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Grow Further.

Interview Guide University

CONTENTS

The Interview Process Interviewers Perspective Why We Use Case Studies and How to Prepare Sample Case Practice Advice and Logistics

WELCOME TO BCG

Congratulations on being o ered an interview with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). To make it this far, you are already an outstanding candidate with the education, background and experience we value. This document is designed to help you prepare for your upcoming interviews and to help answer some of the questions you may have at this stage.

About The Boston Consulting Group


BCG is a global management consulting rm and the worlds leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses. Our customised approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organisation. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organisations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with more than 65 o ces in over 40 countries and around 4,500 consultants worldwide

INTERVIEW PROCESS
The interview process consists of three rounds of interviews, with six individual interviews in total. During your rst round of interviews we will also ask you to sit a maths test and an online case.

How You Will be Evaluated


Each interviewer will try to develop a comprehensive understanding of your potential at BCG. They will try to answer questions along a broad set of criteria throughout the interview.

The Maths Test


This is a test of numeracy and arithmetic and is non calculator based. To prepare, you may wish to review the questions in the maths section of the GMAT test.

How E ective and Impactful are You?


We are looking for self-motivated and tenacious individuals who can demonstrate being both a leader and team player. We will test that your answers have substance and that you can back up your claims. Do you actively pursue selfdevelopment and drive to deliver results?

The Online Case


This online case study will give you the opportunity to show how you would work by yourself on a real case.

The Interviews
Each interview will be conducted by a senior BCG consultant, o en a Principal or Partner, and will last about 45 minutes: 10-25 mins: The personal interview an open discussion on your prior experiences,accomplishments and motivations 20-25 mins: The case study work through a typical business problem that you would confront at BCG 5-10 mins: Q&A your chance to ask questions

Can You Solve Complex Problems and Generate Insight?


Consulting requires you to structure problems and resolve ambiguity. You need to show business judgment and the ability to prioritise. You need to be rigorous, accurate and quantitatively sound. We are looking for individuals who are curious and creative, who go beyond the obvious. Finally you need to be able to synthesise and develop conclusions.

Do You Have the Communication Skills and Presence Needed for Consulting?
Do you project self-assurance and credibility? You should communicate concisely and e ectively. Remember to actively listen and show that you can build relationships and trust.

INTERVIEWERS PERSPECTIVE
Name: Paddy Role: Principal, UK University Recruiting Director Education: MEng in Engineering Science, Oxford University Prior Experience: Deloitte Consulting (formerly Andersen) for four years BCG Experience: Paddy has worked in the Sydney and London o ces at BCG with a focus on nancial services and healthcare

While we evaluate candidates across various criteria, I am ultimately trying to answer two questions: Can I send you alone to the client? Would I like to have you on my case? You dont need to crack the case. Sometimes you wont get to the answer to the case because you missed something small. This is not such a big deal so long as I can see that your approach was well structured, hypothesis driven, and that you exercised sound judgement and remained composed throughout. Listen to your interviewer. If I o er advice on where to go with your analysis, take it.

Picture of Paddy

GIVING A GOOD IMPRESSION

Dress professionally, preferably in a suit, and aim to get to the interview early. Ten to een minutes beforehand gives me enough time to relax and alleviate any stress.
Lisa, Consultant Present yourself in a con dent and professional manner, speak slowly and clearly. Think about eye contact and body language and try not to dget (you might even want to remove any distracting items). I always nd that smiling and adopting a positive outlook throughout an interview creates a favourable impression. During the interview, be enthusiastic about your personal experiences so that the interviewer can see your passion coming through. Remember, this is your chance to show that you have the drive and

determination to succeed at BCG. Even if it feels a little unnatural, be sure to sell yourself (many other candidates will!). I spoke to my interviewer a er the rst round regarding this point and made sure that I acted on the feedback given. I did Teach First a er university and was worried that I might not be the type of person BCG was looking for. However, many people come from a diverse range of backgrounds (PhDs, medical students etc). Try to use this to your advantage. In particular think about how the skills youve acquired are transferable to consulting. Whilst showing con dence and enthusiasm during the interview process, it is important to be yourself as much as possible. I also used the interview as a two-way process, to nd out more about BCG and whether I would enjoy working with them. Role: Consultant Education: BA, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Oxford University BCG Experience: Since joining in August 2007, Lisa has worked within the Financial Services, Retail and Telcommunications practice areas.

