the applicant is not trailing too far behind in the progress of the case. When an interviewer knows that the applicant is right for the position, they tend to let their guard down a little. A smirk, off-topic joke or a simple nod may be a way of subtly saying congratulations, you have the job.

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Management Consulting Jobs with an Engineering Background

Written by . Posted in Consulting Application

Job Interview

The world of consultancy has a number of branches. Two of them are engineering and management consulting. Both professions provide advice on business dilemmas. However, they work on different projects because of their respective expertise.

Engineering and Management Consulting Projects

Engineering consultants focuses on sharing their expertise on design and construction. For instance, if a company that’s planning to construct a stylish but environment-friendly building, the owners may consult engineering firms for professional assistance. Aside from infrastructure, engineering consultants also work on projects related to manufacturing, automotive, landscapes, electronics, roadways, etc. Huge engineering firms cover all these services but the small ones focus on a few areas.

Management consulting, on the other hand, focuses on resolving organizational concerns and generating plans for business improvement. If a company plans to launch a new laptop, the executives can ask management consultants to analyze the current market and determine if the product will be a hit or not. Like engineering consultancy, this field is also wide. Services include product development, pricing, market segmentation, corporate strategy, human resources and so on. Global firms cover all these areas but boutique consulting firms focus on a few services.

Do Management Consulting Firms Hire Engineers?

Management consulting firms consider applicants from different backgrounds, as long as they have the factors that enable them to perform their job well. McKinsey is noted for hiring engineering graduates. In fact, they have a three-day seminar called, Insight Engineering & Science. In this fully-paid activity, post-doc engineering students and graduates will be given an overview of consulting, workshop on case studies and introduction on the duties of consultants.

Nicolas D., an expert principal of McKinsey, said that his lack of business knowledge didn’t hinder him from being successful in management consulting. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in France, had his masters in chemical engineering at Stanford University, and had good times at Silicon Valley. At first, he felt insecure of becoming a consultant but when he got employed, he appreciated the way the firm enhanced his innate skills. Currently, he is grateful to use his knowledge and abilities on his important projects.

Why Are Engineers Hired for Management Consulting Firms?

The following skills are being considered by recruiters when hiring engineering graduates for management consulting:

  • Quantitative Ability – Engineers have a high level of mental math. Because they are comfortable using numbers, it is easy for them to analyze and interpret quantitative data, a critical phase of the project.
  • Indicator of Determination – Engineering programs are difficult to finish. The school requirements are tough and the licensure examination afterwards is quite challenging. Hence, an impressive GPA indicates hard work and strong commitment, two values consultants must possess.

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How to Effectively Prepare for a Management Consulting Summer Internship

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Business team working on stairs and smiling at the camera

Landing a summer internship in a management consulting firm may be quite a challenge. While some known firms have expanded their internship programs, other firms still don’t accept summer undergraduate interns. Although it may be hard to find one, getting an internship with a consulting firm is extremely valuable. Why?

Well, for one you can get a trial period to determine whether or not consulting is the suitable career path for you. Also, you will know more about the job, particularly the skills needed to succeed in this industry. And more importantly, it can give you a huge advantage when it’s time for the full-time recruiting. Of course, this is if you didn’t receive an offer after the internship. But remember that your ultimate goal should be to secure a full-time offer.

With that, here are some tips to help you prepare to have a consulting summer internship.

Read Up!

Follow the industry news. Read consulting books and periodicals such as the Economist and WSJ on a regular basis. Since you have yet to have a real world experience, reading such materials can help you have a better feel for current business problems and solutions. You may also keep yourself up-to-date by reading posts on reputable consulting blogs and websites.

Prepare Your Business Attire

You should know the consulting dress code. In general, this means you should look professional and neat. Dress properly for your clients and colleagues. However, be careful not to dress fancy. Don’t stray too far from the usual business attire. It is better to have neutral colors. You don’t want to be remembered as the fashion consultant rather than a management consultant trainee, right? Also make sure you have sufficient business clothes for an entire week.

Hone Your Communication Skills

One of the most important skill sets to have prior to your internship is communication skills. Well, you don’t need to be the most eloquent person in the firm, but you should be able to speak clearly and with enthusiasm. This is very much important if you really want a career in consulting. Consultants need to deliver a clear message to their clients in a confident manner.

Know the Language and Start Using It

Every industry has their own set of lingo. Be sure that before your summer consulting internship you are already familiar with the different consulting lingo and terms. Although you are a neophyte, you don’t want to be seen as a neophyte without initiative. Prove that you have what it takes to fit in this industry.

Be Ready to Showcase Your Intellectual Horsepower

Let’s just say that consulting is not a world for everyone. The competition in this industry is relatively high, so you need to be able to showcase your worth. This means that your application documents should be polished and written in a way that they highlight your skills and achievements. Be ready to provide solid proof of your skills and other accomplishments that can demonstrate your intellectual capacity.

Craft Impeccable Resumes and Cover Letters

Summer internship roles at consulting firms are quite limited. Therefore you need to have an impressive application to rise above the rest. Write a concise, targeted and professional resume and cover letter. Make sure to highlight your key skills and achievements.

