5 Questions to Ask in a Consulting Interview–Plus What NOT to Ask

  • Last Updated August, 2020
Questions to ask in a consulting interview. Image pictures 2 men discussing business.

Your consulting interviewer’s main goal is to test your problem-solving skills and your fit with their company. But after you pass the case study and fit questions, your interview is not over.

Now it’s your turn to ask questions.

At this point, you’re probably glad your interview is almost at an end and anxious to get out of the room before you mess up the (hopefully!) great job you’ve done. But don’t rush out the door!

Asking the interviewer questions that show you’ve done your research on the management consulting industry in general and their firm, in particular, will make you look like a serious candidate.

The answers to these questions will also help you better prepare for your future interviews.

Don’t waste this opportunity to get unique insight from experienced consultants.

What should you ask?

In this post, we’ll address:

  • Why the questions you ask your interviewers matter,
  • What questions you should NOT ask, 
  • What questions you should ask, 
  • How good questions can show you’ll make a great consultant, and
  • When NOT to ask questions at the end of a consulting interview.

If this is your first visit to My Consulting Offer, you might want to start with the basics on Consulting Case Interviews.

If questions to ask in a consulting interview is what you want to know about, you’re in exactly the right place.

Let’s get started!

Why Do the Questions You Ask Your Interviewer Matter?

At the end of every consulting interview, the consultant will give you an opportunity to ask questions. This is the last impression that the interviewer will have of you. 

Thoughtful questions show you’ve done your research on the company and that you care about being there. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about the interviewer and about the firm itself, and to express your interest in their clients.

Most applicants don’t know that the questions they ask in a consulting interview can help strengthen their candidacy. Some feel pressured and ask generic questions like: “How many people work in your company?” or “When we will hear back about the next round of interviews?” 

Asking generic questions is a bad idea if you want to finish strong in the interview. You should never ask the interviewer questions which can be answered by the recruiter.

Questions You Should NOT Ask Your Consulting Interviewer

Questions that fail the Google test.

If you can find the answer to a question in 1 minute or less by searching Google, it’s not a good question to ask your consulting interviewer. Examples:

“How many offices McKinsey has?” or

“Does BCG sponsor MBAs?”

Asking questions you can answer with a Google search shows that you haven’t done your homework. You’re wasting the interviewer’s time.

Questions with a Yes or No answer.

Avoid questions with Yes or No answers. They leave the interviewer with little to say and will create a conversation with too much silence or awkwardness.

“Do you enjoy working for this firm?” or

“Do the long hours and travel that come with a consulting job bother you?”

No questions at all.

Not asking questions is a missed opportunity to find out more about the position, the company, and the industry. 

Take this time to find out if this is the right job for you because the interviewer is trying to find out if you are the right person for the job.

Questions You Should Ask Your Consulting Interviewer

You should ask your consulting interviewer personal questions that show you care about his or her experience in consulting.

It’s also good to steer the questions toward topics that will keep the interviewer in a happy mood. Questions about the interviewer’s favorite study or best case team are great for this.

These questions will remind them of a positive experience and they’ll end the interview in a good mood.

Here are some examples of questions to ask the consulting partners:

questions to ask in a consulting interview

  1. Was the case we talked through one you actually worked on?
  2. What’s the most interesting case study you’ve worked on?
  3. What was your favorite case team?
  4. I noticed on your LinkedIn that you (mention an activity such as office transfer). What was that like?
  5. How did you come to choose (mention their field of expertise) as your area of focus?

Let’s go through these questions in more detail.

1. Was the case we talked through one you actually worked on? What was the impact on your client?

Your interviewer is not likely to give you a case question based on work that was their worst experience at their company. They will usually take their favorite or most challenging case.

2. What’s the most interesting case study you’ve worked on?

Similarly, this question will bring up one of the interviewer’s favorite case studies.

3. What was your favorite case team?

People love talking about their favorite people. Take yourself for example. Wouldn’t you rather someone asked about your favorite college professor than your least-favorite one?

4. I noticed on your LinkedIn that you (mention an activity such as office transfer). What was that like?

If you had a chance to look at their LinkedIn profile and found something interesting there, like transfer to another city or country, ask about that. The decision factors behind the move could give you insight into the company and the differences between its offices. They might also share more stories from their work at the firm.

5. How did you come to choose (mention their field of expertise) as your area of focus?

People love to talk about their life path and what led them to the point they are at the moment. Asking 2 or 3 personal questions such as these will lead to an interesting conversation that you’ll learn from and that will leave your interviewer in a good mood as the interview ends. They are far better than questions that fail the Google test.

Another Advantage to Asking Good Questions in Consulting Interviews

Asking good questions in consulting interviews will not only show that you’re interested in consulting as a career, it can also show you’ll be good at it.

How?

Consultants spend a lot of time interviewing clients and experts – basically asking questions. They need to get a lot of information on their clients’ industries, markets, and business problems very quickly.

This may sound easy, but it’s not. It’s easy to learn a lot about a business or market or new technology over a long period of time. It’s not easy to do it quickly. 

Showing you know to ask the right type of question to generate a productive business discussion will demonstrate strong problem-solving skills,  communication skills,  business sense, and empathy.

This is another reason that having good questions to ask in a consulting interview will boost your shot at getting moved on to the next round of interviews or land you a job offer.

When NOT to Ask Your Consulting Interviewer Questions

We’ve all been in interviews where the interviewer is clearly in a rush, distracted, or otherwise not as focused as they should be on us and our answers.

They’re glancing at their watch,  checking their phone while we’re structuring the case, their answering questions with the shortest responses possible.

  • Maybe their first interview of the day ran over and they’ve been running farther behind ever since.
  • Maybe something exploded on their client study and they really need to get back to client work.
  • Maybe your interview is not going as well as it needs to for you to be a good candidate to move forward in the recruiting process.

No matter what the problem is, you are not going to improve your shot at landing a job at their consulting firm by spending a good deal more of his or her time by asking 3 great questions at the end of this interview. 

What should you do?

Mention that you have questions so that the interviewer knows  you didn’t just come to the interview unprepared.

Acknowledge that they seem to be in a hurry and offer to defer questions. 

You could say something like: “I’d love to know more about your experience at [consulting firm], but you seem busy. If you need to jump on a client issue, could I email you my question so you can follow up when you have more time?”

This response will show that you can read people, an important skill in consulting, and get you a richer answer than you’d get in a rushed interview setting.

The overall impression you want to leave your interviewer with is that you can read the situation, pivot on the spot, and propose an alternative way to achieve your goal (getting the answer to your question). These are all skills a consultant uses on a daily basis. 

If you can show these skills in an interview, the interviewer can’t help but notice because so few candidates (especially those who haven’t read this article) do this.

Still Have Questions?

After reviewing this page, you know:

  • Why the questions you ask your interviewers matter,
  • What questions you should NOT ask,
  • What questions you should ask,
  • How good questions can show you’ll make a great consultant, and
  • When NOT to ask questions at the end of a consulting interview.

Is there anything else you need to know to feel prepared for your consulting interviews? Tell us below in the comments. We’ll have My Consulting Offer’s coaches get back to you with more information!

Other pages people preparing for questions for their consulting interviewer find helpful include:

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