Consulting Career Information and Interview Preparation
The consulting field is represented in many shapes and sizes, from international strategic consulting firms like McKinsey and BCG to specialty firms like the litigation and analytical Analysis Group, as well as boutique firms or even individuals who specialize and provide advice to businesses or organizations in specific industries. The resources below are geared primarily toward those who seek top firms that recruit high achieving college students each fall.
Just as with investment banks, competition for a spot at a top firm is fierce; only a small percentage of those trying out will succeed in landing an entry-level position. Reed students who have found their way to these firms typically have done so after further education such as business school (MBA). Still, many alumni in the field have commented how their experiences as a student at Reed uniquely qualified them for success in the fast-paced, analytical, deeply demanding world of this industry. Some employers have taken notice, and are beginning to target Reed students.
Anyone who is interested in consulting needs to do some homework and start early. Internships in the field are especially hard to come by, but some meaningful business experience during the summer after your junior year is probably an essential component to winning such a highly prized first job as an entry-level analyst or consultant at one of these firms. You just can’t wait until the fall of senior year to begin exploring consulting and finance as an immediate post-graduation career destination.
The resources below are designed to get you started on understanding the industry, as well as the rigorous application process.
What is Consulting?
Visit Career Insider, a resource provided by the Center for Life Beyond Reed in IRIS, to download the Vault Guide to Consulting.
Most firms have valuable information about what is involved on their web sites. Here is customized information for bachelor's degree candidates at McKinsey, for example.
Search Reed’s alumni directory by employer name to find your own career advisers in the field.
How Do I Prepare?
Bone up on your Excel skills. Consultants use Excel a lot. These archived video copies from Mr. Excel might be useful.
Look up "summer reading" suggestions provided by Reed alumnus Peter Stockman ‘77 by going to Amazon.com and searching "Listmania list" on Amazon with these key words: “Consulting Summer Reading List for Reedies.”
Do internships, especially in business fields, and particularly by the summer after your junior year.
Polish your resume to focus on achievements and results of your hard work.
Make sure you meet the GPA cut-off, which in consulting may be quite high.
The Case Interview
A feature of the recruitment process for this industry is "the case interview,” an interview technique designed to get you to demonstrate your ability to structure your thinking, respond to complex or ambiguous problems, and reach sound conclusions with limited facts in a short time. Some questions come in the form of mathematic teases, while other are full blown business case problems for you to solve.
Case Interview Preparation Resources at Reed
The important thing is to prepare sufficiently in advance. Do not walk into a case interview "cold," or unrehearsed. For a practice using a mock interview contact career service at 503-777-7550 to schedule a meeting.
The Center for Life Beyond Reed library includes:
* Vault Guide to the Case Interview—Frameworks for constructing and handling case questions, plus practice questions. Download from IRIS career resources – Career Insider.
* Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation—Focuses on the skills you will need to handle a case interview confidently. Includes recently asked case questions and Ivy case drills.. Available in the Center for Life Beyond Reed library in Greywood.
* Vault Career Guide to Consulting—Questions to ask in the consulting interview, information on how consulting interviewers evaluate you, and skills to acquire for a consulting career. Also available through IRIS, Career Insider.
Online Interactive Resources
Most employers who conduct case interviews provide good online interactive case studies, so be sure to check their websites.
The following sites offer opportunities for you to practice case interviews interactively. Take advantage of them!
- CQ Interactive NEW Case Interview Resource The Center for Life Beyond Reed has contracted with Case Questions.com to provide interested students with CQI http://cqinteractive.com/cqi_main.cfm a 90 day on-line interactive case training tool. PLEASE NOTE: To use the tool, you must contact Ron Albertson or Julie Kern Smith to get your license number.