BCG Real Life Interview: What Is It and How to Prepare for It

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Last Updated on January 29, 2024

When it comes to landing a job at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), preparation is key. While most candidates are familiar with case interviews and behavioral questions, there is a unique format used predominantly in the German and Austrian offices of BCG called the BCG Real Life interview.

In the BCG Real Life interview, your interviewer plays a role and presents you with a hypothetical situation involving a client, colleague, or partner in the firm, and must complete a typical consulting task, such as convincing a client or presenting the information. Some tasks may also involve drawing slides and presenting them to the interviewer. In that sense, it is part of the typical fit interview that precedes a case interview in all top-tier consulting firms.

Let’s look at our BCG interview tips in more detail and how the Real Life Interview fits into your consulting interview preparation.

What is the BCG Real Life Interview?

The BCG Real Life interview is a role-play format designed to simulate real-life situations that consultants may encounter in their day-to-day work. During this interview, candidates are given a prompt that presents a hypothetical scenario similar to those faced by BCG consultants on the job. The goal is to see how the candidate handles the situation, from communicating with clients and colleagues at different hierarchy levels.

The BCG Real Life interview consists of two 15-minute conversations with different interviewers. The interviewers will present candidates with a range of situations, such as a taxi ride with a senior partner, meeting the CEO of a client company in an elevator, or dealing with a difficult client who is resistant to cooperation. You might be asked to influence a key client stakeholder during a final presentation, request data from a difficult working-level client, or persuade a colleague to change the storyline of a slide deck.

The focus is on spontaneity and the ability to think on one’s feet, which can be challenging to prepare for.

After experiencing the BCG Real Life interview, I can say it’s unlike any other assessment I’ve faced. It truly tests your ability to think on your feet in real-world scenarios. One moment I was in a taxi discussing strategy with a ‘senior partner,’ and the next, I was in an elevator pitch to a ‘CEO’. This interview format pushed me to showcase not just my problem-solving skills, but also my adaptability and communication in high-pressure situations. It was challenging, but insightful into the day-to-day life of a consultant.

The feedback from one of our clients who went through the BCG Real Life Interview

How to Prepare for the BCG Real Life Interview?

Unlike other interview formats, the BCG Real Life interview is difficult to prepare for in a conventional sense. There are no pre-determined questions or cases to study. Instead, the best way to prepare is to speak with individuals who have been through the process or who have experience in real-life consulting situations. This may include former consultants or other professionals in the industry.

Additionally, working with a coach who has actual interview experience in this area is a targeted and effective way to prepare for the BCG Real Life interview. These coaches can provide insight into the format and potential scenarios that may be presented during the interview.

It is important to note that the specific scenarios and questions presented during the BCG Real Life interview can vary widely. The interview format is constantly evolving, so it is difficult to predict which questions will be asked. However, the skills and qualities that BCG values in its consultants have not fundamentally changed since the format was first introduced.

Sample Scenarios

  1. Taxi Ride with a Senior Partner: Imagine you’re sharing a taxi with a senior partner to an important client meeting. The partner starts discussing the client’s issues and asks for your input on the strategy.
  2. Elevator Pitch to a CEO: You find yourself in an elevator with the CEO of a potential client. You have 30 seconds to make an impactful pitch about why your consulting services are invaluable.
  3. Handling a Difficult Client: You’re presented with a scenario where a client is resistant to the proposed changes. Your task is to persuade them while addressing their concerns.
  4. Team Conflict Resolution: You’re leading a team, and two key members have a disagreement about the project direction. How would you handle this to ensure the project stays on track?
  5. Data Request from a Challenging Colleague: A colleague known for being difficult is withholding crucial data needed for your analysis. Your task is to diplomatically secure this information.

Preparation Tips

  1. Conduct Informational Interviews: Reach out to current or former BCG consultants. They can provide insights into what real-life situations might come up and how to handle them. Understanding their experiences can give you a sense of the practical skills and qualities valued by BCG.
  2. Hire a Professional Coach: A coach with experience in BCG or similar interviews can offer tailored preparation. They can simulate real-life scenarios, provide feedback, and help refine your approach.
  3. Practice Spontaneity and Quick Thinking: Since the interview assesses your ability to think on your feet, practice responding to unexpected situations. You could do this through role-playing exercises or by participating in impromptu speaking clubs.
  4. Develop a Structured Problem-Solving Approach: Even in spontaneous scenarios, having a structured approach to problem-solving is crucial. Practice breaking down complex situations into manageable parts to find viable solutions.
  5. Enhance Your Communication Skills: Effective communication is key in these scenarios. Work on clear, concise, and persuasive communication. This could include practicing your elevator pitch, negotiation tactics, and conflict resolution skills.
  6. Stay Informed About Current Business Trends: Being knowledgeable about current events and trends in the consulting industry can help you provide relevant and insightful responses during the interview.
  7. Reflect on Personal Experiences: Think of past experiences where you demonstrated critical thinking, adaptability, leadership, or conflict resolution. Reflecting on these can help you draw parallels during the interview.
  8. Stay Calm and Collected: In the face of challenging scenarios, maintaining composure is vital. Practice stress management techniques to remain calm and think clearly under pressure.
  9. Prepare for Follow-up Questions: Be ready for the interviewers to delve deeper into your responses. They may challenge your answers to test your resilience and thought process.

