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Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
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Wahawahwah Offline
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Post: #1
Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
Gentlemen,

I have five job interviews lined up over the next couple weeks for different consulting firms and would appreciate any advice you may have, specifically with reference to the following questions -

1. Firm / industry research - Avenues to secure informational interviews over such a short period? Do have subscriptions to the economist, WSJ, wall street oasis to cover the usual online research.

2. Location Preferences : Different offices may have specific interests while recruiting depending on major industries the office may focus on (for instance, a larger finance focus in NYC or tech focus in Cali / Seattle / Portland). Im applying for generalist positions as opposed to specialist roles, so would it be better to focus on large offices in major cities or smaller ones in bumfuck nowhere, or does that not really matter? There seem to be mixed opinions on this. For what its worth, I would prefer staying in a major metropolis.

3. Interviewer background research : How would you show interest in the interviewer/his work & research without giving off a stalker vibe? Is it okay to name drop a little?

4. Post Interview follow-up and feedback : Is it okay to ask for detailed feedback right after the interview? And is handwriting thank you notes a little too much?

5. Negotiating Salary : Any advice/rules of thumb while negotiating salary such that the firm doesnt rescind the offer altogether?

I realize many of these questions can be answered through one on online research and one on one conversations (done plenty of that), but I'm also interested in your opinions on the same, should you have any.

Thank you very much.

(This post was last modified: 09-12-2015 09:16 PM by Wahawahwah.)
09-12-2015 09:13 PM
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AFS Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
I haven't been on hundreds of job interviews, but from the few that went well (meaning I got the job), this would be my advice:

Take a clue from game, and come into the interview with the attitude that you would do them a favor by working for the company. I don't mean you should boast without class (that shows insecurity), but rather that you know what you are doing, and you aren't here to "beg" for the job.

Have you ever met a blue collar professional, like a mechanic or plumber, that immediately knew what they were doing, and made you confident they would do a good job? That's who you have to be.

As far as background research, the company's website and the job requirements they list will tell you a lot about what to expect. For example, if it's a financial consulting company, you should have some basic knowledge of all market terms (equity, swaps, etc.) Don't worry, the interview is not a "test" that you fail if you don't know absolutely everything. But it may be a problem if they ask you a very obvious question related to their business, that you could easily have found out from reading the news, and you stare back blankly at them.

Background research on recruiters is not always possible. Sometimes they will have published articles that give you an indication of what they expect. For example, one recruiter I interviewed wrote a blog post on how it's important to be polite and how you shouldn't bend over backwards to suit their schedule as far as the interview (you have a life of your own, no?) So when they called and gave me an interview date that didn't fit my schedule, I politely asked if we could reschedule. The interview went well.

They most likely (again, 100% of cases in my exp) will tell you who will be at the interview with you. Their bios are likely to be online, on the company website. It's a good idea to take a look just so you have an idea of the person's personality and what they could expect.

In my experience (really 100% of the time for me), they will ask your salary expectations in the preliminary phone interview. It's a good idea to give a figure a little higher than what you really want, because they will almost always offer you less. (If you say 35,000, they will come back with 30,000, etc.)

Unless they mention salary specifically during the interview, many recruiters see it as a big faux pa to bring up money or benefits without prompting. You should be there to see if the job is a good fit for you, not how much money you can get out of it (we know this isn't true, but that's how you should act).

If the interview goes well and they offer you the job, that's where the salary negotiation begins. If they lowball you, don't be afraid to ask for more. Not "I'm sorry, could you pretty please pay me more?" but just a confident reply that you were expecting more. For example "This is lower than average for this position, could you check if it's possible to match the salary to the industry standard?" or something along those lines.

I've had an instance where the job interview went extremely well, then they gave me an extremely lowball figure that was about 60% of what I had asked. When this happens, you give them an ultimatum, either they give you what you wanted or you walk. Companies that do this are looking for cheap labor, and if they fuck with you from the get go (wasting your time with the interview process when they know how much money you were expecting from the beginning), that means you will be fucked with at work all the time.

I've heard that this practice is far more likely in big companies or ones in metropolitan areas, because they know people want to work there. Simply say "if you want an expert that's suitable for this job, you need to pay them an appropriate salary" and walk away. Branches in small towns may offer a lower salary, but they won't lie about it. It's harder for them to find someone to fill that position.

A few other interview tips:
Just like in game, don't be too eager to please. Don't lie. If you don't know something, simply say you don't have experience in that field but are willing to learn. Sometimes a recruiter will fuck with you by asking "how do you feel about working in a big team with top-down management?" then "how do you feel about working independently, with little oversight?" If you answer enthusiastically to both, they know you are full of shit.

Phrase your employment as a value proposition. This goes back to my first point. Even if you're straight out of college, say "I've excelled at x and y at Cornell far above my peers, and this is the kind of expertise I can bring to your company." Imagine you are a salesman trying to sell your consulting services to the company - that's what they want to see.

Hope this helps.
09-13-2015 02:59 AM
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AFS Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
Sorry, I forgot to answer your last question:

It is a great idea to send a note after the interview thanking them for considering you, and that it was a pleasure to meet them etc etc.

