How to Pass Management Consulting Case Interviews

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep

Businesswoman welcomes customer in her office

The case interview, a classic screening strategy of management consulting industry, is a challenge that you need to overcome to get a position in global or boutique consulting firms. Read this post and learn more.

Many MBA graduates work hard to get a position in prestigious firms, such as PWC, Monitor and Bain & Company. Those who are wise enough have probably started preparing for this career while they were still at business school. They probably have joined management consulting club activities, workshops and social events where they could improve their performance during case interviews.

Unfortunately, many candidates fall short of the interviewer’s expectations due to lack of understanding and preparation. To know how to get through this intensive questioning successfully, read, “How to Pass Management Consulting Case Interviews.” gave some surefire tips on how to nail down the questions.

Management Consulting Interview Questions

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep, Fit Interview Prep


Being called for interview by a management consulting firm is a privilege. Only a few percent of the applicant pool are given the chance to be assessed further. Hence, necessary preparation must be done to nail down the questions.

This doesn’t only include identifying the most appropriate outfit. More importantly, you should anticipate the possible interview questions and rehearse your ideal answers. This ensures your ideas are substantial. It also makes you appear eloquent and confident, two necessary characteristics of management consultants.

Top tier consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey have two types of interviews: fit interviews and case interviews. Below are categories of questions you will most likely get in both interviews.

Fit Interviews

This type of interview focuses on who you are as a person. It gauges if your personality is a perfect match for the vacant management consulting position. It includes the following areas:

Personal Background

You will be asked to share general details about your life. The common question under this category is, “Please tell me about yourself.” When you answer this question, include only bits of information that are relevant to your application. You don’t have to mention unnecessary details, such as the awards you received in high school or your academic achievement back in elementary. Always ask yourself, “What does the interviewer want to hear from me?”


Especially if you are a fresh graduate, interviewers will spend a few minutes digging information about your education. They might ask about your major subjects to get an idea about your understanding of management operations. Also, you will be asked to describe your extra-curricular activities since they indicate your commitment, interpersonal and leadership skills.

Skills and Professional Experience

Interviewers will also go into details of your significant experience in the past. This includes how you resolved a major problem, how you maintained work-life balance despite your busy schedule and other queries related to the daily life of a management consultant. Answers to these behavioral questions are believed to predict your future reaction to similar situations in the workplace.

Case Interviews

This type of interview is classic to management consulting. Interviewers give you an ambiguous case to assess how you break a complex problem into small, manageable chunks. Questions under this type of interviews are categorized into three.

Business Case

You will be presented with a real-life business case similar to what professional consultants deal with every day. It can be a market-related or competition dilemma. They are best resolved with management consulting frameworks. They provide structure and logic to the process of arriving at an acceptable answer.

Estimation Questions

From its name, it can be derived that you will be using numbers to guesstimate the answer based on a logical explanation. For instance, you will be asked to determine the number of mobile phones that should be produced next year or the number of hotdogs that are eaten by Chinese children in a week. Mental math is very important in answering these questions.

Brain Teasers

This category includes riddles that must be answered with an out-of-the-box thinking. A common example is, “Why are manholes round?” If you happen not to know the correct answer, it’s alright. Recruiters go after the means to an end. What matters is you are able to provide a rationale for your answer.

You Might Also Like...

Management Consulting Interviews

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep, Fit Interview Prep

People waiting for job interview

If you pursue a career in management consulting, you may have to undergo as many as six separate interviews. This stage takes a long time because, for recruiters, this screening phase is the ultimate indicator of an applicant’s capability to do the job. Continue reading to get through this challenge successfully.

BCG, McKinsey, Booz and other top tier management consulting firms divide the interview phase into three parts: the fit interview, the case interview and the short period when applicants are allowed to ask the interviewer a few questions. Each part has its own objective, and as long as you meet all the expectations you don’t have to worry about anything. Each phase is discussed in detail below to help you prepare for this venture.

