Consulting: Why So Many MBAs Do It

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WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET AN OFFER FROM A TOP CONSULTING FIRM

Regardless, a job at one of the top consulting firms is highly coveted and requires jumping through a number of challenging hoops, from multiple rounds interviews to untangling complicated case questions. What does it take to land an offer? Guido says that each firm has its own approach to screening talent, but essentially it comes down to three broad strokes:

1. Strong intellectual horsepower and a track record of success in a challenging field.

2. An ability to structure and analyze ambiguous problems in an improvisational manner, to work adeptly with numbers and calculations, and to clearly explain your thought processes.

3. Persuasive and analytical communication skills that engender confidence and trust in you.

Keith Bevans, a Bain & Company partner who leads the company’s global consulting recruiting efforts, has a slightly different take on these requirements. He says that intellectual horsepower, professional experience, and leadership are essential for an applicant. “Demonstrating those three things happen to be the core part of what we do, having the analytic horsepower to get the job done; being able to connect with people in a professional setting on a personal basis; and then being accountable and knowing that, no matter what, you have to improvise, you have to get things done despite the unavoidable challenges,” he says.

TOP FIRMS WILL ASK CANDIDATES FOR THEIR GMAT SCORES AND GRADES

Consulting firms make their judgments on these attributes by looking at your undergraduate and MBA grades, asking applicants what they scored on the GMAT (typically 710 or higher is required, especially at schools with grade non-disclosure policies), and testing the mental acuity of candidates through case and behavioral interviews. “Some MBA students say that prepping for case interviews is like taking an entire extra class during recruiting season,” says Guido in her primer. “However, most also note that the process is worthwhile in its own right because it teaches them to think in a structured way and to communicate their ideas clearly.”

If you’re interested in consulting, the best advice is to immediately begin building a network toward an ultimate offer. “The best thing you can do for yourself–even before you get the internship or the full time offer–-is to begin developing relationships with people in your office of choice at your target firms,” advises Guido. “And then keep doing that even once you get there. Find the people you want to work with and impress them. That will both ensure you are able to stick around and that you enjoy your time there.”

You can get started by conducting informational interviews with friends, classmates, and alumni at target firms, creating a consulting-targeted resume with help from your school’s careers office, and beginning the process of prepping for case interviews.

To get the MBA Career Coaches primer on consulting, click here.

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About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.