How To Approach Personal Questions In A Fit Interview

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

In addition to questions about your interest in consulting, your interest in a particular company, and your prior work experience, an interviewer may ask questions more specifically related to your personality.

Question 1: What are your weaknesses?

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In addition to questions about your interest in consulting, your interest in a particular company, and your prior work experience, an interviewer may ask questions more specifically related to your personality.

Question 1: What are your weaknesses?

An interviewer may ask you to name two or three weaknesses. This is an important question and must be thought through well. Some people believe they should respond honestly, while others think that putting weaknesses on the table hurts their case. Both could be true.

It is best to be genuine and moderate the way you communicate your weakness. No one buys that your biggest weakness is working too hard-— after all, you’re human, and there are greater weaknesses than being a robotic workaholic. Project a genuine nature, pinpoint a hindering example of weakness, and show the steps you’ve taken to better yourself and overcome that weakness. Self-awareness is something looked for in any interview. Know where you can improve and how you can become better even in strengths of yours.

Don’t make yourself sound like you have no weaknesses, but don’t give a weakness that shocks the interviewer. For example, don’t tell an interviewer that you’re not popular among friends because you insult them and are egotistical. Some may appreciate this blunt honestly, but it may cause an interviewer to reconsider how you might fit in with the team. Respond genuinely, but moderate communication of your weaknesses.

Question 2: What are your strengths?

An interviewer may also ask about some of your strengths. These questions are easier to answer than weakness questions because you can speak about an instance from your resume. Try to thing of a particular instance where you contributed and stood out in a group. It’s important to maintain a little modesty so you come across as a team player.

Consulting encourage a culture of teamwork. Many people work on different workstreams, but must work together to produce an effective product. An effective product comes when the synergies of every team work together.

When talking about your strengths, you can discuss something you’ve achieved in a professional setting or an innate personality trait. There is no right or wrong answer, but coming across as a team player is important.

Question 3: What are your outside interests?

Although you might have been a superstar in terms of academics, interviewers want to know your interests outside of work and what you do for fun. This is one of the most important questions, in my opinion, for someone applying for an analyst or associate position. Young blood defines the culture of a firm when it comes to creating a lively atmosphere. The firm wants someone who can do more than crunch numbers; they want someone with a personality and the ability to have a good time.

In my final round interview at Parthenon, I began talking about my interest in rock music with one of the partners. The conversation, which had started about Parthenon, the dos and don’ts of consulting, and the landscape or business, took a new direction. Suddenly, he told me about Mick Jagger wanting to invest in real estate in Bombay. We talked about how rock stars lived and how Napster affected their business. It changed the tone of the interview, and I was able to connect at a common level. This created a lively interview, which worked in my favor.

Talk about extracurriculars and other initiatives to create a good story. One of the key aspects of a fit interview is to have a story, like selling your own brand. The story should incorporate five or six key themes including your interest in consulting, interest in the company, work experience, weaknesses, strengths, and your outlook in five or ten years.

Question 4: Where Would You Like to Be in 10 Years?

During one of my interviewers, a partner asked what I wanted to do in ten years. An ambition to be a partner of a firm is not always the right answer; again, it is best to be genuine. I told him I wanted to go back to India to become a politician because of dearth of strategic and uncorrupted politicians.

He thought this was one of the most interesting ten-year plans he’d heard of in a consulting interview. The direction of the interview changed again, and we began talking about tackling large problems and applying professionalism to politics. These flavors display your personality and brand by being different from others interviewing at this stage.

Have a couple themes at the back or your head. Don’t actually plan and memorize answers, but have a generic structure and an idea of your key themes. Have stories and examples to give for the five or six questions discussed.
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