How to Answer “Why Consulting?” in a Case Interview

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Last Updated on January 29, 2024

Navigating the world of consulting interviews requires not only case-solving acumen but also the ability to articulate why you’re drawn to this field and, specifically, to the firm you’re interviewing with. Understanding how to convincingly answer the “Why consulting?” and “Why our firm?” questions is crucial in consulting fit interviews.

This article aims to arm you with concise, impactful responses that will help you excel in these critical aspects of your fit interview for all firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. Here, we’ll explore effective strategies and consulting interview tips to express your enthusiasm and alignment with the consulting domain and the particular firm you aspire to join, enhancing your chances of making a memorable impression.

Understand What Interviewers Want to Hear

The “Why consulting” and “Why our firm” questions effectively separate strong candidates from weak ones by assessing four key areas: understanding of the consulting role, structured thinking, communication skills, and enthusiasm for consulting. Interviewers seek candidates who not only grasp the diverse nature of consulting work but also show a genuine interest in it, beyond just its popularity among undergraduates and MBA students.

They evaluate whether you can logically break down complex problems and communicate your thoughts clearly and confidently, as these skills are crucial in consulting. Moreover, your enthusiasm for the role is a strong indicator of both your commitment and potential longevity at the firm.

Most candidates often miss the mark in these questions by focusing solely on the prestige of the consulting industry or the firm, rather than demonstrating a deeper understanding of how their unique skills and aspirations align with the specific challenges and opportunities in consulting and the distinct culture and values of the firm.

Here’s the perspective of someone who ran hundreds of interviews in the space:

As a senior interviewer, what I look for in responses to ‘Why consulting?’ and ‘Why our firm?’ is genuine passion and a clear understanding of what consulting entails. It’s not just about the prestige of the consulting industry or our firm’s name. I want to hear how a candidate’s skills, experiences, and aspirations align with the dynamic and challenging nature of consulting. For ‘Why our firm?’, I expect them to go beyond our reputation. Candidates should demonstrate an understanding of our unique culture, values, and the specific opportunities that our firm offers, which resonate with their career goals and personal growth. It’s this depth of understanding and personal connection to the role and our firm that truly makes a candidate stand out.

Senior Interviewer at one of the MBBs

Do’s and Don’ts for Answering “Why Consulting?”

Do’s:

  1. Highlight Impactful Work: Emphasize your desire to work on challenging business problems with top executives, showcasing your ambition to make a significant impact.
  2. Showcase Your Love for Diversity: Express enthusiasm for the variety and novelty in consulting, such as solving diverse business issues across various industries.
  3. Demonstrate Skill Development Goals: Talk about how consulting is a pathway to rapidly build both hard and soft skills crucial for business leadership or entrepreneurship.
  4. Value Teamwork and Mentorship: Mention your interest in closely collaborating with teams on tough problems and the personal growth that comes from mentorship in consulting.
  5. Seek Industry Insights and Management Experience: Discuss your eagerness to gain insider knowledge of large companies and early management opportunities.
  6. Express Client Service Excitement: Share your excitement for working with clients and delivering substantial value.
  7. Personalize Your Reasons: Connect your interest in consulting with your past experiences and personal qualities, making your reasons unique and genuine.

Don’ts:

  1. Avoid Materialistic Reasons: Steer clear of citing high pay, prestige, or luxurious travel perks as your primary motivators.
  2. Don’t Focus on Exit Opportunities: Avoid mentioning consulting as a stepping stone for other opportunities or as a placeholder for uncertain career plans.
  3. Don’t Treat Consulting as a Resume Booster: Refrain from indicating that your interest in consulting is merely to enhance your resume with a well-known brand.
  4. Avoid Sounding Opportunistic: Don’t mention MBA sponsorships or other educational benefits as primary reasons for your interest in consulting.
  5. Don’t Show Indecision: Avoid suggesting that you’re choosing consulting due to a lack of clear career direction.

By focusing on the positive aspects of consulting that align with your professional goals and personal growth, and avoiding reasons that may portray you as opportunistic or short-term focused, your answer will resonate more authentically with interviewers. Remember, the sincerity and depth of your response can be a critical factor in their assessment.

Why Consulting?

If you are asked why you want to pursue a career in consulting, you can mention several reasons why you find consulting to be an appealing field. Some possible reasons you could mention include:

  • The opportunity to work on a wide range of challenging and interesting projects
  • The ability to learn and grow by working with experts in different industries and functions
  • The opportunity to help businesses solve complex problems and improve their operations
  • The chance to work with and learn from talented and accomplished professionals
  • The potential for personal and professional growth through continuous learning and development
  • The opportunity to work at prestigious firms with global reach and influence.

Additionally, you can talk about why you are specifically interested in working at the consulting firm you are applying to. For example, you might mention that you admire the firm’s values, culture, or approach to consulting, or that you have been impressed by the firm’s track record of helping clients achieve success.

Why Our Firm?

