Tackling the Consulting “Fit Interview”

In a consulting fit interview, the interviewer’s objective is to determine whether you would be a right fit at the firm

Fit interviews are an extremely important, yet underestimated part of an interview because of the daunting case interview. Even though It’s a short process (5 – 10mins minutes) it requires critical thinking from the applicant’s perspective. To overlook this step would be a massive blunder. Below is a representation of the flow of consulting interview processes.

Most consulting interview rounds are 45mins – 1hour long. At BCG for example, you may expect 2 separate interviews each time you are invited to an interview, The first time you are invited, you get 2 interviews with consultants / project leaders; the second set of interviews are typically with project leaders / principals and the final round involves 2 or more partners. All in, you may expect anywhere from 5-6 separate interviews with different members of the firm. The exact setup may vary from office to office. Nonetheless, almost every interview round follows pretty much the same “pattern”

  • A 2 – 3min small talk e.g. How’s your day?
  • 5 – 10mins of personal fit interview e.g. Why consulting?
  • 30 – 40mins on a Case Interview
  • Some time for your to ask questions / share how you felt about the case interview process

This article focuses on the Personal Fit Interview. To be successful during the interview, you have to understand the thinking and the evaluation process of the interviewer.

Usually, the interviewer has three key questions in mind:

  1. Would the interviewer like working long hours with you on a project?
  2. Would you be able to value-add and support the team?
  3. Would you be happy joining consulting (as opposed to other career paths)?

You are more likely to get an offer when the interviewer is confident that: (i) You are easy to get along, (ii) can value-add on projects and (iii) will be happy working in consulting (as opposed to other career tracks). Thus, remember to communicate these qualities to the interviewer with your personal fit stories!

Let us now deep dive on these 3 categories of questions:

1. Would the interviewer like working long hours with you on a project?

This quality serves as a function to display your character and mannerisms.

Being aware and presenting the best you at the interview without trying to change who you really are whilst finding good balance of certain traits (e.g. being assertive but not aggressive).

2. Would you be able to value-add and support the team?

The bottom line here is whether you would be a helpful addition to the project team by integrating well with the team and if you can work autonomously after a short period of time.

The interviewer generally checks this through one of two ways:

  1. By doing a case interview with you in order to determine your thinking process and approach towards a complex problem.
  2. By asking you fit questions that measures whether you have the skillset necessary to be a successful management consultant. Specifically, what are the most important skills?

During the interview, it is extremely essential to demonstrate the four skills or personality traits below

  1. Flexible – being able to easily adapt and cope with changes
  2. Problem solver – the ability to break down complex problems into its sectioned parts
  3. Diversified team player – being able and willing to work with various personality types
  4. Hard worker – being willing to give 110% or go an extra mile

3. Would you really be happy joining consulting (as opposed to other career paths)

The company you would start working for will be investing valuable resources (like time and money) in your training. If the firm picks up on red flags, it would not make sense for the company to hire you. These red flags can come in the form of a reluctance to travel, not having an intense work lifestyle, lacking the service business attitude, or even that you might quit after a few months on the job. Therefore, the fit questions would try to review your personality and determine if consulting indeed the right fit for your personality.

The fit portion of the interview must also be delivered in a structured fashion

Just as a case interview, the fit interview must also be developed in a structured fashion. The objective is to be structured when answering Personal Fit questions.

If you can’t afford to be unstructured during a case, then why should you be unstructured when given the opportunity to talk about the most important experiences of your life or the motivation behind your decisions?

 

The STAR approach often comes in handy as a structure for fit questions. And here’s how you can put that in practice.

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