THE PERSONAL INTERVIEW


The Personal Interview
The personal interview is an open discussion on your prior experiences, accomplishments and motivations. While we recommend that you prepare for some of the more obvious questions, try to be yourself and let your own personality shine through. Be ready to think on your feet for any unexpected questions. Some typical questions that you should be ready to answer include Why strategy consulting? Why BCG? What attributes do you have which would make you a valuable addition to BCG? What is your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness? When have you demonstrated leadership? The interviewer will spend time talking to you about your application, so you should know it inside-out. It might be helpful to prepare the following to ensure you communicate your story e ectively in one minute, two minute, ve minute versions: What you did at each job, what you learned, how you got the next position - tie your experiences into a career. What sets you apart? Be prepared to guide the conversation if appropriate. The interviewer will also try to determine what you would be like to work with and whether you will t in with the BCG culture which is open and collaborative. Keep it conversational and fun. Show energy and con dence smile and engage the interviewer.

THE PERSONAL INTERVIEW

Have a well-prepared answer for key questions, for example, Why strategy consulting? Why BCG? What attributes do you have which would make you a valuable BCG consultant? I made sure that I had strong and compelling answers to these questions.
Gavin, Consultant Think about questions regarding personal qualities and practice some example answers. The types of questions you might expect are: What is your greatest strength? When have you demonstrated leadership? but these do vary quite a bit. I found that it was important to listen to the question asked rather than just recite a rehearsed answer. Be yourself and try to treat it like a conversation rather than an interview.

Know your CV inside-out. You should be prepared to answer any questions related to your experiences and achievements. However, your interviewer will not know your CV bullet-by-bullet so make sure you highlight any relevant points which re ect well on you. Dont be put o if an interviewer asks you a question you havent prepared for be ready to think on your feet and take a moment before responding. I helped start a football league while at university; one of my interviewers was a football fan and asked me what three things I would do to raise the pro le of womens football in the UK. Of course I had not prepared for this question, but could come up with some sensible answers a er taking a few seconds to think and gather my thoughts. Just be natural and try not to panic! Role: Consultant Education: PhD, History, Cambridge University BCG Experience: Gavin has worked on banking, industrial goods as well as healthcare

WHY WE USE CASE STUDIES


Why We Use Case Studies
Case studies help us gain insight into how you might approach and analyse a typical business issue. We want to assess your problem-solving capabilities, analytics and business judgment. We nd that case studies are the best way of evaluating this. Case studies also give you a perspective of what consultants do. The case studies are representative of our work. Our interview cases are generally taken from real BCG case work. Similar to a case study, as a consultant at BCG, you would be trusted to lead case team knowledge and thinking on a speci c module. You would encounter complex problems and be expected to gather and synthesise data and nd innovative solutions. Above all you are expected to think strategically and go beyond the obvious. However, keep in mind that in the interview there are not always clear right or wrong answers. To do well on the case, the interviewer is looking for you to Provide a clear structure for your analysis Prioritise the components of the problem Listen and use relevant information to develop a clear recommendation Case performance is not the only metric BCG uses to evaluate candidates; others include education, work and life experiences as well as interpersonal and communication skills.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE CASE


How to Prepare for and Approach the Case
Generally, the case interview will follow 5 broad stages. Below we have identi ed some typical areas that may be covered in each, but be aware that case studies are a discussion rather than of a set format.

