More of your top consulting questions answered

We held our second Reddit “Ask Me Anything” live Q&A session on consulting recruiting this month and received over two dozen questions. Here are a few that were ranked the most popular. In December, we will share more top-ranking questions!

How much is the GMAT weighted in consulting recruiting, in your experience?
Test scores are used as signifiers of ability. They can be an easy tool for someone trying to cut down a large list of applicants. They are not the only data point considered. Firms will look at a variety of data, including your grades, the quantitative strength of your degree (e.g. the courses you took), the selectivity of your undergraduate and graduate schools, any scholarships or awards you received, whether you are the first member of your family to attend college, etc. in order to get a balanced view of your strengths. Make sure your resume highlights all of your strengths to help you overcome a less than stellar GMAT score.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for somebody who is transitioning from a corporate role (ie back office function at F50 company) to consulting?
The answer can vary based on your personality, background and specific work experience. Having worked at a F50 firm (between stints in consulting) a couple things come to mind. The first the pace of consulting is more intense–you are often pushing to make progress very quickly. I had to relearn this skill when returning to consulting after six years in corporate America. I’ve also seen some “super-stars” from large companies initially struggle in an environment where everyone is as smart and capable as they are. And I wouldn’t underestimate that consulting is an apprenticeship model. It’s hard to get good at consulting without actually doing consulting–so everyone coming in who wasn’t a consultant before has to learn how to be an effective consultant.

How likely is it to get an interview invite if I haven’t been invited to any “closed list” events during the recruiting process?
It definitely makes it more challenging, but in many cases firms will have a large invite schedule. Networking with the firms is often the key to get an invite. This is more than just attending events, having conversations with a few people, and send thank you notes. Ideally, you would make a genuine connection/s and have select follow-up discussions. Ultimately, you want to find someone in your target firm that is willing to be an advocate for you recommend that you be interviewed.

How important is the MBA alma mater in the recruitment process? Are there target schools? Do lower tier schools get passed during the candidate interview selection process?
A top tier MBA generally opens more opportunities and makes it easier to secure an interview. Most consulting firms have a list of MBA programs they target. A quick look at recruiting stats from the MBA programs can give you a sense of how many students enter consulting from that school and what firms they go to. Often the larger firms have firm-wide target MBA programs with individual offices covering additional schools beyond the firm-wide targets. Lower tier schools would generally not see the same level of recruitment from the top firms. But, the firms are always looking for top talent and continue to expand their efforts to find it.

By Stephanie Horn (Managing Consultant) and Matt Strickler (Senior Advisor), Consulting Career Academy at The MBA Exchange