Be Pretty Good with PowerPoint and Excel

Of course, you are very much familiar with PowerPoint and Excel programs because you are using them at times in school. But be sure that you are not just familiar with it – be proficient. Ensure that you know how to make good presentations using PowerPoint, and how to format cells in Excel.

The point is once your internship starts, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with a lot of materials to learn as well as meetings to attend and so forth. With that, you don’t want to be studying about how to do conditional formatting in Excel at the same time. Don’t worry if you are still not that good at these things. There are plenty of resources online that can help you.

Initiate Contact with Recruiters and Consultants

You may have met some recruiters or consultants during company presentations, interviews, meet-and-greets in the past. You can ask for their help to land a summer internship. You can ask for advice or if they know any internship opportunity available. Generally, consultants would be happy to give you some useful pointers. That’s why it is important to always keep in touch with recruiters and consultants. It will surely help you not just in your internship plans, but importantly will increase your chances for full-time recruiting.

Find Contacts through Your School’s Alumni Database

In order to further increase your chances of finding an internship opportunity, you should get in touch with as many people as possible. You may find your alumni database useful to find people who are currently working in the consulting field. Contact them and express your interest in working at their firm. You may also look for relevant contacts through your school’s career development center. Network and try to build connections to people who are associated with your target firms.

How to Get a Full-Time Job Offer

Now, once accepted make sure that everything you do during the consulting summer internship are geared towards securing a full-time offer. To help you do this, remember to:

Make a Strong First Impression

You don’t need to wow every person in the room. But be sure that you show them that you are pretty smart and can get things done.

Showcase Your Drive

A consultant needs to infuse enthusiasm to every project. Show that you are hungry for knowledge and have the drive to accomplish any given task. You can display your drive by the way you talk about your work or simply by having the initiative to do the job. Participate actively – whether it’s just a small piece of work, or in critical brainstorming and team sessions.

Show that You Are Well-Rounded

Recruiters are attracted to “all-around” people. Consultants are known to be well-rounded as they can crunch numbers and at the same time have excellent communication skills.

Display Your Leadership Skills

Consultants are impressed with people who are like them – have the ability to take responsibility, and can take risks and rise to a challenge. Remember that leadership is not just about managing people. So being able to display your leadership abilities is key to securing an offer.

Impress Them with Your Ability to Think and Present

They may ask for your own analysis of a case and then ask you to make a quick PowerPoint presentation. Use such opportunities to showcase your critical thinking and presentation skills.

Stay Focused

Summer internship can be hard in terms of you might get distracted with parties and other summer activities outside the firm. Remember to keep your eyes on the prize.

Build a Strong Relationship with Your Team Leader and Other Workers

In general, just be bright, reliable and friendly in order to impress the people around you. Remember that the people you work with, particularly the team leaders, may have a big influence on your return offer prospects.

Ask for Feedback

Another way to build rapport with staff and managers is to ask for feedback. Also, asking for feedback will not only help you improve your skills, but will show your genuine passion for the job.

Impress the lead partners. There are usually several partners who are closely involved with your project and client.

Through the summer internship, you’ll have many opportunities to impress your target firm. Make your every effort count! Get in front of them.

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Learn Consulting Ideas and Tips from Daryl Gerke, P.E.

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Meeting

After more than 30 years of running an engineering consulting business, Daryl Gerke, P.E. wants to share what he has discovered in the industry to people who plan to start their own consulting practice. His blog, JumptoConsulting.com is his gift for whoever wants to learn from his knowledge, skills and experience.

What the Blog Covers and Who Can Benefit from It

Jumptoconsulting.com covers the nitty-gritties of the consulting business – sales, operations, marketing, finance, and more. It also includes resources, interviews, answers to questions raised on external websites, anecdotes, and success stories that inspire aspiring consultants.

The blog is designed for anyone who wants to join the consulting industry. They can be graduates as well as lawyers, engineers, retirees, accountants, or architects who feel professionally misplaced with their current state and desire to do something else.

How Gerke Got into Consulting

At first, Gerke didn’t have any plans of taking the technical consulting path. After graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1968, he took a job in the corporate world, but due to the challenges of the electronics industry at that time, he was laid off along with many other employees. Fortunately, he landed another position in Univac Defense Systems where he worked with a group providing in-house advice on Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility (EMI/EMC) issues. This later became the foundation for his consulting business.

He started to get interested in the consulting business when he was undergoing a program to get a Professional Engineer license, a qualification compulsory for consulting engineers. Soon after, he was recruited to teach at a vocational school, which led him to consulting contracts to develop technical training projects. It further led him to consulting commitments outside the institution with his business partner and friend, Bill Kimmel.

While keeping his part-time consulting business, Gerke accepted other several professional roles that further equipped him for consulting. He became a Field Sales Engineer of Tektronix, joined a startup, and was also employed by Intel. After gaining valuable technical, sales and marketing knowledge, he decided to respond to his entrepreneurial itch. He and his partner created a feasible plan, and finally exited the corporate world to jump into consulting. Since then, the consulting business has treated him well.

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Which Career Is Suited for You, Management Consulting or Investment Banking?

Written by . Posted in Consulting Application, Consulting Industry

lamp

Management consulting and investment banking are popular career paths for individuals who are looking for a progressive and rewarding profession.

