Purpose of the Consulting Interview

ARE you an aspiring management consultant?

If so, then you’re in luck. Over the coming months we will be posting about the consulting interview.

In this post we look at the purpose of the consulting interview.

The purpose of the consulting interview is twofold.

Firstly, it is a test of client readiness.

Management consultants are hired by senior executives to advise on their most pressing and challenging problems. Case questions, which form a core part of the consulting interview, are a kind of role playing exercise; a test of a candidate’s ability to perform under pressure, undertake a structured analysis of an unfamiliar problem, and communicate insights clearly and persuasively.

In other words, the interviewer wants to know whether you are ready to be placed in front of the client, and might ask questions such as, “In the past 12 months, a large smart phone manufacturer has experienced reduced profitability even as the size of the global market has grown rapidly. What is happening, and what should the company do about it?”

Are you ready to respond?

The second purpose of the consulting interview is known as “the Airport Test”.

In addition to all the questions that the interviewer will ask during the consulting interview, they will also be asking themselves (whether consciously or not) “would I want to be stuck with this person at an airport?”

You may have the right qualifications and have answered all the interview questions correctly, but if you don’t pass the “Airport Test” then the interviewer will be unlikely to progress you to the next round.

Why do interviewers use the Airport Test?

Two reasons.

Firstly, consultants spend a lot of time working in project teams, and if you are annoying or obnoxious then this will affect the morale, enjoyment and productivity of the team. Secondly, consultants often engage directly with senior clients, and so the interviewer needs to feel comfortable that you will be able to represent the firm.

Eye contact, a firm handshake, and a pleasant smile will take you a long way.

[For more information on the consulting interview, download “The HUB’s Guide to the Consulting Interview“.]