How to Prepare For Your Management Consulting Interview
A former McKinsey consultant and Wharton MBA outlines her top tips for preparing for your management consulting interview. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned professional, this article will give you the edge to impress your interviewers.
By Tracy V.
Posted August 17, 2023
Preparing for your management consulting interview can feel overwhelming. Below are a few tips to help you get started on your journey. Need additional advice? Visit my profile to book a free intro call with me to discuss how we can personalize your case prep plan!
Know your target firms
Each firm has its own lingo and culture. Figure out their points of pride and what makes their culture unique. Become familiar with their jargon. Some firms call client cases “engagements” while others call them “studies.” The entry-level position can be associate at one firm and analyst at another. Don’t mix them up - they’ll know! One of the best ways to do this research is by talking to current and past employees. After each coffee chat, I would log one or two new things I learned about the firm or any observations I had.
Create a game plan
Preparing for case study interviews is truly a marathon, so you are going to need to make sure you are on track for your training. Become familiar with the type of cases your target firms typically give. Identify the resources available to you (company reps, people you can case with, online platforms, books, etc) and plan to case 1-3x per week. I mapped out which type of cases I wanted to focus on each week and made sure to increase the level of difficulty with each passing week. Everyone’s pace is different, so be sure to get in enough practice without burning yourself out!
Track your progress with a case log
As someone from a finance background and going into management consulting, I love data and performance measures. When I was recruiting, I made a log that contained every single case I mocked along with the type of case, three pieces each of negative and positive feedback, and areas I needed to work on. Every week, I would review what I had to work on and practices I wanted to implement so that I had that on top of mind going into the next mock case. You don’t have to be as detailed as me, but you should have some way to gauge whether you are improving.
Review your notes
When I would learn a new term, concept, or best practice, I would write it down in a notebook and review my notes every few days. I would record things like typical KPIs for different industries, performance measures for financial sponsors, or creative frameworks from someone whom I had cased. Don’t forget that you can learn a lot from casing other people. They can show you different phrasing and communication style, new frameworks, or tips and shortcuts.
Organize your paper
This is so simple, but many candidates neglect to think about how they should set up their papers for the case interview. When I first started, I found that I was wasting so much time searching for notes I had jotted down a few questions back or trying to remember what the number I had just calculated meant in relation to the case.
If you are interviewing in person, it also helps the interviewer follow your process throughout the case. I created a template that I would bring with me into interviews so that my paper was already set up. This page was divided so that I always knew where to find case overview facts given at the beginning, the client name, the case objective(s), and my framework.
Do mock interviews with full cases
The first one will be painful, but you just have to do it. Run through full-length cases with another person and treat it as a real interview. Go through a variety of cases and have different people interview you. It may be tempting to stop in the middle of a case if you are struggling, but keep pushing through! You want to have experience getting through tough cases because you may encounter roadblocks on the real day.
Run through exercises or drills
Once you have gone through enough cases, you will discover weak points that require more attention. Hone in on those areas by doing shorter exercises or drills. For example, if you find you struggle with brainstorming, go through multiple brainstorming prompts from cases each week. There are also online platforms that provide one-off drills so that you aren’t burning through a whole case.
Once you feel comfortable and as interview day creeps closer, slow down on the casing. You want to make sure you do not sound robotic or burn yourself out right before the finish line. Listen to your body and take a few days off from casing if you need to reset.
Remember the behavioral interview
Casing is a big part of the interview, but the firms also care about fit. Don’t put this off to the last minute. You will want to prepare your stories ahead of time so that you have time to polish them. Practice saying them out loud. It’s okay to have notes to have you recall your main points as you practice, but if you have a script, you may come off too rehearsed especially if you try to commit every word to memory.
These tips are a great way to get started. If you'd like personalized coaching that's custom to your profile and goals, work with me on Leland! I would love to help you nail the consulting recruiting process.
Preparing for your consulting interviews? Here are some additional resources to help you:
- A Comprehensive Guide to the Consulting Case Interview – With Examples
- Top 3 Tactics to Ace Your Case Interview
- A Comprehensive Guide to McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., and Boston Consulting Group
- From No Offers to Multiple Offers - How to Take Your Casing to the Next Level
- How a Disneyland Churro Helped Me Land a Job at Bain (and 5 Pitfalls to Avoid in Market Sizing Problems)