Management Consulting Interviews: 2 Differences Between India and the U.S.

by Jaineel Aga

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

The consulting interview system works differently between the United States and other countries.

In the U.S., there's a company information session, in which they pitch to students, have a presentation, and a chance to network with consultants. In a few weeks there's a resume "drop deadline." Students have to submit their resumes online by this deadline, and it typically takes 1-2 weeks before companies come up with a shortlist of prospective interviewees.

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The consulting interview system works differently between the United States and other countries.

In the U.S., there's a company information session, in which they pitch to students, have a presentation, and a chance to network with consultants. In a few weeks there's a resume "drop deadline." Students have to submit their resumes online by this deadline, and it typically takes 1-2 weeks before companies come up with a shortlist of prospective interviewees.

Once you're shortlisted, they have interview time slots on one day that students can choose from. For example, McKinsey will come from 8:30-5:30pm, and they'll interview 20 people over the course of that day.

In the U.S., there's typically a networking night before the interviews as well. So if you have a McKinsey interview on Tuesday at 9am, there's typically a coffee session on Monday the night before.

It gives students a chance to interact with recruiters and interviewers, and serves as a calming effect on students who are nervous about the upcoming fit questions and case studies. And remember - the interviewers are ALWAYS evaluating you, even over coffee.

Typically, 2-3 senior consultants and managers give the interviews. You may have 2 interviews in the same day with 2 different people, which makes up your first round interview. You'll usually hear back within a week if you've made the 2nd round.

For the 2nd round, at places like Duke near many consulting firms (eg, Parthenon is in Boston, McKinsey will come from D.C.), they'll actually do the 2nd round interview on-campus again and not at the local offices. The 2nd round will be conducted by senior consultants as well. After you get through the interview, if you're successful, you'll be invited to the 3rd and final round at the main office to meet with even more people, especially principals, partners, and directors.

In India, all of this happens in one day

In the Indian interview process, it's not spread out. The initial contact is the same - consulting firms like BCG will come on-campus, hold information sessions, and network typically with students and alumni(for example if you went to IIT, there will be IIT alums there).

After the resume drop deadline, the process differs. In India, once your resume is submitted online, all rounds happen on the same day. A shortlisted candidate could go through 4-5 rounds on the same day with different people, until the firm is sure that the interviewee makes the cut. There is rarely a networking session before the interview, although  some firms are slowly conducting "sell" nights by taking shortlisted candidates out to lunch or dinner to be able to sell the firm to them and look for outstanding students during the session.

Because of this process, companies and students are under a lot of pressure - companies to find the best talent and make the right decisions, students to perform well and evaluate pros and cons of a company after an offer has been made.

When an offer is made, one must decide right away. In the U.S., the practice is called an exploding offer and frowned upon by top universities like Harvard and Stanford, even if it's standard protocol in India and other international offices.

You get a few hours of time to decide if you need it, but no more.

 

 
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