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4 Types of Questions You Should Expect in Your Consulting Interview

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October 15, 2021
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5 minutes
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

How to prepare for consulting interviews? The fact is, unlike a lot of other professions in which interviews are quite easy and basic, consulting interviews are rather complicated.

Not only will consulting firms judge your personality, but they will also examine your skills thoroughly. And there is nothing wrong with that. Consulting is a profession of high responsibility, and that’s why only the best of the best can be selected.

In this article, we will talk about four different types of questions interviewers may ask you during a consulting interview. It may also be worthwhile adding this article to your bookmarks and going through to it a day before the actual interview.

So, without further ado, let’s begin.

1. Basic Questions

Yes, you will be asked basic questions that even professionals from other industries are asked.

For example:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Walk me through your CV
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Why did you choose the consulting industry?
  • What do you know about the company?

Even though these questions seem pretty simple and straightforward, you should rehearse answering them before the interview. You will not get a second chance to create a first impression. So, do your homework beforehand and be confident during the interview.

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." —Thomas Jefferson

2. Teasers

These questions are designed to test your analytical capabilities and creativity. Now, teasers may not be included in some consulting interviews, especially management consulting interviews. But you shouldn’t take a chance and prepare for them anyway.

There are various types of brain teasers you can expect in a consulting interview, for example:

  • How many airports are there in Europe?
  • Which one of the two is heavier: 100 grams of iron or 100 grams of cotton?
  • If 3+3=69, 4+4= 816, 5+5=1025, then how much is 9+9?
  • Sarah’s mother has four daughters: Jennifer, Heather, and Natalia. Who is the fourth daughter?
  • How many footballs would fit in a swimming pool?

Remember, it’s okay to take some time and think before you answer. It’s better to analyze the question and wait for a few seconds instead of giving the wrong answer hurriedly. In some companies, teasers may be an integral part of the consulting recruitment process, so it’s better to get used to them from your university days itself.

3. Problem Solving Questions

Consultants are professional problem solvers. That’s the whole point behind hiring consultants. In consulting interviews, one of the key talents they look for is your ability to solve problems with efficiency using your analytical skills.

When you actually become a consultant, your clients wouldn’t really care about how hard your consulting interviews were or how daunting the consulting recruitment process could be for some candidates. Clients want results and solutions! The interviewers know this, and that’s why they will check your problem solving skills before hiring you.

So, how do they test your problem solving skills in consulting interviews? Well, some top consulting firms may require you to clear a PST (Problem Solving Test) before they invite you for an interview. This test measures a candidate's data interpretation, mental arithmetic, and logical reasoning skills. Some firms are replacing the problem solving test with other interesting methods, such as problem solving games. However, the core reason remains the same, and that is to test a candidate's ability to solve problems analytically.

Once you’re in the interview, your ability to solve problems will be tested again. This time, it will be live with an interviewer who has years of experience working as a consultant.

4. Consulting Frameworks

Now, this is the part of the consulting recruitment process that differentiates real consultants from amateurs. Just knowing the names or definitions of different consulting frameworks would not do the trick here. You also have to be able to use the right framework at the right time.

Generally, when the interviewer presents you with a case study and asks questions related to it, it’s a real-life example that has actually happened. Don’t worry about giving the perfect solution during the interview. The problems they present you with are the ones that may take a group of consultants months to solve. What they are testing is how you approach a problem using your consulting skills. You will be expected to apply frameworks here, so it’s better to be well-versed with them.

Here are some consulting frameworks that you must understand really well:

Profitability framework:

What is the main reason behind running a business? Earning profits! Even if you don’t get to use this framework during the interview, you may have to use it at some point while working as a consultant.

Merger and acquisition framework:

M&A can be a daunting task for CEOs and directors. That’s why it’s not uncommon for them to hire consultants to help them merge with or acquire another company. Your interviewer may ask you a question related to this, so understand this framework well.

3Cs framework:

Customers, competition, and company—that’s what 3Cs stands for. Having an in-depth knowledge of all the three elements of this framework can be really helpful during consulting case interviews.

Some other frameworks that consultants use regularly are the BCG Matrix , Blue Ocean Strategy, Red Ocean Strategy, Market entry framework, and the list goes on. If you want to learn more about important consulting frameworks, you should take a look at this article: 6 Consulting Frameworks Each Freelance Consultant Should Master.

Final Thoughts

Interviews are never easy, but it’s essential to cross them to get to the other side. Remember to do some research on the company that invites you for an interview and get acquainted with the types of questions they can ask. It’s okay to take your time and even ask the interviewer to repeat a question if you don’t understand it clearly. Consulting interviews are some of the most challenging ones in the professional world, but with the right knowledge and preparation, you can ace them with a smile on your face.