How to prepare for a Junior Consultant interview

Joining a consulting firm as a junior consultant is the first step into your career as a consultant. You will typically work on projects that are related to your field of study or expertise, and may also be involved with more general tasks such as administrative duties or client relations.

As a junior consultant, you will play a critical role in all of the firm's work as most firms will have a flat structure which allows you to become actively involved in many levels of client work. Junior consultants often have a lot of room to grow within the organization, meaning you may be given more responsibility over time as you prove yourself capable of handling it.

As a junior consultant you will primarily be focused on researching companies operations, future goals and financial history. This work directly impacts the improvement and development of new strategies to increase the company’s financial performance. You may also be tasked with competitor and market research and strengthening differentiating factors.

You will often be the primary contact for clients, responsible for developing and executing work plans, and managing associates. Your skills as a consultant should be highly tuned in the areas of analytics, communications, teamwork, and leadership.

Internally, you may develop leadership responsibilities over time  in areas like recruiting, training, professional development, etc.

You will begin taking responsibility for developing the recommendations that will ultimately be implemented by your firm’s clients, while also learning how to contribute to and grow the  business through internal practice building and contributing to new business development. 

Hard and soft skills for a junior consultant: 

Soft skills:

Communication will be an essential skill at every stage of your development as a consultant. You will need to express yourself and convey your message accurately in an engaging way in order to communicate effectively with teammates, managers, clients and partners.

Developing your leadership skills over time will help guide your career development as a consultant. You will need to be able to lead yourself through case problems, and lead your team and clients to the most viable solutions despite deadlines.

The need for seamless collaboration within multiple teams is becoming more important within the consulting space.Collaboration is essential to shipping products, launching services or making needed process changes.

As a consultant, you'll be advising top firms, executives and leaders on how to solve their most difficult problems, and confidence is an essential component in this process. Firms will be looking out for consultants who can lead and drive the right solutions, even if they do not have the right answers immediately. 

Hard skills: 

Problem solving: 
Problem solving will be one of the most critical skills to develop as a consultant. You will need to structure your approach to problems and ensure you have done a completely exhaustive analysis of the problem, and dissect it into manageable sections before attempting to find a solution.

Research and analysis: 
Data has become increasingly important in all sectors, and as such, analysis of this data is a crucial skill to develop. Charts and data will become your bread and butter, and you will need to dissect massive amounts of data, and clearly present your data driven insights. 

Mental maths: 
Along with your analytical and problem solving skills, having a strong understanding of mathematics will allow you to quickly debunk or prove hypotheses. When considering the cases you may be working on, there may be thousands of hypotheses, both large and small, which need to be tested quickly, and deciding which metrics are valuable is an important part of this process.

Tips for acing your junior consultant interview:

Take notes: 
During your interview, it’s crucial to listen carefully and take notes. When you are presented with a case study, it’s important to ask clarifying questions in order to gather the most useful information for the case. It will also help you engage with the interviewer and establish a positive rapport. It will be vital to present a clear and concise solution with the correct information in your summary of the situation and your suggested actions. 

Vocalize your thoughts: 
It’s important to vocalize your thoughts during the case study, as the interviewer will be focused on gauging your problem solving skills and your ability to choose the correct aspects to focus on.

Company research: 
Remember to do your research on the company you are interviewing for, as well as industry trends. Your case study will generally be based on the industry in which you will be working. This will also demonstrate a passion for the role and industry.

Motivation for joining:
Have a clear and well thought out explanation for why you want to be a consultant, and why you would like to join this specific firm. Great candidates know why they want to join, show excitement, and have a level of detail in their answer that makes them stand apart.

Don't check your work with the interviewer: 
As a consultant, you'll be advising clients on how to solve their most difficult problems, and if you cannot do this confidently by making the correct assumptions and doing the correct research, you could ruin your chances of landing the job. With that in mind, asking affirmative questions, such as "How am I doing?" or "Am I doing this correctly?" is not recommended. 

Don’t flip the interview: 
While doing your case study, asking insightful questions that result in useful data for your analysis can be great at showing you understand and are interested in learning more while asking unrelated questions can be detrimental. It can be disruptive to ask questions about the firm while you’re busy with presenting your case study. 

Manage your ego: 
Keeping your ego in check and making sure that you intentend to go the extra-mile to help others can go a long way. Staying humble and learning from past mistakes is a key process to growth as a consultant.

Social media: 
When you are preparing for a job interview remember to ensure your Linkedin profile and resume and portfolio are up to date with your latest experiences. Linkedin has a segment for listing skills and accomplishments and even has short certification courses which allows you to highlight your expertise. 

