In hiring for management consultancy jobs, while interview questions vary, an interviewer ultimately wants to know why they should hire you. Every question therefore has a purpose.
An interviewer’s aim is to determine why you want to work for them, whether you’ll be a good organisational and culture fit and what experience you bring to the table. Beyond these key aspects, interviewers are trying to determine your career expectations, salary expectations, fill in any obvious ‘CV gaps’ and of course generally find out more about you.!
Whether your consultancy job interview is face to face or more commonly now via video, read our guide to help you prepare for the management consulting job interview process.
The “Why you” questions:
Answering the “Why us” questions:
How to answer ‘Culture Fit’ and ‘Teamwork’ Management Consultancy Interview Questions:
The “Career expectations” and other management consultancy interview questions
The “Why you” questions:
With each of these job interview questions remember ‘professional not personal’. Interviewers do not want to know that your weakness is chocolate and you have 10 amazing cats. In fact, it is best to keep the latter to yourself on all occasions. They want to know what you will bring to their consulting team and that you are honest and self-aware.
Question 1: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
It’s a classic ice-breaker and a general question but keep in mind the opportunity it presents: why are you right for this job? What management consultancy job experience or accomplishments can you highlight to back this up? It’s vital you keep it concise. This is not the time to list your employment history: your interviewers have read your CV so do not repeat it verbatim but instead highlight key areas of it. If in doubt ask the interviewer to clarify how much detail they want. Don’t go into full sales mode either!
Question 2: Why should we hire you?
A daunting question but a great opportunity to highlight your key skills and attributes: relate these to the company’s goals and the job spec. Why are you a strong candidate for this key management consulting job in their business? How will you fit in this team/company? Prove it with specific examples. This shows your interviewer that you are self-aware, can sell yourself and you’ve done your research (highlighting that you are well prepared and truly interested in the role).
Question 3: What are your greatest strengths?
This question (and the following one) might be a cliché but they are very good management consulting job interview questions, which can reveal quite a bit about an applicant. You need to be prepared for them (and for others which might sound different but are actually the same).
The following points might help to focus your answers: once again think professional, not personal.
- What are your key skills?
- How are these relevant to this particular consultancy job?
- Consider specific examples to showcase these strengths.
Question 4: What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
Let’s be honest: this is a stinker which is why it’s such a good question.
The best tactic is to either volunteer something that is not especially relevant for the role (i.e. it’s not on the list of essential/desirable characteristics) or is something that you can provide evidence you are tackling and getting better at.
Neither “I’m always running late” nor “I can’t think of anything” will leave your interviewer with a positive impression. When preparing your response in advance be self-aware and honest. If your answer really is “I’m always running late” then a much better response is “I used to struggle with time-management but now I start 15 minutes earlier each day: this provides time to deal with unexpected tasks and organise my priorities before my scheduled meetings begin”. This shows you have identified a weakness and worked to improve it.
Question 5: What is your greatest achievement?
Be specific: focus on your professional accomplishments and how these achievements benefitted the business. Did you increase sales? If so, by how much? Over what time period? How did this impact overall sales targets and business development? Relate your success back to the role for which you are applying. This is your opportunity to show why you are the best candidate for the role and what you could do for their business if they employed you.
You CAN use selected and compelling personal achievements if they are relevant and demonstrate qualities expected in the role.
The most important element in answering “Why you?” questions is preparation. Practice your answers again and again, Consider practicing with an audience and ask for feedback.
Your perfect interview answers are unique to you, concise, compelling and sound natural.
Answering the “Why us” questions:
Once you have successfully answered the “Why you?” questions, you may need to answer the equally tricky “Why us?” portion of the management consultancy job interview. The key to success when answering these questions is research.
Question 6: What do you know about the company?
Purposefully vague, this management consultancy job interview question will draw on both your research and analysis skills. Merely repeating the company’s “About Us” page will show you’ve failed to interpret the question. You do not need to have read all their news articles or remember the Annual Report verbatim but you will need to recall key industry sectors and service lines, areas of current focus, future strategy/growth and the firm’s values and ethos. You should summarise your findings into a couple of pithy sentences and explain their appeal to you as a potential employee.