Fit Interviews

This part determines whether or not you possess the right educational background, work experience and values. You are expected to prove that your personality fits the culture by giving quality answers to behavioral questions. In this part, interviewers will get to know you by utilizing subtle questions that will elicit your natural tendencies. They will ask how you overcome your greatest stumbling block, how you cooperated with a difficult colleague or what your goals in life are. The answers to this type of questions will help them predict your future performance at work.

Case Interviews

Management consulting case interviews aim to gauge your problem solving skills as well as your business judgment. You are expected to use your analytic skills in resolving mind-boggling problems within a limited amount of time. More often than not, you will be presented with a vague business dilemma and you must find a logical way to resolve it. This problem is similar to what professional consultants deal with every day so interviewers would easily determine if you have the potential for this position.

Mastering management consulting frameworks is the best preparation for case interviews. They provide structure to your answer, thereby helping you organize your thoughts. To remember them before the interview, illustrate them on paper for a few consecutive days. The visual representation will stick effectively, making you more confident with your stock of knowledge than other applicants.

Ask Questions

At the end of the interview, you will be given time to raise questions. This part aims to clarify any confusion that’s boggling you. However, you are expected to pose intelligent queries, not just look for answers that can be found on the firm’s website. Learn to put this opportunity to your advantage by asking questions that will let you know more about the consulting firm’s culture or regular activities.

When you are called for an interview, get to the office with a professional look. Whether you like it or not, looks matter during interviews. Because of the traditional orientation of the consulting industry, it’s highly recommended wearing a suit and tie. Fix your hair, polish your shoes, trim your nails and most of all, feel good with what you put on. It will have positive effects on your enthusiasm and confidence.

To know more interview guidelines, check our guide on How to Land a Job in Management Consulting. It comes with a free case interview script that will give you a picture of how things will be.

You Might Also Like...

Management Consulting Estimation Questions

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep


If there is no correct answer to any management consulting estimation question, why is it being used during case interviews by large consulting firms like Bain, Monitor and Booz? Read this post and understand the value of this type of question.

When an interviewer asks you the questions below, you will probably be surprised.

  1. How many laptop computers are bought at a mall in a year?
  2. How many hamburgers were ordered in the USA last month?
  3. How long will it take you to move your house to another city?

That surprised initial reaction is normal. The sentences above sound so silly you’d wonder if they are serious case interview questions. Unexpectedly, they are. These estimation questions measure how logical you can be, how you break complex ideas into simple ones and how good you are at calculation. To elaborate this rationale, let’s try to answer the first question.

Be Logical

Come up with a method that will let you arrive at an acceptable answer. You just can’t tell the interviewer you need to go to all computer shops at a mall, look at their sales report for the last year and add the total number of purchased laptops. Of course, that is the most logical thing to do to get an accurate answer, but in a management consulting interview, the answer must be a specific number. This answer can only be generated once you have a sensible approach.

Draw a Structure

Since you’re already familiar with the method, it’s time to get into specifics. The details will give you the equation on how to get the satisfactory answer. In the interview, you must verbalize the steps in your mind so the interviewer will be able to gauge how analytic and creative you are.

To guesstimate the number of laptop computers bought at a mall last year, you can use the steps below. The steps were created with an assumption that each computer shop sells different brands of computers.

Step A

Estimate the number of ABC laptops bought in a day. If you say five, support your answer with a seemingly valid reason. You can mention the price, quality and other criteria customers use when they purchase a laptop, etc.

Step B

Multiply A with the possible number of brands a computer shop sells. If you say 10, mention the brand names you know – like Apple, Lenovo, Sony etc.

Step C

Multiply Step B’s product with the number of computer shops in a mall. (Name all the computer shops at a mall in your city. Let’s assume, six.)

Step D

Multiply Step C’s product with 365 days. (Or you can multiply it with the number of days in a week X number of weeks in a month X number of months in a year.)

Step E

Provide the answer. Based on our assumptions, the estimated answer is 109,500.

Use Mental Math

From the word estimation, it implies you will be using your mental math skills in answering this type of question. The interviewer might allow you to use paper and pen for calculation, but she or he would be more impressed if you can compute numbers mentally. So before the case interview, master the fundamentals of mental math.

