Applying And Interviewing At Management Consultancies

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Applying And Interviewing At Management Consultancies

  1. 1. Presented by Richard Stewart Interviewing for Management Consultancies
  2. 2. Richard Stewart Previous: 2000-2003 AXA IM Impact Plus Kaiser Associates 2003-2009 Mindbench , Founder & Director Clients: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, OC&C Strategy Consultants, HSBC, Spectrum, Analysys etc.
  3. 3. An introduction to Mindbench <ul><ul><li>Specialist recruitment company founded in 2003 by Ex-Consultant, Richard Stewart </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recruit “high achievers” on a permanent and project basis to strategy consultancies, Big 4 and specialist consultancies, private equity and industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Talent platform” of 5,000+ registered consultants, track careers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>>300 assignments completed in the UK, Europe, USA and beyond </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recruitment and project roles include Strategy, M&A, post-merger integration, IT, business process re-engineering, public services transformation, culture change, and supply chain improvement </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Mindbench client list Our clients include:
  5. 5. AGENDA 1) The ideal candidate 2) C.V.s and covering letters 3) Interview process 4) What you need to demonstrate (and how!) 5) Do’s and don’ts checklist
  6. 6. “ So you want to be a consultant…” As with much consultancy work the best place to start with any project is some simple and fundamental questions Why DO you want to be a consultant? This is an important question - not just because you will be asked it by interviewers, but because you are deciding the course of your career and your life over the coming years! Long hours with frequent time-pressured decisions Pressurised environment - highly competitive Personal responsibility No day-to-day involvement in business Moving from tight deadline to tight deadline Is this really what you want?
  7. 7. Plan your career path carefully Brenda Greene, a respected US recruitment commentator, says, “ Those who bluff their way through an interview often become disillusioned after several months on the job, and their performance drops. This damages your future prospects. You don't want to have a lot of short stints on your résumé, because the next employer may write you off as a job hopper and figure that you'll soon become dissatisfied and quickly move on.”
  8. 8. The application process: <ul><li>Large companies - volume or carefully selected </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal HR department. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deal with a high volume of applicants. Work to a system, probably online or pre-qualified by a recruitment consultancy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Medium companies - have started to recognise their likely ‘type’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May have a dedicated HR person / team </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will be looking for specific “types of applicants” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Small companies - need to find “helpers and enablers” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Except for senior positions they will probably manage recruiting internally </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very short of time, perhaps minutes per CV </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Understand who you are applying to... <ul><li>Different consultancies have a different emphasis </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplines: What does the consultancy actually do? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Research the company on the internet </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Understand what type of work they do </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is it like to work for them? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Talk to anyone who has worked in the sector </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li> ...or at that firm! </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Where do they specialise? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>...and what experience do you have to offer them there? </li></ul>
  10. 10. … as well as different hierarchies Structure Consultancies tend to have less rigorous / flatter management structures than other industries The more you know about how and where you will fit into that structure the easier it will be to position yourself for the interviews People / persona: Almost every company has a corporate image for clients and the business world Similarly, many - especially consultancies - have developed an internal persona … are they right for you?
