I, The Absolute

Archive for February 28th, 2006

My interview

Posted by itheabsolute on February 28, 2006

Consulting firms usually have many rounds of interviews involving mix of personal and case interviews. Mck and BCG came a day before to campus to ensure that they have time enough to look at all the candidates sufficiently well. The shortlist for my interview came 2 days before the interview. I had hardly prepared for case interviews. Went through some material to get an idea of the cases and the frameworks that interviewees use to crack the cases. Did not practise a single case. Usual consulting interview prep should involve practising as many as 50 cases.

There were 212 applicants. 22 shortlists. There were three interviewers.

My first round was with an engagement manager based out of Dubai. Half of the discussion was about my resume, what i did, which sectors i would invest in, etc. the discussion then moved to a scenario case, where i had to decide which type of fastfood retail chain i would invest in. we had about 20 minutes of discussion on why i wanted to invest in an idli-dosa restaurant chain and not pizza-burger restaurant chain. finally, it was my turn to ask questions. asked about the plans of the firm in India (setting up a new office in India).

my feeling – the interview was basically like a discussion between two colleagues, sometimes bordering on a talk between friends.

11 people were further shortlisted after each of them had their first round. all these 11 people were to interview with two other interviewers – one a VP with Dubai office and another the Managing Partner & CEO of the firm in India.

Second interview – with the VP.

Initially it was personal interview with discussion on what I did, why I want to move to consulting, why this firm, why I think I would be good for consulting, etc. Then came the dreaded case. He gave me an estimation case. I had to estimate the number of gas stations that an energy firm should put in Hyderabad. The final number is not important. What is important is the approach to the problem. I felt that I did not do very well. But later I went oveer the qualitative aspects of the computation. The last 20 minutes of the interview I asked him questions and he answered. He had a lot of patience in handling my questions ( he had traveled from Dubai that morning and had less than 3 hours of sleep and my interview was some 10th interview for him).

My feeling – I think the last fifteen minutes i changed the course of interview. I could establish rapport with him through my questions.

Third Round – with the CEO

The opening remark was that he had received good feedback from other interviewers. He just wanted to understand a little about me and know why consulting, why this firm, etc questions.

All the three interviews, I spoke about WHY and HOW rather than just WHAT of my profile. My resume already had WHAT i had done. But it did not capture why i did what i did and how i achieved what i achieved.

Some learnings:

1. Treat an interview like a peer-to-peer interaction. Never as an interrogation.
2. Case interviews need a lot of preparation.
3. There is a good premium for relationship skills.
4. Negotiation is no crime, but be sure if the firm is serious about making an offer to you. Also know when and where to draw a line.
5. Focus on WHY and HOW not just on WHAT.
6. Interviewers would be interviewing continuously and would get bored dealing with people who treat them as interviewers. Ask a few questions about them. They would be glad to open up which will help to develope rapport.
7. If you have hit a wall with some question, accept and seek help in reaching the solution.

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