Deliverable #5: "Recruiting Tips"

How to use on-campus recruiting to land yourself a job in consulting

[Musical Intro]


Jay: “Welcome to Out of Bandwidth, the podcast guide for future consultants. I’m your host, Jay Alexander, and I’m here with my colleague, Buck, to share advice and stories about being an analyst at a major consulting firm. On our fifth episode, we’re sharing recruiting tips that can help you land this job.”




Jay: “Buck, welcome to the show.”


Buck: “Thanks, Jay. It’s always a pleasure.”


Jay: “It’s always a pleasure. I’m excited to have you on.”


Buck: “I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me.”


Jay: “Of course. With every guest, before we start the interview, I like to set a profile. Tell us a little bit about how long you’ve been with the firm, what kind of consulting you do, the projects you’ve been on, like that kind of thing.”


Buck: “Sure. I’ve been at the firm for about 10 months now


Jay: “Okay.”


Buck: “Just started my fourth project. My projects have most been in the strategy line of consulting, and representative industries include: wholesale distribution, technology, and financial services.”


Jay: “What was your favorite industry so far?”


Buck: “I would say technology, just because there’s so much change occurring. So that oftentimes means that companies who have been around for, say 20 years or longer, just really need a lot of change and innovation to keep up with a lot of the new startups. So, some pretty exciting strategy that we’re doing out there in tech.”


Jay: “For sure. So today’s topic is recruiting tips. So, Buck, explain your current role at the firm in our on-campus recruiting initiative.”


Buck: “So, my current role with recruiting is somewhat two-fold. So I serve as the co-lead for my alma mater’s recruiting team, which is specific to that university.”


Jay: “Okay.”


Buck: “So this means that I’m organizing and planning out a lot of the events we do on campus. And the second part of my role is actually at the office level, so not specific to the actual school team. So it’s looking across all the different types of consulting across all the different universities. For example, we have summer interns coming, so doing a lot of planning right now to make sure that our interns are having great experiences.”


Jay: “That’s important.”


Buck: “Yeah, yeah it is.”


Jay: “I want to answer the question that I had when I was recruiting myself, which is: why is everybody here only a Friday, like late? Well, it’s because they’re traveling Monday through Thursday. Friday is the only day, really.”


Buck: “Exactly. Recruiting is something that doesn’t take precedence to our client work, so the client always comes first. So Monday through Thursday, we are pretty committed to being at the client. That really leaves Thursday evenings and Fridays for us to have time to come on campus.”


Jay: “We apologize for bothering you at Friday at 7, but that’s why.”


Buck: “It also works out nice because we can transition the events on campus to a nice happy hour.”


Jay: “Mhmm.”


Buck: “Yeah.”


Jay: “Everybody’s hungry, thirsty, etc.”


Buck: “Exactly.”




Jay: “When is recruiting season, and from the perspective of an applicant, what does the recruiting process and timeline look like?”


Buck: “Good question. So, the primary recruiting season is in the fall. It starts pretty quickly once you get to school. The timeline is a little bit different depending on what year you are in school. So, for full-time, that’ll be the primary recruiting that happens first. We’ll have events basically the first couple weeks of school. Shortly after that would be the resume drop. We’ll do our back-end, we’ll look at all the resumes, choose who we want to interview. We’ll perform first-round interviews and second-round interviews, and that’s all within the first couple of months. And the internship timeline is very similar but shifted back about three or four weeks to allow us to have time to fully do the full-time and transition to the interns after that.”


Jay: “Recruiting is a bit of a production. Lots and lots of different events. What are these different events?”


Buck: “Some of the major archetypes of the events…you know, you have the large firm presentations, and it’s the largest one, it’s in a big auditorium. You have…”


Jay: “7pm on Friday.”


Buck: “Ha ha ha, yes unfortunately, it can tend to be. The big firm event is usually giving you at a high level: who we are, what we do. So these can tend to be a little bit difficult to stand out, but they’re mostly there for you to learn about the firm, and also a lot of times they’ll have attendance trackers. So, it signals to us that, you know, you’re actually interested in the firm, that you’re not just throwing your resume in the mix at the last second, but you’ve taken the time to come to our events. So we have the big firm event. We also have smaller, more personable events. Sometimes these are invite-only, other times they’re open to the public. An example would be coffee chats, resume reviews, panels. These are opportunities to really speak more in a 1-on-1 or a 2-on-1 setting with a consultant.”


Jay: “And then we do happy hours, we’ll do, like, volunteering events…”


Buck: “Yeah, and those events, the fun events, we like to call them. Those are really the best for both on our side and the students’ side because it shows both sides’ personalities, and it really allows us to see what you’re like outside of just in a suit and tie at a recruiting event. This is where candidates really start to stand out from each other.”




Jay: “Buck, you and I are part of the team that reviews resumes. So, let’s talk about that a little bit. How do you write a consulting-specific resume? What is particular about this resume that’s different? For example, the language, maybe number-centric…”


Buck: “Mhmm. It’s a good question, and not a question that can be answered in one way.”


Jay: “It depends?”


Buck: “It depends. Yes…”


Jay: “It always depends.”


Buck: “You’ll hear that a lot on this show.”


Jay: “Tell me something that doesn’t depend!”


Buck: “So I’d say, two things come to mind immediately. The first is impact, and it’s a good question, how do you show impact? You have to quantify it somehow.”


Jay: “Results.”


Buck: “I ran this Facebook page and improved site clicks by 30%.


