Is breaking into consulting hard?

It can be difficult, but not impossible, to find a position at one of the leading consulting firms. This is a literally game-changing move, meaning the emphasis is no longer on getting the right answers, but on looking like a consultant in the process. Ideally, preparing for consulting should be a long process: you can spend a year or even more learning fundamental skills and adopting the mindset, and at least 2 or 3 months preparing for curriculum evaluation, testing, and case interviews. When I joined McKinsey, these appropriate interviews didn't play an important role when hiring consultants, but things are changing: interviews with specific cases are still the most important factor, but skill interviews have also become important when deciding to hire.

Those specific claims are much more impressive and reliable, even outside of the consulting industry. Breaking down the types of questions helps you learn quickly and effectively, while professional training ensures long-term flexibility in the event of a change in the format of the exams (something unlikely in management consulting, a very conservative sector). When I joined McKinsey, no one told me how to deal with pressure and get the most out of consulting work. It just means that you have more opportunities, but to be a consultant at MBB or the big four firms, you still have to work hard and smartly.

The fanciest resumes belong to creative jobs, not to the conservative consulting industry; those resumes usually go straight to the trash can very quickly. In addition to these fundamental attributes, consulting firms also seek business acumen and, sometimes, technical knowledge (at prestigious boutique firms, for example). All of them are discussed in detail in the Consulting Fit interview article, so check it out if you want to learn more. Group case interviews help companies better understand how good you are at coordinating and influencing people, which is essential in a consulting environment.

However, these aspects aren't as important as the three key qualities I've mentioned; you'll see that those three appear throughout the consultant selection process. After establishing contacts (or you can skip this step and submit your application through online portals, which is more practical, but much more competitive), the next step is to prepare for all phases of the consultant hiring process.

Chelsey Beland
Chelsey Beland

Extreme food specialist. Total pop cultureaholic. Total tv enthusiast. Devoted food guru. Friendly travel ninja.

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