Preparation For The Case Studies: How To Understand Well The Specific Expectations Of Your Examiners During The Interviews In The Consulting Firms ?



One of the most critical steps, when preparing for the case studies within the consulting firms, is to exactly understand what the interviewer’s expectations are. You already know that your prestation will be examined from every angle in order to evaluate your performance under a large number of parameters — between 15 and 20 according to the firms. Most of the candidates simply ignore what might be expected from them during these highly specific interviews. Or if you do not know the precise requirements, there is little chance for you to be on the good side of the statistics, meaning on the side of the candidates that will receive an offer from a firm.


Vital Reminder: Here Is What Your Objective Has To Be As a Consultancy candidate


The objective that you always have to remember during the interviews is to appear as a future colleague of your examiner. I remind you that within the consulting firms, the recruitment is done mainly by consultants in position and not by the human resources experts, so your future colleague is the one you have in front of you during the interview.

Or the consultants have very specific codes to work and evaluate the work of others, and so your “work” as a candidate will pass by the same evaluation grids. In my seminaries, I spend an entire day to share the codes of the consulting to facilitate the connection between the candidates and their future colleagues. Here are in synthesis the elements that you need to keep in mind concerning the specificities of your examiners:

  • They have very specific expectations: do you know them ? Do you have a clear idea about the objectives of your interview from their perspective ?
  • They have professional reflexes because of their training even their formatting: do you know the fundamentals of your future job ? Do you understand the typical life of a consultant ? Do you know his quality standards, the precision ones, the speed of execution ones ? Will you thus know to prove your match to their expectations, by using strong signals but also behavioral slight signals which will assure them you are a solid candidate ?

Note that these “signals” are at the same time about the substance of your prestation, the “what I say” and the form, the “how I say it and how I react”. Here are two concrete illustrations of the know-how necessary to a consultant:

1. This kind of job is subject to a strong pression, to a big stress sometimes and the consultant needs to have solid shoulders not to sink at the first difficulties and to move forward despite tricky contexts. We will see on this site how to keep your calme and overcome all the situations. Of course, there will be difficult moments, in the recruitment phase as well as once in the job. But this does not have to stop you from being at the required level. We will see that it is about your state of mind, your experience but also and most importantly about a technique to practice.

2. The consultant constantly has to take initiatives in his professional life. There again the same process perfectly applies during case interviews, like on the job.


The 10 Key Expectations Of The Examiners During Your Interviews And Case Studies

The candidates who focus their training on the case studies and neglect the elements listed here unfortunately help grow the failure list of candidates targeting consulting firms, and contribute to enforcing the belief that interviews within the consultancy are “almost impossible” to succeed. Let’s immediately see what it is about. You need to demonstrate that:

  1. You have the capacity to methodically structure your mind.
  2. You know to actively listen — meaning being able to use what you hear to generate value, it has to ring a bell in your mind.
  3. You know to build your working hypothesis.
  4. Your reasonings and recommendations are fact-based.
  5. You are confident in yourself – attention it is not about bustering here!
  6. You are capable of communicating your ideas, analyses and recommendations.
  7. You know to identify the information with added value for your clients.
  8. You have both common sense and business sense.
  9. You feel comfortable to pass from one thematic to another.
  10. You have a touch of creativity.

You see that in these 10 expectations, at least 3 in italic in the list concern your way of being and presenting the facts, rather than the substance of your analysis. According to the typical structure of an interview, these  “know-how” competencies are more important than the others, because the interviews start systematically with the fit part. This is why I propose to share on this blog a global approach that allows you to secure each of these expectations from the first minute of the interview. This is one of the reasons that explains why an approach that only focuses on the case study is not at all adapted to an effective preparation for consulting firm interviews. This being said, the case study will naturally represent the biggest challenge during the interview.


Know How To Adapt Yourself To The Momentum Of The Different Rounds Of The Interviews


The dynamics of the interviews are explained by two reasons. First of all, the more you move forward in the recruitment process, the more your interviewers will be senior consultants. Typically you will have project managers at the first round and partners or even senior partners at the third round. Secondly, if you arrive as I wish you at the last round of the recruitment process, this means you have already proved the capacity of measuring yourself against many case studies. Your technical competencies are therefore proved by your success. For these two reasons, the expectations according to the rounds are different.

Very concretely, when the project managers are the operationals of the firm, who think about the details and are mainly evaluated on that criteria, the partners will evaluate your capacity of taking a global view on a given problematic, and will anticipate whether or not you can have an added value for their current clients. For the moment you need to remember that the simple knowledge of the seniority of your interviewer gives you helpful information about the nature of his specific expectations.