Get Your Consulting Interview : Our topic today is focused on what it takes to face a consulting interview and master it. We will divide the topic into general interviewing and preparation areas and briefly touch on the specific understanding of technology-related versus process-related interviews.
So do you have what it takes to conduct a consulting interview?
While you spend time analyzing whether you are ready for a consulting interview, let’s take a look at what it takes to prepare for an interview. While a consulting interview may be in many ways similar to a regular job interview, there are areas of the interview that are very different from other job interviews.
Like every other interview, this one will start with the interviewer asking you to explain something about yourself, your experience in the consulting industry. If you do not have experience in consulting, it is likely that you will be expected to map your current experience to consulting experience requirements. But if you have no experience at all, chances are you won’t be selected for an interview at a consulting firm.
For experienced consulting professionals, this part is made easy because all you do is explain your current role and how to map it to the new role you are looking for. For beginners, dealing with consulting interviews becomes a bit more challenging.
So it will help beginners to connect with consulting professionals as part of a networking exercise before presenting themselves for a consulting interview. This will help you familiarize yourself with the consulting industry and in particular the role of consultants. You can use the best informal networking and communication sites for this purpose.
Make sure you research enough about the consulting firm you are consulting. Usually consulting organizations present case studies of their clients’ problems and their solutions as part of their case studies. They may be available briefly on their website. Take the time to read and understand this case study. This can help you during your consulting interview.
Indeed, it may not be wise to assume that these cases will be presented to you during your consulting interview. But reviewing these cases can help give you insight into what an organization is looking for.
It is also recommended that you review their service offerings and align your experience with one of the service offerings. While it’s great that you can bring some experience with you, it’s very important that experience maps out what the consulting firm has to offer its clients. This will definitely be tested in your consulting interview. Make sure you take the time to understand their service offerings and convince the company of your added value to the offering.
Be well prepared to solve case studies. If you’re a seasoned, experienced consultant attending a consulting interview, chances are you won’t be given a case study to solve.
But if you are a beginner, there is no harm in skipping this step. Please note that during your consulting interview, the company will not be looking for you to complete a case study. It is more important and likely that the company will examine your ability to think outside the box, structured thinking, your analytical skills, your problem solving skills and your communication skills through case studies.
Preparing multiple case studies is critical to the success of your consulting interview. Check to see if you can get insights for case study consulting from HBR magazine or something similar for your consulting interview.
So how does this affect my consulting interview?
The answer is quite simple if you think about it. Consultation takes many forms. As usual, given the explosion of IT outsourcing and ITES, the demand for management consultants in the process and technology space has increased. If you know the outsourcing industry, you will know that the most common process any organization will look at is its financial and accounting operations. Interesting right?
On the one hand some of us think Finance and Accounting is one of the safest jobs in the world, on the other hand they are the easiest to outsource.
So in terms of consulting, you could be a process consultant or a technology impacted management consultant. If you are a process consultant, the expectation is that you have in-depth expertise and process knowledge in your area of expertise. I’m sorry to disappoint all the fresh graduates out there. But process consulting basically requires prior experience in the area/domain you wish to consult.
So you need to climb the ladder from a beginner to someone with experience in a particular process and domain to become a process consultant. This will definitely be tested without a doubt during your consulting interview. If you come from a finance background with a consulting touch, requirements processes like Quote to Cash, Order to Cash are also called O2C. Procure to Pay (P2P) and Record to Report (R2R) are nothing new to you.
Also, if you think gaining some knowledge and jargon from the consulting industry will help you get through your consulting interview, you are very wrong. This will only give you a bad reputation in the industry which makes you unsuitable for consulting work.
Another consulting arena that I would like to touch on through this blog is Technology-related consulting – When I say technology-related consulting, I’m of course not referring to IT consulting here.
I am referring to management consulting in which companies make extensive use of technology to solve business problems (not IT problems but business problems). For example – leverage business object solutions to reduce reporting time or use tax bolts in software to perform tax accruals better and release cash flow for better investments and reduce litigation costs.
Regardless of your consulting area, there are certain things you can be sure to test in your consulting interview.
a) Common questions in your consulting interview are on your domain and area of expertise
b) During the consulting interview you also expect questions about the definition of your client’s problem statement and the solutions presented and your role as consultant in providing solutions.
I believe in today’s world, it is very challenging for someone to be an exclusive process consultant. Technology touches our lives every day. So even if you are a core process consultant, in my opinion you will be forced to brush up with technology at some point in time making you a technology-related management consultant.