Thousands of applicants apply for roles in consulting every year. The Big Four professional services alone will receive over 5,000 applications for their graduate schemes this year, not to mention all of the many candidates that apply to the boutique consulting practices.
It's therefore hugely important that you understand the ways you can ensure your application stands out from the crowd. We've identified the five things you should evidence in an application or demonstrate in your interview, in order to position yourself in the best possible way.
1. Demonstrate attention to detail
Being a good consultant is all about sweating the small stuff. Ensure your application is typo free - these firms are looking for an Analyst who will be diligent in their analysis and presentations. Make sure you have reflected the job description wording in the language you use to describe your experience and previous roles - recruiters will be screening multiple applications so make sure you have shown an awareness of and response to their key criteria.
Turn up to interviews looking smart and "client-ready" - your interviewers will ask themselves, 'could I take this student to my client' and you want to leave them with no doubt, that means arriving on time and bringing the relevant things (your passport, key details, references as required).
2. Show you're already thinking like a consultant
Consultants are logical, structured thinkers who use frameworks to understand client problems and solve them accordingly. Show you are already thinking like a consultant, in a considered, logical and structured way by clearly signposting your answers and thinking. For example, when asked 'why do you want the role', start your response with 'there are three main reasons that I want this role, firstly... secondly... and thirdly..'.
Likewise, in a case study interview, make sure you clearly articulate your thinking, ensuring the interviewer follows your logic at each stage of your response. Signposting in this way will give you time to think, as well as demonstrating that you are an assured, logical thinker.
3. Ask insightful questions
No two consultancies are the same and so make sure you've done your research and turned up with at least three or four questions of your own to ask at the end of the interview. Remember to ask yourself, what does this question say about me? For example, asking about the number of roles outside London may suggest an unwillingness to travel. That said - if it's an important aspect of the role for you (and a factor in your decision making) then ask away!
Remember interviews are a two way process and you should take this opportunity to clarify any aspects of the role you're unsure about. Most importantly, asking questions will show you are a serious and engaged candidate.
4. Practice competency questions
In most interviews you can expect to get a question asking you to talk about a time you have demonstrated leadership or teamwork or great communication skills or similar. You know the drill. Make sure you are absolutely ready for these questions by having a couple of good examples ready. The best examples will set the scene of your experience, describe your role in that particular instance and what you enjoyed or learned from it.
Remember, describing the learnings demonstrates that you are self aware and mindful of your own development - key capabilities in a great consultant.
5. Show an aptitude for both team work and independent working
Consulting requires that rare breed of individual who are both fantastic team players and hard workers who thrive with autonomy. Try to give examples, throughout an application form and in an interview, of times where you have excelled both within a team setting and as an individual. Describing the satisfaction and fulfilment from the different types of achievement will help to reinforce your aptitude for both.
Remember, your interviewer will be asking themselves 'do I want to work with this person?' so make sure you show yourself to be collaborative, friendly, responsive to suggestions and prompts and self aware.