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BCG Principal on Consulting Case Interview Prep with Firmsconsulting

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how? 

Sitting here at the end of the consulting recruiting process, having scheduled my start date with my “ideal” consulting firm, it is easy to say that, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the program. However, this is not a “fun” training program. This program takes a lot of hard work and brutally honest self-assessment.

I remember when I was accepted into the program. I received a VERY detailed letter outlining my profile, resume, case skills, etc. After six or seven pages of seeing all of my development needs laid out in excruciating detail, I was surprised that Michael wanted to train me. After the first couple of sessions, I was sure that he had made a mistake. I was surprised at how little I knew and was quite certain that no sane consulting firm would want to bring me on.

But a funny thing happened after six weeks of dedicated study, practice and coaching – I started getting it. And not just getting how to “crack a case.” In all honesty, that was the least important change. I started understanding what it means to be a great management consultant. I started seeing how the values and principals that attracted me to Firmsconsulting in the first place fit into the problem solving and having real impact.

With this better understanding of why what I was doing mattered, I started performing better. As I started performing better, I enjoyed my coaching calls more and more. Now, at the end, I miss my weekly calls with Michael. I didn’t realize how much I looked forward to Tuesday nights at 7 until the first week after I accepted my BCG offer and wasn’t sitting down for a Skype call with Michael.

What were the most important learnings from the program?

I had three key learnings from this program.

  • How to communicate like a management consultant. Having spent the last 14 years in industry, my communication style –both written and verbal – was not as tight and succinct as it needs to be. I tended to ramble and “think out-loud.” Michael helped me rebuild my written communication style through the resume writing and networking emails. The work on verbal communication was an ongoing process through the weekly coaching calls. By the time I got to the interviews, I was able to speak clearly, concisely and confidently (I even remembered to sit back in my chair).
  • Networking can be fun when done correctly. As an experienced hire candidate, I had no idea how to approach consulting firms. I knew that the websites were where applications went to die, and I was pretty sure that recruiters wouldn’t be much help. But the idea of cold calling partners at elite consulting firms was TERRIFYING. Michael’s approach to networking takes the fear out of the process and turns it into a fun experience where you learn a lot about the consulting firms and consulting in general all while talking with fascinating people.
  • Business judgment is critical. Michael helped me understand how to apply the business judgment I gained from my time in industry and apply it not only to case preparation, but how I can leverage it in the future as a management consultant. He also helped me build a reading plan to build my business judgment outside my own industry specialty.

Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?

I think Michael’s approach is the single best way to prepare to become a successful management consultant. When I started with FC I thought I was “ready” to be successful, and was looking for some “finishing touches” and help in determining the best way to reach out to consulting firms for interviews. What I quickly learned was that just about everything needed to be torn down and rebuilt.

In the end, I received multiple offers by following this approach. Despite this, I think the best part of working with Michael was gaining a better understanding of what being a successful management consultant means and how to use the problem solving skills he teaches to make a difference with clients.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

There are three very distinct memorable moments for me.

  • Michael is very brief and direct in his written communication. The longer his response, the more work I had to do. However, I remember receiving the highest praise from Michael for a summary of a networking call that had gone particularly well and he replied with one simple word: “Excellent.” Earning an “Excellent.” from Michael was the ultimate motivator.
  • In the middle of my coaching, the concept of using business judgment and approaching a case interview as a joint problem solving conversation with the interviewer finally clicked. We were doing an operations case on right hand turns for a transportation company in Canada. Michael had explained the concept to me several times, but it took much repetition for me to get it. Once I caught on, it made life easier and stands out to me as a defining moment in my training.
  • I quickly learned that when it comes to the recruiting process at elite consulting firms, Michael is always right. So did my wife. Whenever we had any debate over anything during my interviews she would ask, “what does Michael think?.”

What would you like changed in the program?

I really wouldn’t change anything. Michael is a great coach, he is always professional and lives the values he advocates.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Absolutely. Ignoring the fact that I received offers from three consulting firms, Michael’s coaching built the skills I need to be an impactful business leader in the future.

Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?

Yes. Michael knew exactly what I needed to work on and pushed me in areas that needed development. I noticed that when he would mention an area of concern, the next session would test that area multiple ways. Michael was very responsive, and never took more than 24 hours to reply back to me when I had questions or concerns.

What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?

I think this approach is good to build credibility, but in all honesty, it isn’t so much the consulting firms the coaches were partners at, as the skills and knowledge possessed by the coaches. The background at MBB gives them a great perspective on the recruiting process, but I found my coach to be an extraordinary trainer and coach – probably the best I have ever worked with.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I found the Firmsconsulting approach to be quite successful. The only advice I would give to prospective clients is that you will get out of the program what you put in. The best coaching in the world will not help you if you do not apply the advice to your preparation and case interview techniques. I found the program humbling at many times, but from that humility came significant learning and improvement. Approach your training like you would approach a consulting project and you will be very happy with the results.

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