Some Tips for Practising Case Studies


We recommend that when practising the case studies, you make it as realistic as possible (eg timing, write down ideas/approach, talk out loud). If practising with friends, playing the interviewer role may help to see things from the other side. Ask friends who have experience with case interviews for advice or for mock interviews. For further problem solving practice, you could investigate Publications such as Vault, Wet Feet Interview workshops and mock interviews Student peers, current and former BCG-ers

Introduction
Understand the situation and question. Organise the facts and ensure they are current. Ask questions to clarify any details of which you are unsure.

Approach
Take some time to think and structure how you want to tackle the case. Use what makes sense to you - not necessarily a traditional framework. Develop some working hypotheses and prioritise!

Analytics
Investigate the case and focus on the question posed. Follow a fact-based approach. Ground any assumptions in logic. Summarise your thinking at regular intervals and outline explicitly the direction of your argument. Remember to sense check your results.

Practising this approach through the example cases in this brochure and online at www.bcg.com, should help you familiarise yourself with case studies and perform to the best of your ability on the day.

Introduction BCG Role

Approach
Provide guidance and steer discussion

Analytics
Ask questions to check logic and rationale Provide data and context Ask for relevant data; explain any assumptions Execute computations Explain the impact

Recommendations
Prompt for recommendation Test and validate recommendations Conclude analyses with actionable recommendations Tie back to initial hypotheses

Next Steps
May prompt with is there anything else that should be considered? Identify next steps for investigation, assumptions to verify Possible implementation steps

Recommendation
Summarise your ndings and drive to conclusions.

Pose problem to be solved Provide basic facts (will vary in detail) Clarify details as necessary to make sure you understand the problem Take some time to develop an approach N/A

Next Steps
Your Role

If appropriate, outline any gaps in the approach/ analytics. What else should be considered?

Explain approach State and prioritise hypotheses Identify which analyses you think you need and why

Evaluation

Logical, structured thinking

Accuracy and efficiency of computations Able to translate into meaning

Clarity and succinctness of recommendations

Creativity, broader thinking, ability to translate into actionable steps

ANSWERING THE CASE STUDY

Practice case studies either with a friend, online or at the careers centre. Be sure to pretend it is a real interview you wont get much out of it if you keep looking at the answer!
Alex, Project Leader Try not to speak too soon or jump to conclusions too quickly. Listen properly to a question and take time to think about what youre being asked. When I interviewed, I asked for two minutes to get my thoughts together, which is completely acceptable. I then told the interviewers what I thought the case was asking to check that I was answering the right question. Ask questions to clarify if any points are unclear and make sensible assumptions. You are only expected to

have general knowledge, not expert knowledge! If you dont have information on the size of a market or the price of a product, use common sense to suggest a number. One of my case studies was on a retail company. I have never had any experience with the business side of retail, but I have been a shopper. So, I just made some assumptions and checked with the interviewer that they were logical. The interviewer later gave me positive feedback about being proactive, rather than just saying I dont know. Case studies will usually involve some numbers. Interviewers are looking to see if you have a good grasp of mental arithmetic. Use the pen and paper to help, and use reasonable simpli cation and rounding to make your calculations easier. A quick check at the end is good common practice does your answer make sense? Role: Project Leader Education: BSc, Neuroscience & Medicine, Bristol University BCG Experience: Alexander has worked on a range of cases from healthcare to private equity, and has recently been focusing on organisational design within the energy industry

ANSWERING THE CASE STUDY

Dont expect to know all the answers! If you are unsure of the answer, explain an approach on how to get there
Sarah, Associate In one interview, I was asked a question about merging two companies. A er a while thinking what do I do?, I explained three key aspects you would need to look at. My interviewer then provided guidance and hints on how to expand further. Structure, structure, structure! Its very easy to jump into a problem but structure allows you to break up the question and be more concise. I personally try to start by explicitly laying out the structure, for example by saying There are three important aspects: Firstly,... This has the added advantage that if one of the aspects is not essential, the interviewer can suggest you focus on only a subset of the issues.