By focusing on these areas, you can better prepare for the unpredictable nature of the BCG Real Life interview. It’s not just about the right answer, but how you approach and handle the situation that counts.

Pitfalls in the BCG Real Life Interview and How to Avoid Them

The BCG Real Life interview, with its unique format, presents several potential pitfalls. Being aware of these and knowing how to avoid them can significantly improve your performance. Here are some common traps and strategies to steer clear of them:

1. Overthinking the Scenario

Pitfall: Candidates often fall into the trap of overanalyzing the scenario, leading to paralysis by analysis. This can result in delayed responses or overly complicated answers that miss the mark.

Avoidance Strategy: Practice simplifying complex situations. Focus on key issues and respond with clear, concise solutions. Remember, the interviewers are assessing your ability to think pragmatically and make quick decisions.

2. Lack of Authenticity

Pitfall: Trying too hard to impress can lead to inauthentic responses that come across as rehearsed or unnatural.

Avoidance Strategy: Be yourself. Authenticity resonates more than a perfect but insincere answer. Reflect on your genuine experiences and viewpoints, and express them confidently.

3. Poor Communication Skills

Pitfall: Ineffective communication can severely undermine your performance, especially if you fail to articulate your thoughts clearly or struggle to engage the interviewer.

Avoidance Strategy: Enhance your communication skills through practice. Engage in activities like public speaking, debate clubs, or mock interviews. Focus on clarity, brevity, and impact in your responses.

4. Not Adapting to the Interviewer’s Style

Pitfall: Each interviewer may have a different style or approach. Failing to adapt to this can hinder the flow of the interview.

Avoidance Strategy: Pay close attention to the interviewer’s cues and adjust your communication style accordingly. If they are formal, match that tone; if they are more conversational, feel free to engage more informally while maintaining professionalism.

5. Neglecting to Show Team-Oriented Attitudes

Pitfall: Overemphasis on individual achievements or solutions can overlook the importance BCG places on teamwork and collaboration.

Avoidance Strategy: Whenever appropriate, highlight your ability to work in a team, showing understanding and appreciation of others’ roles and contributions.

6. Insufficient Preparation for Spontaneous Scenarios

Pitfall: Being unprepared for the spontaneous and unpredictable nature of the interview can leave you flustered.

Avoidance Strategy: Engage in exercises that improve your spontaneous problem-solving and decision-making skills. Activities like case studies, role-playing, and impromptu speaking can be beneficial.

7. Failing to Demonstrate Adaptability

Pitfall: Showing rigidity in your thinking or approach can be a red flag, as consulting often requires adaptability.

Avoidance Strategy: Show flexibility in your responses. Be open to different perspectives and demonstrate your ability to adjust your approach based on the scenario.

8. Not Asking Clarifying Questions

Pitfall: Jumping to solutions without fully understanding the scenario can lead to irrelevant or off-target responses.

Avoidance Strategy: Don’t hesitate to ask clarifying questions if needed. This shows your attention to detail and desire to fully understand the problem before proposing a solution.

By being mindful of these pitfalls and actively working on strategies to avoid them, candidates can approach the BCG Real Life interview with greater confidence and poise. Remember, the key is to demonstrate your ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and adapt to various situations, all while maintaining a genuine and team-focused demeanor.

What to Expect During the BCG Real Life Interview?

In conclusion, the BCG Real Life interview is a unique interview format used predominantly in the German and Austrian offices of BCG. This BCG German office interview format is designed to simulate real-life situations that consultants may encounter on a daily basis. While it can be difficult to prepare for, speaking with individuals who have been through the process or who have experience in real-life consulting situations can be helpful. Additionally, working with a coach is a targeted and effective way to prepare for the BCG Real Life interview. Ultimately, the best way to succeed in the BCG Real Life interview is to showcase strong communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills, as well as an ability to think on one’s feet and adapt to unexpected and uncomfortable situations.

Play along, stay calm and collected, and you will succeed!

How We Help You With Your BCG Interviews

We have crafted products to help you break into BCG as well as offer tailored coaching programs to ace all elements of the BCG application process, covering the case interview, the fit interview, as well as the written case interview.

Reach out to us if you have any questions! We are happy to help and offer a tailored program.

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