interview mistake

We get it, everyone is busy nowadays. Be it classes, work, family, athletics, club leadership, or other personal matters, many job-seekers find themselves overwhelmed during the interview preparation process and try to cut corners. Unfortunately, without diligent prep, you are more likely to make costly interview mistakes that are easy to avoid.

Reflecting on the many hours our coaches have spent preparing job-seekers for interviews, we give you five common interview mistakes candidates make, and how you can avoid making them yourself…

  1. You’re off by a few zeros:  Painful as it is, that pesky math can be the “nail in your coffin” if you screw it up during the case. Many candidates struggle with mental math, yet they still don’t put in the practice needed before interviewing.
    • Solution: To address this, our team has developed a case math tool for our clients that allows for rapid repetition of common questions like “What are revenues if we sell 6M units at $80 each?”. Otherwise, make yourself some flash cards and practice every day until calculating “70% of $300K” is a piece of cake.
  1. “I love to travel”:  Many candidates say this to us; however, your aspirations of being staffed in Brazil do not make you a more eligible candidate. Nor does your willingness to work hard, your interest in pursuing a MBA, or your college major.
    • Solution: When it comes to explaining your interest in consulting, you should have a relevant, compelling reason. It should prove that you will add value to the firm. A love for problem solving, a passion for learning about new industries and cultures, a desire to work with the best and the brightest – all of these reasons are believable for recruiters, and desirable in a consultant. Being “willing” to travel is a must, but it is not a reason you will get hired.
  1. Carbon-copy candidate: Prestigious undergraduate institution, brand-name work experiences, impressive college major. These are not special traits in consulting recruiting – they’re table-stakes. Many candidates fail to put forth the effort to stand-out among the masses, relying instead on their resume alone.
    • Solution: To improve your personal marketing efforts, focus on unique experiences you’ve had. Volunteer work in South Africa? Interesting! Serving on the board of a local start-up or family company? Perfect! A passion for writing musicals? Now we’re talking! Recruiters might forget your name, but they’ll easily be able to recall a unique story.
  1. “So what?”: Your resume proudly states something like “Analyzed industry data in a team environment”. The first thing your resume reviewer will think upon reading such a line is “so what?” How much data did you analyze? What type? And most importantly, what was the impact? Did it lead to a new strategy for the company? Did it leave to reduced costs?
    • Solution: Be sure that when you discuss your experiences, you always provide the results of your work, and quantify those results when possible. Otherwise, what was the point?
  1. “Why us?”: Employers love to hear why their firm really is the best place to work. In consulting, this desire is amplified by the fact that most applicants are submitting resumes to multiple firms that compete in the same space. The issue, however, is that as most candidates apply to multiple firms, they often get lazy with learning what distinguishes one company from another. In fact, this could be the most costly and common interview mistake we encounter.
    • Solution: Make sure you do your research, talk to alumni, and attend information sessions so that when you hear “why BCG?” or “why Strategy&?”, you have your own personal, specific reason as to what makes each firm unique.

Avoid these and other interview mistakes by signing-up for a tutoring session with an Interview Coach today!