The business of strategy consultant is among the most attractive for students of French grandes écoles. A study of Business School students’ favorite companies ranked 5 consulting firms in the top 10 most attractive companies in all sectors. For engineering schools, if technological and industrial companies are often favored, we also find at the top of the ranking of the big names of the board, in front of the big investment banks.
There are three main reasons for applying to consultancy firms. First, the careers of consultants evolve quickly. Second, wages are among the highest in the labor market. Finally, the job offers many intellectual challenges: the consultant must often work out of his “comfort zone”, and thus discover new sectors and new business issues in a short time.
Specific recruitment processes
The consulting professions are above all characterized by their high selectivity. It is estimated that out of 100 CVs received at McKinsey, we will have between 1 and 5% of candidates received in fine. The percentage depends on the office concerned and the profile of the candidates. In any case, the strategy consulting sector is one of the most selective sectors in the world of work. In comparison, the prestigious Harvard University accepts between 10 and 12% of candidates in his most famous degree: the MBA.
The recruitment process is structured in several “rounds”. Typically a firm will organize 3 to 4 rounds for the most famous. Each of the rounds consists of 2 preliminary rounds. A candidate who receives an offer from a consulting firm must therefore succeed between 6 and 8 interviews to get his place in the firm.
The test of the case study, the bête noire of the candidates
In a consulting firm, a candidate will not only have to present himself and detail his motivation, he will also have to prove himself in a specific scenario: the study of cases. This test is intended to test the skills of the candidate on a concrete case, generally resulting from a real mission of consultant. The difficulty lies first of all in the improvisation part, since the candidate does not know what to expect in terms of sector or problem. Secondly, the other difficulty of the case study is related to its professional and non-academic nature. Some candidates prepare the test as a preparation for class competitions prepa: they are mistaken target.
On the other hand, the good news is that a case study does not require any particular technical knowledge or expertise of a given sector. These tests require common sense and business sense. Some candidates want to measure themselves against the great diversity of subjects by training on a large volume of cases and figuring out the means to solve them. But it will be difficult to remember everything on D-Day with stress, plus, you will not be alone in front of your sheet but face a recruiter who will play the role of the client. And under these conditions, it is difficult to reconstruct arguments prepared in advance.
Conceptually, the secret to a successful case study is to apply the consultants’ working methods to this selection test. It starts by not considering yourself as a candidate, but as a consultant on the job. But how do you do when you have no counseling experience?
Connect to the maximum with this sector in the months before your interviews: through targeted readings, your network or events organized by your school such as forums. Work with consultants from the alumni network of your school and prepare as a group of 3 to 5 candidates for simulation simulations. This type of practical training will allow you to understand what is expected during the case studies.