For those that are unfamiliar with the two industries, it is important to take note that there are some similarities. But there are also important differences. In order to understand how management consulting and investment banking are different, below highlights each field thoroughly with key points on each of the industry’s general lifestyle, compensation, benefits and type of services offered.

Management Consulting

Management consulting is an industry that renders expert advice and solutions for businesses. Some of these advices could be related to operations, restructuring or merging. Additionally, clients may choose to seek the services of a consultant when launching a new product or when faced with decisions with potential risks.

Hiring a management consultant can be costly. Therefore, large or reputable companies usually make up a consulting firm’s client database. These days, the age of “general” consultants is slowly diminishing. Consultants have begun to form specializations depending on the type of projects they have experience in, or based on academic background.

Currently, consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company, Bain and BCG are the front-runners of the industry. With branches all over the world and focus in all larger industries and in the important functional areas, these firms have set the benchmark for other management consulting firms to meet.

A Closer Look at the Lifestyle

Even in the preparation stages, management consulting is demanding, highly competitive and busy. Often times, consultants are relied on to patch up or boost the current condition of the business. With that in mind, consultants are under a lot of pressure and work more than the usual 40 hours, with work carrying over through the weekends and some holidays.

Traveling is an aspect of the job that many consultants dislike. Frequent long trips, flight delays, adjusting to new time zones and busy airports can add stress to a consultant’s lifestyle. Management consultants usually work in teams; therefore, it is essential to have above average social skills. Client management is an aspect of the job that consultants are expected to carry out. This could mean spending time with a client during one’s free time such as dinner or a short weekend trip.

The turnover rate in management consulting firms is relatively low. Many professionals consider the rewards of the job to outweigh the arduous workload. High compensation and above par benefits are common, even for entry-level consultants (compared to other entry level positions in other industries). Depending on the firm, management consulting generally has consistent promotional value. This is due to the fact that the criteria to become a management consultant are very strict.

Furthermore, those who are not able to cope with the job scope often switch careers. Having a foundation as a consultant opens many doors for other careers, primarily within management and strategic positions. Management consultants rely on their network throughout their career, from landing a consulting job to exit strategies (to other consulting firms or careers).

Meeting the Requirements

Due to the competitive nature of the field, it is essential for prospective consultants to have great resumes. The right organizations and internships can also boost the qualifications of an individual who is aiming for an entry-level position after graduation. Those that transfer from another industry are not exempted from the academic criteria and are often subject to more scrutiny and questions during the application process due to the lack of relevant experience and background.

Investment Banking

Investment banking is a financial service provided with the objective to create capital for individuals or businesses. This can be done through the modes of equity securities or debts. Additionally, investment bankers also render advice for real-time market strategies in order to minimize risks and maximize the return on investments.

Another aspect of the job scope of an investment banker is assistance in mergers, restructuring and acquisitions.  Like management consulting, investment banking has evolved to suit the needs of its clients by providing other services related to proprietary trading and asset management.

There are different divisions within an investment banking company. The Investment Banking Division (IBD) deals with industry coverage sectors such as public finance, media, financial institutions and technology, while product coverage sectors primarily specialize in equity, mergers and acquisitions. Both divisions work together depending on the requirements and needs of a client.

Trading is a large part of a role of an investment banker. This usually includes purchasing and selling products in the financial sector. In order to maximize the return of each trade, this part of investment banking is divided into several parts or specific departments. A basic sales team focuses on orders and trading, while others work on structuring, the details and clauses of each product to bring in higher returns.

Analysts and Risk Management

Research plays a big part in the investment banking industry. This may include research in the global economy (macroeconomics), credit and fixed earnings. Based on the studies done by analysts, investment bankers are able to advise their clients on which trades to execute at a given moment or timeframe.

A chunk of an investment banker’s role is risk management, which can help solidify the advice being rendered. This can be related to credit, forecasting and market activities. Because of this, it is common for investment banking companies to hold or facilitate mergers between two high-capital companies. Reputable companies such as J.P. Morgan and Barclays provide additional financial services that make them well rounded. This includes restructuring, hedge funds, and legal and operational risk.

Similarities in Lifestyle and Benefits

The professional lifestyle of an investment banker is very similar compared to a management consultant. An investment banker on average works more and usually more than 70 hours per week. One should take note that not all of this time is devoted to work. Many investment bankers make it clear that some of the time is spent on transportation, client dinners, etc.

Compensation is another similar factor that these two industries have in common. The investment banking industry has been known to provide consistent benefits with above average compensation rates. Bonuses, annually and quarterly (depending on the position and company), are also common. However, investment bankers feel that they work for every cent of their salary, as most confess to sacrificing their personal lifestyle for the purpose of career development.

Due to the competitive nature of both sectors, the type of characteristics and personality of individuals present in the industry are generally the same. Social and career driven professionals populate the fields, as well as extroverts. Skills such as mental math, data analysis and spreadsheet composition are other assets that are needed in both professions.

Client Services and Networking

Because both industries are client and service oriented, networking plays a vital role in the success of both management consultants and investment bankers. Besides the closely-knit alumni, colleagues and associates, many rely on diverse connections to overcome career related obstacles. This can be beneficial for individuals in both fields who want to shift in each other’s respective industries.