Because you already understand the nature of estimation questions, try to read our explanation for brainteasers as another type of interview question. If you need more information on how to land a management consulting position, download our helpful consulting career guide here. It contains facts on the complete recruitment process most consulting firms follow.

Management Consulting Brain Teasers

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep


Why do recruiters use brain teasers during management consulting interviews? Do they expect you to give the correct answer? By reading this article, find out what their purpose is in the recruitment process.

During management consulting case interviews, you will most likely encounter three types of problems: practical business cases,  estimate questions and brain teasers. As we all know, the last type comes in the form of puzzles, riddles and other questions that require blue sky thinking. If you are boxed in by conventionality, chances are you won’t get the right answer nor nail the question.

Management consulting brain teasers are quite mind-boggling but the good thing is, recruiters aren’t looking for the correct answer. They focus more on how logical your process of deriving the answer is. This ability is highly significant in the position you’re applying for. Consultants are lavishly paid to analyze, think and solve. If you aren’t ready for these responsibilities, then this field is probably not meant for you.

Examples of Brain Teasers

Brain teasers used as interview questions started in Microsoft and it gradually became a trend in technology companies. Currently, many interviewers are adopting it as it’s a good way of determining how smart a person is. There are lot of brain teaser examples online. On this website, this brain teaser is given as the first example:

By moving one of the following digits, make the equation correct. 62 – 63 = 1

We would usually think of moving any digit from left to right or vice versa. Unfortunately, no matter what digit we move horizontally, we can’t obtain the right answer. The most logical thing to do is to exchange numbers 3 and 2 but that’s going beyond the rule. To answer this problem, we move one digit in a vertical direction. If we move six as the exponent of 2, we can calculate that it’s equivalent to 64, It makes the equation correct.

Here’s another tricky example from this site:

Mary’s father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono. What is the name of the fifth daughter?

We might instantly assume that the name of the fifth daughter is “Nunu” because the other daughters have used the four vowels of the alphabet. However, if we think about the question intently, we would recognize that the answer was already given at the start of the problem. Take note that if you find the answer to the  management consulting brain teaser in a drop of a hat, it must be wrong. There must be a trap somewhere. Brain teasers are meant to trick or confuse you.

Another classic example is summarized below.

The rich father is dying so he wants to leave his properties to the wisest among his three sons. He asked them to purchase something that is large enough to fill the bedroom, but small enough to fit in their pocket. What did the wisest child bring?

Initially, we would assume that what should fill the room must be tangible like curtain or balls. These, of course, are impossible since we can’t put them inside our pocket. It can be too complex to realize that a match can fill the room with light.

How to Answer Brain Teasers

As mentioned earlier, management consulting brain teasers can be very puzzling. It’s natural to be caught off guard with an interview question like this but if you dwell on panic, you won’t be able to clearly consider options. Be calm, remember the critical success factors and try to think of as many approaches as you can.

Further, be reminded that the purpose of the interviewers is to know how you approach the problem. If you keep your ideas to yourself, they won’t have a way of assessing your logic. Make sure that you speak out all the possibilities you’re considering. It will let the interviewers conclude that you can carry out brainstorming tasks when you’re hired for the position.

Answering management consulting brain teasers isn’t only what you should master to get a job in a management consulting firm.

10 Useful Management Consulting Frameworks

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep


During management consulting case interviews, you will be presented with a business problem. You are expected to critically analyze it and come up with sound recommendations. This is quite tough because of the pressure you feel with the time limit and recruiter’s presence. Read on and get an idea on how to overcome this challenge.

With sufficient preparation for a consulting interview, we are confident you will be able to go through this recruitment stage. The first step is to be familiar with case frameworks. They help you structure your answer by giving you a step-by-step guide on what action to take. Then you can practice applying them to cases commonly used by recruiters of top consulting firms like McKinsey and BCG. As you work on it, you will realize that you’re also boosting your confidence. With your acquired knowledge, you will be convinced that you won’t mess up in the interview.

