Interviewing for a consulting position? Make sure you know the right things to ask when the interviewers asks if YOU have any questions.
by Kevin Gao
My first post in this series covered and the biggest mistake you can make.
At the end of every consulting interview, the consultant will typically offer feedback on your performance and provide an opportunity to ask followup questions. Most applicants do not use this time effectively. Asking followup questions allows you to learn more about the job, and strengthen your candidacy too.
Most interviewees feel pressured to ask something and will throw out meaningless questions like “Do you know when we’ll hear back about second rounds?” or “How many consultants work at your firm?”
Never ask your consultant interviewer a question that can be answered by a recruiter.
Here are three strong followup questions that you can ask:
- Would you mind telling me about your background and how you ended up as an Accenture consultant?
- I’d be interested to hear what your most challenging case has been thus far in your BCG career.
- What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that applicants have about consulting?
These questions are great because they demonstrate your interest in the job, they’re interesting for the interviewer to answer and you’ll gain some wisdom from the responses.
Here’s a great question if feedback hasn’t been provided:
- When you think about my interview performance; what would you suggest are the two or three things I can do to improve?
Even if feedback is provided, most consultant interviewers won’t offer concrete suggestions to improve. This is a great question, particularly for first-round interviews, and demonstrates a focus on personal development that all consultants respect.
Finally, here’s the absolute best follow-up consulting interview question:
- I’m really interested in public sector consulting. I’d be interested to hear what you know about that area at Bain. (You can fill in “public sector consulting” with any topic of personal interest—Brazil, nonprofit consulting, energy and renewables.)
Why is this question so good?
Because it reinforces your life story—and the best applicants have distinct life stories. Because it demonstrates an interest beyond “any ol’ job in management consulting” to a specific industry, geography or function. Finally, because it can lead to followup conversations with your interviewer, and if your interviewer is not familiar with the topic, he/she may recommend additional contacts that you can reach out to!