Question 7: Why do you want this job?
There are plenty of opportunities here to swiftly rule yourself out of further consideration! The key underlying objective here is that they want to know both that you have given the role careful consideration and that you are going to be happy in the post (…and not leave after 6 months….!).
- What is it that made you apply for this role? (Please do not say money!)
- Why does this job AND our business appeal to you?
- What attributes and experience do you possess that make you believe you’d be good at this job?
- How does this role fit with your goals and objectives (and are they ones we can satisfy/align with ours)
Still uncertain? Check out this great guide for more tips.
Question 8: What are you looking for in a new position?
This may seem like an open goal but some candidates still miss! BUT don’t simply replay the job spec back to them or else you risk looking glib and insincere. Also make sure that the job does indeed have what you mention: so don’t say you want a role focussed on delivery if a significant part is sales. Sounds obvious but it happens all the time! Also look more broadly at the firm’s culture and values and how it defines itself and make sure your answer is aligned with those too.
Question 9: How did you hear about the position?
This may reflect the interviewer’s interest in the specific channel. However, whether a job board, referral, agency or via a company search does not really matter: it’s a great opportunity to enthuse about the role and remind them why you applied. Particularly, why this role stood out above all other management consultancy jobs.
More insight into the channels management consultants use to find a new job can be found in our Management Consultants Job Search Survey.
Question 10: What do you think we could do better or differently?
This is a chance to demonstrate your sector/service line knowledge, your critical thinking and show how your fresh ideas and expertise would benefit the company.
What have you heard about the company or management consultancy firm? What pipelines could they work on? How could you use your network to bring new business to the table? You don’t need to give names or have a fully formed action plan but this is a chance to present your knowledge and expertise.
However, it is most certainly not an opportunity to “really speak your mind”! Absolutely nobody wants to know their baby is ugly! Hopefully, you wouldn’t be sitting there if you felt negatively towards the company: express your admiration for the business and ensure that any “criticism” is framed in the context of an opportunity for you to contribute.
Ultimately, when answering the “Why us?” questions in the management consulting interview process, do your research. When your answers clearly address either ‘How do I match the job description?’ or ‘Why am I a great match for this company?’ you can move on to the next section: How to answer those “Culture fit” and “Teamwork” questions.
How to answer ‘Culture Fit’ and ‘Teamwork’ related Management Consultancy Job Interview Questions:
You will also need to show that you are a good ‘fit’. Even exceptional candidates will not get the role if they cannot also prove they will integrate well with their colleagues. “Culture fit” and “Teamwork” interview questions are designed to demonstrate your potential interaction with your new manager, within the team and within the company.
Question 11: What’s your management style?
This remains a difficult question for many, even though it’s something of a cliché. Some interviewers will be keen to understand the size/scale of teams and budgets for which you have been responsible, others are looking for people development experience and examples of managing people issues. Alternatively, they could mean management in the context of complex clients/stakeholders that need careful day-to-day management. So make sure you clarify what aspect they would like information on.
In general, it is best to aim for the middle ground – people skills. In consultancy discuss a project and scenario in which you are well versed: provide context with details about the scale of the project and the client too.
If the focus of the role is on management of a team in the consultancy firm, an excellent place to start is to identify your leadership style. Once you have determined your style, demonstrate your effectiveness with reference to specific examples.
Question 12: Give an example of a challenge you faced and how you overcame it.
Avoid personal conflict and instead focus on project challenges and how you overcame them. Highlight your professional nature, your clear communication with colleagues and clients and how you resolved the issue. Most importantly, make sure your answer refers to what YOU were responsible for, the actions YOU took and their impact. Try not to slip into generically describing what happened on a project, or what other people did. Some questions require a “we” answer but in most cases the interviewer wants to know specifically what YOU did.
You may find the question framed around “problem” staff: again best to frame it as a project i.e. STAR: Situation Task Actions Results. The key point is that you demonstrated your ability to take action and achieve a positive outcome.
Question 13: How do you cope under pressure?
This is a common consulting job interview question. Employers are increasingly aware of their contribution to the mental health of their employees. A specific example to back up a general statement would be good here and avoid sounding too vague or clichéd. Use the scenario to show how your professional approach enabled you to navigate a stressful situation with ease.
