Some like to wing it, others like to prepare rigorously and many find a nice balance. But it is often difficult to know exactly how to prepare, and moreover what to prepare, then how much to prepare. And after all of that, will it land me the job? So lets start from the ground up.
What is an Interview?
Therefore, the simplest and most effective approach is to treat your Interview like an Exam. How do you prepare for an exam? You identify the topics, you compile the notes and you revise. Now you can cram it all in the night before, or, you could set aside a week or even two prior to the interview and systematically work through your revision thoroughly to ensure you give your best performance possible. So here’s how we do it:
1. The ‘Topics’ (aka. Competencies)
Because firms tend to adopt the ‘ol competency based interview format, your ‘topics’ for this assessment will be the companies’ core competencies or values which should be clearly visible on their website or careers web page. For example, click below to see each consultancy’s competencies page:
So now you know exactly what they look for, you can formulate an idea as to what kinds of examples you will be asked for in the interview. Take a look at the competency question pages on the right for guidance and be sure to use wikijob’s forums to get a heads up on specific questions.
Then, under each competency, bullet-point as many examples that you can think of that exemplify the skills asked for, and under each bullet-point detail the main components of a strong answer (remember the S.T.A.R format?). You now have your notes.
2. Commercial Awareness
This is a competency, however, it is to an extent unique to each firm, therefore should be treated as a separate topic. Your revision notes should comprise the following:
- Knowledge of the Consultancy/ company as a whole, including services, culture, values, clients, accolades and recent/ major events or press releases (such as acquisitions, new appointments, statements on vision etc.)
- Trends in the market/ recent news stories (eg. new legislation, challenges, merging companies etc.)
- Client Case Studies
- What you think consulting is all about and what challenges the industry is facing
- Why you want to pursue a career in consulting
- Specific points on why do you want to work for the company
- Insightful and engaging questions to ask interviewers
Right, you’ve compiled your revision notes to encompass every foreseeable question. Now all you need to do is allocate a couple hours to revise the material and practice delivering it in a clear and concise manner. However, be sure to revise in such a fashion as to allow you to use your knowledge flexibly so that examples can be chopped and changed at will and you are able to come across as confident and dynamic rather than stilted and awkward. You’re not memorising a speech.
Of course you may be faced with something outside of your preparation, and the interviewer may spend more time talking about how he’s noticed that you play acoustic guitar rather than quizzing you on competencies, but as long as you have prepared the basics, you should be able to deal with unexpected turns far more capably than if you were also worrying about the simple easy stuff.