I would not ask for feedback, because that again seems desperate. If you are applying for this job, you should know what you are doing. It's like going on a date with a girl, do you ask her afterwards "how did I do? do you like me?" I certainly hope not!

If they decline you for the job, then feel free to ask for tips or feedback. However, from my experience and what I've heard from others, this is a total waste of time. They will tell you "you just didn't fit exactly to our expectations for this position" or some bullshit that doesn't tell you anything. They will even lie. A friend of mine who was an extremely good and open communicator was told he wasn't "social enough." They just didn't want to reveal the real reason they didn't take him - it could be illegal, for example they plan to outsource the job to some dude who just came from India, or a family friend.
09-13-2015 03:04 AM
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polar Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
For case interview prep, look no further than Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng. I know you're tight with time, but this book is worth buying today so you have it in time for your second rounds or other interviews. Even if you have Case in Point, etc. on your bookshelf already.

For info interviews, find people on LinkedIn preferably just one connection away, then email them directly to their work email using first.last email format asking if they'll spare fifteen minutes via phone. If you don't have time prior to your interview, frame your responses as " based on my online research on the firm and X and Y people I met at networking and recruiting events (name drop attendees from the firm)..."

You can always frame your questions to interviewers as "I saw on LinkedIn that you worked in industry, / another firm / etc. Why did you join Acme Consulting and what do you love about it?" That's not stalkerish. Hacking their inbox or implying you know everything about their work history is.

Understand the difference between industry (specialists) and consultants (generalists, often focused on flavor of the day issues such as regulation), as well as that some consultants are people who left industry and want to get back in (were fired from their old jobs, took time off, etc).

Handwriting thank you notes should be your default as most people don't do it. Mail them same day of the interview.

Don't ask questions about company culture, work life balance, or ESPECIALLY pay during the interview - the expectation is you should know about all these beforehand, asking during the interview is a faux pas. You can negotiate salary once you have a printed offer letter in hand. Office placement partly depends on how big the company is and what is their recruiting process - some do first rounds at nearest office then fly you out to where you'd want to be, etc. Do your research first, then ask in the interview. If the firm's consultants travel a lot, then it doesn't matter where you are based as you'll be staffed with people from all over the US - just pick somewhere it's easy to travel from.

You can ask for verbal feedback at the end of the inspire "1. do you have any reservations about recommending me for this position that I could answer right now? Is there any reason not to advance my candidacy to the next round?" Either you'll get a chance to explain something or they'll say you're fine. Then "2. Would you suggest anything I can do to improve my interviewing skills?" Keep in mind they might not want you to begin with or you might be outdone by other candidates interviewing after you, so be ready to get "you were great" feedback to save face and then get a "sorry, we don't want you" email. Don't do this over email.

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09-13-2015 09:30 AM
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swuglyfe Away
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Post: #5
RE: Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
(09-12-2015 09:13 PM)Sharkie Wrote:  Gentlemen,

I have five job interviews lined up over the next couple weeks for different consulting firms and would appreciate any advice you may have, specifically with reference to the following questions -

1. Firm / industry research - Avenues to secure informational interviews over such a short period? Do have subscriptions to the economist, WSJ, wall street oasis to cover the usual online research.

2. Location Preferences : Different offices may have specific interests while recruiting depending on major industries the office may focus on (for instance, a larger finance focus in NYC or tech focus in Cali / Seattle / Portland). Im applying for generalist positions as opposed to specialist roles, so would it be better to focus on large offices in major cities or smaller ones in bumfuck nowhere, or does that not really matter? There seem to be mixed opinions on this. For what its worth, I would prefer staying in a major metropolis.

3. Interviewer background research : How would you show interest in the interviewer/his work & research without giving off a stalker vibe? Is it okay to name drop a little?

4. Post Interview follow-up and feedback : Is it okay to ask for detailed feedback right after the interview? And is handwriting thank you notes a little too much?

5. Negotiating Salary : Any advice/rules of thumb while negotiating salary such that the firm doesnt rescind the offer altogether?

I realize many of these questions can be answered through one on online research and one on one conversations (done plenty of that), but I'm also interested in your opinions on the same, should you have any.

Thank you very much.

PM me. I just accepted a full-time offer from a major firm, and right now I'm helping scores of my friends improve their resumes and their case skills. Time permitting, we could have some one on one discussion of this and practice. Kinda don't feel like spilling out all my thoughts on these questions in giant essays.
09-13-2015 10:11 AM
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Wahawahwah Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
Thanks guys! Much appreciated.

I'll keep this thread updated once the interviews are done, just for continuity.

09-13-2015 02:29 PM
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Mentavious Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
Let us know how this goes as I plan on getting into consulting in the next year

A man is only as faithful as his options-Chris Rock
10-29-2015 07:39 PM
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Wahawahwah Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Seeking Advice : Consulting job interviews
I got a job with 2 outta 4. Remaining 2 yet to confirm.

Lemme know if you need to talk. Happy to help.

Shout out to Swuglyfe who called and polar for advice and following up.

(This post was last modified: 10-29-2015 07:53 PM by Wahawahwah.)
10-29-2015 07:52 PM
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