Networking plays a great role in the field of management consulting. Many are called for interviews or are employed because of the recommendations they get from key people in the industry. Hence, when you attend a networking event, be sure to seize the opportunity.
One way of preparing for gatherings participated by recruiters and management consultants is through preparation of sensible questions. This somehow creates an impression that you are critically-minded, levelheaded and interested in exploring the field. The questions you pose should also draw out an informative answer to help you in your career preparation.
Below are some useful questions you can ask at such networking gatherings/events.
- What types of clients and projects does your firm (or office) have? This question feeds you information about the everyday life of consultants. Remember that offices within the same consulting firm might have different focus areas and clients, so you can make a follow up question about it.
- Can you tell me more about the recruiting process? Top-tier management consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain and Booz post their recruitment process on their website. If you have enough information, skip this question. However, if the available information is too limited, utilize the opportunity to ask for more details. Inquire about the tests they administer, the number of consulting rounds a candidate have to undergo before he or she gets hired, etc.
- What do you like and dislike most about your job? This is a smart question because it gives you an idea about the pros and cons of management consulting, particularly at the firm of the person whom you’re talking to. The answer will help you discern if you’re ready to accept both the perks and drawbacks of the position.
- Tell me something about the consultants in your firm. This light question asks for a personal opinion about his/her colleagues, but at the same time, it gives you a hint on the culture of the firm. Does the answer talk about teamwork or does it only emphasize the long work hours they spend at the office? Read between the lines and you’ll get an idea about their values.
- Can we stay in touch after this event? This question is important because the person might be helpful in the future. Don’t forget to ask for his/her card before you part ways. After the event, send an email and thank him/her for the time.
Be an active listener. Don’t be preoccupied with the next question you’re planning to ask. Listen attentively and formulate your follow up questions based on the actual conversation. Nod, make eye contact and use short responses to indicate that you’re listening. Don’t interrupt in the middle of his/her explanation. Further, be confident yet relaxed. Don’t be too formal or too casual. Interact naturally, as if you’re talking to a friend. That’s the best way to keep the conversation real.