Interview format:

Consulting interviews will generally start with a short introduction containing a few questions before jumping into the prepared or unprepared case study.

As part of your Interview preparation, a key factor of your case-study interview is a sense of reality, or getting as close to it as possible. The focus for these has a wide range and can be anything that puts the candidates in the thick of things allowing the interviewer to gain a real sense about their analytical abilities. 

Feeling intimidated? We know that feeling, that’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to get you through your case study: Let us help you make your case!

Online vs on location
Remote hiring is definitely here to stay. Many companies have moved to remote interviewing processes as it allows a more diverse scope of candidates, and can significantly speed up the hiring process. There are a few nuances with remote hiring that you may want to consider before hand, luckily we’ve put together this handy guide to get you through your remote interview: 10 Top Tips for Virtual and Remote Interviews

On Location interviews are still an option for many companies, who may prefer the in-person connection. This is also a great opportunity for the interviewer to give you a first hand experience of the office, and introduce you to your potential coworkers.

Interview preparation questions:

Here are a few consultant interview preparation questions to practice:

  1. Why are you interested in this role? 

  2. What has motivated you to join this company specifically? 

  3. How would you respond if you presented your suggestions to a business leader and they were skeptical about getting their desired results?

  4. You are consulting a small firm that sells a well-reputed product. A large competitor starts selling a similar product incorporating the most recent technology. What should the small firm do in response?

  5. Your client is a snowplow company. The past two years have seen a reduction in snowfall by 20%. What would you suggest they do, and why?

  6. Do you tend to focus on one project, or do you handle a number of projects simultaneously?

  7. Walk me through the life cycle of a recent project you worked on from start to finish. What results/deliverables did you achieve? What went well, and what did not go well?

  8. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult client. What did you learn from the experience? What would you do differently?


* Tips on answering these questions: align your experience to the attributes listed on the job posting and/or company culture and values

Questions to ask your interviewers:

The type of questions you may want to ask will depend on who is interviewing you, or which round of interviews you are currently in.

  1. What is your favorite thing about being a consultant at this firm?

  2. What can I expect in terms of company culture? 

  3. What are some of the unexpected realities of being a consultant ? 

  4. What common characteristics have helped people at this level quickly succeed and reach an outstanding performance? 

  5. I know consulting to be very dynamic. What can I expect my day-to-day to look like ?

Interview follow up:

They say small kindnesses never go unnoticed and this is particularly true when it comes to interviewing.

A simple thank you email to your interviewer goes a long way to cementing you in their minds long after your interview is over. Your email could be as simple as thanking the interviewer for their time, or mentioning a particular part of the interview you enjoyed. This would also be a good opportunity to extend your interest in connecting via Linkedin. 

Your interviewer will generally set the expectation for when you can expect to hear back from them. If nothing is set, a good timeframe for a follow up is two weeks after the interview.

Checklist for the day of your interview: 

  1. Get a good night’s sleep - This allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up, ready to ace your interview!

  2. Start your day with breakfast - You might find you feel a bit sluggish and struggle to focus if you don’t.  Breakfast positively affects your mental performance, including your attention, ability to concentrate and memory. Skipping the most important meal of the day can make some tasks feel harder than they normally would.

  3. Wear clothing you’re comfortable in - The dress code for consulting interviews is business professional attire. Men should wear a suit in a neutral color, and women should wear a conservative skirt suit, trouser suit (pantsuit), or similar. With this in mind, it’s always better to overdress, rather than underdress. Comfortable clothing will also help you feel confident during your interview. 

  1. Leave your house early - Proper planning will help you arrive on time for the interview and eliminate any last minute stress.  Double-check the interview location and your best route to get there. If you’re driving there yourself, it’s a good idea to consider where you might park. 

  1. If you are having an online interview, remember to log on early and test your setup. You should check your connection, camera and microphone, as well as ensuring your background or environment is free from clutter and distractions.

  1. Follow in Superman’s footsteps - Try this right before you go into the room or join your call. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, place your hands on your hips and breathe deeply. This is the Superman pose, specifically developed to encourage your body to regulate breathing and allow your mind to clear and your nerves to calm. Plus, you’ll feel like you could leap tall buildings in a single bound - what better way to take your next steps to professional success?

Now that you’ve just taken your next steps towards succeeding in your career, be sure to take a look at the Wizco Blog for more insider tips and tricks and walk into every growth opportunity prepared.