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CONTENTS The Interview Process Interviewer’s Perspective Why We Use Case Studies and How to Prepare Sample Case Practice Advice and Logistics .
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.500 consultants worldwide . To make it this far. and transform their businesses. background and experience we value. Our customised approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organisation. BCG is a private company with more than 65 oﬃces in over 35 countries and around 4. and secure lasting results.WELCOME TO BCG Congratulations on being oﬀered an interview with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). We partner with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities. build more capable organisations. Founded in 1963. About The Boston Consulting Group BCG is a global management consulting ﬁrm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage. you are already an outstanding candidate with the education. address their most critical challenges.
Decision rounds will be organized in common agreement with your inviting oﬃce. You need to show business judgment and the ability to prioritise. accurate and quantitatively sound. The Interviews Each interview will be conducted by a senior BCG consultant and will last about 45 minutes: ◊ 10-25 mins: The personal interview – an open discussion on your prior experiences. The Online Case This online case study will give you the opportunity to show how you would work by yourself on a real case. You need to be rigorous. Remember to actively listen and show that you can build relationships and trust. We will test that your answers have substance and that you can back up your claims. We are looking for individuals who are curious and creative. Finally you need to be able to synthesise and develop conclusions. They will try to answer questions along a broad set of criteria throughout the interview. who go beyond the obvious. Can You Solve Complex Problems and Generate Insight? Consulting requires you to structure problems and resolve ambiguity. How You Will be Evaluated Each interviewer will try to develop a comprehensive understanding of your potential at BCG.INTERVIEW PROCESS Your ﬁrst round will consist of two Interviews and one Online Case. 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 Do You Have the Communication Skills and Presence Needed for Consulting? Do you project self-assurance and credibility? You should communicate concisely and eﬀ ectively. Do you actively pursue selfdevelopment and drive to deliver results? . How Eﬀective and Impactful are You? We are looking for self-motivated and tenacious individuals who can demonstrate being both a leader and team player.
Birmingham University. 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 don’t need to ‘crack the case’. MBA.INTERVIEWER’S PERSPECTIVE Name: Stephen Role: Principal. This is not such a big deal so long as I can see that your approach was well structured. take it. Engineering. INSEAD Prior Experience: Design Engineer and Project Manager. Head of University Recruiting Education: MEng. Siemens (Germany. China) BCG Experience: Stephen has worked in the Melbourne and London oﬃces at BCG with a focus on consumer goods. Sometimes you won’t get to the answer to the case because you missed something small. hypothesis driven. and that you exercised sound judgement and remained composed throughout. USA. Listen to your interviewer. retail and operations “ “ “ While we evaluate candidates across various criteria. If I oﬀer advice on where to go with your analysis. .
GIVING A GOOD IMPRESSION “ Dress professionally. Remember. In particular think about how the skills you’ve acquired are transferable to consulting. Pharma. preferably in a suit. I spoke to my interviewer aer the ﬁrst round regarding this point and made sure that I acted on the feedback given. I always ﬁnd that smiling and adopting a positive outlook throughout an interview creates a favourable impression. During the interview. this is your chance to show that you have the drive and determination to succeed at BCG. Even if it feels a little unnatural. speak slowly and clearly. Junior Consultant Present yourself in a conﬁdent and professional manner. Philosophy. Pella. Think about eye contact and body language and try not to ﬁdget (you might even want to remove any distracting items). Oxford University BCG Experience: Pella has worked on projects in media. to ﬁnd out more about BCG and whether I would enjoy working with them. IT. However. and aim to get to the interview early. Ten to ﬁeen minutes beforehand gives me enough time to relax and alleviate any stress. Try to use this to your advantage. be enthusiastic about your personal experiences so that the interviewer can see your passion coming through. I did Teach First aer university and was worried that I might not be the type of person BCG was looking for. Politics and Economics. medical students etc). I also used the interview as a two-way process. it is important to be yourself as much as possible. Role: Junior Consultant Education: BA. Whilst showing conﬁdence and enthusiasm during the interview process. be sure to sell yourself (many other candidates will!). HR and was invlolved in a pro-bono case for an educational charity . many people come from a diverse range of backgrounds (PhDs.
two minute. Be ready to think on your feet for any unexpected questions. so you should know it inside-out. what impact did you have? What sets you apart? Be prepared to guide the conversation if appropriate. Keep it conversational and fun. accomplishments and motivations. try to be yourself and let your own personality shine through. Show energy and conﬁdence – smile and engage the interviewer. 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. how did you get involved. The interviewer will also try to determine what you would be like to work with and whether you will ﬁt in with the BCG culture which is open and collaborative. It might be helpful to prepare the following to ensure you communicate your ‘story’ eﬀectively in one minute.THE PERSONAL INTERVIEW The Personal Interview The personal interview is an open discussion on your prior experiences. . While we recommend that you prepare for some of the more obvious questions. what did you learn. ﬁve minute versions: What sort of things have you been involved in.
