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How to recognize an effective consulting case interview coach or practice partner

consulting case interview coach top image

As many of you know I am a big Rugby union fan. I also watch a lot of football and basketball. So, like many of you, I am a sports guy. I like sports.

One of the things you notice in sports is that if you look at the great players today in just about any sport, they rarely go on to become greatest coaches. Rarely! There are obviously exceptions. But those are exceptions that prove this rule.

You can see this in Rugby, Cricket, Soccer, Basketball and Baseball. There are a few outstanding players that went on to become good coaches. But the greatest coaches were almost never outstanding players. And that is a fact.

You see it a lot in universities as well. Just because someone is an outstanding researcher does not mean at all that they have the skill to be an exceptional teacher.

Extraordinary consulting leaders were rarely phenomenal consultants

The same can be observed in management consulting. I am thinking of the phenomenal consulting partners. They were truly outstanding. Not just as partners but as leaders of consulting firms.

Were they ever outstanding consultants? Dominic Barton wasn’t a phenomenal consultant. He didn’t make partner until the third try. Among other issues, there were concerns about his problem-solving skills. Ian Davis is another example. He was a good consultant, not a remarkable consultant. Rich Lesser was a good consultant, not phenomenal. Although, the jury is still out on how well he will lead BCG.

Selecting a consulting case interview coach or a practice partner

So when you are picking consulting case interview coach or practice partners, you should not be selecting the best consultants. Because the best consultants are not necessarily good teachers.

We often hear from our clients, “I am practicing with this guy because he is a great consultant.” But does this mean he is a good consulting case interview coach? There is a difference.

I often speak to clients who are practicing with number of people and want to discuss feedback from only one particular practice partner. And I ask them, “So why are we discussing this feedback only, of all the feedback you received.” And they typically say something along the lines of, “Well, I’ve heard that he/she is a great consultant and this is why I am taking his/her feedback seriously.

Yet, there is no correlation between being a good consultant and being a good person at training for consulting case interviews.

My point is, when you are picking someone to train you don’t just take their advice seriously if they are a good consultant. Take their advice seriously if it makes sense to you.

Evaluating feedback from a consulting case interview coach or practice partner

consulting case interviewsYou see it so often where the advice from someone who has a reputation of a “good consultant” is absolute nonsense.

You know its nonsense. Its contradictory. The person cannot explain it. But the student is still taking such advice seriously because the advice was given by someone whom they heard is a good consultant.

When you are practicing a consulting case and you get feedback from someone, if the feedback is not logical, not structured, does not make intuitive sense, if the person providing the feedback cannot explain it to you logically, its probably not good advice.

If the only reason you are listening to someone’s feedback is because they worked at McKinsey, then it is likely worthless feedback.

The philosophy we have at Firmsconsulting is that we don’t go around beating our chests and saying, “You know, I became partner in my late twenties and therefore you should listen to me.” Our philosophy is, “Look, you don’t have to listen to me. I am ok with that. But I am going to explain why I think I am right. It will be logical. If you still don’t want to listen to me there is nothing more I can do.“ But I never going to say I am right because I worked at xyz.

consulting case interview

So when you are picking consulting case interview practice partners always remember its not about practicing with the best consultant, its about practicing with the best consulting case interview coach or practice partner. And that is usually not going to be the best consultant.

Look, its great if you found someone who is a good consultant and is good at giving you feedback and training you, but I would say this is really rare.

So be wary of whom you choose to listen to and whom you choose to ignore. Be careful when selecting your consulting case interview practice partners and coaches because the best consultants are not typically the best people to guide you through consulting case interview preparation.

PODCASTS: It will be great if you visit our Case Interviews podcast or  Strategy Skills on iTunes and leave a review. It helps more people find us.

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Image from studio tdes under cc, cropped, added text.
Image from studio tdes under cc, cropped.
Image from Evgeny Bobokal under cc, cropped.

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