Best Questions to Ask at the End of the Case Interview

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Last Updated on January 29, 2024

When you’re nearing the end of a consulting interview with firms like McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, you’re presented with a golden opportunity to ask your interviewer questions. Far from being a mere formality, this stage of the interview is a chance to leave a lasting, positive impression and further gauge your fit with the company.

Why Ask Questions in a Consulting Interview?

The primary goals in a consulting interview are to demonstrate your suitability for the role, express genuine interest in the firm, and establish a personal connection with the interviewer. While solving case studies and articulating your motivation for consulting covers the first two objectives, engaging the interviewer with thoughtful questions is your best chance to connect on a personal level. This interaction can leave a memorable impression, increasing your chances of progressing further.

How to Make the Most Out of This Opportunity

Now that the tables have turned and you are in the interviewer role, use this opportunity to your advantage. Get to know more about the firm, even after all the research you have done so far, and all the personal connections you have made to get to this stage.

If you ask similar questions to all interviewers within and across firms, you should get a good range of answers to help you assess in greater detail the different companies and your fit with their culture and people.

If you learn from the free advice and articles we offer on StrategyCase.com, employ the habits and techniques we teach in our 1-on-1 practice sessions, and prepare effectively, you should be able to choose from several high-quality top-tier offers.

If you get a bunch of offers, you want to make sure to select the one firm with the best fit. In the long term, this will influence your satisfaction with the job as well as your performance and career progression. You have to make sure that you really choose the place where you would like to work very long hours day-in, day-out over a couple of years.

For that matter, pay attention to the ‘softer’ factors during the whole recruiting process and pick up all information and details necessary to make an informed decision.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

You should benefit and get real value out of the answers. One trick to do this is to ask personal questions to the interviewer, e.g. how he or she likes the job, instead of generic questions that could be answered within one minute of browsing the company’s website.

When asking questions at the end of your interview, it’s important to focus on gathering insights that reveal both the practical and cultural aspects of working at the firm. Start by inquiring about the real-world relevance of your case interview. Questions like whether the case was based on an actual assignment and the outcomes, including the recommendation and client satisfaction, can provide a deeper understanding of the firm’s impact.

Further, delve into the interviewer’s personal experiences and expertise. Inquire about their professional journey within the firm, such as career progression, office transfers, and global or regional staffing experiences. These questions can shed light on the firm’s internal dynamics and growth opportunities for employees.

Additionally, seek information about the firm’s strategic direction, including topics not commonly available to the public like office expansions, shifts in geographic focus, or industry specializations. This can give you a sense of the firm’s future trajectory and areas of development.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask about practical aspects like staffing processes, review and feedback mechanisms, and opportunities for professional training and development. Such questions can help you gauge the support and growth prospects the firm offers its consultants. This holistic approach to questioning will not only convey your keen interest in the firm but also equip you with a comprehensive understanding of what life as a consultant there would entail.

Personalized Questions for the Interviewer

The goal here is to establish a personal connection with the interviewer. These questions should be focused on their experiences, opinions, and insights. Examples include:

  • “What has been your most challenging case?”
  • “Can you share your favorite project and what made it memorable?”
  • “What do you enjoy most about your role here?”
  • “How have your responsibilities evolved since you started with the firm?”
  • “What has been a surprising aspect of working at your firm that you hadn’t anticipated?”
  • “Can you describe a moment where you felt particularly proud to be part of this firm?”
  • “What personal development opportunities have you found most valuable here?”
  • “Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you first started in this role?”

Insightful Questions About Consulting or the Firm

These questions demonstrate your interest in the firm and the broader consulting industry. They should be framed to elicit detailed responses, showing your thoughtfulness and research. Examples include:

  • “What are the key qualities of successful consultants here?”
  • “Could you tell me more about the firm’s culture and values?”
  • “What are the current growth opportunities or challenges the firm is facing?”
  • “How does this office’s focus differ from other locations within the network?”
  • “In what ways is [firm name] adapting to recent trends in the consulting industry?”
  • “Can you discuss any exciting initiatives or projects that the firm is currently undertaking?”
  • “How does the firm support continued learning and professional growth for its consultants?”
  • “What impact do you see the firm’s recent strategies having in the next five years?”

By asking these types of questions, you not only gather valuable information but also demonstrate your ability to engage in meaningful and professional dialogue, crucial for a career in consulting. The quality of your questions can reflect your understanding of the consulting field and your potential as a future consultant.