However. your interviewer will not know your CV bullet-by-bullet so make sure you highlight any relevant points which will reﬂect well on you. Simon. Know your CV inside-out. Just be natural and try not to panic! Role: Associate Education: BSc. media and ﬁnancial services . London School of Economics BCG Experience: Simon has worked on strategy. for example. growth and organisational design cases for retail. Frequent questions in my interviews were similar to: What is your greatest strength? When have you demonstrated leadership? – but these did vary quite a bit. So be yourself and try to treat it like a conversation rather than an interview. I found that it was important to listen to the question asked rather than just recite a rehearsed answer which might not always relate to what was speciﬁcally being asked. but could come up with some sensible answers aer taking a few seconds to think and gather my thoughts. Associate Think about questions regarding personal qualities and practise some example answers. Don’t be put oﬀ if an interviewer asks you a question you haven’t prepared for – be ready to think on your feet and just take a moment before responding. Philosophy & Economics. one of my interviewers was a football fan and asked me what three things I would do to raise the proﬁle of women’s football in the UK. You should be prepared to answer any questions related to your experiences and achievements. I had helped start a football league while at university. “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.THE PERSONAL INTERVIEW “ Have a well-prepared answer for key questions. Of course I had not prepared for this question.
analytics and business judgment. as a consultant at BCG. To do well on the case. Above all you are expected to think strategically and go beyond the obvious. Case studies also give you a perspective of what consultants do. We want to assess your problem-solving capabilities. You would encounter complex problems and be expected to gather and synthesise data and ﬁnd innovative solutions. However. We ﬁnd that case studies are the best way of evaluating this. you would be trusted to lead case team knowledge and thinking on a speciﬁc module. others include education. keep in mind that in the interview there are not always clear ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. 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. work and life experiences as well as interpersonal and communication skills. Similar to a case study. .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. Our interview cases are generally taken from real BCG case work. The case studies are representative of our work.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE CASE How to Prepare for and Approach the Case Generally. but be aware that case studies are a discussion rather than of a set format. Ground any assumptions in logic.com. outline any gaps in the approach / analytics. current and former BCG-ers Introduction Understand the situation and question. Practising this approach through the example cases in this brochure and online at www. you make it as realistic as possible (eg timing. ability to translate into actionable steps . For further problem solving practice. Recommendation Summarise your ﬁndings and drive to conclusions. Remember to sense check your results. Introduction BCG Role • 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 Approach • Provide guidance and steer discussion Analytics • Ask questions to check logic and rationale • Provide data and context • Ask for relevant data. playing the interviewer role may help to see things from the “other side”. Wet Feet ◊ Interview workshops and mock interviews ◊ Student peers. broader thinking. Follow a fact-based approach. 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. structured thinking • Accuracy and efficiency of computations • Able to translate into meaning • Clarity and succinctness of recommendations • Creativity. Below we have identiﬁed some typical areas that may be covered in each. Your Role Some Tips for Practising Case Studies • Explain approach • State and prioritise hypotheses • Identify which analyses you think you need and why Evaluation • Logical. Approach Take some time to think and structure how you want to tackle the case. you could investigate ◊ Publications such as Vault. should help you familiarise yourself with case studies and perform to the best of your ability on the day. the case interview will follow 5 broad stages. Ask questions to clarify any details of which you are unsure. Use what makes sense to you . talk out loud). assumptions to verify • Possible implementation steps Next Steps If appropriate.bcg. What else should be considered? We recommend that when practising the case studies. Develop some working hypotheses and prioritise! Analytics Investigate the case and focus on the question posed. Summarise your thinking at regular intervals and outline explicitly the direction of your argument.not necessarily a traditional framework. Organise the facts and ensure they are current. If practising with friends. write down ideas/approach. Ask friends who have experience with case interviews for advice or for mock interviews.
