CQConsulTalks:Bindu Sancheti:-Dalberg

INTERVIEWER: How did you decide that you have to aim for a consultancy profile?

BINDU: I believe that why consulting is the first question one should ask before delving into the preparations. The answer is subjective to people but I would like to walk you through my decision-making process. Throughout my KGP journey, I decided to explore various sectors through my internships and engagements, I had done research internships, and corporate internships in the core and non-core sectors. Also in the institute front, I was involved in several managerial positions. After exploring all those sectors I realized that one thing which I really enjoyed was client interactions and problem-solving. Besides that, I participated in several case studies which brought clarity in my mind regarding career choices. So, consulting became a natural choice for me.

INTERVIEWER: While deciding were there some pros and cons that you considered?

BINDU: Well, that is definitely one important thing to consider. Let me first talk about the pros! I think the one thing which is really important when you choose a career is that it should match the work you really want to pursue. The match with your skill set is also something you need to consider. Secondly, I think the client interaction, the exposure and diversity of problems that comes with the job are a plus point. Now if I talk about the cons, I think one con that is specific to our campus is the number of firms that come for consulting. Last year, 5 firms came to the campus namely Auctus Advisors, BCG, Dalberg, E.Y Parthenon, and Mckinsey. The limited number of firms visiting the campus is a definite con. Apart from that, the consulting firms’ placement process starts before the conventional placement procedure(Dec 1 onwards) which makes everything a bit hectic. So if you don’t get through consulting firms for some reason, then you will face a time crunch to prepare for the December interviews because of the hectic interview process that consulting involves.

INTERVIEWER: So by what time should a person decide like this is the final decision that this is the profile that I am aiming for?

BINDU: The first thing that I’d like to highlight here is that we should not be very particular about a specific career option. Everyone should strategically come up with a plan B in case things don’t add up well. The “if not this, then what?” question should be answered quite early so that there is an ample amount of time for preparation. Since it’s May right now and placements are in December, students should focus on utilizing this time to come up with a proper preparation strategy after boiling down to two particular sectors they want to focus on. It will give them a choice if things don’t work out well.

INTERVIEWER: What was the general interview process for the companies you aimed for?

BINDU: I only sat for the consulting interview process, so I’ll just walk you through the consulting interview process — chronologically in the way I gave the interview.

BCG:

  1. Initial CV and CL shortlist
  2. Buddy Cases
  3. Telephonic Case Interviews(2–3 in number)
  4. Final round of interviews at location (3–4 interviews in total)

EY-Parthenon:

  1. CV/CL shortlist

2. On campus buddy interaction(1 Case interview)

3. 3–4 telephonic/VC case interviews

4. Final round of interviews at location(3 in total)

McKinsey:

  1. CV/CL shortlist
  2. Buddy interaction/cases
  3. VC case interviews (4 in total)

Dalberg:

In Dalberg, the process was a bit different. We had a CV shortlist followed by a 10 minute video call round which consisted of a few fit questions and 2 quantitative questions. The key was to be articulate in explanation and make them understand your motivation behind joining social consulting. Post that the shortlist was reduced significantly and there were 4 subsequent rounds comprising 2 cases each. So 8 cases in total. The cases are social cases and students must make sure they prepare social consulting cases before interviews.

One thing to consider is to start your preparation early as the firms came quite early (process started by August) this year.

INTERVIEWER: In those rounds what type of questions were asked?

BINDU: The FAQs are generally common for every consulting interview round. One thing to remember is not to stick to the framework rigidly. In real case interviews, all of the questions are asked from real life cases that interviewers are solving in their particular domain. So, in order to solve those cases, you should always go by first principles of consulting. You should not be very rigid with using frameworks, that rarely works. And you should be holistic in nature while you’re solving the questions. That is one of the tips for every consulting firm. Second is that fit questions should be taken seriously for sure because when you are answering them, a lot of insight about yourself and the knowledge/interest you have for the firm is revealed. So you should really take it into consideration,and in case of consulting firms you should try to keep your HR questions structured because consulting is all about structured problem solving. So when you are answering the HR questions, it should be structured in nature. You should not be answering ‘tell me about yourself’ or some other question all over the place. Apart from that we generally prepare for the questions that will be asked to us but we really don’t focus on the questions that we might need to ask the company. So that is really important, like in the end every company interview ended by ‘if you have any questions to ask?’. So at that time if you ask any generic question, then it creates a bad impression as it’s the last part of the interview and it stays with the interviewer. So you should really try to make that particular question memorable for the interviewer and it should not be a generic question but it should provide insight into your keenness towards the firm.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us about what resources you used for preparation? Books or additionals or some online resources?

BINDU: For consulting I didn’t take any additional subjects. But I used books like Case in Point and Case Interview Secrets that I read during my summer internship only and that cleared the theory and answered what actually consulting is, and also the Victor Cheng videos are a good starter. Victor Cheng videos for case interviews and the book Case Interview Secrets are mostly the same and you can choose any one of them, but the book is more extensive in nature. After that I came back to the campus and started my case preparation by forming a group of people who are really interested and with whom I shared a good bonding. Bonding is very important as the other person in your team should be very honest with you while giving feedback. Hence, you should choose your group wisely- the people you are comfortable with and who are very excited about the process as well. We used standard books like the Day 1.0 and Case Interviews Cracked. After that we shared buddy cases and company interview cases among each other which really helped us. So that is the generic process for consulting. As I mentioned before, we should always have an option B so I also prepared for generic placements.

INTERVIEWER: After being shortlisted for successive rounds, did you refer to some new material or change your preparation strategy in between rounds?

BINDU: I didn’t have much time as the 1st interview was followed by the 2nd and 3rd & 4th were on the next day for Dalberg. For BCG & EY Parthenon it was entirely on the same day. Hence, I don’t think you should change your strategy or prepare new material as it will not be efficient. Although in between preparing for the companies like Dalberg, I prepared for social sector cases and I looked into what sectors BCG, EY Parthenon and McKinsey worked and tried to prepare or have some knowledge about those sectors. So company specific preparation was there in between interviewing for companies. And obviously we should continue our preparation throughout the process and not halt it once the initial interviews start because it starts really early so it’s not that if one of the rounds of companies is over then you stop your preparation. It doesn’t work like that. Moreover, one should always look back and learn from the mistakes made in previous cases.

INTERVIEWER: What is the advice that you’d like to give to students preparing for consultancy considering the present world scenario?

BINDU: The one important advice which I’d like to give is that right now we have a lot of time in hand as we’re all mostly staying at home or on campus with no classes as of now and also the academic load due to online classes is relatively low. So I think we should utilise this time to properly and structurally prepare for the interviews. So one might be interested in consulting but obviously s/he will be looking for other options as well. Like in my case I had consulting firms, core firms and generic firms. So we should structure our preparation according to our targeted profiles. If I talk about core companies then that is dependent on the particular department — everyone will have their own way of preparation. For generic preparation I would suggest doing puzzles — many people don’t do puzzles until they are back to campus and that creates a lot of unnecessary chaos. So start doing puzzles, it is very interesting and very helpful as well because most of the companies ask for puzzles and coding questions. For puzzles there are a lot of resources.

Quantitative: 1. Heard on The Street

2. 50 Challenging Problems in Probability

3. Geeksforgeeks(Puzzles)

4.Brainsteller

5.Probability Puzzles App

6.Interview bit

Coding for generic companies:

  1. Interview bit

The Official Soft Skills Society of IIT Kharagpur.