Preparing your responses to consulting interview questions can be intimidating. You need to be ready to ace your case interview, but also to show your personality, motivation, and cultural fit in fit or behavioral interviews.
By practicing your answers to common consulting interview questions in advance of your interview, you’ll improve your chances of landing your dream job.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- 4 types of consulting interview questions
- Why fit questions matter to consulting firms
- How to answer consulting interview questions like a pro
- The top 10 consulting interview questions to practice WITH SAMPLE ANSWERS!
Let’s get started!
The 4 Types of Consulting Interview Questions
1. Consulting Fit Interview Questions
Consulting fit interview questions are all about getting to know you better. The interviewer wants to know why you’re interested in consulting, what drives you, and how you’ll fit in with their company culture and values. Some common questions include “Tell me about yourself.” and “Why do you want to work in consulting?”
While consulting fit interview questions might touch on some examples from your work experience, they’re more high-level than behavioral questions.
2. Consulting Behavioral Interview Questions
Consulting behavioral interview questions evaluate your ability to succeed in consulting based on your past experiences.
The interviewer wants specific examples from previous work, volunteer, extracurricular, or school experiences. Tell a good story to keep them engaged.
Think of these questions as an opportunity to expand on a bullet point on your resume rather than giving an overview of everything you did in that role. For example, one common consulting behavioral interview question is, “Tell me about a time you solved a tough problem.”
3. Consulting Case Interview Questions
The case is the main part of most consulting interviews. Here the interviewer will assess your problem-solving ability and analytical skills by asking you to solve a business problem. Types of case questions vary from market sizing, to profitability analysis or cost-benefit analysis.
Example: PhoneCo manufactures cell phones and is experiencing declining sales. The company wants to know why sales are declining and what it can do to improve its results. How can we help PhoneCo?
Check out Our Ultimate Guide to Case Interview Prep to learn how to solve a case!
4. Brainteasers Questions
Most consulting firms have moved away from using traditional brain teasers and, instead, focus on market sizing questions during the case interview, especially MBB firms (McKinsey, BCG, or Bain). You’ll need to estimate the size of a particular market in terms of volume or revenue.
For example, in the PhoneCo case interview, you might need to estimate how many cell phones are sold annually in North America to understand the company’s competitiveness.
If you want to learn how to tackle these, see our 7 Steps to Answer Market Sizing Questions.
When to Expect a Fit or Behavioral Question
In a first-round interview, most of the time is spent on a case study, with only a few minutes for a fit or behavioral question. In the decision round, you will meet multiple interviewers, one of whom may focus exclusively on fit or behavioral questions.
It’s worth noting McKinsey asks these questions in every interview. They call it the personal experience interview (PEI). The McKinsey PEI interview question is “a mile deep and an inch wide.” They look at one story from your resume or one personal characteristic (inch wide) and ask multiple questions about it (mile deep). For more information on McKinsey’s process, we outline the 11 McKinsey PEI Questions You Need to Be Able to Answer.
Importance of Consulting Fit Interview Questions
A consulting firm won’t hire you just because you’re a case interview whiz. Most candidates prepare heavily for the case interview. However, it’s just as important to practice for other types of consulting interview questions.
The interviewer is looking to understand:
- Are you someone they want to work with (or be stuck with at an airport)?
- Are you someone they feel comfortable putting in front of a client?
- Are you someone who is a team player?
- Are you someone they want to mentor?
Also, interviews are a two-way street! Use this opportunity to evaluate if the consulting firm is a good fit for your personality and career goals.
Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.
Tips to Ace the Consulting Fit and Behavioral Questions
Tell a Story Using the ‘A STAR(E)’ Method
You may have heard of the STAR method as a way to answer consulting interview questions. The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
However, we believe the ‘A STAR(E)’ method is more impactful and memorable. It stands for:
- Answer: Start with a 1-sentence answer to the interviewer’s question.
- Situation: Describe what happened. When and where did it happen? Who was involved?
- Tension: What was the conflict?
- Action: What did you do to resolve it?
- Result: What happened because of your action(s)?
- Effect: What did you learn?
Starting with the Answer immediately hooks the interviewer’s attention. And by ending with the Effect, you demonstrate your ability to connect your actions and learnings to the larger picture.
