Management consulting firms aim at advising their clients regarding several issues faced such as, by helping them to make decision about different strategies, and by increasing the efficiency of processes. Consulting firms offer services across all sectors with large consulting firms having teams which cover most sectors while smaller consulting firms may just focus on a few specialized sectors.
Generally, consultants within these firms enter at the very first stage as associate consultants (with no MBA) or consultants (with MBA). Being a highly competitive industry, these firms prefer to recruit early-stage candidates in order to train them into consultants that reflect the key characteristics of the firm.
The hierarchy of consulting firms
Notable employers are listed but not limited to the ones below.
1st Year Student (3 Year Course)/ 2nd Year Student (4 Year Course)
Mckinsey and BCG offer insight programs to students who are not in their final year of study across various times of the year. These 2-3 day programs are situated in the London office and offer an insight into the world of Management Consulting.
Penultimate Year Student
Summer internships in consulting are offered to students in their penultimate year of study. Not all the offices of the three firms offer summer internships. For instance, no summer internships are offered at the Bain & Company’s offices in London. It is therefore important to check the availability of this option on their websites. In London, both Mckinsey and BCG offer summer internship opportunities.
All consulting firms offer graduate jobs to students who have graduated from university and are looking for jobs in Management Consulting. Students with MBA degrees can apply directly for consultant roles. It is generally advised to apply 10 months prior to the desired starting dates.
Recruitment is highly competitive and interested applicants should apply via the company’s online portal as early as possible. BCG’s recruitment process for its insight program is rather straightforward with just an assessment of the applicant’s CV and Cover Letter and no further interviews or additional assessments. McKinsey also has a Discover programme running in March.
Summer Internships/ Graduate Roles
Internships and graduate roles might share similar recruitment processes but it is still advisable to always check the website of the consulting firms for accurate information on the recruitment process.
Stage 1 (Online Applications/ Psychometric Testing)
The applications can be submitted through the online application. The firms demand for a CV and a Cover Letter. Cover letters can follow similar structures to the ones demanded for Investment Banking positions.
After submitting the application, most firms require applicants to complete online psychometric math tests. Applicants should aim to excel in these tests so as so have a higher chance of going to the next round of the application process.
While these tests are not too tricky, they may be daunting for some. However, as with normal examinations, practice makes perfect. The University of Manchester has practice psychometric tests on its Career Services website and it is not uncommon for applicants to go to websites such as CEB and purchase the test packet for additional practice. Specifically, for Management Consulting, interested applicants should practice with the Integrated Reasoning part of the GMAT. Some firms might assess an applicant’s analytical skills with tests similar to the quantitative questions of the GMAT.
Stage 2 (1st Round/ 2nd Round Interviews)
Depending on the firm and the office, there are in general a total of two to three interviews for consulting roles. This is where the hard work begins, as while these interviews assess the applicant’s motivation and interest for the consulting industry, they also measure his or her analytical skills and thinking process.
Stage 3 (Case Interviews)
If successful in the first few stages, the applicant will be invited to a Case Interview. During Case Interviews, the interviewer will challenge the applicant with real life case examples that the applicant will be expected to solve. The case could range from understanding the source of a revenue decrease and solving the problem to analyzing the different ways on how to maximize efficiency and reduce costs. The main rule in order to master case interviews is to practice as much as possible by doing cases at home, alone, online or with friends.
The best books that should be read before starting to practice are “Case Interview Secrets” from Victor Cheng and “Case in Point” from Marc Consentino. Websites such as consultingcase101 or preplounge will be useful to practice with cases and interact with other candidates preparing for the cases. The consulting firms’ websites (BCG & Bain) also provide online practice cases. Furthermore, it is essential that the applicant practice his or her mental math skills, as the interviewer will assess these skills through exercises such as guestimates (i.e.: what is the size of the car industry in the US?).