Some of the brightest minds around the world want to get into management consulting because of the intellectual stimulation the work offers. One of my friends, who’s AIR (All India Rank) was below 10 in JEE Mains, spent hours preparing for the dreaded case interviews.
His recommendation is that,
“Approaching the interviews holistically and understanding the skills tested increases your chance of getting an offer”.
Consulting firms evaluate an applicant based on three different parameters.
A consultant from McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office was an Olympics gold medalist. Another consultant runs an online blog with 100,000+ followers. Not every consultant is an Olympics gold medalist or a blogger. But, everybody shows interest and has achievements to back them up in 1 or 2 activities besides academics.
Extracurriculars help the applicants stand out right from the first step of applications. I.e. resume screening.
Getting started early and sticking to one area of interest, helps the applicant build a strong case. A few extracurriculars that helped applicants (not exhaustive by any means) – Authoring a book, maintaining blogs, excelling in sports/music are some of the key activities you can pursue. Focus on excellence, rather than simply adding more skills to your repository.
The chance of getting an interview invite increases for applicants with high GPAs. In premier Indian institutes, typically the top 5% of the class get an interview invite. A strong extracurricular background, and excellent test scores (GRE, GMAT, etc.) could help negate the impact of low GPAs to an extent.
COMMUNICATION & PROBLEM SOLVING
At the highest level, the following skills are evaluated in the interviews.
- Ability to research, staying organized and absorbing information and data: Case interviews could last from anywhere between 20 minutes to 1.5 hours. During this discussion, you are expected to take notes, write key points and store valuable information intelligently. Sometimes the interviewer collects your notes to see if you are being organized. Your ability to simplify information and relating it back is the key
- Ability to prioritize and analyze: Consider this just like a SWAT squad, you can go from room-to-room, searching for the “culprit” (in your case, the solution to your business problem). This approach, though very thorough, is not practical when it comes to business problems. After intelligent investigation via some key questions, you are EXPECTED to narrow your focus area and prioritize the things you would like to investigate about the case.
- Ability to clearly communicate: All the analysis would not help, if you cannot state your points clearly and convincingly.
In addition to the high-level skills, Management Consultants are expected to be presentable; have good body language, problem solving, math skills, and communicate well.