The Fork on a Road

Where does management consulting separate from investment banking and vice versa? For the answer, we look at why companies seek out the services of these two fields.

As mentioned earlier, businesses that require the services of a management consultant are usually in a compromising situation. Consultants are brought in to shine light and implement new strategies with hopes to turnaround the direction the business is heading towards. When a company faces new problems due to unpredictable trends and shifts in the market, a management consultant can help provide effective solutions.

On the other hand, investment bankers are used by successful businesses that are looking for alternatives in boosting profits or increasing market value. Based on the two comparisons, one industry (management consulting) deals with more patchwork and new strategies, while investment banking is more suitable for individuals who want to “push the envelope” when it comes to growth, acquisitions and mergers.

To Each His Own

In conclusion, the basic skills and requirements needed for investment banking and management consulting are nearly the same. The compensation and demanding lifestyle are also almost identical. However, when it comes to which part of the company’s needs you want to meet; they are very different. It is essential to highlight that there are times when advice from both fields is needed by a company such as mergers and legal matters.

For individuals who want to deal with strictly the financial aspect of a company’s growth, it is recommended to go into investment banking. If forming strategies, reducing operational costs and restructuring are your ideas of an engaging profession; then management consulting could be what you’re looking for.

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How to Write a Post Management Consulting Interview Thank-You Letter

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Thank you in different languages

Is it necessary to write a thank you note after a consulting interview? Well, we strongly recommend writing one. For one it doesn’t just showcase your manners but more importantly, it can further increase your chances of landing the job.

In fact, according to CareerBuilder.com’s “How to Get in the Front Door” survey about 15% of hiring managers say they would not hire someone who failed to send post interview thank you note, even if the person may be a good fit for the job. While 32% say they’d still consider the candidate, but would likely think less of him or her.

Many hiring managers say that not sending a thank you note demonstrates a lack of follow through, and that the candidate isn’t that serious about the opportunity.

Also, consider that the decision-making time frames for a management consulting position are typically longer. Consultants have smartphones and are constantly monitoring their email. Most of the interviewers would appreciate the gesture and would likely keep your name in their minds longer compared to other candidates who didn’t’t send a note.

Sending a thank you after an interview is not only appropriate and courteous, it is beneficial as well. It provides you with another opportunity to differentiate yourself among other applicants.

When you write a post interview thank you letter you show not only your appreciation for the interviewer’s time, but further reiterate your interest in the company and the position. Through a simple thank you note you can also follow up with any information the organization or interviewer may have requested you to provide after the interview.
However, be very cautious still with the content of your thank you letter. Make it as flawless as the content of your cover letter.

To make the most of your thank you letter, here are some things to remember:

Include a Reaffirmation of Your Value

Your thank you letter should not only you’re your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. It must also include a reaffirmation of your value to their organization now that you have more knowledge of the position. Use the letter to market yourself again. You may reference specific needs of the company as mentioned by the interviewer. This will show the interviewer that you paid close attention to his or her every word. Then cite particular ways in which you can address those concerns. Through this you are again connecting the job requirements with your job skills. Plus, you further establish your interest in the position.

Customize the Note

Don’t make your thank you letter sound generic or that it has been used over and over again. Using a standard content for your post-interview thank you letter won’t help you stand out among other candidates. You may include a comment on something specific that you found interesting or insightful about the interviewer. Tailor your letter to the consulting role and the relationship you have established with the interviewer. The more personalize your note is, the more likely it’ll personally affect the interviewer.

Clear Any Miscommunication

Take the post interview letter as an opportunity to mention things that you forgot to say during the interview, particularly if you think there might have been some sort of miscommunication. Just remember to keep a positive, professional and confident tone. But sound genuine and likeable too.

Keep It Short

It is best to stick to three paragraphs only. The recommended template would be something like this:

Use the first paragraph to express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and interest in your application. In the second paragraph, sell yourself again by reminding him/her of your qualifications. And in the third paragraph, restate your interest in the organization and in the consulting position.

Briefly State the Reasons for Your Interest in the Consulting Position

You can market yourself by briefly explaining how the role fits in with your current career motivations. This is aside from citing how your experiences could be of value to their organization.

Send a Thank You Letter to All Interviewers

If you’ve had multiple interviewers, make sure that you demonstrate equal respect to all by sending individual letter to each. This means that you have to make each note a little different from the others. If you use e standard content for all of them, they will lose their genuineness. Also, ensure to have the correct name and title of each interviewer.

Send Your Thank You Note Immediately

It is recommended to send within 24 hours if you plan to send it via the mail service, and send within 48 hours if you prefer to send it digitally. Don’t wait for too long or it might be too late for your efforts.

Proofread Carefully

Like with your resume and cover letter, make sure you double-check your thank you note and make it free from typos and grammatical errors. Don’t simply rely on your spell-checker. Read it more than twice and if you can have somebody to read it too, the better.

It wouldn’t take much time to write and send a thank you letter after a management consulting interview. If you are really serious about breaking into consulting, then you should take advantage of every single opportunity to showcase your worth. And a simple note of appreciation may just seal the deal for you.