Also remember to be exible with the structure as interviewers may lead you down a di erent path. Talk through the case with the interviewer, telling them what you are doing and why at every stage. Use them as a discussion partner. You and the interviewer can catch mistakes if they are made and so correct them quickly. Remember it is how you think, not the speci c answer, that the interviewer wants to know. While practicing, I had built very simple keyword diagrams such as Cost = Variable + Fixed Costs. I did use some of these in the case interviews, but no case ever stuck to them completely. Interviewers want to see how you think through a problem, rather than reciting frameworks which youve learnt. Dont let yourself be limited by frameworks and dont panic if the case goes in a di erent direction than the one you had prepared for. Role: Associate Education: MEng, Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London BCG Experience: Since joining, Sarah has worked on strategy and due diligence projects in the energy, retail and media industries, as well as a not-for-pro t case for a UK charity.

CASE EXAMPLE

Our client is a leading UK mobile phone network operator with slowing revenue growth and falling pro ts. They want our help to increase the pro tability of their core business (ie phone calls and SMS) in the UK. On which factors do you think they should focus?

Interviewee Question/Response
Take some time to digest the information and come up with some quick hypotheses Increasing pro tability means increasing revenue and/ or decreasing costs. Some things Id like to look into are: Growing the number of customers Increasing the amount each customer spends Reducing costs

Interviewee Question/Response
Ask clarifying questions if necessary Do we want to focus only on phone calls and SMS - is exploring new revenue streams part of the case?

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Structures the problem. A good start with some clear hypotheses but could go into a little more depth OK. We have some basic market data in Exhibit 1. Have a look does this change your thinking?

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Candidate is ensuring he/she understands case and asking for clari cation before answering question Yes, that is a good point but the client only wants us to focus on phone and SMS revenues. Also consider that the case is UK speci c.

Interviewee Question/Response
It seems the number of active users is attening o , but only two thirds of the 60m people in the UK are active users. So the client could try to win non-users as customers or poach customers from other networks.

Exhibit 1: UK Mobile Phone Market Active Users (M)

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


34 35 36 36 37 37 38 Shows creativity in thinking about the problem. Identi es two sources of new customers. Good point. I can tell you that theres little room to cut costs and winning non-users has proved tough. So lets take this idea of poaching customers forward. Interviewer is steering conversation towards one particular hypothesis. If this happens, go with it! Where would you start with this idea?

40 32 26 17 20 9 2 7 15 4 11 14 15 12

20

23

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25

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26

Pre-paid

14

12

12

12

12

12

12

Subscription

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

CASE EXAMPLE

Interviewee Question/Response
Feel free to take some time to think about this you dont need to jump in straight away! The client could do a number of things including: Reducing pricing to get more customers Better marketing and advertising

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Good. So to get to pro tability by customer type youre assuming each customer type costs the same to serve, which is a fair assumption. Candidate made this implicit assumption a strong candidate would point this out Can you rank how pro table these customer types are?

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


That sounds logical and the client is keen to do both. Do you think there are di erences between customers which need to be thought about?

Interviewee Question/Response
Yes, thats the assumption. Give me a moment. Divide revenue contribution by client customers by segment to get revenue per customer. Explain your answer (shown on next page).

Interviewee Question/Response
The client should target the most pro table customers. One place to start might be looking at pre-paid vs subscription customers. Do we know anything about the pro tability of these customers?

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Demonstrates rigour in analysis Good. So you now know how pro table these customer types are. What should the client do then?
Exhibit 2: Subscription Customer Segmentation

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Shows business judgement. Excellent. Honed in on the key issue of pro tability of di erent customer types Great. Pre-paid customers are on the average less pro table than subscription customers. Have a look at Exhibit 2 which shows di erent subscription customer types for the client. We call these segments. Can you tell anything about the pro tability of di erent types of customers here?