In general, most questions are fair game! Ask everything you want to know about.

How to Ask Your Interviewer

There are a few things to think of when asking thoughtful questions:

1. Prioritize Personal Over Generic

  • Delve Deeper: Don’t just stick to surface-level inquiries. Ask questions that encourage the interviewer to share their personal experiences and viewpoints, fostering a more meaningful conversation.
  • Tailor Your Questions: Customize your questions based on the interviewer’s background and role within the firm. This shows that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in their unique perspective.

2. Practice Active Listening and Engage With the Interviewer

  • Reflect and Respond: After the interviewer answers, reflect back on what they’ve said before moving on. This shows you’re not only listening but also processing the information.
  • Body Language Matters: Maintain eye contact and nod in agreement or understanding as they speak. This non-verbal communication can be as impactful as your verbal responses.
  • Find Common Ground: If the interviewer mentions something you can relate to, briefly share your experience. This can transform a formal Q&A into a more relaxed and engaging discussion.
  • Balance is Key: While sharing your experiences is good, ensure the conversation doesn’t become too one-sided. The focus should remain on learning about the interviewer and the firm.

3. Be Observant

  • Read the Room: Gauge the interviewer’s reactions to your questions. If they seem enthusiastic about a topic, explore it further. If not, tactfully shift to another subject.
  • Timing and Tone: Pay attention to the timing of your questions. If an interview is running over, be concise. Match the tone of the interviewer – if they’re formal, stay professional; if they’re more relaxed, you can be slightly informal.

4. Prepare a Range of Questions

  • Have a Mix: Prepare a variety of questions – from personal experiences to firm-specific strategies. This prepares you for different types of interviewers and situations.
  • Prioritize: Even though you should have several questions ready, prioritize them based on the flow of the conversation and the time available.

5. Avoid Repetition

  • Unique Questions for Each Interviewer: If you have multiple interviews, avoid asking the same question to every interviewer. Tailor them to each person’s expertise and role.
  • Avoid Redundancy: If a topic has already been covered during the interview, don’t revisit it. This shows you’re not paying attention to the flow of the conversation.
  • Stay Fresh and Relevant: Ensure each question brings new information or perspectives to the discussion.

You want to ensure that the questions you ask are as impactful as your answers in the consulting interview. This approach not only leaves a memorable impression but also provides you with valuable insights into the firm and its people.

What Not to Ask Your Interview

1. Basic Information

  • Easily Researchable: Don’t ask questions that can be answered with a quick search on the firm’s website. This might indicate a lack of preparation or genuine interest.
  • Company Basics: Avoid queries about widely known facts, such as the firm’s major services or basic history, which demonstrate minimal effort in research.

2. Closed-Ended Questions

  • Yes-Or-No Queries: These types of questions offer little room for elaboration and can stall the conversation.
  • Depth Over Brevity: Aim for open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses, allowing for richer dialogue and insights.

3. Controversial Topics

  • Sensitive Issues: Avoid delving into recent scandals, internal conflicts, or political views. These can be uncomfortable and inappropriate in an interview setting.
  • Respect Boundaries: Stay clear of personal or divisive topics that are unrelated to the professional context of the interview.

4. Overly Complex Questions

  • Excessive Detail: Avoid questions that require highly technical or specialized knowledge that the interviewer may not possess.
  • Simplicity and Clarity: Craft questions that are straightforward yet provoke thoughtful responses. Complex scenarios or hypotheticals can be taxing and irrelevant.

5. Questions About Other Candidates

  • Comparisons: Don’t ask about how you stack up against other candidates. This puts the interviewer in an awkward position and shifts the focus away from your personal strengths and fit.

6. Overly Personal Questions

  • Personal Boundaries: While it’s great to ask about the interviewer’s experiences, avoid getting too personal. Questions about family, personal life, or financial status are off-limits.

The questions you choose not to ask can be as telling as the ones you do. It’s important to strike a balance between curiosity and respect, professionalism, and personal interest. Avoiding these types of questions helps maintain a positive, professional tone throughout the interview.

How We Can Help You Ace the Consulting Interviews

We have specialized in placing people from all walks of life with different backgrounds into top consulting firms both as generalist hires as well as specialized hires and experts. As former McKinsey consultants and interview experts, we help you by

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

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