What A.T. Kearney Seeks In MBA Hires

Consultant team at dinner together

Consultant team at dinner together

If a MBA was weighing an offer from A.T. Kearney and another firm, what would give you the edge?

High value-added consulting firms all do very similar type of work. What really sets us apart is our culture, which you can feel in a number of ways.

The first is we work with our clients not on them. We place a very high value on collaboration, and we’ve become very adept at attracting and retaining talented problem-solvers who thrive in working in teams. We can come up with simple or complex but very durable solutions.

[Second], we work together very selflessly. We very passionately care about our work and about each other. We’re committed to open and honest communication. We nurture the entrepreneurial spirit. We provide very hands-on experience that can serve our consultants well, whether they stay with us or move on.

We are clearly differentiated by our unexpectedly personal culture. We’re authentic. And that is directly reflected in our global staffing model.  Rather than staffing based on geography, each project team is built by pulling together the best person for that engagement. This is how we guarantee our clients are getting the best end result. We take a keen interest in understanding what each individual can bring to the table today while also having a commitment to stretch their capabilities long term.

Also, feedback is so important to us. We see feedback as a gift. We really teach our consultants not to take it personally, but to take it as a gift, internalize it, and do with it what they can. So part of being authentic is being very open and giving lots of feedback.

Finally, A.T. Kearney is a great place to launch a career. Our size in the marketplace gives us unique advantages.  Unlike many of the larger firms, at A.T. Kearney, you’re given responsibility very quickly. It’s different from many smaller firms in that you’re exposed to a multitude of different industries and functions. You have the opportunity to work with big name clients on their most pressing issues.

Could you give us an overview of your MBA recruiting and interview process? What are the steps that students should expect? How can they make a good impression and stay on your radar?

We get to campus early in order to connect with students. Our goal is to tell them a little bit about who we are and learn a little bit about who they are. We do this in a variety of ways. We host the standard corporate presentations, coffee chats, and lunch-and-learns. In addition, we do dinners at partners’ homes, sporting events, cultural events, cocktail-making parties, cooking classes…you name it – we are going to find a way to connect on an individual level.

A.T. Kearney consultants

A.T. Kearney consultants in a meting

First round interviews consist of a case interview and a behavioral interview. And I have to say, “beware.” Our case interviews are hard. We are looking for analytical skills, how you break down a problem, and creative solutions. During the behavioral interview we ask for very specific examples of what candidates have done in the past that can contribute to great client work. For those who make the final round, those typically consist of two additional behavioral interviews along with a structured case presentation. You’re given a case and time to prepare and present to a panel of consultants.

For candidates to make a good impression and stay on our radar, [my advice] is simple: Stay engaged, be enthusiastic, get to know us and shine in the interview. We also offer case prep for you, so I would say come to those case prep sessions and really understand what we’re looking for when we are evaluating your case.

What types of onboarding, training and ongoing support do you provide to incoming MBAs?

Onboarding and training start during the internship. It’s a great way for consultants to understand the expectations that A.T. Kearney has for consultants. During the first week of the internship, Summer Associates spend a week with their colleagues learning the tools and methodologies that the firm uses on engagements. They also learn about the direction of the firm and about various industry and service practices areas. Our Summer Associates are staffed on a project as a full team member and are on-site with the project team. During that project, they’re developing models; they’re conducting complex analyses; and they have direct access to partners and to clients, which is the best learning experience that they could have.

There are also a lot of opportunities to socialize and get to know their fellow summer associates. Our summers have done everything from oyster shucking to glass blowing to poker tournaments benefiting local charities.  Additionally, we bring all of our summer associates to New York to spend time learning about the firm, networking and having some fun over the weekend.

When it comes to A.T. Kearney, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that students may have about your organization (and your industry)?

The biggest misconception about A.T. Kearney is that we’re an operations firm. It is true that we are globally recognized for doing some great operations work, but we also believe that you cannot separate operations and strategy. In our operations work, which includes supply chain and procurement, we work directly with C-level clients to also address the broader impact on strategy and organization. We believe that you can’t have strategy without operational expertise and operational expertise without strategy is doomed to fail. So A.T. Kearney has done a really good job of marrying both strategy and operations which helps set us apart from the other high value-add firms that are known for doing strategy.

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