top of page
Finger on the Map


    This question is harder to answer than it should be! A management consultant used to be an MBA grad from a top university that helped businesses strategize about various aspects of their work. That is no longer true. The work of a management consultant has evolved, just as the economy has. With the availability of ubiquitous data and multiple sources of analytics and insights, it is no longer enough to create pretty presentations to leave behind. Management consultants today work across a gamut of functions and industries on all tasks related to the functioning of a business. Types of work include optimizing coal mines in far off places to creating apps that rank in the top 10 of a country's app store. Every company uses management consultants in a unique way. At the end of the day, the role of the consultant is to add value to the task that the business needs help with the most, using all of the tools at their disposal. The job description is intentionally vague because the role is ever-evolving.
    As the name suggests, generalist consultants work across industries, while specialist consultants work within one specific industry. ​ For example, a Life Sciences consultant might work specifically with the business development team at pharmaceutical companies to evaluate a new drug and estimate R&D costs (e.g., does this drug work? How much would it cost?). A generalist management consultant would work with the same pharmaceutical company's executive suite to guide overall portfolio strategy and commercial execution plans (e.g. what sorts of drugs should we pursue? How can we successfully market these new drugs?
    People join consulting firms at all points in their careers. The most common time to enter consulting is after graduate studies (MBAs still outnumber all other degrees at most consulting firms), and the academic backgrounds of all new hires are diverse. ​ The second most common time to enter consulting is during or after undergraduate studies. Joining early on opens up many exciting exit opportunities such as PE, top MBA programs, startups, and more. ​ Finally, while not as common, there are a significant number of experienced hires that join later in their careers. As the needs of the clients have evolved, the number of experienced hires joining the firm has steadily increased. (See "How can I get a consulting job as an experienced professional from a different background?" if this is you
    There is no set formula for what makes a skilled consultant. Similarly, recruitment varies across firms and is determined by many factors. At the junior levels (post-undergrad), the following achievements matter most for being selected to interview: ​ Attending a target school – a target school is one from which a firm actively hires. For MBB, this ranges from Ivy Leagues to regional schools that are known to produce great students. ​ ​​ Target school definitions are office specific – for example, Mckinsey's New York office might recruit mainly from the Northeast (Ivies, Howard, Wellesley). In contrast, the Dallas office might recruit from local schools such as Rice University. From my observation, the school you attend is considered the number one factor for recruitment. ​ Substantial academic achievement – Typically, those recruiting for MBB must have a GPA of at least 3.6 or above. Most candidates have GPAs of 3.8 or above with merit-based accomplishments (e.g., Dean's list, etc.). ​​​ Substantial extracurricular activities – Extracurricular activities come in various forms and should speak to your passions and interests. There's no guidance; this could be non-profit or volunteering work, sports, dance, or even launching a startup. What matters is that you are genuinely excited about your experiences and can speak about them at length. It is not essential to have leadership roles, but it is crucial to have many experiences you can draw from to answer interview questions. ​​ Networking – Often, candidates leave this part to the last minute. Assuming you are qualified, this is the most effective way to get your foot in the door. For students that attend target schools, the best way to network is to reach out to alumni currently working at the firms that most interest you. They often play a vital role in the recruiting team and can significantly improve your chances of getting invited to interview. Attending events– It is important to participate in any campus events and presentations from your top choice firms. Companies will often track who attended their events. ​​ Additionally, these events are great for networking with the people that work there and understanding whether the role is something you are excited about and want to pursue after graduating. If some of these criteria do not apply to you, don't give up. Feel free to reach out to me to see what might your best approach for recruiting with the top consulting firms.
    Experienced hires typically fall into two categories: Individuals with experiences that are in high demand with the clients of the consulting company. As the industry evolved, consulting firms opened up their recruiting process to hire people with specialized skill sets not traditionally sought after in consulting. For example, after strict new capital requirements were imposed on banks following the credit crisis, consulting firms hired Risk professionals from the Financial Industry to give their clients accurate advice. Individuals that would have otherwise gotten into consulting (i.e., hit all the requirements for being a strong candidate) but chose to go down a different career path, such as law, investment banking, or startup founder. ​​ The process for experienced hires is not as straightforward as it is for students or recent graduates because experienced hires do not enter a particular role such as Associate. Every firm has a different process for how to deal with experienced hires. At McKinsey for example, everyone joins as an associate but those with considerable experience are promoted to partner at a highly accelerated pace (6 months to 2 years). At other firms, you can join directly as a manager or partner. If you are an experienced hire looking to move into consulting, the most important part of the process for you is networking. While you may get lucky by applying online, it is much more likely that you will be invited to interview after networking with consultants and explaining your strengths to them. If you are an experienced professional looking to get into consulting, reach out to me. I have guided multiple candidates through their transition.
    There are three critical steps to follow before applying to be a management consultant: ​ Make sure you're a good fit - The most vital step that many candidates skip is genuinely considering whether this career is the right one for you. Consulting can be a very enriching career, but it comes at a high personal cost. While there are many valid reasons to be a consultant, there are also reasons that are not great, such as a love for travel. Do your research and make sure this is a path that will give you the satisfaction you want Don't put off networking until the last minute - Like any other job, your chances of getting into consulting increase exponentially as you start to reach out to people currently in the industry. The better you know the individual, the higher your chances of getting time and potentially a recommendation from them. Make sure you also use this opportunity to understand the role and interview processes well. I have many strategies for how to network well, regardless of your background! Keep up on the latest developments in the industry - consulting has undergone a massive change over the last few years. MBAs are no longer a requirement. There are many more specialist career paths. The list of services offered is endless and not restricted to strategy presentations. Knowing all of this can help you in the interview but also importantly help you decide where in the consulting ecosystem your skills fit in best
    The consulting interview typically consists of the following elements: ​ PEI - Personal Experience Interview This part of the interview aims is to highlight how you approach and react to different situations that may come up. Typically, PEI questions touch on three key aspects: Leadership Entrepreneurial drive Personal Impact​ The format of these questions vary—your interviewer can either ask you to describe a time where you came across a particular situation OR they can give you a situation and ask you how you would approach it​. ​​ Case Interview In the first round, this is the key part of the interview. The case interview allows you to analyze and hopefully solve case studies of real-world business problems. A case is usually 35-45 minutes long with each question building upon the previous one. An opportunity to ask questions At the end of every interview, your interviewer will allow you to ask questions. A candidate ​should prepare questions beforehand that show their enthusiasm and genuine curiosity for the role.
    For MBB the answer is typically no unless you are referred to the office by a partner/senior partner


bottom of page