Even though these questions are asked in most consulting interview rounds, this is still an area where many candidates make mistakes.
In this article, we highlight the common pitfalls to avoid and provide a strategy to help you put forward a distinct and convincing rationale for wanting to make a career move into consulting at a top firm.
Avoid being generic or random
Sometimes candidates give generic responses that any candidate could use. It’s best to stay clear of answers like “because I want to work for a prestigious firm” and come up with reasons specific to you.
Another common mistake candidates make is explaining their motivation with reference to goals that they’ve not mentioned earlier in the interview or that are not consistent with the choices they’ve made earlier in their career.
When motivations come as a surprise to the interviewer, the candidate comes across as either not being fully honest or as not having really thought properly about their rationale. Neither of these are a good impression to make!
This is why it’s important to really think about a narrative that can explain your journey thus far, as well as your decision to move into consulting and to a specific firm.
Craft a narrative to answer these questions well
Your narrative is your journey so far and how it has led you to wanting to join a consulting firm. There will be key themes in your career that make consulting an obvious next step, so it’s worth taking the time to consider those and your journey as a whole.
Start by reflecting deeply about what it is that motivated your career decisions to date and what it is that you’ve enjoyed most. You should try and find the common threads between your past career experiences and your motivations now. From that isolate a narrative that reflects your aspirations.
It will speak to the credibility of your answer if you introduce this narrative early on in the interview so that your motivation comes off as less of a surprise. For example, if you say early on that you’re someone who’s both curious and driven then it becomes relatively easy to articulate why consulting is the right choice for you in the context of these points.
Another way of conveying your narrative is to show how consulting will allow you to do more of what you enjoy in your past or current roles. Focus on what in your current experience is pulling you towards consulting. For example, perhaps you’re not in a hugely commercial role today, but the commercial experiences you’ve had were stimulating and consulting provides a way to get more exposure to these.
Your narrative doesn’t have to be too complicated, but it needs to be specific. It shouldn’t be a laundry list of factors. You should isolate the one or two points that really matter and articulate those.
Show your validated interest in the specific firm
In answer to questions such as “Why Bain?”, “Why BCG?” and so on, the key risk here again is being too generic.
It will help put you in good standing if you can come up with a concrete example about the firm, their work or the people there that are aligned with your narrative.
One way to articulate this is by mentioning any personal connections you have to the firm. You should mention if you know of, or have met, people at the firm and have had a positive impression of the company from your conversations with them. It shows that you’ve done your homework and have built some connections to the firm.
We also recommend reading our articles What Makes McKinsey Different: The Culture at McKinsey as Told by an Ex-Consultant, What Makes BCG Different: A View on the BCG Culture and What Makes Bain Different: An Inside Look at the ‘Bainie’ Culture, so that your response to this question is nuanced enough to be relevant.
For more tips about the fit interview, subscribe to our newsletter and receive free interview prep material in your inbox.