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Questions to ask in Consulting Interviews

Questions to ask in Consulting Interviews

By Kim Tran April 1, 2015Case Interview3 Comments

Questions to ask in Consulting Interviews

By Kim Tran April 1, 2015Case Interview3 Comments

Dear Kim,

Thank you for your videos on  case study interview prep. I watched every one of them. They are much of help.

However, as I go through all of the channel as well as your website, I can’t seem to find any information as to what should I ask the interviewer at the end of the interview. Please notice that I am not referring to those questions everybody has to ask during the case for content purposes. I refer to more of the behaviour part of the interview.

Can you provide a few thoughts on this?

Thanks

My reply:

Dear Aron,

Thank you very much for your strong support for our platform. I appreciate these questions because they help pinpoint me to areas of our site that I need to further improve.

Regarding questions to ask (not in the case part), there’s so many ways to be “right” here but there are also so many ways to be “wrong”. So rather than giving you some concrete questions, I would like to give you the principles. If you can firmly grasp them, you will always ask good questions and still have the flexibility to go with the mood and the style of each context and each interviewer.

I am in the  mood for some DOs and DON’Ts so let’s do it that way.

DON’T be generic …

Consultants don’t like generic stuff. In fact, we hate them. Once in while I get generic questions like “Hi Kim, how to prepare for case interview?”. As much as we love to talk about consulting, we just can’t stand those. So the basic rule is: don’t ask questions that people can write a whole book to answer.

Bad example:

  • How will I be trained in this job?

Good example:

  • Of the various training opportunities that I will be very thankfully getting, would you like to tell me about the coaching culture of the daily tasks an analyst get from other team members?

Ask open-ended questions

Being specific doesn’t mean not asking open-ended questions. Please notice that in the above good example, I still left just about enough room for the interviewer to elaborate and go on as much as he / she likes.

DON’T be cliché

The best way to make the case interview session entertaining for the interviewer (trust me, they may be bored to death interviewing dozens of folks each week), and to make you memorable, is to ask interesting and unique questions. Don’t ask questions the interviewer has probably heard millions of times before. Go for those that he / she has never gotten before!

Bad examples:

  • What does a consultant’s typical day look like?
  • What is the company’s culture look like?

Good examples:

  • What is one important thing consultants do every day that most people don’t know about?
  • I know consulting has a very unique and strong culture, but what makes this office, culturally, different from any other?

DON’T ask questions for which you yourself can find out the answers

Bad examples:

  • How long have you been with the firm? (you can ask the HR person for that)
  • How many people are there in this office? (yes you can ask the HR person that too)
  • How many interview rounds will I have left? (you got the rhythm)

Implicitly show off your consulting skills and knowledge

Good examples:

  • Why you haven’t quit? (implicitly showing that you are well aware of the consulting culture that everybody leaves, the question is just when)
  • Take notes while listening! (this is not a question, but is definitely a strong action to implicitly convey that you know the culture and the consultant’s job well)
  • Number your questions! (Again, this is not a question, but this speaks volume. It shows that you are well prepared and very structured)

Questions to ask in Consulting Interviews

Center questions on the interviewer

Everybody loves talking about themselves, regardless of whether they admit it or not. It’s just  basic psychology that every brain subconsciously does. So your job is to take advantage of that.

Don’t ask too many questions about the project, the office, or the other partners. Ask about the interviewer!

Good examples:

  • What brought you into management consulting in the first place?

Not-as-good examples:

  • What are some reasons that make management consulting an attractive field?

* * *

I hope (in fact, I believe) that this has been a fun and informative article for you. You can see that there are so many traditional “good questions to ask” being criticized above. Consulting is a unique field and so the questions for it need to be different.

So with all of that said, what do you think? What are some good questions to ask in a consulting interview that you can think of? Comment below and we can have a wonderful discussion.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to subscribe to our mail list and our Youtube channel. We will see each other again!

  • Michael

    I normally end up an interview with really personal questions about the interviewer. I think 2 advantages of this type are: 1. Like you said, who doesn’t like talking about themselves? 2. I can have a guess on why he or she fits for the job and see if I do.
    Thank you for bringing up an interesting topic!

  • Thao Lee

    Thanks for your advice!

  • Joyce S.

    phew glad to find this just a few days before my interview! very helpful!