Jay: “Mhmm.”


Buck: “You know, that shows us that you actually made an impact, instead of just saying, I ran the Facebook page for this organization. And the second thing I would say is, since consulting is obviously a very team-oriented career, we want to see that you have experience working in teams. So, writing your resume in a way that shows your collaborative abilities, working in team environments. In consulting, you’re spending 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week with your team. So you want people that you’re gonna have things to talk about with outside of just your client work. You want to be able to talk about the basketball game last night, or a recent movie you watched, or an instrument that you play. So, including those things on your resume actually do go a long way, because you never know what’s going to resonate with the person reading that.”




Jay: “So, there are two types of interviews typically for consulting firms. We have the case interview, and then we have the behavioral, question-based interview. Let’s attack these one by one. How can a candidate succeed in the case interview, what do we want to see?”


Buck: “I think we’re looking for three things. The first would be structure. Are you organizing your points, or are you sort of just rambling and bringing up completely random topics?”


Jay: “Don’t do that.”


Buck: “Don’t do that. The second would be quantitative skills, so…”


Jay: “Quick, how many basketballs fit in this room?”


Buck: “That’s a combination of both structure and quantitative ability.”


Jay: “Okay, so be prepared for that.”


Buck: “Yeah, they oftentimes do mix all of these. And the third would be ‘client readiness,’ as some may call it. The interviewer is really looking for composed, mature individuals who they would feel comfortable bringing with them to an interview with the C-suite of a company, for example.”


Jay: “In contrast to the case interview, what happens in a regular / behavioral-type interview?”


Buck: “So, the behavioral interview is focused primarily on just learning about your experiences, so breaking down your resume, learning about where you came from and why you’re interested in consulting, and specifically interested in the firm you’re interviewing with. Example questions could be: a time you’ve overcome adversity, you’ve worked with a difficult teammate. So, we’re trying to pull on experiences that could be relevant to consulting, and ask you to speak about them and break them down. And specifically we want to know about what you did and what your impact was, similar to what we talked about with the resumes.”


Jay: “And then the people who do the two different interviews, they’ll meet up later, won’t they?”


Buck: “Mhmm.”


Jay: “At a secret rendezvous…called the break room.”


Buck: “Right around the corner from the interview, usually.”


Jay: “Yeah, you just don’t get to see the room. Only we do.”


Buck: “Mhmm.”


Jay: “Let’s talk about what happens in the break room, where the decisions are made. Who decides which candidates are in or out and how do they do it?”


Buck: “So, while sometimes there will be junior staff at the interviews, it’s really the actual interviewers who have most of the say. They’re hashing it out between themselves figuring out who did best in the case and who did best in the behavioral. Ideally you have candidates who do strong in both, and then they’re easy choices to move onto the next round or to give an offer. But other times, they have to make trade-offs between, okay, this person had a very strong case, the behavioral was okay. You know, how does that compare to other candidates?”


Jay: “Mhmm.”




Jay: “One thing I’d like to do with the episode is really help the people listening understand that they don’t need to be as nervous as they’re going to be, which is hard. But my point is, the people interviewing them are humans, too.”


Buck: “Yeah, definitely.”


Jay: “Now my favorite one, which actually happened to me was: leave the interview, shake the interviewer’s hand, go to the bathroom, see my interviewer in the bathroom. Like, oh, is this a continuation of the interview?”


Buck: “I forgot to mention…I really like your tie.”


Jay: “Yeah, probably don’t do that one.”


Buck: “Yeah, that, don’t say that.”


Jay: “They just want to go the bathroom, man.”


Buck: “They want to go to the bathroom. So, if you’re in the bathroom…you know, I don’t know if I want to give any formal advice on bathroom etiquette, but…”


Jay: “Let’s not.”


Buck: “But if you see them, you know, walking to their car. If you see them outside the interview…”


Jay: “Be a person.”


Buck: “Be a person, because at the end of the day, that’s part of their evaluation of you. They’ve been doing that within the actual case or interview, so…”


Jay: “Be normal. Be yourself.”


Buck: “Good, yeah. That’s one more positive interaction that you’ve had on them and it’s a great opportunity to make yourself stand out in their mind.”


Jay: “Buck, we’re coming to the end of the show here, and I want to ask you, like I’ve asked all the other guests: what advice would you give to a future consultant?”


Buck: “Be open to new opportunities, always. So, doing new types of tasks on your team, asking your manager for different kinds of work to continue to learn and grow because, a lot of people join consulting to get a variety of experiences and new experiences. And you only really learn and improve by doing things that are new and challenging to you. So, don’t just confine yourself. If you think that you only want to do one type of thing in consulting, you never really know what you like until you do something and you realize you don’t like it.”


Jay: “That’s a good point. Buck, I will see you in the break room during recruiting.”


Buck: “Sounds good. Maybe I’ll see you before then, too.”


Jay: “Oh probably, probably. But we’ll both be there.”


Buck: “Yep.”


Jay: “Hopefully some of you listening will make if through the funnel of recruiting and we’ll see you here at the firm.”


Buck: “Yep, best of luck. Have fun.”


Jay: “Buck, thank you for coming on the show. This has been a pleasure.”


Buck: “Thanks, Jay. See you around.”


Jay: “Thank you for listening. Please be sure to subscribe and give us a rating wherever you get your podcasts. Links can be found at Until next time, this is Jay Alexander singing off. We’ll catch you at the client site.”


[Musical Outro]

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