Interview with Seasoned Consultants

Thinking about getting into a career in management consulting? Learn more about this career choice before you make a decision!

Interview with a Senior Consultant from IBM Global Business Service

Consultant Profile:

Company: IBM Global Business Services, a large Management & Technology Consulting Firm.
Job Title: Senior Consultant.
Age: 26
Years in industry: 7.5 (including internships).
Education: BS in Computer Science, Business Strategy Certifications, plus graduate courses.
Hours per week: 50+
Entry level salary: $65k

1. How did you get your first job in this field?
I interviewed with the company as a Freshman in college, and was offered a Cooperative Education position, in which I took a semester off from school to work full time for the firm and was granted 9 Technical Elective Credits towards my major.

2. How do most people break into this field nowadays?
It’s important to have a firm technology background, either computer science or electrical engineering. But not to mention other areas such as: Math, Physics, Statistics, and History.
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Interview with a Project Manager from Boston Consulting Group

Consultant Profile:

Company Description: Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a top global management consulting firm.
Job Title: Engagement manager (or project manager).
Age: 31
Years in industry: 2.5
Education: B.S. in Physics; Ph.D. in Physics.
Hours per week: 55-75
Entry level salary: $150,000 for associate.

1. How did you get your first job in this field?
BCG came to the University of Chicago early in the fall quarter to give presentations and recruit Ph.D.’s, M.D.’s, and J.D.’s. The application process is very rigorous. It begins with a resume screen and then proceeds with three rounds of interviews – the first two typically in Chicago (either on campus or in the firm’s Chicago office) and the final round in the applicant’s selected office. Each round of interviews consists of 3-5 individual interviews of 45-60 minutes. These interviews alternate between business case interviews that test the candidate’s skill at solving business problems and “fit” interviews that assess the candidate’s softer personal skills.

2. How do most people break into this field nowadays?
Through campus recruiting. It is possible to get hired in from another (typically boutique) consulting firm or from an industry job, (more…)


Interview with a Partner from McKinsey & Company

Consultant Profile:

Company Description: McKinsey & Company, a Top 3 management consulting firm.
Job Title: Partner.
Age: 40
Years in industry: 4 (after 10 years in investment banking).
Education: M.S. in economics, MBA
Hours per week: about 4 days of 10 hours per week (plus one day teaching MBA students).
Entry level salary: Entry level package at McKinsey for associate consultants is about $160K. For partner, no salary, 100% performance based.

1. How did you get your first job in this field?
Applied to McKinsey and other strategy consultancies in London upon graduation from the MBA.

2. How do most people break into this field nowadays?
By standard application. Only a few candidates with deep topical expertise are headhunted.

3. What is a typical career path in this field? How often are there advancement opportunities? Is most advancement within or across organizations?
2-3 years as analyst after undergraduate studies (any field) typically followed by MBA and offer to return upon graduation,
2-3 years as associate consultant after MBA or strong industry experience,
4-6 years as manager and senior manager,
5-10 years as junior partner.
This is the typical career path for the 10% of the associate who become partners. The other 90% join middle management position in the industry.
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Interview with a Senior Manager from Bain & Company

Consultant Profile:

Company: Bain & Company, a top 5 global management consulting company.
Current Job Title: Senior Manager.
Current Age: 34
Years in industry: 8
Education: Ph.D. in Medical Physics and B.A. in Physics.
Hours per week: 50-60
Entry level salary: $60K+ for Analyst, Experienced Entry Level: $140K+ for Technology Strategy and Management.

1. How did you get your first job in this field?
In short, I was able to get my first job in a large consulting firm by networking with people. An alumnus from my PhD university working at Bain showed interest in me during an informal information session and helped me to get an interview with the firm. This led to my offer as an experienced manager. I interviewed with various consulting firms (some through their normal recruiting processes), but I felt the Bain offer provided the best opportunity for me.

The longer answer is that I was able to get my first job because of my academic records and my experience outside my Ph.D. research. During graduate school I ran a small technology consulting business, worked with a number of large medical instrument and pharmaceutical companies, patented some of my work, worked with the Graduate School of Business on doing science consulting for industry, and worked at the technology transfer office at the University.
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Interview with a Consultant from Campbell Alliance

Consultant Profile:

Company Description: Campbell Alliance, a small boutique consulting firm mainly engaged in life sciences, health care and pharmaceutical strategy consulting.
Current Job Title: Consultant.
Current Age: 27
Years in Industry: 4 years in life sciences consulting; 6 years in health care consulting.
Education: BA in Psychology/Pre-Med; MA in Epidemiology/Health Studies.
Hours per Week: 50-70
Entry level salary: Approximately $58-$65K (analyst)

1. How did you get your first job in this field?
Recruiters from the firm came to campus during the year I graduated from my Master’s program and I submitted my resume directly to that recruiter who invited me to interview in their Chicago office. After undergoing a series of case study interviews (unrelated and related to health care) with 4 senior management members, I received an offer through the Chicago office. I requested a transfer to the New York office, and after interviewing in NYC (no case studies, just meeting people to ascertain “fit”), I was granted the transfer and an offer in NYC.

2. How do most people break into this field nowadays?
Networking and college campus recruiting is still the best way to get in. HR departments at large consulting firms are swamped and without context or a name behind you, your ability to stand out or be noticed is a lot harder.

3. What is a typical career path in this field? How often are there advancement opportunities? Is most advancement within or across organizations?
The typical career path for an undergraduate entering the job market is Analyst—Senior Analyst—Associate Consultant—Consultant—Sr. Consultant—Engagement Manager—VP, Principal—Managing Director.
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10 Responses to Interview with Seasoned Consultants

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  5. Andrew Phillips says:

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  8. Stephen Barber says:

    Hi Folks, I might suggest you look at Hudson Global http://www.hudson.com, we have specialists in each field including HR, Tech/Eng. Sales & Marketing, ITC. We als provide a full pakcage for transitions and Psychometric evaluations. We have a team of professionals based in each core sector with each consultant specialising in his/her sub sector e.g. Consumer/FMCG, Healthcare, Industrial etc… My specialty is in the field of Technology/Engineering/Ops for Consumer/Healthcare. With offices in most major cities and our H.Q. in New York, we have global reach with local focus. Please feel free to visit our website and I am sure that you will find we already so business with some of the worlds largest organisations.

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    Stephen Barber
    Consultant (Tech/Eng/Ops)
    Melbourne Australia

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