The mission of the Wharton Undergraduate Consulting Club is two-fold. We hope to provide the students of the University of Pennsylvania with an understanding of the consulting industry so they can make informed career choices in the future. Our second goal is help those who have identified themselves as potential consultants with the job search so they have the best possible chance to obtain the career they desire. If you have access to this book, it means you are an official paid member of WUCC who is strongly considering a career in consulting. This guide is meant to be used in conjunction with your WUCC Consulting Interview Pod to supply you with a stepping stone for basic interview practice, although you are free to use it in other contexts. “Pod Directions” at the beginning of each section will explain the ideal way for your pod to use the following section. Each person in the pod will have a rotating role in the group, so for simplicity this guide will use the following terminology: Pod(A): Pod(R): Pod(O): “Paw-da;” the member of the pod who is administering the interview “Paw-der;” the member of the pod who is receiving the interview “Paw-doh;” the member of the pod who is observing the interview
When you get together with your pod, each of you should plan to be a Pod(A), Pod(R) and Pod (O) at least once per session. Finally, many of the cases we recommend using are protected through copyright law and therefore cannot be reprinted or modified by our organization. In these instances, we have provided the direct URLs to the cases with an explanation for how best to utilize the particular case. Simply print out the page the URL directs you to and keep it along with this guide. There should be no need to print out any additional materials except the URLs specified herein. If, during the course of your practice you come across more cases you believe will be helpful, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will review it for future editions. Best of luck! - WUCC Board
Although this guide is geared to case interview, it is important to recognize that fit questions are also very important during the interview process. This is your chance to show the firm that you are a unique individual who is able to bring value to the organization. You should be able to answer a basic set of questions about you, your experience, your plans, your reason for wanting to work in the industry and your reason for wanting to work for this company in particular. The key to the fit interview is to be engaging and interesting while making sure not to ramble.
Pod Directions Devote at least one of your pod sessions to going over a random assortment of fit questions. The Pod(R) should envision herself interviewing for her favorite consulting firm. The Pod(A) should ask one to two questions from each relevant category and makes notes on the content of the Pod (R)’s answers. The Pod(O) should make notes about the style and flow of the Pod(R)’s responses, particularly marking down the number of times the Pod(R) says the word “Um.” Fit interviews should last from 20 to 30 minutes, followed by a quick debriefing.
Fit Question Sets
Personal • Tell me about yourself. • Walk me through your resume. • What are you most proud of on your resume? • What are your career and educational goals? • Tell me what you have learned from your previous jobs? • What did you dislike most about your last job? • How would your friends describe you? • What would other members of your learning team say about you? • Explain to me why you made your previous job changes. • Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years? • What are the three most important events in your life? • Give me three words to describe yourself. • What new goals have you established for yourself recently? • If you could do ‘it’ all over again, what would you do differently? • What were you doing during this gap of time I see here on your resume? • Tell me about a decision you have made that you later regretted. • What are the three best ideas you’ve had in the past five years? • In what kind of work environment do you do your best work? • With what kind of people do you like to work? • What types of tasks and responsibilities motivates you the most? • What are the attributes of an ideal job for you? • Did you get an offer from the firm you worked for this summer? • Do you have other offers? Why would/wouldn’t you take our offer over one of the others? • What do you enjoy doing outside of work in your free time? • If you had six months ahead with no obligations and no financial constraints, what would you do? • If you could invite anyone you would like to a dinner party (famous or historical figures, dead or alive), which ten people would you invite? • If you could trade places with someone for a week, who would it be? • What is your favorite book/movie/song/painting or author/actor/singer/artist? • Which magazines/newspapers do you read regularly? • Which books have you read recently?
Fit Question Sets
Management/Leadership Style • What is your management philosophy? • Define leadership. • Tell me about a time when you successfully resolved a conflict. • Give an example of a leadership role you have held when not everything went as planned. • How would you define your leadership style? • What is an example of an experience in which you took on a leadership role? • How have you demonstrated initiative? • What are some key lessons you have learned about motivating people? • What skills does a good brand manager need? Demonstrate that you have these. • Tell me about a time you led a team/project. • Give me an example of a time you were able to change a manager’s opinion. • Why are you a good manager? • Tell me about a time when you changed your boss’ opinion. • Do you consider yourself a team player? • Tell me about your past experience working in teams? Strengths/Weaknesses and Skills • Are you creative? Give me an example. • What is your biggest weakness? • Give an example of something you have done that shows initiative. • What makes you stand out from your fellow students? • What can you do for us that someone else cannot do? • Name one thing you learned from your previous experience/internship? • Give me an example of one of your successes. • Give me an example of one of your failures. • Have you ever failed at anything? • Describe the accomplishment of which you are most proud. • What has been your greatest challenge? • What strengths and attributes could you bring to this position? • Tell me how you overcame an especially difficult challenge? • What makes you different from the other candidates interviewing for this position? • Why should we hire you?
