How many consultants does it take to change a light bulb? Three – one to change the bulb and two to write the standards and tell him what he did wrong. This tongue-in-cheek joke is just a bit of light-hearted fun, but is not dissimilar to the kinds of questions management consultants can be faced with in the loved and hated case study interview. Candidates at Monitor Group were asked “how many horses are there in theUSA?” and “how many ping pong balls can fit into a Boeing 747?” Booz candidates have been asked whether it would be more convenient for a professional Manhattan thief to rob a flower store, a bakery or a chandelier store and BCG candidates have had to estimate how many hotel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner are produced worldwide annually.
Of course not all case studies are so abstract, many consist of candidates being given a business case which they then have 20mins to study and make recommendations based on their findings. However, it is still the most intimidating part of the consultancy recruitment process for many and yet often the most important as it really “separates the wheat from the chaff.” In theory, any management consultant worth their salt should be able to pass a case study interview as it tests the key consultancy skills; analytical thinking, business-oriented creativity, understanding of basic business concepts, communication and presentation. But in practice nerves, time constraints and lack of appropriate preparation can get the better of even the most capable consultant. So BLT have decided to come up with some tips and advice, based on previous case study feedback from both clients and candidates, and our in-depth, specialist industry knowledge of course, to help you through even the weirdest of case studies.
The number one thing that interviewers want to see is that you are a good problem-solver; they are not nearly as interested in your final answer as they are in the process you implemented to reach it. Don’t panic if you don’t manage to reach a final decision, provided that you have structured your work and can clearly communicate your train of thought. It is also important to make sure that you plan your time effectively and keep an eye on the time. Secondly they want to see that you can suggest a viable and useful solution so make realistic recommendations and be pragmatic, anticipate any concerns or questions that your recommendations may raise. Thirdly make it a business discussion, not an interview, show that you can have an intelligent, insightful conversation rather than just ask and answer questions.
It’s always a good idea to round your numbers when doing calculations as it minimises mistakes and communicates to the interviewer that you know what you’re doing. However be careful that rounding doesn’t change the figure by more than 10% or you risk inaccuracy. When making numerical assumptions, aim to choose ‘friendly numbers’ (ie. 5% rather than 7%) to make calculations simpler. Last but by no means least, presentation and communication skills are also essential components, as the interviewer wants to see evidence that you will be able to stand up in front of clients without shaking like a leaf and stammering. Practicing in front of a mirror may feel silly but is a great opportunity to study your own body language and communication style and how they could be improved. Don’t forget, open body language, good eye contact, big smiles and speaking slowly are the markers of a great presenter.
The internet is rife with practice case studies, practice ‘guestimates’ and further tips and advice. Reviewing general business problems, current or past, and putting yourself in the CEO’s shoes is a great way to get those creative case study juices flowing. We recommend practicing at least two business cases studies and at least two guestimate case studies before going for interview. That might seem excessive but the more you practice with different case studies, the less likely it is that you’ll feel out of your depth and be confronted with something you have no idea how to approach. The most important points to remember are to structure your response carefully, manage your time and communicate your findings with confidence and a smile.
To get you started we’ve come up with our own BLT case study, and there’s a yummy Carluccio’s hamper in it for the person with the most accurate responses! Email responses to email@example.com and we will contact the winner.
- How many CVs has Don looked at over the course of his career?
- Estimate the annual cost of teabags consumed by the Management Consultancy team of 6 people.
- How many people have BLT placed over the last 26 years?
- If we were to line Chancery Lane with candidates from top to bottom, how many people would we need?
I had been briefed on every detail of the week ahead. I had read and then re-read the holiday notes. This trainee was ready to step up and take on the responsibilities of a more experienced recruiter. My time had come to show that I was reliable and ready as my colleague Guy Barrand departed for annual leave. I was prepared.
Day 1 – the phone rings. A new job, excellent! Hold on a minute…there are no notes for this… Oh no…I’m going off-piste!!
