A Suggested Three Stage Interview Process for Management Consultant Recruitment

It is crucial that the recruitment and interview process is designed to identify candidates who excel in their professional skills, have relevant and utilisable experience, and align with your culture and values.

It is also vital that it leaves all candidates with a positive view of your firm and (linked to this) is conducted at pace. This might ideally take c5-6 weeks (from candidate application/CV receipt) but could be shorter. Anything much more than 8 weeks carries a serious risk of losing the candidate to other employers. Or it may raise questions in their mind about the suitability of your firm or the level of priority attached to the “people” side.

This guide outlines a three-stage interview process aimed at small/medium sized consultancies, assessing candidates on key areas: career progression, experience, client skills, presentation skills, and team fit.

Stage 1: Initial “in person” screening

Objective:

Assess career progression and experience.

Format:

Telephone or video interview.

Duration:

45 minutes plus time for their questions

Conductor:

A “senior consultant”: probably a Director or Partner

The initial meeting focuses on understanding the candidate’s professional journey, key achievements, and the depth of their experience relevant to the role. It should also cover the job/career decisions to date and current motivations. Questions should explore:

  • The development of their roles and responsibilities.
  • Major projects and their outcomes.
  • Challenges faced and strategies employed to overcome them.
  • Contributions to their employer’s success.

Sample Questions:

  • “Could you describe your most significant career transition and its impact?”
  • “Explain a project you led that resulted in measurable success for the client.”
  • “Discuss a time you faced a significant challenge in a project and how you addressed it.”

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Assess career growth: past and potential, looking for decisions made, progressive responsibilities and achievements.
  • Evaluate the relevance of their past roles and projects to the position they are applying for, focusing on transferable skills and experience.
  • Determine their ability to identify, analyse, and solve work-related challenges.
  • Look for tangible impacts the candidate has had in their previous positions, such as improvements made, successes achieved, and recognition received.

Stage 2: Competency and Skills Assessment

Objective:

Evaluate specific experience plus client skills.

Format:

In-person or virtual meeting.

Duration:

60-90 minutes.

Conductor:

2-3 people including a Partner and another senior consulting leader. Possibly a team member or HR.

This stage delves into the candidate’s functional competencies, particularly their ability to interact with clients and their presentation skills. It involves a case study or project presentation related to the area of expertise required in the role, followed by a question-and-answer session to assess analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. This may evolve into a more general interview.

Preparation:

  • Candidates receive a case study or presentation brief in advance. Give consideration to how long: a week is adequate to “find time” but could lead to the applicant expending too much time. 24 hours (or even 1 hour!) might therefore be optimal BUT the candidate needs warning so they can ensure they have time e.g. the evening before. Ensure the candidate has guidance on how long the presentation should be.
  • The scenario should allow candidates to demonstrate strategic thinking and innovative solutions. If based on a real (anonymised) client situation it could have the added benefit of showcasing an exciting project.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Clarity and persuasiveness of the presentation.
  • Ability to respond to challenging questions and feedback.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and expertise.
  • Strategic and problem-solving capabilities.
  • Personal impact

Stage 3: Cultural and Team Fit

Objective:

Assess team fit and alignment with company values.

Format:

Final senior interview plus informal meeting with one or more (ideally) team members

Duration:

90 minutes.

Conductor:

Senior Partner/CEO/Practice Lead plus team members

The final stage of the interview process focuses on the candidate’s overall fit. This includes interpersonal skills, adaptability, suitability within the team and the company’s culture. As well as the interview it could include a team lunch, a group discussion on a non-work-related topic, or even a team-building activity. These should provide insights into the candidate’s personality and how they interact in a casual setting. It is also a final opportunity for the candidate to assess the firm and ask questions, both at a leadership and team level.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Ability to “gel” with fellow employees
  • Alignment with the company’s core values and ethos.

Sample Activities:

  • Group discussion on a recent industry development or news, perhaps indirectly relevant to the firm.
  • Team problem-solving exercise.
  • Discussion about candidate’s goals and what they are seeking in the next stage of their career.

Conclusion

This three-stage interview process ensures a comprehensive evaluation of candidates, balancing technical competencies with cultural fit.

The process should be conducted with integrity, reasonable speed, and transparency, ensuring that candidates have a positive experience, irrespective of the outcome.

Implementing this guide will help you continue to build a team of dedicated, skilled, and cohesive consultants who will drive the firm’s success.

If you would like to discuss how Prism could help you to find and secure your ideal candidate please contact Chris Sale, Managing Director, Prism Executive Recruitment on 0203 143 5926 or [email protected].

You can find more information on our recruitment solutions in our Client Services pages.

FAQs

A three stage process involving perhaps 4 or 5 employees in the firm should be enough to evaluate an applicant and give the candidate a good idea of the culture and people.
It should evaluate an applicant’s culture fit, test their experience and skills, ensure alignment with their career and job aspirations, and impress the candidate.
They are rarely designed with the intent to impress an applicant so often involve delays or an overly long process with many different people in the firm in the decision making.

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