Consulting is a tough industry to break into. You'll be competing against a lot of smart people for each job. This means that firms can be picky about who they hire and the assessment process is very thorough.
In general, to land a job offer, you need to pass 4 stages (and these stages are the same irrespective of whether you're applying for a business analyst or an associate position):
1. CV screen: Most consulting firms ask for a CV and cover letter. This is good news as it makes it easy for you to apply to a large number of consulting firms without investing too much time (click here to see my tips on writing a CV for consulting)
2. Aptitude test: At most firms, some kind of aptitude test is the next step in the process. These test verbal and numerical reasoning and are designed to assess potential, not knowledge. This means that they are difficult to prepare for but it's helpful to familiarize yourself with the type of question asked by completing a couple of practice tests
3. First round interviews: The next step is a series of interviews with middle-level consultants (two interviews in the McKinsey office I worked in), typically associates and managers. Each interview lasts for between 40 minutes and one hour and will involve both a case study and questions on your CV. (I outline the skills you need to pass a case interview here and list the three books I found most useful here). In general, getting an internal referral from an existing consultant will improve your chances of getting through to the interview stages of the process.
4. Final round interviews: Final round interviews are conducted by more senior consultants (partners and junior partners) but the interview format remains the same. Some firms hold final round interviews in a hotel and invite you to meet some current employees beforehand, which makes the process a bit nicer
Getting a job at a top-tier consultancy is tough, but with the right CV and the right preparation it’s possible.
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I'm a ex-McKinsey London EM who recently left the Firm