How to Craft and Deliver Your Elevator Pitch

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shake hands

First of all, what is an elevator pitch? Simply put it is a speech that aims to sell you. It is an essential tool you can use to build your personal brand. With this, your elevator pitch needs to provide a clear and compelling overview of who you are and what you can offer to your listener.

It’s you selling yourself in a brief and concise manner, using a format that most people are familiar with. As your elevator pitch works like your personal brand statement, it should be crafted and delivered powerfully and memorably.

So, who needs an elevator pitch? Practically anyone who needs to sell their services and expertise, such as management consultants. And maybe just anyone who meets new business contacts on a regular basis. You most probably need an elevator pitch when attending industry conferences, networking events, and other opportunities wherein you can strike up business relationships.

As a polished pitch is critical to one’s personal marketing, it is important that you know how to write and deliver a good one.

Creating Great Elevator Pitch

You’ll likely to go through several revisions in order to craft an impeccable elevator pitch. To create a great pitch, here are some useful tips.

Identify Your Objective

In crafting your speech, your goal must be clear to you first. This will guide you in writing your pitch. Think about your objective and craft your speech accordingly. For instance, would you like to inform potential clients about your organization’s new product? Or you’d simply want an engaging speech to explain what your expertise is?

Explain What You Do

The recommended way to start your pitch is by describing what your company does. For management consultants for example, you should focus on what you and your organization can do to help other people or organizations. If possible, mention specific information or statistics that demonstrates the value of what you do.

Also, make sure that your elevator pitch excites you first. You see, if you yourself don’t get excited about what you’re saying, your audience will likely feel the same. Your audience may not absorb everything that you say, but they will surely remember your passion and enthusiasm. In crafting your speech, always remember to answer this: What do you want people to remember about you?

Avoid buzzwords

It is also recommended NOT to use corporate jargon in your pitch. For instance for management consultants, if you use buzzwords or terms that your audience may not be familiar with, they may not fully grasp the message you are trying to convey. So it is best to avoid such terms and simply stick to clear and concise phrasing.

Be Clear with Your Unique Selling Proposition

Based on your objective, make sure you effectively communicate your unique selling proposition to you audience. This means being clear with what you or your company have that others don’t have. What makes you, your idea or your organization unique? This uniqueness would be your ticket to attracting your target audience. Ideally, you should talk about your unique selling proposition after you’ve explained what you and your organization do.

Share Your Most Relevant Experience

Talking about what you do does not mean telling your whole story. Elevator pitch should be concise so only mention your most relevant experiences. For example, for management consultants, it is preferable to share experiences with notable corporations first. This will make your audience want to hear more from you. If you talk too much about your experiences, you may not hook them to learn more. Your pitch is your brand statement so make every second of it meaningful, interesting and relevant.

Engage Your Audience

Once you effectively convey your unique selling proposition, it is now time to engage your audience. One good trick is by asking open-ended questions. Remember, successful networkers build strong relationships through conversation. Good conversation requires engagement from both parties. So prepare some insightful questions for your audience. This gives an opportunity for them to talk about themselves. This will keep the conversation going and eventually start new and fruitful relationships. Also don’t forget to answer any questions they have for you.

Put it All Together

After you’ve completed every aspect of your pitch, put it all together and read it out loud. Make sure to monitor how long it takes. Your speech needs to be shorter than a minute, ideally around 30 seconds. If you exceed this time frame, you might lose the interest of your audience. Your pitch must be snappy and compelling, so be as concise as possible.

Delivering a Convincing Elevator Pitch

Here are some guidelines on how deliver a powerful pitch:

Practice

Although professionals like management consultants are most likely good at public speaking, practice is still a must to make it perfect, if not close to perfect. How you say things is critical to the efficiency of your pitch. Make it sound natural and mind how fast you talk. Practice your pitch regularly. Remember, your speech needs to sound like a natural conversation and not like an aggressive sales pitch. Don’t make it sound too rehearsed, even though it is!

Your practice sessions should also consider body language. It is best to practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. Being aware of your body language can further help you convey your information to the listeners. Then ask your practice buddies for feedback. Ask them which part grabbed their attention and which one seems confusing. Based on the feedback, revise your speech and continue to improve.

Record Yourself

Record your practice sessions and listen through what you’ve recorded. Identify the parts that hook you with clear, powerful words. Also try to find the parts that seem vague or confusing. Then write down another version until you come up with a tighter pitch. Do a final edit and remove any unnecessary until you fit in the time limit, between 30 and 60 seconds.

Make it Sound Casual

An elevator pitch is far different from a historic speech you had to memorize back in school. Try to add some improvisation so it will not sound like you’ve just used the same old speech over and over again.

Be Confident

As with any public speaking engagement, confidence is key. Lack of confidence will hurt your chances of getting your audience’s trust. However, be careful not to sound arrogant or boastful. Just be positive and confident as you deliver your speech.

End with a call to action

Don’t forget to end your pitch with a call to action. In the first place, you’re talking to convey a memorable message that will encourage your audience to take action. Excite them to do what you want them to do.

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How to Improve Your Mental Math for the Management Consulting Application

Written by . Posted in Consulting Application

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There are some critical skills that you need in order to get a consulting job. Having strong mental skill is definitely one of them. However, this skill seems to be the first to go once pressure kicks in.