Immediately I had gone off script. After all the rehearsals here I was ad-libbing and it was fine. I took the job, sent the terms, received the spec and the client’s requirements and then began searching our database for the right candidates. As the week went on I contacted candidates, put them forward, arranged interviews and then prepped them. I had taken a job and acted on it by myself for the first time… and all without notes!
A valuable lesson had been learnt here: in recruitment you have to be prepared to adapt. You can be up to date with developments, but then the human element of recruiting comes in to play and situations well…develop!
The next call came in, a candidate this time, looking for interview feedback. “Please wait a moment.” I say. “Let me consult my notes…”
It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks here at BLT for the Indirect Tax Team as the last fortnight has been dominated by the 2013 Indirect Tax Awards.
It’s the morning after the night before and the dust has settled on what was a fantastic night at the 2013 Indirect Tax Awards. The great and the good of the Indirect Tax world had gathered at the Law Society in Chancery Lane to celebrate the achievements of all those shortlisted for this year’s awards.
The winners for this year and each of their categories are listed below:
Rising Star within Indirect Tax – Nicole Smith, KPMG
Best Indirect Tax Consultancy Team: Winner – Baker & McKenzie
Best Indirect Tax Consultancy Team: Special Commendation - The VAT Consultancy
Best In-house Indirect Tax Expert or Team – Rio Tinto
Outstanding Contribution to Indirect Tax – Bruno Giordan
BLT wants to once again congratulate all of the deserved winners and those that were shortlisted. It’s a real pleasure for everyone here at BLT to run the Indirect Tax Awards and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those in attendance and hope that you enjoyed your night as much as we did.
The recruitment market is showing encouraging signs of recovery, echoing much improved business sentiment and positive reports of economic recovery. As a result, there is a real scarcity of talented Recruitment Consultants out there, and we are all fighting over a very small pool of candidates. Like many of our competitors, BLT and CSS are now actively recruiting. So if you are a Recruitment Consultant looking to move jobs, why should you consider BLT or CSS?
We are a successful niche business, established for 26 years, known for having a strong reputation for ethical service in our specialist fields of Management Consultancy, Indirect tax and Company Secretarial and Governance. We’re closely aligned to these sectors and sponsor awards, provide thought leadership and are looked upon as recruitment partners by many of our clients. We are on the PSL’s for many large FTSE 100 and 250 businesses, professional service firms and Consultancies. What does this means to you as a Recruiter joining our team? It means that you will be able to immediately take advantage of our strong brand and client relationships. Our name will open doors for you so you will be able to establish yourself quickly , deal with ‘warm’ clients and candidates from day 1 and importantly for your career, become known within your sector. In a very practical sense, it will enable you to start earning fees quickly.
Our reputation, brand and longevity should give you reassurance, as well as the fact that a number of our Consultants have been with us for a long time and enjoy working in a dynamic and collaborative environment. We really value our team and those who have entrusted their careers with us. However, we also believe in adding fresh talent to our team, so in the last few months we have taken on an experienced hire for our Management Consultancy team and 2 graduates, one for Indirect tax and one for Management Consultancy. We also have a successful intern programme. So if you join us, you will be able to learn from people who know their specialist markets inside out, and also be assured of having colleagues at a similar age and stage to yourself.
We see a bright future for BLT. We have a fantastic team in place, we have great clients and candidates who provide us with a high degree of repeat business and we are very focussed on constantly reviewing our business, processes, and infrastructure to ensure that we can meet the challenges of a constantly evolving recruitment market. Most importantly we enjoy what we do and try to have fun doing it.
We have 2 very immediate recruitment needs. One is for a Consultant to join our Company Secretarial team and the other is for an experienced Interim recruiter to establish a new division.
As I have worked for BLT for 25 years, I appreciate that you might think that I would say all of the above! However – if you are looking to change jobs, what have you got to lose by meeting us to find out for yourself? We will introduce you to a wide cross section of the business so you can talk to them openly about what life at BLT / CSS is like and will endeavour to answer any questions you have. If you would like an informal discussion in the first instance, mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will call you at a convenient time for you.