If you are asked why you want to work at a specific consulting firm, you can mention several reasons why you find the firm to be an appealing place to work. Some possible reasons you could mention include:

  • The firm’s reputation for providing high-quality consulting services and delivering value to its clients
  • The firm’s expertise in the industries and functions that you are interested in
  • The firm’s culture and values, and how they align with your own
  • The firm’s track record of helping its consultants grow and develop their skills and careers
  • The opportunities for learning and development that the firm offers
  • The chance to work with and learn from some of the most talented and accomplished professionals in the industry.

You can also mention specific things that you have learned about the firm during your research, such as its approach to consulting, its client list, or its involvement in the community. Showing that you have done your homework and are familiar with the firm’s work can help demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for joining the team.

Example Answers

To bring our guidance to life, let’s delve into specific examples and hypothetical scenarios. This approach will help you visualize how to effectively structure and deliver your responses in a consulting interview.

Example for “Why Consulting?”

Scenario: Imagine you previously worked on a challenging project in a different industry that required innovative problem-solving and adaptability – two key skills in consulting.

Response Example: “In my previous role at XYZ Corp, I led a project under tight deadlines and shifting requirements. This experience honed my ability to quickly adapt and find creative solutions under pressure. I see consulting as an extension of these challenges, where I can apply my problem-solving skills across diverse industries and projects.”

Example for “Why Our Firm?”

Scenario: The firm you’re interviewing with recently implemented a cutting-edge technology solution for a client, aligning with your interest in tech-driven business strategies.

Response Example: “I was particularly impressed by your firm’s recent project with ABC Company, where you integrated AI for operational efficiency. My background in tech and passion for leveraging innovative solutions to drive business strategy align perfectly with such projects. This is a prime reason why I’m excited about the opportunity to work here.”

These scenarios and tailored responses not only demonstrate your relevant skills and experiences but also show that you’ve done your homework on the firm and the consulting industry. This level of preparation and personalization can significantly enhance the impact of your answers.

To elevate your responses beyond the basics, it’s crucial to weave in insights that align with the specific cultures and values of the firms you’re targeting. This tailored approach demonstrates not only your knowledge of the firm but also your compatibility with its ethos.

Tailoring to Firm Culture

Example: Suppose you are interviewing with a firm known for its collaborative culture.

Response Strategy: Highlight experiences that showcase your teamwork and collaborative skills. For instance, “At my previous job, I was part of a team that successfully navigated a complex project by leveraging each member’s unique strengths. This collaborative spirit, which I see mirrored in [Firm’s Name]’s culture, is what drives me towards this firm.”

Aligning with Firm Values

Example: If the firm places a high value on innovation and continuous learning.

Response Strategy: Discuss your commitment to these principles. For instance, “I am particularly drawn to [Firm’s Name] because of its reputation for fostering innovation. In my career, I have always sought out opportunities for continuous learning and pushing boundaries, which aligns perfectly with the values of your firm.”

By crafting responses that resonate with a firm’s specific culture and values, you not only show that you’ve done thorough research but also that your professional ethos and career aspirations are in harmony with what the firm stands for. This depth and detail in your responses can significantly differentiate you from other candidates.

Practice the Delivery of Your Answers

Even with a well-crafted response to these questions, effective delivery is crucial. Here are three key aspects to focus on:

  1. Practice Your Answer: Given the certainty of this question arising in interviews (for most firms but McKinsey), it makes sense to rehearse your response. Practicing in front of a mirror and recording your answer can help you smooth out any hesitations or stuttering, allowing you to focus more on the passion and enthusiasm in your delivery. However, be wary of over-rehearsing to the point where your answer sounds memorized and robotic. The goal is to be well-prepared but still natural and spontaneous. You should have a clear idea of what you want to convey, but allow room for authenticity in how you express it.
  2. Create Top-Down and Structured Answers: Answer the question in a top-down manner and number your arguments. For instance: “I want to work for [Firm’s Name] because of x number of reasons. First, …Second, …Third, …
  3. Genuineness and Credibility: It’s essential that your reasons for being interested in consulting are both genuine and credible. Interviewers are adept at picking up inconsistencies between your words and non-verbal cues, such as body language and voice tonality. To avoid appearing disingenuous, choose reasons that truly resonate with you. When you sincerely believe in what you’re saying, your authenticity naturally shines through, enhancing your credibility.
  4. Display Engagement and High Energy: Enthusiasm is a powerful communicator of both your interest and commitment to a career in consulting. Remember, your excitement is an indicator of your willingness to put in the effort and your likelihood of staying with the firm. If you’re naturally reserved, push yourself to convey a bit more energy than usual. Smiling and maintaining an engaging demeanor can go a long way in demonstrating your passion.

By honing these aspects of your delivery, you can ensure that your responses to “Why consulting” and “Why our firm” are not only well-structured and content-rich but also convincingly presented with genuine enthusiasm and credibility.

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