When our internship season came around, I was interested in applying for finance roles in companies like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, thus most of my preparation was centered around them. It was only when I got shortlisted for Strategy& that I started to prepare for consulting interviews. I started with watching case interview videos by Case Interviews Cracked (Youtube Channel) and practiced solving guesstimates with my friends.
What made you stand out?
I think there were two points that made me stand out. First was my debating achievements. Consulting companies value debating experience because that is an indicator of good communication skills. The second was my KPMG internship in my second year. At KPMG, I had worked on mergers and acquisitions, and that experience was highly relevant to this job profile. The interviewer showed particular interest in that internship.
The application process was mostly smooth. There was only one problem I faced. One of my interviews with Strategy& was almost clashing with my Goldman Sachs interview due to some delays. I had to tell my interviewer in between the guesstimate that I had another interview lined up in 5 minutes, so we should wrap up. It felt very awkward, but the person said it was okay as he understood my problem-solving approach.
I liked the interviews, and I had three of them. In the first one, the interviewer was interested in my stock market investment approach. We discussed the relationship between the economy and the markets. In the second interview, I was given a guesstimate to solve. The third interview was with a partner. It was a fit interview where they evaluated whether I was sincerely interested in consulting. Overall I liked the process and had an enriching experience.
Work at Strategy&:
At Strategy&, I was assigned to a due diligence project. Consulting work can be notoriously hectic, with extended hours and working weekends. This is especially true for due diligence work. In my first week, I worked till after dinner and sometimes as late as 2 am. However, there was a feedback session at the end of the week where I talked about this. I liked that my concern was worked upon. After that session, I did not have to work on weekends for the most part.
There is a myth that consulting work is not intellectually stimulating and involves making only ppts. This was not my experience. I learnt a lot and enjoyed the experience. Although that is undoubtedly a key deliverable, I was not working as much on the presentations.
Of course, you should have excellent analytical skills for a consulting/analytics role. Apart from that, the work requires excellent communication and networking skills. You have to talk to the team, the managers, or even the partner, so you must be confident. You have to know how to work in a team. There is also a lot of research work in consulting. They may give you a couple of annual general reports and ask you to analyze the company. So at times, I had to read hundreds of pages in a day and come up with an analysis. So you should know how to skim through information and find out what is relevant.
Online Vs Offline:
Unfortunately, due to the online mode, I missed out on many of the fun aspects of consulting. I couldn’t travel to Mumbai for work, and my plans with friends got washed away. The partner in my team treated us to dinner for our families on completion of the project, since an offline celebration was not possible. He explained how we had only endured the difficult parts of consulting and missed out on the fun. .
Consulting work is dependent on the client. If the client asks for some modification, you have to be ready with it as soon as possible. Once, the senior manager had told me that there would be no work on the weekend, so I was up late with cousins and friends on Saturday night. I woke up to a call the following day, and the manager said that we had a meeting in 30 minutes. So consulting is always full of surprises.
I want to add that I liked the people at Strategy&. Everyone was professional, and I had no trouble becoming a part of the team. Apart from work, we also had fun discussions about travel, trips, and treks. I enjoyed working with the team.
Written by: Nikhil Gupta