With Fall consulting recruiting rapidly approaching for undergraduate students, we’ve put together a series of informative posts to help you prepare the right material at the right time during the recruiting cycle.
As most universities follow a similar consulting recruiting timeline, we’ll be organizing our posts based on the below schedule:
- Mid-to-Late August: Semester Starts
- Early September: Consulting firms host info sessions, coffee chats, & case workshops
- Mid September: Resume drop, interviews are awarded, case buddies are assigned
- Mid-to-Late September: Round 1 interviews occur on-campus
- Late September – Early October Round 2 interviews occur in-office
- Mid October: Offers given
At each of these junctures, recruits should be prepared for the unique requirements expected of them. Those that are prepared typically proceed to the next milestone. Those that are not prepared should be ready for bad news.
With that said, our first article focuses on making the most of your final weeks of summer by addressing 4 key areas:
As your summer internships or studies come to a close, reflect on your accomplishments over the past 2 months. What value did you add to the world? Which skills did you further hone? What development areas did you identify?
Expand your thoughts to your overall undergrad career. Where have you focused your time? How have you made a difference? What is your personal brand with your peers, professors, and employers?
The most successful recruits have clear and succinct answers to these questions. Consulting firms review hundreds of resumes and meet hundreds of students at each campus. Given the sheer number of applicants, the most effective way to make an impression is to have a simple yet memorable “pitch” about who you are and what you’re about.
For instance, your recruiter might not remember “Jane the Engineering major” or “Juan the Climate Club president”. They will, however, remember Jane, the gal who had the passion for designing robots that she pursued this past summer. They will also remember Juan, the guy who organized a school trip to Panama to help a local sustainability start-up.
- Pro Tip: Be unapologetically authentic in crafting your story. Consultants are sharp individuals with high emotional intelligence – they can sniff bravado and BS a mile away. Share your passions, and demonstrate how you’ve pursued them.
Know why <Insert Consulting Firm Name Here>?
If you’re on this site, you probably already know at least a few of the consulting firms that recruit on-campus. Therefore, the next step is to understand what makes each unique so that you can better tailor your conversations at consulting recruiting events.
Some firms focus purely on strategy, others offer implementation services. Some have a focus on particular industries, others offer a broad range of services to clients of many types.
Don’t expect to be explicitly asked “Why are you interested in BCG?”. Instead, your recruiters will look for you to show interest by the questions you ask at on-campus events.
- Pro Tip: 99.99% of recruits are interested in consulting for the travel opportunities and the variety of clients / industries / business issues you’ll encounter on the job. These are all valid reasons for your interest, but unmemorable for recruiters. Instead, take time to identify ways in which your contacts at each firm have genuinely made an impression on you. Be quick to share these positive interactions as a core reason for your interest in recruiting.
Whether its solving consulting cases or crushing a coffee chat, the path to success is practice. Before you’re face-to-face with a McKinsey recruiter on-campus, competing with dozens of your friends to make an impression, test-out your networking skills in more friendly environments.
Know a recent graduate at one of the firms? Call her up to catch-up and hear about her work. Have a family friend in consulting? Set-up a coffee chat to express your interest and share your story. In short, the goal is to get in as many “safe” repetitions as possible, so you can see which parts of your story are well-received, and which parts need some tweaking.
- Pro Tip: For most consultants, recruiting is a lot of fun, but it is also a nights-and-weekends extracurricular effort that cuts into personal time. Keep this in mind when sending follow-up emails or requesting a 1:1 conversation. They will appreciate a succinct email that reminds them of your conversation and expresses your appreciation of their visit to campus. They won’t appreciate it if you fire random, canned questions at them or schedule a 30-minute phone call without good reason.
Set a casing baseline
With roughly 30 days until 1st round interviews, you’ll want to get honest feedback on your case skills soon. Are you totally unfamiliar with case interviews? Have you read the case books but never actually been given a live consulting case? Do you know how to craft custom frameworks but struggle with graphical analysis?
If you’re on the less-experienced end of the spectrum, you should immediately start legitimate consulting case prep. We consider legitimate case training sessions to be those where you:
- Find a knowledgeable partner to play the role of the interviewer
- Do not break character during the mock interview, even when you’re stumped
- Analyze graphs and/or data, and conduct calculations
- Provide creative ideas and structure your thoughts logically
- Receive detailed feedback from your partner on your strengths and development areas
By checking these boxes, you’ll ensure your prep is as realistic as possible.
If you are already an advanced caser, keep yourself sharp via periodic practice with more advanced or unusual cases. Be sure to play the role of the interviewer a few times so that you gain perspective on what good vs. bad performances look like.
- Pro Tip: If you’re feeling really ambitious, write your own cases using news headlines as inspiration. The more you immerse yourself in the consulting mindset, the more natural casing will become.
Spend the next week on these tasks to get consulting recruiting season started off right!
Click here to continue to our next Back-to-School post, where we explain how you should navigate on-campus recruiting events, including info sessions, coffee chats, and case workshops.