  11. 11. The ideal candidate <ul><li>Key characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytical rigour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mathematical ability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>General qualities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to manage people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Willingness to work long hours and under pressure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Depth of character </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. AGENDA 1) The ideal candidate 2) C.V.s and covering letters 3) Interview process 4) What you need to demonstrate (and how!) 5) Do’s and don’ts checklist
  13. 13. The application process Covering letter <ul><li>The covering letter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep it brief - but not bullet points, must be good English </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlight your achievements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lay out why you are applying to this particular organisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to show that you have the key “competencies” that they are looking for as well as a personality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They want to know you can: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>write clearly and concisely (and correctly!) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>communicate in written form </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>identify the key points and organise them effectively </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. The application process C.V. <ul><li>Your C.V. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep basic information to one side – expand elsewhere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mention key achievements and what you have “delivered” in each role </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to show that you have the key “competencies” that they are looking for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show that you have done something interesting beyond work, e.g. involvement in charitable activity, sports clubs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t lie, embellish or augment! </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. An example: Personal Career Education Languages & Additional skills <ul><ul><li>CURRICULUM VITAE </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PERSONAL DETAILS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Date of Birth: Nationality: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Address: Status: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tel: Mobile: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E-mail: Home Tel/Fax: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CAREER SUMMARY </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2003 - 2006 Independent Consultant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Completed projects in range of businesses as independent consultant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2001 - 2003 Idaho Pacific Group (Private Equity partnership) Transferred from Smith & Co Communications Completed projects to improve returns from underperforming portfolio companies Identified and assessed potential investments, especially in retail sector </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1999 - 2001 Smith & Co Communications (subsidiary of SLO) Vice-President, Business Development (strategy director) based in Zurich Hired as one of three senior managers to turn business around </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1987 - 1998 Cribbins Management Consulting (formerly Strategic Hopping Associates) Strategy Consulting Firm, 1200 staff (part of Keith & Lenin) Hired as Analyst; Promotions to Consultant, Associate, Senior Associate, Principal Generalist consultant, clients included Shell, UPM-Kymmene, Philips, GlaxoSmithKline, Telefonica </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1983 - 1986 Ohio Assurance / Moon Alliance Insurance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Year between school and university, during vacations) Actuarial and Marketing Departments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EDUCATION </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1992 - 1993 INSEAD – MBA . Dean's list - top 10% of students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1984 - 1987 Cambridge University - MA in Natural Sciences (Physics & Theoretical Physics) Open Scholarship each year (Exam results: part IA: 1st; part IB: 2nd; part II: 2nd) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1976 - 1983 Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Bristol </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ A’, ‘S’ levels: Applied Maths (A1), Pure Maths (A2), Physics (A), Chemistry (A) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 ‘AO’ Levels and 10 ‘O’ Levels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LANGUAGES </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>French (fluent); German (working knowledge); Spanish (basic) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OTHER INFORMATION </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GMAT score 770 (top 0.5%) Keen sportsman, especially football, golf, skiing, gym Produced, wrote and presented INSEAD ‘Cabaret’ for paying audience of 450 Advanced use of Excel and Word; use of Access, PowerPoint and other software Trustee & Investment Manager for educational charity </li></ul></ul>?
  16. 16. AGENDA 1) The ideal candidate 2) C.V.s and covering letters 3) Interview process 4) What you need to demonstrate (and how!) 5) Do’s and don’ts checklist
  17. 17. Key stages of the interview process First round “C.V.” interviews - likely to be with people at the same level and one level more senior Case studies - based on previous/historic cases Second round interviews - likely to be with at least one ‘Manager’ level person. Discuss your case study performance and how you would seek to fit into a current case-team ‘ Fit’ interview - chance to meet with junior’s, support staff etc. Aim is to assess the personal fit with existing staff members H.R. interview - tends to be at the larger firms. Focused on “how much should we pay them, what level are they at, who would they be working for” Senior staff interview - a final meeting with partner level
  18. 18. The interview process Case studies “ Case studies” will be used to test you ‘on-your-feet’ and try to assess how you will perform when under a certain level of pressure and without much time for preparation These may be short intellectual exercises, such as: 1) How many petrol stations are there in the UK? 2) How many light-bulbs are purchased each day in the UK? 3) Why are man-hole covers round?
  19. 19. The interview process - case studies Or they may be outline versions of past cases, such as: 1) An international supplier of beer dispense equipment wished to establish the market priorities for it’s international business, i.e. which markets would offer the largest opportunity in terms of product sales with the minimal barriers to entry? 2) An international manufacturer of plastic-injection-moulding cleaning equipment is looking to rationalise its global manufacturing sites. How many should it have? Where should they be located?
