Q. What qualities stand out most to recruiters and what is it that companies are looking for?
A. Most recruiters’ first test to see if there is a personality fit with the company a candidate is interviewing for. There are as many different cultures as there are consulting firms and just because someone is smart doesn’t mean he or she will succeed at every firm. Recruiters check for professional demeanor, general intelligence, ability to handle stress, etc. Unlike later in life, past experience plays a minor role at this stage in a consultant’s career – “campus hires” have extremely varied backgrounds and experiences. That’s what makes the profession so interesting and exciting.
It’s always a good idea to be knowledgeable about the consulting industry and the major (and, if appropriate, the smaller) players when going into an interview. Having that information will provide fodder for deeper conversations and show your commitment to consulting and the firm you are interviewing with.
However, for many firms the rubber hits the road when it comes to the case study. Thousands of very capable students and future excellent consultants don’t pass this test. Likewise, a lot of candidates who came across only so-so in the” fit” conversations will race to the front if they ace the case study. The good news is that performing well in this part of the process can be learned – whereas it’s difficult to hide basic personality traits. Candidates should take part in as many seminars and study sessions as possible. The hard work will pay off.
However, not all firms use or require case studies as part of the recruitment process. Be sure you understand exactly what the recruitment process sis exactly for each firm and what’s important to them.