Case and Interview Preparation
The consulting interview process consists of two parts: the personal experience interview and the business case portion. The personal experience interview consists of a “get to know” conversation including questions about your resume, motivations to become a consultant, strengths, experiences working in teams, and many other possible scenarios. The case portion of the interview consists of the interviewer presenting a business problem, often one the consultant has faced, to consider. During the case portion (often 75% of a 30-minute to 1-hour interview), interviewees are expected to logically, creatively, and in a structured manner describe how they would approach the problem.
Practice Makes Perfect
While problem-solving skills and the ability to present logical arguments and hypotheses are skills that Ph.D., masters, law degree, and medical degree students have in spades, the ability to think on the spot and coherently address issues relevant to businesses takes practice. Thus, the Harvard GSAS Consulting Club provides a wide range of programming aimed at helping advanced degree applicants confidently approach the interview.
There are a few general suggestions from alumni to consider when preparing for the interview. First, do not neglect preparing for the personal interview section of the interview. While performing well on the case is a necessary component of getting a job, it is not a sufficient criterion. Interviewees should come prepared to answer the commonly asked interview questions with stories that demonstrate the interviewee’s key abilities and achievements.
Secondly, when interviews come, there are often up to five in one day so be prepared to spend many hours each week for the months preceding interviews practicing and building stamina. A benchmark is to practice cases with a partner (NEVER ALONE) 3-5 times per week for two months before interviews.
Finally, when applying for firms, remember that consulting jobs are difficult to land. However, with enough determination, enough preparation, enough networking with companies, and by spreading your job search net wide, you will be able to enter this exciting industry!
Examples of opportunities that the Harvard GSAS Consulting Club offers to help members prepare:
1. Weekly Case Practice Sessions – Offered on both the Cambridge and Longwood campuses. These sessions provide an opportunity for you to practice cases with different people and gain different perspectives each week.
2. On-Demand Interview Practice Greater Boston Network – If you are interested in finding an interview practice partner on-demand from the Greater Boston area, then visit here for a 1-minute sign-up. Practice partners from MIT, Harvard, Tufts, BU, BC, and other universities can be found here.
3. Offeree Panel - Annually, the club hosts a panel discussion featuring Harvard students and postdocs who have recently received offers from consulting firms.
4. Harvard / MIT Case Competition – A 12-day event designed to allow you to experience a consulting teamwork environment. Please click Case Competition for more information.
5. Volunteer Consulting Group (VCG) – Gain firsthand experience in consulting by volunteering your time to one of the group’s engagements. Please click VCG for more information.