You definitely need excellent analytical and problem solving skills, but mental math is an important element of a consultant’s essential skills set. Having this skill will help you compute for quantitative data such as graph analytics, cost reduction, general averages, etc. Although you may not need to always provide the exact figure, mental math can definitely help you get as close to the exact answer as possible within a limited amount of time, without the aid of calculator.

Benefits

Mental math plays a significant role in the consulting world as such skill helps consultants develop a structured way of thinking. As a result, it can help keep your mind sharp and active as well as boost your concentration levels. And ultimately, having strong mental math skills can increase your confidence in solving cases that demand critical quantitative analysis.

Mental Math & the Recruitment Process

Strong quantitative skills are indispensable in the consulting recruitment process, particularly during case interviews. It is really important that you can crunch numbers very well to prove that you have what it takes to be a consultant. And of course doing mental math in a regular day is very different from doing it for an exam in a short amount of time. As an aspiring consultant you need to understand that during the case interviews, recruiters want to see how you will apply frameworks to solve the sample case. Proper mental math skills will definitely help you crack the case. Avoid being caught off-guard and hone your mental math.

How to Hone Your Mental Math

There are basic tips and tricks that can help sharpen your quantitative prowess. Some of which are:

Mastering the Foundation

Are you confident with basic math equations? Well, you better master them as this is your foundation to having strong mental math skills. Make sure you are pretty comfortable with the four basic operations – adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. And not just with whole numbers but with fractions, percentages and averages as well.

So try to solve as many sums, differences, products and quotients in your head as you can. Dedicate specific times a day, for instance an hour, to practice your, summation, division, multiplications, etc. This will really help you increase your speed.

Don’t Stop at Single and Double Digits

As you practice basic math operations, aim to get comfortable even with 3-4 digits. As the numbers get more complicated, it will be harder to compute for the exact figure. This is where you need your estimation skills.

Practice Estimation

As you try to solve for bigger numbers, round off numbers so you can easily arrive at an estimated answer. Again, practice this until you are pretty confident that you can handle any kind of number data during the consulting interview.

Do Mental Math in Your Everyday Life

If you develop a habit of using mental math to calculate the sum your grocery bill, estimated overhead, service and food costs at a restaurant, electric bills and credit card statements and so forth, you’ll get used to it pretty fast. Get your mental math muscle to work as hard as possible. This will ensure you won’t get shocked on your interview day. Remember that in a consulting setting, you won’t be counting apples and oranges. So it is best to apply your mental math skills in real-time problems.

Research for Pre-worked Out Shortcuts

Be aware that some numbers have ideal properties, and you can take advantage of the available pre-worked out shortcuts to find the solution. For instance, when multiplying 2-digit numbers by 11, say 23 x 11, just sum the digits (2 + 3 = 5) and put it between the 2 and 3 to get the answer: 253. Amazing, right?

The same trick is applicable for 3-digit numbers, say 523 x 11 (5+2 = 7, 2 + 3 = 5). Then stick them between 5 and 3 to get 5753.

This is just one of the many pre-worked out shortcuts you can use. Research for more shortcuts and practice using them as well. Of course, part of the challenge is being able to know when you can use a specific technique.

Structured Practice Techniques

There are many sources available online that go into detail about key mental math techniques such as Trachtenberg, High Speed Vedic Mathematics, Kumon Math Method and many more. You may also want to read some books Chinese that elaborate different mental math systems, like The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. Of course you have to determine which ones would work best for you. If you are not comfortable with a certain technique, don’t force yourself to learn it as this would not be beneficial for you in the long run.

Try to Enjoy Puzzles and Mental Teasers

Puzzles and other types of brain teasers can further strengthen your mental math muscle. For instance, try to complete two or three Sudoku puzzles every week. Such puzzles provide better mental math challenges. As you get used to these teasers, vary the level of difficulty to really hone your numeric skills.

Test Your Speed and Accuracy

After some time and you feel that you are pretty much ready for the consulting interview, have somebody create a written test for you that consists of about 50 different real-life problems involving numeric computations. This will help you gauge how much you’ve learned and to spot in which areas you’d still need to improve.

Lastly, try to enjoy the process. Everything will be much easier if you are having fun!

Learn More

Ready for the real challenge of the consulting world? Learn more about what it takes to land your dream consulting job. Download our free guide, Learn How to Break into Consulting, and be fully equipped with the right knowledge, materials and skills to ace the consulting recruitment process.

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How GPA, GMAT and SAT Influence Your Management Consulting Application

Written by . Posted in Consulting Application, Tests

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During the consulting interview process, a recruiter looks into a number of crucial variables to determine if a candidate is a right fit for the firm. These are work experience (or internship), academic accomplishments and connections within the industry.

From a professional point of view, some individuals say that academic scores and placement tests do not hold as much weight as it used to in the selection process. Is this the right advice for today’s prospective consultants? In this article, we will highlight the essential aspects of test scores and how to go about preparing one’s academic achievements for a prosperous consulting career.

Staying Competitive

In general, most successful consulting applications contain the same highlights and variables. Before an individual can begin to standout from the crowd of applications, he or she must first meet the benchmark of today’s top consulting firms.