When preparing, write out your stories using this framework, and then practice out loud without explicitly stating the framework. For example, avoid saying: “The Answer was that I led a campaign to reduce plastic on campus by 20%. The Situation was that our campus recycling program was not effective.”
Check out our article on how to Upgrade your STAR Method to Ace Consulting Fit Interviews.
Let Your Personality Shine
These stories are about you, so add your personal touch. It’s easy to sound robotic because you’ve rehearsed your answers.
Take a deep breath, smile, and pause before speaking. This will help you to stay calm and convey your responses more naturally.
Demonstrate Breadth of Experiences
Avoid talking about the same experience multiple times, even if it highlights distinct skills. Show your breadth of experiences by discussing different roles including school projects, leadership roles in extracurricular activities, and internships.
Get Inspiration from Others
Do mock consulting interviews with friends or mentors to get feedback and practice your skills. It’s also helpful to hear other people’s answers.
Networking events can provide valuable insights that you can incorporate into your answers.
Top 10 Consulting Interview Questions
After reviewing some examples, we encourage you to give answering the questions a try.
Examples of Consulting Fit Interview Questions
1. Tell me about yourself.
This is often the first question in an interview, so make a good impression! Be confident, engaging, and personable, but avoid rambling through all your experiences. Another variation of this question is “Walk me through your resume.”
Structure your answer with a strong opening statement summarizing yourself, followed by your most relevant experiences, starting with the most recent. Mention past experiences that support your fit as a strong consulting candidate.
Let’s look at an example:
Candidate: I’m graduating this June with a degree in business and a focus on marketing. Through my internships and extracurricular activities, I’ve honed strong leadership, data analysis, and problem-solving skills that set me up for a consulting career.
For example, I served as the President of my college’s Consulting Club, where I organized events to help students gain exposure to the consulting industry. This experience taught me how to effectively communicate with others and lead a team.
Last summer, I completed a marketing internship at a tech startup where I developed their social media strategy and analyzed user engagement data. This experience taught me the importance of data-driven decision-making and how to effectively communicate insights to my managers.
In addition, I’ve also served as a Residence Advisor for my college’s dorm program. Through this role, I honed my problem-solving skills and learned how to resolve conflicts effectively.
Overall, I’m excited about the opportunity to bring my skills to consulting, where I can continue to learn and grow while making a meaningful impact.
Remember: Keep your answer concise and focused on the most relevant experiences and skills. You will give detailed examples when answering specific behavioral questions later in the interview.
2. Why do you want to work in consulting?
The “Why consulting?” question allows the interviewer to gauge your interest and understanding of the consulting industry.
You should demonstrate this through a structured approach rather than listing all the reasons you want to be a consultant. Start with a brief introduction of why consulting is your top career choice. To support your answer, provide 2 to 3 compelling reasons why you are interested in consulting.
Here’s an example:
Candidate: I’m excited to pursue consulting for its diverse projects, the opportunity to work with talented colleagues, and problem-solving opportunities.
As President of the Consulting Club, I’ve gained exposure to different industries and learned about the exciting projects firms work on, like mining or private equity.
Working in a team environment is exciting to me, as I believe diverse perspectives lead to better results. In my past marketing internship, I worked cross-functionally with data scientists and learned a lot from them.
Consulting is a good way to hone my problem-solving skills across many industries. Growing up, I played chess competitively and enjoyed the strategy behind the game.
3. Why are you interested in our specific firm?
Consulting firms want to ensure that their job offer won’t be wasted on a candidate with no real interest in the firm.
To impress the interviewer, explain compelling reasons why their firm is your top choice. Some examples include:
- Why do you want to join that particular office (e.g., the Houston office focuses on mining projects and you want exposure to that industry)?
- Why do you believe you fit in with the culture?
- Who have you met that left a positive impression? Name people who you connected with at the firm.
- Are there any specific thought leadership or types of consulting projects that interest you (e.g., artificial intelligence research, social impact work)?
Make it specific. If your answer can apply to another consulting firm, change the messaging to make it more personal.
Let’s look at an example:
Candidate: I’ve talked with several Bain consultants and know it’s the firm that best aligns with my career aspirations and where I can contribute meaningfully.
One of the main reasons why I’m drawn to Bain is its dominance in private equity consulting. During my conversation with Alex, a consultant in the London office, he shared his experience of working in the private equity group for 6 months, where he worked analyzing survey data and conducting market research.