  20. 20. Formats of interview process <ul><li>Different consultancies will have different formats for the interview process - some consultancies vary according to the level of position, timing or your background! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Two case studies and short C.V. interviews, plus HR interview </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C.V. interview first and then case study interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Could be C.V. and case study interviews followed by formal presentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Could be large number: 5-7 case studies and C.V. interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Etc. etc. etc! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some won’t tell you until the day - so don’t be surprised! </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Different stages target different aspects <ul><li>Someone they can work with </li></ul><ul><li>Someone they are going to spend time with </li></ul><ul><li>Someone they are going to compete with </li></ul><ul><li>Someone they have to manage </li></ul><ul><li>Someone who is going to work as part of their team and effect their ‘team’ performance </li></ul><ul><li>Someone they may have to train with new skills or methods </li></ul><ul><li>Someone who will represent their company </li></ul><ul><li>Someone who will strengthen the ‘team’ </li></ul><ul><li>Someone who will add to the company’s bottom-line – an asset! </li></ul>Consultants Managers Partners / Directors
  22. 22. AGENDA 1) The ideal candidate 2) C.V.s and covering letters 3) Interview process 4) What you need to demonstrate (and how!) 5) Do’s and don’ts checklist
  23. 23. Demonstrating motivation <ul><li>Consultancies are likely to ask you certain questions, preparation for which will enable you to demonstrate your motivation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why do you want to work in management consultancy? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why do you want to move back into consulting? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why do you want to work in this country? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why do you want to work in this industry / consulting specialism? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why do you want to work for this particular consulting firm? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Be prepared - sound spontaneous!” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Demonstrating competencies What they are looking for <ul><li>Strategy consulting firms will be looking for a number of key competencies throughout the assessment process: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytical rigour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial awareness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intellectual curiosity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creativity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presentation </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Further competencies <ul><li>Other competencies which are important to some consulting firms for mid and senior level candidates are difficult to establish from case study interviews and so interviewers will be keen see how much experience candidates have had in the past during their C.V. interview: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drive - are you a self-starter? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Management capability – have you managed anything? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership – have you led anything? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sales – have you sold anything? </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Preparation & practice <ul><li>Prepare & practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation & practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation & practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation & practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation & practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation & practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation & practice </li></ul></ul>Things sound different out loud The more comfortable you are the better you will come across Form a small group and practice on each other
  27. 27. AGENDA 1) The ideal candidate 2) C.V.s and covering letters 3) Interview process 4) What you need to demonstrate (and how!) 5) Do’s and don’ts checklist
  28. 28. The “Do’s” of interviewing - Know who you are talking to What is the company, who is the person? - Know what you are talking about What role are you applying for? - Present yourself smartly A good suit, acceptable haircut, clean and tidy - Interact: listen & respond Focus, nod, agree/disagree, answer questions - Maintain concentration Some consultancies try to tire and disorient!
  29. 29. The “Do’s” of interviewing - Know who you are talking to What is the company, who is the person? - Know what you are talking about What role are you applying for? - Present yourself smartly A good suit, acceptable haircut, clean and tidy - Interact: listen & respond Focus, nod, agree/disagree, answer questions - Maintain concentration Some consultancies try to tire and disorient!
  30. 30. The “Do’s” of interviewing - Know who you are talking to What is the company, who is the person? - Know what you are talking about What role are you applying for? - Present yourself smartly A good suit, acceptable haircut, clean and tidy - Interact: listen & respond Focus, nod, agree/disagree, answer questions - Maintain concentration Some consultancies try to tire and disorient!
  31. 31. The “Do’s” of interviewing - Know who you are talking to What is the company, who is the person? - Know what you are talking about What role are you applying for? - Present yourself smartly A good suit, acceptable haircut, clean and tidy - Interact: listen & respond Focus, nod, agree/disagree, answer questions - Maintain concentration Some consultancies try to tire and disorient!
  32. 32. The “Do’s” of interviewing - Know who you are talking to What is the company, who is the person? - Know what you are talking about What role are you applying for? - Present yourself smartly A good suit, acceptable haircut, clean and tidy - Interact: listen & respond Focus, nod, agree/disagree, answer questions - Maintain concentration Some consultancies try to tire and disorient!