The consulting industry is known for its unwavering attention to figures and data. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise to know that some consulting recruiters have set a specific test score (such as 1500+ in SATs) as a basis for shortlisting potential candidates.

It is advisable to meet such standards with hopes to increase the chances of being chosen to move onto the next round of the selection process. Recruiters don’t have time to carefully read every detail found in an applicant’s cover letter and resume (though ideally we wish they did).

Should a recruiter come across a low GMAT or ACT score, he or she may not be willing to read the rest of the resume, which can hurt an applicant who is qualified based on other basic components such as relevant experience and distinct organizations.

Applicants with low GPA scores will need to work extra hard to redeem themselves from the “average” pile of resumes. This may include internship from a reputable consulting firm with a notable recommendation from a senior. One may also choose to gain relevant experience based on the target firm’s client base. For example, if an individual’s target firm specializes in construction, an applicant may want to aim for an “analyst” position in a related company.

An MBA from a top university can further boost an applicant’s chances of getting noticed by a consulting recruiter. This can be very helpful in taking attention away from the lower GPAs. However, one must do extremely well in the other aspects to reassure the recruiter that he or she can excel beyond the average scores.

Covering the Technical Variables

What do high test scores say about a consulting applicant? Tests such as SAT and GMAT measure one’s technical capabilities. These tests measure the general knowledge of an individual and how well he or she can analyze and extract information (critical thinking). In the consulting industry, these skills are the foundation of every consultant.

Being able to quickly and consistently sift through information in real-time is considered to be an asset. It is required to lessen the time spent on research for junior analysts. The technical skill set is also required during meetings for general computations and breakdowns. When a recruiter comes across an individual with above average test scores, one of the first notions that come to mind is technical reliability and performance.

But is this all that recruiters look at during the shortlisting process?

Missing Links

A high GPA does not determine the success of an individual. With that being said, there are several components that SAT and GMAT don’t test for. Because these are technical tests, other vital components are not being considered when it comes to one’s specific field or industry.

One of these is the application of knowledge during problems encountered in a consulting setting. Practicing for the SATs requires an individual to spend countless hours going over books, preparation exams and flashcards. This does not adequately prepare a person for issues that require an “out of the box” perspective- a point of view that many consulting recruiters are looking for.

Such tests do not shine light on the character and social markings of a consulting candidate. How a consultant handles a client inside the conference room and outside the office matters. A professional who is unable to handle difficult clients does not represent the firm well. In order for a management consulting firm to stay sustainable, a long-lasting network is required, which can easily be forged through consultants with a charismatic and sociable character.

Moreover, consulting firms look into the personality types of candidates because they are looking for individuals who can work well with the other employees in the company. Consultants work in teams to complete demanding deadlines. An individual who is incredibly smart with superior GMAT scores must also be able to work well with others by sharing information and providing support where it is needed. An applicant who is hard to communicate with and lacks the ability to relate with his or her team can bring down the effectiveness of other individuals.

In fact, this criterion is considered to be so important that management consulting firms devote an entire portion of the interview process to understand and determine the characteristics of an applicant (personality, EQ tests).

The Well Rounded Applicant

Those who say that test scores and GPAs don’t play an essential role in the consulting interview process are looking at other components that from their perspective, is of higher importance than a numerical figure. As mentioned earlier, extracurricular organizations and activities, internships and relevant experience are factors that should not be overlooked.

Applicants with high GPAs who weren’t able to make it to the next round of interviews often focus too much on their test scores. In a pile of resumes, majority of the applicants have at least a 3.7-3.9 GPA. Once a recruiter sees this, he or she will look into the other notable highlights and details in the application.

From another perspective, high test scores can hurt you if that’s all you are offering to your target consulting firm. If you didn’t spend time honing other equally important skills to ensure your suitability for a consulting position, this can come off as lack of exposure to many recruiters. A one-sided application is the exact opposite of what top consulting firms are looking for.

Some individuals with an average GPA (in management consulting, the standards of an average GPA are much higher than other professions) may be surprised to receive a callback from a recruiter due to their well rounded application. In cases such as these, the margin of error is very thin, and he or she must have exactly what the recruiter was looking for to be considered for the consulting position.

Individuals who are able to land an interview in this manner should not take the opportunity lightly. Being shortlisted by a recruiter means one has a chance of landing the position. It is essential to highlight that consulting firms do not arrange interviews with applicants who they think do not have what it takes to fill the vacant post.

In other words, it’s not the traditional “road” that applicants take, which means it will be much more difficult to get the position, as interviewers will scrutinize an applicant thoroughly to expose the weak test scores. Individuals who choose this method should be prepared to answer questions related to this matter, or actively divert from such inquisitions.

Stepping Stones and Advantages

While low test scores can quickly close opportunities for applicants, the exact opposite can be said about having a high GPA. Recruiters aren’t the only ones who look at test scores. Some academic organizations in top universities also take GPAs into consideration. Being part of organizations that are affiliated with one’s target firm can easily boost the possibility of a successful application.

Furthermore, getting into the right organizations can enhance an applicant’s consulting network, help in getting into a rigorous consulting internship program and more. These are creative ways in using high test scores to one’s advantage over other applicants who may be unable to attain such credentials.