Fit Question Sets
Interpersonal Style/Skills • How competitive are you? • How do you work under pressure? • Give me an example of a time when you successfully worked within a team. • What types of people seem to rub you the wrong way? • Define cooperation. Education • What made you decide to major in ____? • What have you learned at Penn that will help you on this job? • What extra-curricular school activities are you involved in? Do you hold any leadership positions? • What electives have you taken? Which did you enjoy the most? • Why didn’t you attend (another school)? • How do you balance the different priorities student life presents? • What is your favorite class? • Why did you choose Penn? • How did you select your major? • Describe the course that has had the greatest impact on your thinking. • How did you become involved in your extracurricular activities? • If you could make a major policy change at Penn, what would it be? Job/Company/Industry • Why are you pursuing this field? • Discuss what attracts you to a career in consulting/marketing/Hi-tech. • Given that you have no background in this field, why are you interested in it? • What do you predict is going to happen in this industry in the next 5 years? • What do you know about our company? • Do you know who our competitors are? • What interests you most about this position? • What parts of the job do you think you would find least satisfying? • You have 5 minutes to describe the most relevant and specific items in your background that show you are uniquely qualified for this position.
Fit Question Sets
• What would you add to our firm? • What particular expertise do you have that would lend itself well to this position? • Demonstrate/illustrate skills that you can transfer from past experience. • How did you learn about the industry? • By entering it, what do you hope to learn? • Where would you like to be in ten years? • How will consulting help you get there? • What do you like about our company? • Why do you want a consulting/marketing job/why do you want to work for our company? • What position are you interested in? Do you know what the responsibilities of the position are? • Why would you want to work for this firm? • What do you think differentiates our firm from the others? • What interests/impresses you about this company? • What do you believe are the key issues and problems in our industry today? • What do you think it takes to be successful in this field? • What other jobs/fields are you considering? • What do you think you would like least about this job/company/field? • Can you tell me who our main competitors are and why? • How would you evaluate a new market? • What from your prior jobs could you bring to the company (skill sets)? • Tell me about where our company is headed. • What company in the market do you admire most and why? • How do you value a potential acquisition? • Give me an example of a well/poorly marketed product. • Give me an example of a good/bad advertisement. • Tell me about a new product you would like to launch? How would you do that? • What product are you most loyal to? Why? • What is the target market for product x? How do you know? • If product x would be a person, how would it be? • How would you increase sales on X product? • How would you segment the computer market? • What do you need to do to be a good marketing person?
Fit Question Sets
Locations • Do you have a geographical preference? • Why do you want to relocate to _____? • Are you willing to relocate every two years or so? • How do you feel about travel? • Are you familiar with how taxing travel can be? Wrap-Up • What would you like me to know about you that is not on your resume? • What would you like your lasting impression to be? • Do you have a final statement? • Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?
Market Sizing / Teasers
The goal of brain teasers and market sizing questions is to see that you can take an ambiguous problem figure out a logical solution. Undergraduates tend to get a disproportionate number of market sizing questions versus business questions, since many undergraduates lack a lot of real business experience. The answer to a market sizing/brain teaser is not important. The structure you use to arrive at the answer is what is what interviewers are more concerned with. Since structure is key, it is crucial that you speak out loud so the interviewer can follow your thought path and help you out if you get stuck. Try not to become too focused on your paper and instead try to engage the interviewer, ask clarifying questions and show your confidence in your reasoning. Math will most likely be involved, and calculators are usually not an option. Do not get flustered by the math because it is really all just arithmetic. Use round numbers that can easily be multiplied and divided. Remember you are estimating something that usually no one has the answer to anyway, so moving up the population of the United States from 270 million people to 300 million people is perfectly acceptable. If you do run across a glaring math error, don’t be afraid to admit that to your interviewer, go back and then fix the problem.
Pod Directions Devote at least one of your pod sessions to going over a market sizing questions. The Pod(R) should have a sheet of paper and a pen and work through the problem out loud in front of the Pod (A) and Pod(O). The Pod(A) should ask the question and follow the Pod(R)’s logic. If the logic is unclear or the math is faulty, the Pod(A) should ask for clarification as to why the Pod(R) did that last step. The Pod(O) should make notes about the style and flow of the Pod(R)’s response, particularly marking down the number of times the Pod(R) says the word “Um” or fidgets with the pen. Market Sizing and brain teasers should last from 15 to 20 minutes, followed by a quick debriefing. Question set 1 provides your group with answers to market sizing and brain teaser questions. Once you have gone through those cases, you will see how the answers to these questions should be structured. Question set 2 provides your group with possible questions without answers. By this point you should realize the answers are irrelevant to the interview process and be able to proceed with a question only.
Market Sizing / Teasers
Market Sizing/Brain Teasers - Set 1 (Courtesy of The Boston Consulting Group) http://www.bcg.com/careers/interview_prep/market_sizing.jsp BCG lists three questions along with suggested answers. Your answers and logic flow do not need to be the same. After the Pod(R) finishes answering the question, discuss BCG’s solution, paying attention to the structure of the logic.
Market Sizing/Brain Teasers - Set 2 • How many gas stations are there in Chicago? • How many sheep are there in New Zealand? • How much does a fully loaded Concorde weigh on take-off? • Why are manhole covers round? • How many car batteries are sold in the US each year? • How many diapers are sold in China each year? • How many DVDs are rented in the US each year? • How would you explain a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a space alien? • How many green cars exist in the US?