A quick check at the end is good common practice – does it make sense? Role: Junior Consultant Education: BSc. and has recently been focusing on organisational design within the energy industry . When I interviewed. So. and use reasonable simpliﬁcation and rounding to make your calculations easier. online or at the careers centre. I have never had any experience with the business side of retail. rather than just saying “I don’t know”. One of my case studies was on a retail company. Listen properly to a question and take time to think about what you’re being asked. Case studies will usually involve some numbers. which is completely acceptable.UNDERSTANDING THE CASE STUDY “ Practice case studies either with a friend. Interviewers are looking to see if you have a good grasp of mental arithmetic. The interviewer later gave me positive feedback about being proactive. Use the pen and paper to help. use commonsense to suggest a number – this is realistic and applauded. 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. I asked for two minutes to get my thoughts together. Neuroscience & Medicine. Bristol University BCG Experience: Alexander has worked on a range of cases from healthcare to private equity. but I have been a shopper. You are only expected to have general knowledge. Be sure to pretend it is a real interview – you won’t get much out of it if you keep looking at the answer! Alexander. I just made some assumptions and checked with the interviewer that they were logical. Junior Consultant Try not to speak too soon or jump to conclusions too quickly. not expert knowledge! If you don’t have information on the size of a market or the price of a product.
My interviewer then provided guidance and hints on how to expand further. In one interview. Remember it is how you think. not the speciﬁc answer that the interviewer wants to know.. Oxford University BCG Experience: Since joining. I had built very simple keyword diagrams such as Cost = Variable + Fixed Costs. You and the interviewer can catch mistakes if they are made and so correct them quickly. I personally try to start by explicitly laying out the structure for example by saying “There are three important aspects: ﬁrstly. Talk through the case with the interviewer. I was asked a question about merging two companies. but no case ever stuck to these completely so don’t let yourself be limited by frameworks and don’t panic if the case goes in a diﬀerent direction than you had prepared for.. Ailbhe. explain an approach on how to get there. Structure. I explained three key aspects you would need to look at. I did use some of these in the case interviews. rather than reciting frameworks which you’ve learnt. Interviewers want to see how you think through a problem. Through practise. telling them what you are doing and why at every stage. Economics & Management.ANSWERING THE CASE STUDY “ Don’t expect to know all the answers! If you are unsure of the answer.. Also remember to be ﬂexible with the structure as interviewers may lead you to a diﬀerent path. Associate Aer a while thinking “What do I do?”. Ailbhe has worked on a strategy and implementation case for a European electrical goods retailer . structure structure! It’s very easy to jump into a problem but structure allows you to break up the question and be more concise. Role: Associate Education: BA.” This has the added advantage that if one of the aspects is not essential. Use them as a discussion partner. the interviewer can suggest you focus on only a subset of the issues.
Have a look – does this change your thinking?” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses Candidate is ensuring he/she understands case and asking for clariﬁcation before answering question “Yes. Identiﬁes two sources of new customers.is exploring new revenue streams part of the case?” Take some time to digest the information and come up with some quick hypotheses “Increasing proﬁtability means increasing revenue and/ or decreasing costs. We have some basic market data in Exhibit 1. ” Interviewee Question/Response “It seems the number of active users is ﬂattening oﬀ. If this happens. A good start with some clear hypotheses but could go into a little more depth “OK.CASE EXAMPLE Our client is a leading UK mobile phone network operator with slowing revenue growth and falling proﬁts. but only two thirds of the 60m people in the UK are active users.” Interviewee Question/Response Exhibit 1: UK Mobile Phone Market Active Users (M) Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses Shows creativity in thinking about the problem. “Good point.” Interviewer is steering conversation towards one particular hypothesis. 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 speciﬁc. go with it! “Where would you start with this idea?” Pre-paid 40 32 26 17 20 9 2 7 15 4 11 14 15 12 34 35 36 36 37 37 38 20 23 24 25 25 25 26 14 12 12 12 12 12 12 Subscribtion 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 . I can tell you that there’s little room to cut costs and winning non-users has proved tough. Some things I’d like to look into are: ◊ Growing the number of customers ◊ Increasing the amount each customer spends ◊ Reducing costs” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses Structures the problem. So the client could try to win non-users as customers or poach customers from other networks. On which factors do you think they should focus? Interviewee Question/Response Ask clarifying questions if necessary “Do we want to focus only on phone calls and SMS . They want our help to increase the proﬁtability of their core business (ie phone calls and SMS) in the UK. So let’s take this idea of poaching customers forward.