In conclusion, due to the competitive nature of the management consulting industry, it is wise not to completely disregard scores from leading tests, as well as GPAs. On the contrary, one must also take into consideration the type of applicants that consulting firms are looking for. If you are unsure about the type of consultant your target firm is considering, it is best to seek advice directly from an employee within the company.

There are plenty of other ways to ensure that your consulting application will stand out. This means taking the time to work on other assets that can boost your value as a suitable applicant.

Reference

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Required Soft Skills for Management Consulting Jobs

Written by . Posted in Consulting Application, Consulting Industry

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Soft skills are very important when evaluating likability or fit for a certain job. Unlike hard skills, which are about relevant skill set or particular abilities to carry out certain type of tasks, soft skills relate to one’s ability to interact effectively with people.

In consulting, it is extremely important to develop the following soft skills:

Charismatic and Sociable

Consultants need to interact with different types of people on a regular basis. That’s why being charming and likable will definitely do wonders for your career as a consultant. How people perceive you will have a direct effect on your consulting career. Apparently, if your clients perceive you as personable it will be easier for them to trust you. Also, if your team members find you approachable, it will be much easier to collaborate and achieve your goals. However, being highly sociable must not be confused with cockiness.

Strong Work Ethic

This skill is a major requirement perhaps for any kind of job. In consulting, it is imperative that you display this characteristic every single time. As you will be working with big, reputable companies as well as influential and intelligent people, it is only fit that you show professionalism. Also, strong work ethic means being willing to go the extra mile to help a client achieve its goals. Good consultants are ready to go beyond the call of duty just to get the job done.

Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude towards work, and perhaps towards everything, would be beneficial to your career as a consultant. Go-getters are very much attractive to top firms. As a consultant you should be able to help improve employee morale or motivate team members. And you can only achieve this if you display a positive attitude. Even if you are not naturally bubbly and tend to be more low-key, there are many ways to exhibit positive energy, like always smiling or perhaps simply saying a few encouraging lines or giving compliments.

Oral and Written Communication Skills

The ability to communicate your ideas clearly is perhaps one of the most important skills you need as a consultant. You see, the main product that you are selling is your ideas or insights. And in order for your client to buy this idea from you, you need to let them know exactly what it is. You need to be able to express your thoughts in the simplest and clearest manner. Most tension and stressed are due to inability to communicate clearly. So it is extremely helpful if you have a way with words. That’s why excellent communicators generally do well in consulting.

Ability to Listen

Good consultants are good listeners. Why? Because listening takes more than hearing what the other person is saying, it requires understanding. You won’t be able to help any organization deal with their problem if you don’t fully understand what their needs and goals are. Many people tend to listen passively. If you want to succeed in consulting, effectively listening skill is a must have. This means being able to know what and when to ask questions and when to be quiet and simply listen to every word. Good communication is not just about expressing yourself, it is also about engaging and understanding the other party.

Leadership

Consultants are expected to have strong leadership skills. They are generally achievers and socially involved. While many say that some are born leaders, this skill can be developed. As a consultant you will manage different types of people so you need to possess the ability to lead and manage effectively. Remember, the mark of a true leader is not about the position held, it’s about taking responsibility and influencing your team towards achieving a common goal. Lead by example – motivate and show initiative.

Teamwork / Team Building

Consulting is not a job for someone who doesn’t want to collaborate with people on a daily basis. Yes, you need to have strong leadership skills to be a good consultant, but you also need to have a teamwork mindset. It’s not just about you making the big decisions. You must learn to acknowledge other people’s expertise and make time to help those people who are working with you on your project.

Conflict Resolution

As client and team interaction would be an integral part of your life as a consultant, it is important that you know how to resolve conflicts within the team and even more prevent them from happening. In fact, it is a vital trait for any leadership role. This skill is key to the longevity of any relationship. Conflicts generally arise from differing needs, ideas, values or opinions. When handled in a respectful manner, conflict may provide an opportunity to strengthen the bond between parties. Be patient and recognize the ways to come to a compromise.

Time Management

Many people tend to struggle in terms of managing their time, tasks and responsibilities effectively. As a consultant, you may need to juggle around multiple clients at certain times. With that, it is really important that you have efficient time management skill. Learn how to set priorities and stick to your schedule.

Self-confidence

As a consultant, you would be making big decisions and you should not be afraid to make them. You must then have confidence in your knowledge and skills. If you don’t seem look pretty confident, you won’t earn the trust of your clients, colleagues and team members. Speak, dress and act with confidence.

Work under Pressure

Every work has a deadline to meet. And you need to be pretty good at working under pressure in order to hit challenging deadlines in consulting. You must learn the art of achieving maximum results in a short amount of time. In order to do this you need to stay focused.

Persuading, Influencing and Negotiating Skills

Consultants also need to master the art of persuasion. It will be part of your daily consulting life to influence and negotiate with other people, particularly with your clients and team members. This is actually a primary skill for anyone in the business field. Influencing people in a positive way will greatly help an organization achieve its goals. However, this must not involve coercion in any form. Rather, it’s about acknowledging other opinions but being able to change their minds.

Adaptability

To succeed in the consulting world, you need to have a passion for constant learning. You should also have the ability to stretch your skills in order to adapt to the ever changing needs of your clients.

References

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