Similarities as a Factor for Hiring Management Consultants

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Lauren Rivera’s intensive study, “Hiring as Cultural Matching: The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms” proves that a management consulting job interview involves more than just screening the applicant’s knowledge and skills: The interviewer must match the culture of the candidates with that of the firms.

Based on research, Rivera concluded that hiring is basically an interpersonal process. Finding similarities is the first thing two people do upon meeting. These commonalities don’t only yield trust, comfort, excitement, and attraction, they also serve as bases for evaluating merit.

Methods and Results

To support the statement above, Rivera interviewed approximately 120 professionals in the legal, investment banking, and management consulting industries. She asked what they look for in applicants and observed how they review resumes. She also monitored evaluators discuss and make hiring decisions while she was still an intern. When she summarized the results, she found that cultural similarities are the number one factor employers use to assess interviewees.

Although knowledge, skills, and abilities are important to employers, how a candidate will “fit” with the company and his or her colleagues is a factor that must be considered. Nobody wants to work with someone who is difficult to get along with. Every consulting project requires a great deal of brainstorming, discussion, and teamwork. At times, project team members are sent to different cities and it’s crucial that members can converse comfortably, no matter where they are or how many challenges they face.

Whirlpool held a forum on an article that discusses Rivera’s study. Some participants agreed with her findings and attested that an intellectual or skilled person may perform their responsibilities outstandingly, but his or her negative personality dampens the working atmosphere in the office. Consequently, it becomes a point for management to significantly consider “personal traits” during the interview process.

Implications for Management Consulting Applicants

What do the results of Rivera’s study mean to aspirants like you? You may want to consider the following:

Carefully Choose the Firm Where You Want to Work

Aside from the prestige and financial perks, base your decision to apply at organizations where you will enjoy working. Before sending out your application, conduct research on the firm’s values and if possible, the interests of their professional management consultants. If you are convinced that the firm is not for you, research alternate companies.

Convey the Value of Flexibility in the Interview

It is impossible for you to know which personality traits the interviewer is looking for. However, you can convey that you are capable of adjusting to any work environment by:

Sociability Questions Answering sociability questions carefully. Prove that personality differences are not a major concern.
Active Listening Don’t interrupt the interviewers. Listen attentively and respond to their ideas, concepts, and  jokes. If there’s something you don’t agree with, indicate the positive aspects of the idea before explaining why you oppose it.
Friendly Gestures Make use of your gestures. Nod casually to agree with what the interviewer says; smile to convey warmth and establish friendship. Your nonverbal communication indicates your sociability.