  33. 33. Intellectual arrogance: “ I don’t want to work with block heads” This was said by an INSEAD MBA Consultant on interview for Principal-level role with a Strategy Consulting firm, May 2006. Consultants need to be able to work and get on with a wide range of people at different levels Understandably the consultancy saw arrogance and didn’t want to proceed further. Their comment to us about the candidate was: “ Just because you’ve got an MBA doesn’t mean you are God” November 2005 Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  34. 34. Talk continuously: Mindbench had a candidate who was perfect on paper for a senior role with a niche strategy consulting firm although at interview she talked continuously to such an extent that the interview found it very hard to get to know her Comment from the strategy firm was: “ I didn’t get a chance to speak and had to bring the interview to an end to stop it overrunning massively… how can she build rapport with clients if she can’t build rapport with me?” May 2006 Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  35. 35. Talk very quickly: Some people naturally talk very fast Interviewers are looking for good communicators who they feel comfortable will work well with their clients If you are a fast talker adapt your pace for the interview We had an American who was a very fast talker and at interview with a niche consultancy, they said, “ This just wouldn’t work with our clients!” September 2004 Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  36. 36. Overly formal / informal Consulting firms are looking for you to have the right pitch It is important that you come across as professional, build rapport with the interviewer and demonstrate passion You do not want to come across as wooden or overly formal You need to be someone that they will want to work with Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  37. 37. Being overly formal or informal Smaller consulting firms in particular may have a more relaxed style to office work and they will want to insure that you are going to be a good cultural fit with them You don’t want to appear too stiff - or as if you have no sense of humour You don’t want to be overly informal – tell jokes or wear inappropriate clothes One consultant I put forward for a role wore a brown suit and yellow shirt to the interview. Whilst he got the contract his clothing was mentioned in remarks! Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  38. 38. Don’t be reticent about telling interviewers about clients and projects you have worked on If there are confidentiality issues or commercial sensitivity - e.g. if a very recent project - then it is professional not to discuss details in great depth or mention client names - explain this politely! However if it is more than a year ago, you should feel free to discuss projects – what the project achieved, what your role was and who the clients were Gives the interviewer confidence that they now what they are talking about and enables them to pitch their level Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  39. 39. Don’t be late! Plan to be at least 30 minutes early for the interview - allow for travel disruptions etc. You can always use the time to run through notes, read the FT / Economist, calm yourself etc Saying the wrong thing Take your time and get your words right! Be careful not to swear or use ‘inappropriate’ language. Should you make a mistake or say the wrong thing - don’t panic! Apologise and try to move forward Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  40. 40. ‘ Freezing’ or drying-up Even experienced people can experience moments of stress and freeze-up Practising possible question and answer scenarios with a friend or colleague can help The fine line Try to strike the right balance between confidence and boasting. A well written C.V. will help - make a list of your accomplishments both personally and professionally and practice talking about them in front of a friend or colleague Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  41. 41. Your body and your future career Be careful in what you eat and drink in the 24 hours prior to the interview Do not overindulge! An upset stomach or hangover is formidable distraction Try to eat something a few hours before the interview - hunger and a growling stomach can distract too! Some “Don’ts” of interviewing
  42. 42. <ul><li>Listening skills </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage the interviewer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain eye-contact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Listening - head on one side </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t be mute - nod, ‘agreement noises’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Body language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t slouch! Sit upright, have a pen and pad for notes when appropriate, but remember to look at the interviewer(s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hands and gesticulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try not to fidget - appear comfortable (but not too relaxed!) </li></ul></ul>The softer side
  43. 43. <ul><li>Ask questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t interrupt Putting your hand-up may be OK </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Character </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Being nervous is OK Just don’t let it take over! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not understanding something is OK Gives you the chance to demonstrate your questioning skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not knowing something is OK Better to be honest than to waffle (unless you’re a really good waffler!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Telling jokes is wrong! </li></ul></ul>The softer side
  44. 44. <ul><li>WHATEVER happens </li></ul><ul><li> WHATEVER the interviewer is like </li></ul><ul><li>HOWEVER upset you feel about your performance </li></ul><ul><li>Always remember - as in business life: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be polite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never lose your temper </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to remain calm, thoughtful and positive </li></ul></ul>The golden rule
  45. 45. Mindbench contacts Richard Stewart (Managing Director) Telephone: ++44(0) 20 7089 9017 Address: 28A Cole Street, London, SE1 4YH Email: richard@mindbench.co.uk www.mindbench.com

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