What should the client do then?” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses Shows business judgement. which is a fair assumption. Give me a moment.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 – there’s 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.CASE EXAMPLE Interviewee Question/Response Feel free to take some time to think about this – you don’t 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” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses “Good. We call these ‘segments’. Explain your answer (shown on next page). Interviewee Question/Response “The client should target the most proﬁtable customers. So you now know how proﬁtable these customer types are. Pre-paid customers are on the average less proﬁtable than subscription customers. Have a look at Exhibit 2 which shows diﬀerent subscription customer types for the client. Honed in on the key issue of proﬁtability of diﬀerent customer types “Great. Can you tell anything about the proﬁtability of diﬀerent types of customers here?” Exhibit 2: Subscription Customer Segmentation Customer Segments Older Sleepers Hyperactives Incomers Moderns Careful Young Movers 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. ” Total Customers – .” Candidate made this implicit assumption – a strong candidate would point this out “Can you rank how proﬁtable these customer types are?” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses “That sounds logical and the client is keen to do both. One place to start might be looking at pre-paid vs subscription customers. So to get to proﬁtability by customer type you’re assuming each customer type costs the same to serve. that’s the assumption. Do we know anything about the proﬁtability of these customers?” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses Demonstrates rigour in analysis “Good. Do you think there are diﬀerences between customers which need to be thought about?” Interviewee Question/Response “Yes. Excellent.” Divide revenue contribution by client customers by segment to get revenue per customer.
5 125 562. the client needs to focus on the highly proﬁtable Hyperactives and Young Movers segments. Can you use that to recommend what the client could do to go aer these customer segments?” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses Synthesises and able to develop conclusion Accurately described the issues with these two customer segments “Excellent.5 Estimated Proﬁtability Rank 3rd 1st 3rd 5th 6th 2nd Concise and to the point. Consolidate with Hyperactives and improve penetration and loyalty of Young Movers”. Now have a think of what could be done to improve the client’s share of Young Movers and how to retain these customers.” Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses Able to digest the information to prioritise the customer segments. “This sounds fair. ” 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. We had some information earlier in Exhibit 2. the client has below average penetration with Young Movers with a very high percentage leaving each year. Profitability of the Customer Segments Interviewer’s Thoughts and Responses 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. such as loyalty rewards and/or upgraded handsets. And if the CEO of the client walks in and asks you for a 15 second summary of your latest thinking. . A strong candidate would also have proactively considered the diﬀerences in retention between customer segments. A strong candidate would have also proactively described ways to improve loyalty of Young Movers. On the contrary.CASE EXAMPLE Interviewee Question/Response “Go aer the most proﬁtable customers – Hyperactives and Young Movers are the top two.125 375 187. The client should assess Interviewee Question/Response “I’d say. what would you say?” Interviewer wants to close oﬀ the interview and push towards a concise recommendation Interviewee Question/Response “The client’s doing well with Hyperactives with a higher than market share of these customers and below average percent leaving each year.
.) ◊ Circulate cases or use advance knowledge Finally – be conﬁdent in yourself..SOME FINAL TIPS Practical Advice and Logistics If staying overnight before the interview. are happy to discuss any aspect of BCG or the interview. in addition to presenting a good impression and allowing you time to relax. ◊ 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 Don’ts ◊ Jump immediately into the analysis without the proper level of understanding ◊ Panic if the answer isn’t readily apparent ◊ Defend your own solution at all cost ◊ Internalise your thought process ◊ Stick to an artiﬁcial framework (3 C’s. . and we look forward to meeting you soon. BCG consultants may be in the interview waiting area and if so. arriving early will give you a chance to familiarise yourself with your interviewers’ backgrounds... Do let them know if you would prefer some peace and quiet however! . Getting this far is already very impressive. We hope that together with the information presented here. Aim to arrive ten to ﬁeen minutes before the interview. . familiarise yourself with the route and time from your hotel to the oﬃce/interview location. 4 P’s. General Do’s ... you will be able to enjoy the experience and perform to the best of your ability. You’ll be given short biographies of your interviewers when you arrive. We are oen unable to oﬀer excellent candidates an interview due to the very competitive process.
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