MBA & Undergrad Recruiting
Although the recruiting process is similar for MBA and undergrad consulting graduates, there are a few important differences. Most company recruiters will want to simply get to know consulting undergraduates and most likely not expect them to have a great deal of experience or even a firm understanding of the consulting business. What they are really looking for are smart, hard-working individuals who are willing to learn and have a passion for consulting.
Not surprisingly, recruiters expect a lot more from prospective employees who have earned their MBAs. They will expect you to have a reasonable amount of experience in consulting and for you to be able to articulate what you have learned as well as your strengths and weakness.
Although they are not utilized in many other industries, case interviews have become a standard part of the consulting interviewing process. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the case interviews, they are basically sample problems that the applicant is asked to solve. While undergraduate recruits may not be expected to complete a case interview, recruits with MBAs will undoubtedly be asked to solve them.
The most difficult thing about a case interview is that you never know what to expect so they are not easy to prepare for. You could be asked to solve a problem that other consultants could not solve, or you may be asked to solve one that is a common dilemma in the industry. The degree of difficulty of these questions not only depends on the company the recruit is interviewing for, but also the recruit's own experience and background. If the interviewer feels that the recruit has a weakness in one particular area, he might present the recruit with a case study that will seek to address those concerns.
In the end, the case interview gives the recruit the chance to show just how much he knows and that he can think critically and come to a logical conclusion. Even if this conclusion is not the right one, the recruit may score points. After all, many case studies represent problems that teams of consultants struggled with for months on.
Advice for your Case Interview
Although it is impossible to know what case or problem you will be asked to solve, that doesn't mean there is nothing you can do to prepare for your interview. As we mentioned, interviews can be tough, and the best thing you can do to prepare for them is to complete a few sample case interviews. These samples can be found at any local bookstore or on the websites of most major consulting firms. While these samples will not prepare you for the specific question you will encounter, completing a few of them and improving your style and time may give you the confidence you need to tackle any case interview.