Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to get into Managment Consulting from Undergrad

My notes from conversational interview:

Situation: Graduating senior interested in management consulting, but from regular state school majoring in history and economics, and doesn't know where to start. None of the major consulting firms recruit at her school, and she didn't know where to start.

Objective: How do I get into a management consulting job?

My advice:

  • First, categorize the possible target firms.
    1. The Majors/boutiques (Mck/bain/bcg/etc, including other boutiques)
    2. The Giants (Accenture, Deloitte, PWC, Cap, etc)
    3. The Locals (regional firms who don't show up on any national list)
  • Second, define the approach for each and weight
    1. Majors
      • If you don't have an "side door" via your network, you probably don't have a chance. 
      • Don't waste your time submitting your resume online.  It won't go anywhere
    2. The giants
      • Do they have an on-campus recruiting motion?  Find out.  Use it and find out if they are recruiting for the MC/strategy practice (vs. BPO/transformation/staff aug work).  Hit it hard.
      • Check your alumni and linkedin networks for someone who works there.  Reach out.  Create a "side door."
      • Don't waste your time submitting your resume online
    • The Locals
      • Sleuth them out.  Web search is easiest.
      • Find someone who works there.  Reach out, and ask for a casual informational chat over coffee.
  • Third, nail the approach execution
    • Creating a "side door".  
      • Find these people via your network.  If you're not connected, reach out via an email. Explain that you're considering applying with the firm and want to learn more about it. Ask for a casual phone or coffee conversation.
      • It's not an interview but it is.  Like a first date, you might want to sleep with the person but you can't come out and say it.
        • Conversationally introduce yourself and explain why a) consulting is what you are going to do after graduating, and b) why you think this firm might be the right place.
        • Ask probing questions (if you can't think of any, just look them up on the internet) about the company and that person's experiences.  Ask follow up questions.  Just saying "wow that's really cool" is boring.
      • Finish with the ask.
        • Ask for their help or advice for the next step to keep it moving forward.
        • "This place sounds great!  Any suggestions on how I can stand out in the interview process, or who else in the firm I should talk to?"  
        • You are looking for them to say a) yes, talk to this person, b) I'll pass your resume to the recruiting team.
      • Follow up PROMPTLY.  
    • Nail the interview
      • Practice the hell out of the case interview.  Spend 5 minutes a day doing 3-digit multiplication and long division problems.  Write answer to the top 50 behavioral interview questions.  Say them out loud.  Get your answers to them crisp, punchy, and in in under 60 seconds.
      • Say your answer to these questions, out loud, 50 times in your room, until you love the answer:
        • Why do you want to work here? (60 seconds, 2-3 main takeaways to remmber
        • Why should we hire you? (60 second, 2-3 main takeaways)
        • Walk me through your resume (where your walk through should make clear the first 2)  (120 seconds, 3-5 main takeaways)
      • What to show in the interview.
        • Demonstrate intellectual competence, critical thinking, and ability to put a structure to an undefined problem.  
        • Show enthusiasm.  If  you're not enthusiastic, fake it until you get the offer
        • Be articulate and succinct in everything.  We hate ramblers who don't get to the point.
        • Be cool.  don't show OCD tendencies.  Remember, it's kinda like the first date where you're trying to get the girl in bed.
      • What they don't care about: domain expertise.  You are a college senior - you know nothing.  What we need from you in someone who can learn.
  • What will set you apart
    • Being prepared.  It's an easy ding when we see 80% of the people ramble through their resume or stumble through the case - thinking that they are so smart, they can wing it.  
    • Own being the underdog.  A harvard kid gets an easier pass.  You need to show them that you are perfect for this job
    • Hustling.  Work the "side door" entrance respectfully but hard.  If someone doesn't respond to an email, follow up one week later.  If they don't respond again, try someone else.  Keep hustling.
    • Sell yourself.  You may be an engineer, historian, or poet.  Who cares.  You are not a pretty snowflake who I will recognize for its sheer potential the moment you walk in the room.  I've got one hour with you and 10 other candidates coming.  SELL ME ON YOU.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013