To help you prepare for it, we listed ten management consulting frameworks that you should know.

1. Market Situation

This framework is used for industry analysis. It includes finding out how attractive the market is. It focuses on analyzing four elements: customers, suppliers, competition and performance.

2. Market Segmentation

This divides the customers into groups because of their different responses to a certain product or strategy. It studies the geographical, demographical, psychological and behavioral parameters of each market segment.

3. New Market Entry

This determines whether  your client must enter a new market or not. It goes deeper into the market potential, how it matches the company’s background and the possible competition.

4. Competitor Response

This management consulting process determines how your client must react to the new service, sales gimmick or any strategy of competitors. This structure analyzes the new product, its price and its distribution to consumers.

5. Mergers and Acquisitions

This structure allows your client to decide whether to pursue an acquisition of the target company or not. It studies the nature of the target company and the benefits it can give to the acquirer.

6. Capacity Expansion

This management consulting framework determines if expanding the company facilities is a wise move or not. The structure checks the rationale behind the move, the target market and all the client’s possible options.

7. Profit Hunt

This framework explores strategies on how to improve the profit of the company by analyzing its costs and sources of revenue. It also considers the volume of production and the price.

8. Product Strategy

This determines the marketing strategy perfect for the new product. It concentrates not only on what the product offers but also on factors affecting customers such as prices, promotions and distribution process.

9. Product Development

This analysis aims to determine if developing a new product is necessary, beneficial or profit-gaining. Using this structure means studying the demand and supply, the market value and the company’s capability.

10. Pricing

This intends to come up with a price for a certain product. You study the customer’s willingness to pay, product substitutes and cost for producing the goods.

More Details on Each Framework

We have shown you a list of ten important frameworks. They will help you in by far most of the cases you will encounter. If you want a detailed explanation of the frameworks, download our Guide to Consulting Case Interview Frameworks. It has visual process charts to illustrate the frameworks clearly. It also has guide questions to walk you through the complete process, so that you know exactly how to use each framework.

Management Consulting Case Study Interview Facts

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep


Shortlisted management consulting applicants usually undergo two to three interview rounds before they get hired for the position. This is the most critical part of the recruitment process since the logical capability and communication skills are tested in person. To prepare for this challenge, you must know the facts listed in this post.

Talking to an interviewer in a room can be a daunting experience, especially when the questions being asked are technical, not experiential. In the field of management consulting, these technical questions are raised from a complicated business dilemma you must quickly grasp in just a few minutes. This is doable though, if you come to the interview well-prepared, confident and relaxed.

What Is a Consulting Case Study Interview?

This type of interview uses situational cases of different industries. Instead of asking very general questions, interviewers present an ambiguous business problem you have to ponder and resolve. It usually lasts for 25 to 35 minutes. The topic can range from healthcare strategies to manufacturing issues to manpower downsizing. Management consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain, BCG and Booz keep a multitude of cases since they need to find out if applicants are capable of interacting with different clients.

Why Do Consulting Firms Use Case Interviews?

Most management consulting companies use it because it effectively weeds out the best applicants from the good ones. Case interviews allow the recruiter to get to know the applicant in a deeper level. Through the exchange of thoughts and ideas, those who have the critical thinking, creative problem-solving, communication and excellent organizational skills will stand out from the crowd. These skills may be stated on the resume and initially assessed during testing but they can only be confirmed through direct professional interaction.

What Are the Types of Cases Used by Interviewers?

The three types of cases often used by management consulting recruiters are the business case, estimation case and brain-teasers. In the first type, you are given a business situation similar to what consultants work on every day. Given some information, you are expected to give practical recommendations at the end of the interview. For example, you will evaluate the feasibility of opening a hardware branch in another city or the plan of merging two companies.

In the second case, you will guesstimate the number of objects, people or incidents in a certain area or within a specified duration. This tests your ability to arrive at an answer in a systematic manner. The questions may seem too vague and impossible to answer without sufficient data. You can be asked how many cups are produced in China in a year or how many Americans travel to Europe annually.