Make it situational: if the culture and structure of the firm encourages delegation or sharing burdens then a reply which references these solutions will sit well.
It is worth considering the underlying reason for the question, which is of course that the role or environment is on occasion (or always!) pressurised: that might also help you give an answer relevant to this post. And also flag up something which may require further thought and questioning from you!
Question 14: How would your friends describe you?
See the advice on The “Why you” questions: ‘What are your greatest strengths?’. DO NOT repeat verbatim if this question has already been asked. View this as an excellent opportunity to highlight a strength that has not already been covered during your interview i.e. “I’m the one who always organises everybody”. It could also provide an opportunity to add a bit of character but “loyal” or “dependable” is fine if you’re stuck!
Question 15: What do you like to do for fun?
Use this to highlight your personality and some interests that suggest personal goals/drive beyond work. Be honest and don’t exaggerate but try to think of at least one thing that sounds interesting and indicative of a bit of “get up and go”! If you don’t have any hobbies… avoid admitting it! Ideally, mention something “active” and perhaps avoid statements such as ‘football – mostly from the comfort of my armchair’ which could suggest a lack of energy or impetus.
It’s also a great opportunity to mention personal achievements if you haven’t already done so: but as previously suggested try and make sure they actually are of some note and indicate qualities of interest to the employer.
You might, in reality, be a bit of a “solo” person but now is not the time to emphasise interests that reflect this: something involving sociability or teamwork is best. But try and avoid the clichés i.e. “socialising with friends”
Make sure that if you have put “hobbies and interests” on your CV that your answer reflects these. Also ensure that you can back up that section of your CV: if you’ve claimed to enjoy going to the Theatre you might need to discuss a recent play you saw!
Career expectations and other management consultancy job interview questions
Question 16: What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role?
You will need a reasonable idea of the job and the context to be able to answer this question so don’t be afraid to ask. For example, current project information, company familiarisation, knowledge of team resources and staff expertise. Identify an area where you could contribute immediately. A well thought through answer here is vital. Prove you can hit the ground running, show enthusiasm and most importantly show your sector and service line expertise.
It’s also an opportunity to reflect on your “What do you think we could do better or differently?” ideas but with caution: you need to make it clear that you feel you can make an impact with some innovative ideas but also you need to be pragmatic and will take time to collect the data and facts after your arrival.
Question 17: Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question is a popular one in the management consulting job interview process.
Most people accept that it is difficult to plan too far ahead: company structures change all the time, roles exist now that did not exist 5 years ago etc. However this is a very key question and at heart is looking for evidence of ambition, but realistic expectations and sticking power. The best answer will indicate enthusiasm for the job they are hiring for, realistic career goals and a degree of loyalty to a firm. Do not give any hint that you might be simply using this role as a stepping stone to a job more worthy of your skills further up in their business or worse, elsewhere! Make it clear you are focused on the role in hand and want to be a great success in that role! Also, avoid the cliché “in your job”: that is wrong on so many levels!
This may be a good time to ask a question – what is the typical route for career progression in the firm?
The question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is examined in more detail in our blog on the hidden meaning behind three classic interview questions.
Question 18: What would be your perfect job?
In other words, what are your ultimate career goals? This is a chance to express your ultimate career aims and ambitions. Most importantly be sure to align your answer with the role and company to which you are applying but clearly avoid being too obvious or sycophantic.
“I’d like to be a partner in [your firm]” is great if you’re a management consultant, but not if you are applying for the role of Finance Director. Resist the temptation to go for broke and tell the truth i.e. that you always wanted to be a ski instructor. This is a career question, not a “what would you do if you had 3 wishes?” question.
Question 19: Why are you leaving your current job?
Positive answers highlighting that a move is timely and that this role and organisation is a great fit and corresponds with your career goals are perfect. This is, of course, situational: if you have been in your current employer 4/5 years or more then “need a new challenge” or “want a change of scene” won’t raise any eyebrows. If it’s a short period then that’s rarely ideal but seek to provide reassurance that your reasons for taking the role in the first place were sound but unfortunately now in the role things have changed/it’s not as described/someone key has left/you’ve explored all options for righting the situation.