Customer Segments Older Sleepers Hyperactives

Average Age in Segment 50 35 45 35 40 22 39

Market Share by Segment in % 20 5 10 30 15 20 100 12M

Revenue Client Contribution Customers by Segment in % by Segment in % 25 10 10 30 15 10 100 4M 25 30 10 15 5 15 100 1.5Bn

Customers Leaving Each Year in % 20 20 20 30 30 50 28

Interviewee Question/Response
Take a moment to look at this carefully Yes theres a column with revenue contribution from the client segment and also segment share for client. That tells you how much revenue you get from a typical customer in each segment.

Incomers Moderns Careful Young Movers

Total Customers

CASE EXAMPLE

Interviewee Question/Response
Go a er the most pro table customers Hyperactives and Young Movers are the top two.

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Able to digest the information to prioritise the customer segments. A strong candidate would also have proactively considered the di erences in retention between customer segments. This sounds fair. We had some information earlier in Exhibit 2. Can you use that to recommend what the client could do to go a er these customer segments?

below average penetration with Young Movers with a very high percentage leaving each year. The client should assess what it is doing well with Hyperactives and further consolidate these customers and also look more closely at what Young Movers want and address the high percentage leaving each year.

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Synthesises and able to develop conclusion Accurately described the issues with these two customer segments Excellent. Now have a think of what could be done to improve the clients share of Young Movers and how to retain these customers. And if the CEO of the client walks in and asks you for a 15 second summary of your latest thinking, what would you say? Interviewer wants to close o the interview and push towards a concise recommendation

Interviewee Question/Response
The clients doing well with Hyperactives with a higher than market share of these customers and below average percent leaving each year. On the contrary, the client has

Profitability of the Customer Segments

Interviewee Question/Response
Id say, the client needs to focus on the highly pro table Hyperactives and Young Movers segments. Consolidate with Hyperactives and improve penetration and loyalty of Young Movers.

Customer Segments Older Sleepers Hyperactives Incomers Moderns Careful Young Movers

Client Customer Share in % 25 10 10 30 15 10

Client Revenue Estimated Revenue per Customer in Contribution in % 25 30 10 15 5 15 375 1,125 375 187.5 125 562.5

Estimated Pro tability Rank 3rd 1st 3rd 5th 6th 2nd

Interviewers Thoughts and Responses


Concise and to the point. A strong candidate would have also proactively described ways to improve loyalty of Young Movers, such as loyalty rewards and/or upgraded handsets.

SOME FINAL TIPS

Practical Advice and Logistics


If staying overnight before the interview, familiarise yourself with the route and time from your hotel to the o ce/interview location. Aim to arrive ten to een minutes before the interview. Youll be given short biographies of your interviewers when you arrive; in addition to presenting a good impression and allowing you time to relax, arriving early will give you a chance to familiarise yourself with your interviewers backgrounds. BCG consultants may be in the interview waiting area and if so, are happy to discuss any aspect of BCG or the interview. Do let them know if you would prefer some peace and quiet however!

... and Donts


Jump immediately into the analysis without the proper level of understanding Panic if the answer isnt readily apparent Defend your own solution at all cost Internalise your thought process Stick to an arti cial framework (3 Cs, 4 Ps, ...) Circulate cases or use advance knowledge Finally be con dent in yourself. We are o en unable to o er excellent candidates an interview due to the very competitive process. Getting this far is already very impressive. We hope that together with the information presented here, you will be able to enjoy the experience and perform to the best of your ability.

General Dos ...


Listen to the interviewer and interact with him/her Structure the problem by developing a customised framework Focus on issues where most impact can be brought Explore a variety of options with creative thinking Demonstrate business judgment Make quick and accurate calculations Synthesise your thoughts and conclude your analysis

Good luck, and we look forward to meeting you soon.

Any further questions? If you would like to nd out more about BCG London, please visit our website www.bcg.com or contact the London recruiting team. Phone: +44 207 753 5353
BCG is an equal opportunity employer. The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. 2008. All rights reserved.