In the last case, you will be given a puzzle or any mentally challenging problem that calls for creativity, thinking outside the box and sharpness. For instance, you will be asked to enumerate fifteen things you can do with stones or why manholes are round. This type is seldom used by management consulting recruiters, though.

How Are You Evaluated by Recruiters?

You are evaluated through the methods you utilize in approaching the problem, not on the solutions you generate. There are two reasons for this process-oriented assessment. First, there’s no correct answer for each presented management consulting case. What’s more important is for you to arrive at a valid, reasoned and well-explained conclusion. Second, it is during the process when you muster your abilities to resolve a problem. For recruiters, the way you think has more bearing on their decision.

How Do You Prepare for Consulting Case Study Interviews?

Preparation for management consulting interviews can be done cognitively, affectively and physically. In the cognitive aspect, you must enhance your mental math skills since in most cases, you will deal with numbers. You must also know the common frameworks used for assessing business problems. Along with your logical thinking, this will provide structure to your answer. You can check our guide to consulting frameworks and be well-versed with resolving practical cases.

In the affective aspect, you must condition yourself to project confidence during the interview. To accomplish this, try solving business cases with a friend or a mentor. There are tons of resources on the Internet and you can refer to them for exercises. You must also relieve yourself from too much anxiety as it will cause you to panic and stammer in front of the recruiter. Stay graceful under pressure.

In the physical aspect, dress up neatly and professionally. Fix your hair properly and don’t wear too many accessories. Ensure that your fingernails are trimmed and your shoes are cleaned. Demonstrate enthusiasm through your facial expressions. Your corporate image will create an impact on the recruiter.

The management consulting case interview is the last step to getting your dream job. If you outperform the other shortlisted applicants, you will be selected to fill the vacancy. So make sure you’re prepared for it and you answer each question well. Should you want more interview tips, check this guide for additional reference.

Prepare for Management Consulting Case Study Interviews

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep

Case Interview

Ready for your interview? Case study interviews may be the most frightening part in the process of becoming a part of top tier management consulting firms like McKinsey or Bain. However, that shouldn’t be the case. Read more in this blog post on how to prepare…

Management Consulting Case Interview Structure

Case study interviews generally involve finding increased revenue or profitability due to a change in the dynamics of an industry. Other examples may include entry to new markets, development of new products or attempting to figure out why specific departments (marketing, operations, etc.) are underperforming compared to prior results.

Case interviews take roughly 30 to 45 minutes, usually with a structure that includes the following parts:

Case Presentation

The interviewer presents a business scenario. With your diagnostic skill, you identify the areas that must be investigated. This stage is critical since no issues are resolved unless the main problems are pointed out.

Situation Analysis

During this stage, the management consulting  interviewer asks you specific questions related to the case. Thus, you’ll be able to dissect every factor for a thorough analysis. This will include integration of digits to back up your hypothesis.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The interviewer will ask you to come up with recommendations. Make sure you did not miss any important data or make any potentially wrongheaded assumptions. Most management consulting interviewers focus on the strategies and processes involved, so don’t worry if you can’t always come to an inordinately concrete solution.

Example of a Management Consulting Case Study Interview

One example used by Boston Consulting Group revolves around a Canadian retailer that has overtaken its primary competitor in a certain country. However, the largest U.S. discount retailer bought the competitor. You are then asked how to react to this new development.

Based on the given information, you can assess whether the success of the U.S. retailer can be addressed using their existing strategies. You can ask specific questions about their main strategy and calculate how much revenue they have earned from it.

After analyzing all aspects of scenario, you can conclude whether the U.S. retailer did the right thing. Then, you can generate recommendations on what both companies should do to sustain their businesses.

How to Prepare for Case Study Interviews

You will only feel confident during the interview if you have prepared for it well. Below are three things you must do to boost your performance.

Practice on your own.