Disparaging comments about former employers are at best unproductive, at worse a potential disaster. Even if you were made redundant, keep your answer positive: “Unfortunately, I was let go”. If your departure was due to business need, perhaps follow up with “… due to business demand, my area was closed”. You need to be honest but try and avoid implying that you were the one person who lost out. Ideally, you were one of a number of people made redundant, or if not, that you lost out to someone who had been in the business longer or who was paid much less than you etc.
Ultimately the interviewer is simply seeking reassurance that you will stay with their firm a reasonable length of time and that any moves you have made aren’t a negative reflection on YOU i.e. your talents, personality or decision making.
Question 20: What are your salary requirements?
Do your research and probably ask for something in the upper third of the range quoted, if there was one (based on your experience, education, and skills). Unless you really feel strongly about it don’t quote the top end of the salary you saw advertised: it just sounds a bit crass. But of course don’t shy away from being honest! If that is the only figure you would accept say so and explain why.
Attempt to arm yourself with a bulletproof justification based on your experience, market data and your current/previous package. Applicants will say “what’s my current salary got to do with it? They should pay me what I’m worth/the rate for the job”. However, we live in the real world and previous earnings almost always have a key role in future offers.
If you feel you are worth a significant rise then explain why.
If you are paid more than you think they might be offering but are willing to consider a lower package then make this clear, otherwise they may rule you out: “well my last base salary and the package was £x but I’m aware that’s more than this role might pay so I will be flexible for the right role”
This is your first real opportunity to demonstrate your communication and negotiation skills. We explore this topic further in our Guide Salaries: how to get the best salary in your new management consulting job .
Question 21: The silly questions
There are many seemingly silly and impossible interview questions. Most employers don’t go down this route but some do! Here are some legendary Google interview questions while The Balance has written a blog on how to answer weird questions. From critical thinking to personality test type questions this category of interview questions is designed to see if you can think on your feet and to observe ‘how’ you think.
Question 22: Do you have any questions for us?
“No” is definitely the wrong answer here! If a candidate has no questions at all it would really send alarm bells ringing, suggesting they are either not very interested in the role or so desperate to move that they don’t care much about where they go. The only caveat would be that if you know the meeting has overrun and the interviewer is looking at their watch, perhaps then the answer should be “well yes I have several things I was hoping to find out but do you have time?”. This would suggest tact and emotional intelligence and be a huge relief to the interviewer!
It is sensible to prepare some questions in advance that are specific to the role. If the company is small/new then questions about the overall company and its strategy are good. You should avoid asking questions that might suggest a lack of research.
Consider questions around team dynamics, ethos and the job practicalities. For instance, if you are not able to travel internationally and the role requires international travel. It’s better to find out sooner rather than later
Good options might be to ask how success will be measured, or expectations in the first 30/60/90 days in the role. The Muse has a list of 51 interview questions you might wish to consider but I suggest actually asking no more than three! The best questions are of course those you are genuinely interested to find out and these might occur to you through the interview rather than be prepared in advance.
If you’re really stumped, questions around the next steps and process are always a safe bet.
It’s often said but worth repeating: asking questions about the salary, package and holidays is not a good idea. These points are very important of course but are best avoided. If you get to the end of the final interview and no one has asked about your expectations or said anything about what they offer, then a simple “do we need at some point to discuss salary and package?” is a gentle way of raising it (and perhaps highlighting a failure in their process!) that also gives them the opportunity to provide a face-saving reply if necessary.
The only exception to the first point about never answering “no”, if your mind goes a complete blank might be “no, to be honest, it’s been a really great interview/day/process and you really have covered everything that was on my list: thanks very much”!
If possible you you should practise your management consultancy job interview question answers with an audience and ask for feedback. But in any event make sure you’ve thought them through and mentally rehearsed them. Your perfect answers are unique to you, concise, compelling and sound natural. Remember, developing your best answers is as important as developing your CV. You should tweak both of these for every new job application and this will greatly improve your chance of success in the management consultancy interview process.
We have more articles on our website to help with your job search and advice on preparing for an interview.