The Business Case
Business cases can test you on a variety of areas, from general business acumen, creativity, logic, and math skills. You should be able to break down a complex problem and solve each piece to guide you toward a solution. Much like the market sizing and brain teaser questions, your structure and analysis are the most important aspect, not necessarily your business knowledge. The answer is not necessarily important if you have a good logical foundation, however in a business case there is usually a specific answer the interviewer is trying to drive you toward. The general format you should taken when doing a business case is: 1) Clarify the question, make sure you know what you are being asked 2) Structure your response by identifying key issues 3) Develop a logical framework that will answer the question. Try not to focus on canned responses and frameworks like “I will use Porter’s five forces.” 4) Analyze issues and test your hypotheses by walking through your framework and discussing your findings. 5) Summarize case and give a recommendation. Do not be afraid of closing the case. Pod Directions Devote at least one of your pod sessions to going over business case questions. The Pod(R) should have a sheet of paper and a pen and work through the problem out loud in front of the Pod (A) and Pod(O). Pod(A) preparation is critical for the success of these practice sessions as they will have to know the outcome of the case and help guide the interviewer. The Pod(A) should ask the question and follow the Pod(R)’s logic. If the logic is unclear or the math is faulty, the Pod(A) should ask for clarification as to why the Pod(R) did that last step the way they did. The Pod(O) should also watch for structure and logic but should also make notes about the style and flow of the Pod(R)’s response, particularly marking down the number of times the Pod(R) says the word “Um” or fidgets with the pen. Business cases are time consuming and should last from 20 to 30 minutes, followed by a quick debriefing. All the question sets provide your pod with a lot of case detail, with possible clarification questions and answers to those questions. It is important the Pod(A) take ten minutes before the interview to understand the facts and the direction of the case. If the Pod(R) asks a question the Pod(A) does not have an answer to, guide the Pod(R) in the right direction by saying “that is a good question, but I’m more interested in costs for this question.”
Business Case Sets
Business Case Question - Set 1 (Courtesy of The Boston Consulting Group) http://www.bcg.com/careers/interview_prep/practice_caseOL_print.html Business Case Question - Set 2 (Courtesy of The Boston Consulting Group) http://www.bcg.com/careers/interview_prep/practice_caseOL2_print.html Business Case Question - Set 3 (Courtesy of The Boston Consulting Group) http://www.bcg.com/careers/interview_prep/practice_caseOL3_print.html Business Case Question - Set 4 (Courtesy of The Boston Consulting Group) http://www.bcg.com/careers/interview_prep/practice_caseOL4_print.html BCG practice cases flow like a conversation. The Pod(A) should become familiar with the case themselves before interviewing the Pod(R). The Pod(A) should start administering the case by reading “Step 1” aloud to the Pod(R). At this point the Pod(R) is free to solve the case as they like and ask the Pod(A) for more information. The Pod(A) can show charts and graphs for clarification, but nothing else. The case does not necessarily need to follow the same structure of the BCG conversation. Business Case Question - Set 5 (Courtesy of Mercer Management Consulting) http://www.mercermc.com/Join/Interview/HammerJack/p02.asp http://www.mercermc.com/Join/Interview/HammerJack/p50.asp Print out both URLs. The Pod(A) should become familiar with the case themselves before interviewing the Pod(R). The Pod(A) should start administering the case by reading the information from the first URL aloud to the Pod(R). At this point the Pod(R) is free to solve the case as they like and ask the Pod(A) for more information. The Pod(R)’s final recommendation will involve some brainstorming and possibly some market sizing to prove it is the best choice, therefore the Pod(R)’s recommendation may not be the same as the Mercer MC’s. Business Case Question - Set 6 (Courtesy of Bain & Company) http://www.bain.com/bainweb/Join_Bain/interview/case_interview_fast_food_print.asp This case is a narrative which involves multiple questions. Do not feel pressured to finish this entire case because cases this long are not expected to be finished in the time allotted. The Pod (A) should become familiar with the case themselves before interviewing the Pod(R). The Pod (A) should start administering the case by reading the “client information” and first question aloud to the Pod(R). After the first question has been answered, the Pod(A) should move on to the next question and so and so forth until the is reached or the time is up. Answers to each of the questions do not necessarily have to match Bain’s recommended answers.
The WUCC Consulting Interview Pod Guide is meant as a starting point for your adventures in consulting interviews. If you and your pod would like to practice more cases, we suggest you check the Career Services library for more resources or consider purchasing the following fine books: Vault Guide to the Case Interview. 5th edition (November 1, 2002) ISBN: 1581311672 List Price: $29.95 Ace Your Case! The WetFeet Insider Guide to Consulting Interviews. Reissue edition (August 15, 2003) ISBN: 1582072477 List Price: $24.95 Ace Your Case II: Fifteen More Consulting Cases. Reissue edition (August 15, 2003) ISBN: 1582072469 List Price: $24.95 Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation. 3rd edition (January 13, 2004) ISBN: 0970431708 List Price: $20.00