Reviewing CVs: an employer’s guide to Management Consulting Recruitment

Pile on CVs waiting to be reviewed

If you’re working in a management consulting firm, the task of reviewing CVs and shortlisting candidates for management consulting jobs can be both challenging and time-consuming.

Especially in the current market.

It can seem like many applicants in consultancy recruitment are working on a numbers game and we’ve seen alarming information on automated job application processes. The ‘benefits’ of AI doubtless.

Clearly the objective is to ensure that you identify and invite the most suitable candidates to interview, thereby increasing the chances of hiring the best talent.

While minimising the time spent on unsuitable applicants.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to effectively review CVs and compile a shortlist of relevant candidates for your key management consultancy jobs.

Step 1: Revisit the Consultancy Job Description and Person Specification

Before you even start make sure that you have an agreed job description and a person specification and that these are clear on the proposed advertisement.

Before reviewing the CVs clearly define the essential and desirable criteria for the role.

  • Essential criteria are the non-negotiable qualifications and experience a management consultancy candidate must possess
  • Desirable criteria are those additional skills or experiences that would be beneficial but are not mandatory.

Key Actions:

  • Create a checklist: develop a checklist of the essential and desirable criteria.
  • Prioritise: rank these criteria based on their importance to the role and your consultancy firm.

Step 2: Decide on the number of interviewees and the recruitment process

Determine how many candidates you and the team can realistically interview. This will help you narrow down your shortlist. If you have twelve promising candidates but only have the capacity to interview six, you’ll need to further refine your list.

This could be done by revisiting the CVs OR it would be entirely valid to ask some, or all, candidates to undertake a short task, relevant to the consulting role. This could be, for example, as simple as sending them the job spec and asking them to give a short summary of their suitability for the role. This would readily test their (or ChatGPT’s!) written skills, attention to detail, understanding of the word “short” and of course highlighting their relevance.

Beyond this you need to determine your recruitment and interview process.

Step 3: Initial Screening Criteria for Reviewing CVs

With your checklist “in hand”, start the initial screening process. Your goal at this stage is to eliminate CVs that do not meet the essential criteria. This step significantly reduces the number of CVs you need to consider in detail.

Perform a quick scan of each CV to check for essential criteria.

Step 4: Look for Red Flags

Closely examine the CVs for any red flags. As well as the list of “essential criteria” there are other indicators that a candidate may not be suitable for the role. Common red flags include:

  • Unexplained employment gaps: significant periods without explanation can be concerning.
  • Many career moves: sadly the combination of the pandemic and the 2023/2024 slump in the consulting market means many applicants do not have the tenure in employers they may have hoped for. Also both employees and employers make mistakes. However while it is only fair to give applicants the benefit of the doubt there is a point where it becomes a pattern which might give cause for concern.
  • Career plateau: Candidates who have not advanced in their careers for an extended period may not possess the drive required for a consulting role. This could indicate a lack of progression, motivation or ambition.
  • Overuse of buzzwords: Phrases like “results-driven” or “team player” without supporting evidence can be meaningless. Management consultants need to demonstrate their impact in measurable terms. Look for numbers, percentages, and other metrics that quantify success.
  • Evaluate clarity: Ensure the CV is easy to read and understand. These are key skills for a management consultant presenting at CxO level.
  • Check for errors: decide and agree a company policy on spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Reviewers may have different views, but consistency is key: as is applying that. If attention to detail is important, often the case in management consulting jobs, then mistakes are clearly a red flag
  • Assess conciseness: Look for candidates who can summarise their achievements effectively. Do long CVs show inability to summarise or a lack of emotional intelligence?

Step 5: Tailored vs. Template CVs

Can you determine whether the CV seems tailored specifically for your role or if it’s a generic template? A tailored CV indicates that the candidate has put effort into applying for your position, which can be a positive sign of their interest and dedication.

This could include:

  • reference to the job title and company
  • alignment with job description
  • specific mention of relevant skills
  • detailed job-specific achievements
  • customised personal statement or summary
  • relevant keywords and phrases
  • focussed career history

Clearly the CV should be honest and credible: any of the above points need to be reviewed in the context of the career and employer history! Too much tailoring can become misleading or fibbing.

However it can also be very helpful if the candidate has made clear their relevance for the role. Many consulting careers have too many projects to list so focus on the relevant ones can assist both parties.

Step 6: Review LinkedIn

Whether it’s to make final decisions on candidates you’re wavering on or to “check” all candidates you should always review LinkedIn and have an agreed company policy on this.

They don’t have to be especially active on LinkedIn, but in any client facing role LinkedIn is part of their professional branding. If it’s not professional and informative (and they haven’t considered this point!) then that’s a serious concern. Don’t forget your firm’s clients will DEFINITELY look.

Bear in mind they may have tailored the CV for this application (probably a positive sign) so you aren’t seeking an identical profile but are seeking plausible overlap on the Venn diagram!

Points to consider are:

  • do they have a LinkedIn profile? If not is that a Red Flag?
  • consistency between the CV and LinkedIn profile in job titles, companies, and dates of employment.
  • look for recommendations on LinkedIn that can corroborate the candidate’s achievements and skills.
  • check for any discrepancies in educational background and certifications between the CV and LinkedIn profile.
  • review the candidate’s summary or personal statement on LinkedIn for alignment with the CV.
  • assess the candidate’s LinkedIn activity (posts, comments, shares) for additional insights into their professional interests and expertise as well as any controversial items
  • ensure the LinkedIn profile photo is fairly professional

Step 7: Gut Feel

This might seem slightly counter to the logical process above: while it’s important to be objective, there is also value in trusting your instincts when reviewing CVs. If a candidate stands out as a potential fit based on an overall positive impression, consider keeping them on your shortlist.

Conversely, don’t hesitate to exclude candidates who seem to meet the technical criteria but don’t seem like a good cultural fit or for whatever reason don’t “feel right”.

Take care however to self-question unhelpful subconscious biases.


Reviewing CVs for a management consulting role requires a methodical and thorough approach, but inevitably the first sifting needs to be done at speed. By revisiting the job description, screening for essential criteria, looking out for red flags, and assessing communication skills and quantifiable achievements, you can effectively narrow down your list of candidates. Remember to trust your instincts and consider the cultural fit to ensure you invite the most promising candidates to interview. This structured approach will help you manage the process efficiently and increase your chances of hiring the best talent for your firm.

For more information on the job market, or to discuss your hiring plans please contact Chris Sale, Managing Director, Prism Executive Recruitment via [email protected]


You don’t have time to read every word of every CV. Be clear on the essential criteria and firmly apply that to all applicants, usually with a brisk “skim read”. Don’t be afraid to take a break if you find yourself losing focus!
1) Be very clear on the requirements and Red Flags 2) Agree a process and linked interview capacity 3) Don’t be afraid to be very brisk: many CVs will fail the “seven second rule”
No. It indicates that the candidate has put effort into applying for your position, which can be a positive sign of their interest and dedication. They are also making best use of your time by focussing their CV on the relevant skills and experience you have asked for.

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