What do you look for in a resume and background that many candidates might not consider?
There is not one profile or background that we look for. But when we evaluate a resume and look at someone’s background, we will obviously look at their academic and professional experiences and their extracurriculars that demonstrate the impact that they have had through their involvement in various organizations. Our goal is to understand the range of experiences people have had and where they’ve been able to make a difference. Really, we’re looking for a holistic picture of that candidate.
One thing candidates might not realize, and it’s a little counterintuitive, is we’d really like to hear about how you handle setbacks or overcome adversity. What can really set you apart is how you handle those tough situations. We look for resiliency and adaptability. The ability to learn from your mistakes and grow from them is really, really important. Often, it’s something that can set people apart if you have the confidence to talk about it in the course of conversation.
The other thing I tell people is to be yourself. Let your personality shine through in your interactions with us. You’re going to be more effective if you can be real. And it’s also important for you to figure out if BCG is the right place for you, a place where you can see yourself growing and thriving as a professional.
What kinds of skills does BCG anticipate needing in the coming years that you may not possess enough of now (Languages, Technical Skills, etc.)?
Our biggest challenge is finding top talent to support our robust growth. And there are some core skills that will always be needed. Those are things like analytical and problem-solving abilities; drive; a desire to create meaningful impact with our clients; and a collaborative orientation to help each other and our clients succeed.
As our business grows and evolves, we are continuing to add to the depth of our expertise in particular areas. For example, things like operations, big data and analytics, and technology broadly defined. As a global firm, language skills are increasingly important as the world becomes more globalized. [With languages], it varies based on the part of world, but we’re experiencing robust growth worldwide. Finding people who can operate in a global environment, regardless of which language, is always important.
We can find technical and analytical skills outside of MBAs, people who work with big data and analytical software packages. For an MBA, the magic comes in being able to apply the data to guide decisions — to use technology, information, and analytical tools and integrate them with pragmatic business judgment…and with an understanding of organizations and people in order to solve the particular business problem at hand.. It’s not just about analytics, but also the ability to apply these analytics in a client context to solve a problem that we are seeking from MBAs. And that requires a multidisciplinary approach, [along with] a combination of hard and soft skills and the ability to adapt, respond quickly and innovate. All of these things are increasingly important in this environment.
What advice would you give to students who have their hearts set on working for you? How can they enhance their job prospects?
There’s no magic bullet to acing the interview…What I always tell people is to really prepare for the interview. But over-preparation can be fatal. What I mean by that is that we want [candidates] to come in and talk about their accomplishments, what sets them apart, and why they’re such a good fit for BCG. Talk about setbacks and what you learned for them too.
And that’s an important part of the interview that, often times, they don’t spend enough time preparing for. They’ll spend all of their time preparing for the case portion of the interview – which is an important piece – but they won’t spend enough time thinking about their experiences and what sets them apart. So it’s important to prepare for both elements of the interview.
On the case interview, specifically, it’s important to practice a few cases so you know what to expect. But I tell people not to over-prepare. Over-preparation can be fatal if people come across as too scripted or mechanical, used canned frameworks, and don’t take the time to think through a problem they’re trying to solve in a logical way. I can always tell when candidates sound rehearsed. It’s really obvious.
Last, but not least, I always tell people to get to know us as a firm. And figure out if you’re going to be a good fit. The question I want to go back to is, ‘Can you be your authentic self?’ Take the time to figure out where you fit the best. If it is BCG, be prepared to tell us why you’re such a strong fit because that’s something that’s really important to us.
[Beyond the interview], researching their firm [is important]…learning about BCG, what it takes to succeed, and what we’re all about… And then understanding how your previous experiences line up. Also, [I encourage students] to meet people in the firm. Get to know as many people as you can so you can get a better sense for what we do, who we are, what we’re like, and what it’s like to work for BCG… and how you can contribute to the firm.