Take management consulting case study interviews for practice. You can start on your own by reviewing the sample cases used by BCG, Bain, and Mckinsey themselves:

Ask a friend to help you out

One important thing to remember in these management consulting cases is that you will not be taking notes and staring at a computer screen during the interview. If you have a friend, colleague or family member who can take the role of the interviewer, it may aid in your preparation, even if it feels silly at first. You can also use recent articles from the business press and make the headlines into your own case studies to analyze.

Familiarize some frameworks

Know the necessary frameworks for different types of management consulting case interviews. These frameworks will help you structure and analyze a problem, and give you more time to think about a recommendation. Take a look at our guide to Guide to Case Interview Frameworks, which might be helpful for you.

Things to Remember During the Interview

Even if you have prepared well for this challenge, you are still clueless about what will transpire during the interview. However, as long as you keep the guidelines below in mind, everything should go smoothly.

Ask questions

If you have relevant questions in mind, muster your courage to ask the interviewer and clarify your confusion. All data won’t be completely stated unless you utilize your probing skills.

Listen carefully

Some management consulting candidates come to the interview so prepared they have memorized a list of questions to throw to the interviewers. Because they’re occupied with asking what they’ve prepared, they fail to closely listen to the answers. This is a big no-no since you might disregard the right path that the interviewer is leading you down.

Think logically

Focus on facts and ideas and arrange them in progression. This way, you’ll see the underlying relationships behind them. Also, ensure that the method or framework you’re using is the most appropriate one you can think of.

If you want more tips on how to prepare for consulting interviews, then download a free guide. offers guides for resumes, cover letters, case interviews, case frameworks, and other material that will help you land a consulting job.

You Might Also Like...

Non-Verbal Communication During Management Consulting Interviews

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep, Fit Interview Prep

shake hands

For many, passing the management consulting interviews of McKinsey, Bain, Booz and other firms means being able to clearly communicate your answers and thoughts. Though this statement is true, the words “clearly communicate” must be clarified. Read this article to get more advice…

Research says that 70% of what you express can be accounted to your nonverbal communication, the process of conveying and understanding messages beyond words. This short definition simply suggests that not all words that come out of your mouth mean as they are. When you say, “I can do the job” during a management consulting interview, the recruiter actually listens between the uttered words and comes up with his or her own interpretation.

Components of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal messages are measured through body language, paralanguage and material possession. Body language refers to physical movements such as your gestures, posture, facial expression and eye contact. This aspect is what the management consulting recruiter sees when you are face to face with each other.

The paralanguage refers to your pitch, intonation and volume. This aspect goes with the words you speak. The “I can do the job” sentence above can be conceived as “I’m not really sure if it’s the job for me” if spoken feebly. The words need to be let out in a firm voice to imply conviction.

Material possession refers to your choice of clothes, accessories, and your hairstyle. These components add a sense of professionalism to your getup. You have to appear clean and presentable because your looks have an impact during the interview. Management consulting recruiters are generally not impressed with unkempt hair.

How to Behave During the Interview

Below are some reminders on how to move better when you are called for a management consulting interview.

Be interested

To show that you are interested in a person, you can adjust your posture and head movement. Sit up straight but in a relaxing position. Slouching suggests indifference and indolence. When the recruiter says something, nod your head to acknowledge that you understand the idea or to encourage the other to keep talking.

Be confident

The management consulting recruiter of outstanding firms such as Accenture and Monitor starts to observe your confidence from the second you walk to the room. Hence, you must dress smartly and appropriately and for women, put on light makeup. Don’t forget your pleasant smile. You will not only seem positive about your interview; you’ll also look grateful for the chance, easy to get along with and calm under pressure. Do the handshake when you introduce yourself. Do it firmly, not too loose, not too tight.

Be sincere

Eye contact has a lot to say about sincerity. Look at the recruiter when you are being asked or giving answers to convey that you are paying attention to your conversation. If you don’t, it will give an impression that you’re shy, you lack self-assurance or worse, you’re just making up answers. However, be reminded to look away from time to time. Gazing at the recruiter the entire interview causes fear and discomfort.