Moreover, I’m impressed by Bain’s local staffing model that fosters strong bonds and mentorship opportunities with people in my home office.
Additionally, the culture at Bain is unparalleled. I’m particularly inspired by the philosophy of “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail,” which assures me that I will thrive in this environment and have ample opportunities to grow.
4. What do you like to do outside of work or school?
Highlight something that you’ve devoted more time to than the average person. Choose a genuine interest that showcases your drive and enthusiasm, and be ready to share how this activity has influenced your personal and professional growth.
For instance, you could talk about a volunteering position where you made a meaningful impact or a unique hobby.
5. Tell me something that is not on your resume.
This is your chance to share something unique about yourself that isn’t on your one-page resume. Your interviewer wants to know that you’re not just a hard worker, but also someone easy to talk to and build a rapport with.
It could be a topic you are passionate about or an experience from your childhood that has had a lasting impact on your life. For instance, maybe you practiced karate from the ages of 7 to 15, and that experience shaped your dedication, perseverance, and teamwork skills.
Examples of Consulting Behavioral Interview Questions
Let’s look at how to tell a story using the ‘A STAR(E)’ method.
6. Tell me about a time you failed.
Answer: During my marketing internship, my launch campaign initially failed and I learned the importance of understanding the target audience.
Situation: I was tasked with developing a new social media campaign to promote the latest product launch.
Tension: We had a small budget for digital ads, so I needed to design a campaign that was low-cost, yet creative.
Action: I spent time analyzing the competitors’ social media, brainstorming ideas, and planning a content calendar. However, when we launched the campaign, it didn’t perform as well as expected. We didn’t reach our estimated metrics.
Result: This was a clear failure, and it was frustrating for me. I analyzed the metrics, identified the weaknesses, and reworked the campaign strategy.
For example, I discovered that the content was not tailored enough to our target audience, and the call-to-action was not clear. I adjusted our content strategy and simplified the messaging.
After 2 weeks of running the update campaign, there was an increase in engagement rates of 15%.
Effect: I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of understanding the target audience, optimizing for key metrics, and iterating on live feedback.
7. Tell me about a project you led.
Answer: As President of the Consulting Club, I led a team of 5 in organizing a full-day conference for 150 students, including a case competition, speakers, and networking.
Situation: We wanted let students meet many firms at once while showcasing their skills through a case competition. Also, we wanted the firms to be able to scope talent.
Tension: We were a team of 5 and needed to manage many external stakeholders, including 12 consulting firms, caterers, judges, and facility logistics.
Action: I delegated tasks to my executive team based on their strengths and interests, ensuring everyone understood their responsibilities and deadlines. I also held regular meetings to troubleshoot any issues and provide support.
Result: The conference was a success, with over 150 attendees and positive feedback from both firms and students. The case competition ran smoothly and provided valuable networking.
Effect: I learned that collaboration is key to success. The whole team needs to work towards the same goal and support each other.
Try the following questions yourself, using the ‘A STAR(E)’ method.
8. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a teammate.
Show that you can relate to differing points of view, build a case for your point of view, and be persuasive. Do not sound dictatorial or difficult to work with.
9. Tell me about a challenging situation with a tight deadline.
Demonstrate that you can work well under pressure with successful results.
10. Tell me about a time you worked on a team and not as the leader.
Talk about a project where you played an important role as a teammate.
Bonus: Examples of Questions to Ask the Interviewer
The interviewer usually leaves 2 to 3 minutes to ask if you have any questions for them. Have some meaningful and insightful questions that you cannot Google easily, such as:
- What would you have done differently during your first year in consulting?
- What was your most challenging consulting project and why?
- Can you share more about the culture of this particular office and how it compares to other locations?
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In this article, we’ve covered:
- 4 types of consulting interview questions to know
- Importance of fit and behavioral questions
- Pro tips for answering consulting interview questions
- What to anticipate in a fit or behavioral question
- Top 10 consulting interview questions to practice
Still have questions?
If you want to know more about common consulting interview questions, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them.
Other people prepping on common consulting interview questions found the following pages helpful:
Help with Case Study Interview Prep
Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for advice on consulting interview questions. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 89.6% of the people we’ve worked with to get a job in management consulting. We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too. For example, here is how Qi was able to get her offer from Roland Berger.
Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.