Be Calm

When you are nervous, you unconsciously manifest it through your body movements such as tapping your fingers on the table, jiggling your leg, fiddling your pen or other ways of fidgeting. Be sure you control these habits. Rest your hand on your lap when you’re not using them. Be aware of your anxiety tendencies and avoid them during the interview.

Non-verbal messages are often neglected by management consulting applicants without knowing that they make or break the performance. When you’re called for a consulting interview, make sure that you don’t commit the same mistakes again.

Why Looks Matter in Management Consulting Interviews

Written by . Posted in Case Interview Prep, Fit Interview Prep

management interview

The management consultant application process is challenging enough without worrying about how your looks might affect your chances at success. Research shows that looks do matter. You might be surprised, though. Read more…

This research finds that a good-looking man has a better shot at getting an interview and being hired while an attractive woman encounters discrimination because of her looks.In the short run, these findings might not mean anything for you in terms of getting a callback based on your CV (in most cases, you may not be submitting a photograph). In the long run, though, you need to keep in mind how you appear to others physically and hone your professional image. It may make a big difference when the hiring decisions are made.

The Psychology of Beauty

A vast body of psychology research exists to support the idea that, in a world where economic value is assigned to beauty, physical attractiveness may provide an edge (or a perceived edge) in the hiring process. As most literature argues for a “positive association between beauty and intelligence”, one would infer that looks are in fact important in even the earliest stages of the job hunt.

Perceptions of Beauty: Surprising Reality

Some research concurs with this point, but not in the way one might first imagine. In “Are Good-Looking People More Employable?”, researchers Ruffle and Shtudiner in Israel conclude that attractive male candidates are favored, while attractive female candidates, counterintuitively, do not fare nearly as well, given the positive traits people associate with physical beauty.

The researchers’ hypotheses were aligned with conventional psychological studies, which consistently show that people rate attractive men and women as being more intelligent, based only on their pictures. It would follow that, as job applicants, attractive men and women alike would receive preferential treatment against average-looking applicants and those who submitted no photographs at all. Sending out 5312 virtually identical CVs to 2656 job openings as part of their experiment, Ruffle and Shtudiner found that attractive men were twice as likely to get a callback for an interview as plain-looking men, attractive women were at a significant disadvantage. Women who submitted no photos received the highest number of callbacks, followed by plain-looking women. Attractive women were the least likely of all the female candidates to receive a callback, regardless of the job type.

Blind to Female Beauty?

With a significant beauty premium attached to males, it would seem logical to intuit that attractive women would be similarly favored. The researchers theorized that, rather than ignoring or being blind to female attractiveness, the first screeners of candidate CVs are almost always women, who, for reasons of jealousy, are threatened by the attractiveness of other females. This theory is strengthened by the concept of “negative signaling”, in which screeners perceive men’s inclusion of photos as “confident” while women including a photo is seen as an attempt to use beauty to get ahead (in cultures, where including a photo is optional).

Looks Are Important but Can Kill

Discrimination based on looks exists in the earliest phases of applicant screening. The attractive and the plain-looking are not equally treated. One might assume, though, given the extensive coverage of beauty trumping intellect and other attributes, that this discrimination would favor the beautiful. In the application phase, however, it appears as though attractive men are the only ones to benefit markedly from their good looks. Women are better off attaching no photograph at all because being attractive can kill women’s job prospects at the application stage. You can, according to other research studies that corroborate the Ruffle and Shtudiner study, be too good looking for your own good.

What Does This Mean for You?

As an applicant for highly competitive management consulting careers, you are not necessarily swimming in the same waters as the general pool of job applicants in the world. That said, there are considerably higher expectations placed on you as a potential management consultant in terms of how you present yourself professionally, and this will include aspects of your physical appearance. This will be more relevant when you reach the interview stage.

It is important, however, to note that physical appearance (not necessarily attractiveness as much as how you present yourself) matters. Not only do you feel more confident when you are professionally put together, you deliver the impression consulting firms want to convey.

To get insight into making the right impression to land your dream job in consulting, download our free PDF guide.

You Might Also Like...