Hello everyone, today we have Ms Anusha Sharan, who has recently got selected in the Boston Consulting Group. Anusha, can you mention the general process of interviewing at the companies that you have interviewed for?
Hello everyone. So I interviewed for two companies, EY-Parthenon and the Boston Consulting Group. We received an email around the last week of July from both the companies, asking the students who were interested in applying for the Associate position to send their applications. Around one week later the shortlists of both the companies were received. BCG shortlisted around 33 students and while EY- Parthenon shortlisted 17 students. At EY- Parthenon, we had a buddy session and two rounds of case interviews before the final interview happened. The date of the final interview of EY- Parthenon clashed with that of the BCG final interview. I had to choose between one of the two firms and I decided to interview at BCG.
Can you provide some deep insights into the interviews rounds you faced for Boston Consulting Group?
Once the students were shortlisted, there was an interactive session with Kharagpur Alumni currently working in BCG which was held in the campus itself. It was said to be non-evaluative and we just had a general discussion about things like — What is it like working in BCG? How is the working environment? What are the perks? After this session, there were buddy sessions that were organized for the shortlisted students wherein KGP alumni working at BCG practised cases with them and gave them feedback and tips to improve their case-solving abilities. Following the buddy session, we had two interview rounds between 12th and 14th August, and both were conducted by Senior Associates at BCG. Both the interviews started with me giving a short introduction of myself, after which I was asked to solve a case. Some students had more than two interviews. This batch of interviews was wrapped up within one week and 11 students were selected for the final interview which happened on 19th August in Kolkata. The final batch of interviews consisted of two rounds of interviews with people who held senior positions at BCG. After those two rounds, I progressed to the Partner round which was the final interview for the day. So the number of rounds for me was three but it varied between 3 to 5 for others.
That’s a good insight into the general interview process. Moving on, can you mention the number and the type of questions that they asked in different rounds?
In my first interview, I was asked to estimate the number of roller coasters in India and my second interview was a timed case where I had to solve the case within a specified time frame. In my case, it was 15 minutes and it was broken down into 12 minutes for the actual case and 3 minutes for the synthesis and the provision of recommendations. It was a fairly simple Profitability case but the real challenge was to work through it quickly and not lose track of time. The first interview on the final day had a general discussion on my resume followed by two cases. The first case was a Market Entry case related to the energy sector which had a lot of data points. The second one was related to my resume and I was asked to describe how I would go about creating a perfect pianist. I had mentioned in my resume that I had been playing the piano for the past 12 years, so based on that and on the basis of the discussion that we had before the case interview he gave me a relevant case. So I suggest people be comprehensive with their CV and be prepared with possible related cases. The second interview on the final day had a Market Entry case where I was asked to figure out if shifting all operations to China would be feasible for a company based in America that sold different types of plastic goods. This was a relatively tricky case because the interviewer did not provide any data points. I therefore had to ask a lot of questions at every step of the interview to figure out how I would go about solving the case and arriving at the solution. Both the interviews lasted for 30 minutes and the end of every interview I was asked if I had any questions for the interviewer. The final round that had happened with the Partner lasted around 15–20 minutes. We discussed my resume for about 10 minutes and it was more of a free-flowing conversation rather than him asking me one question after another. After this discussion, he gave me a case where I was asked to provide insights and justifications for some business decisions that were related to the scenario that the Partner provided. He asked me questions like — Why am I making this business decision? How am I going to convince the client that my choice is correct even though he may not like to hear that his company is failing? At the end of this interview as well, I was given an opportunity to ask the Partner questions.
I hope students do prepare up for such questions. Moving on, was there any change in the timeline for 2019 as compared to that of 2018?
I would like to add that the timelines of 2019 are very different from 2018. The recruitment process in 2018 was very well spaced out. Hence, the final interviews basically wrapped up in October but then in 2019 the final interviews happened in August itself. I would suggest students be prepared for a scenario similar to 2019, but to expect the timelines to be unpredictable this year.
After you had qualified for technical rounds, what changes you saw in your preparation?
There are no technical rounds as such in BCG, so I’m just going to explain the preparation for the case interviews. So ideally you should start preparing beforehand. You should not wait for the shortlists, if you think you have a chance of getting shortlisted. You could prepare guesstimates even if you think you don’t have a chance of getting shortlisted in a consulting firm because you never know, you might just get shortlisted because the criteria for selection differs among firms. Also, guesstimates are useful for multiple profiles and not only consulting. I started preparing with my case group a couple of days after I reached the campus and we solved a couple of cases per day with some gaps between the days. The cases were a mix of guesstimates and profitability cases; we increased the number of cases to a total of 4 once we got shortlisted. So one week into getting shortlisted, we had a fair idea of Profitability cases and once we had the sense of the basic framework we moved on to the Market Entry cases and unconventional cases.
Anything you would like to mention that you think if you had done, it might have proved more beneficial for you?
Revision of cases. Due to the shortage of time I couldn’t properly revise all the cases I had practiced. I cannot stress enough on the importance of going through the cases you’ve solved, understanding where you had gone wrong, finding key takeaways from the case and trying out an alternative structure you could have used to solve the case. I would say the number of cases isn’t as important as solving your cases thoroughly and extracting the most from the cases you have already solved is.
What preparation material did you use for your preparation?
The resources that I had used were Case Interviews Cracked by IIT Bombay, Case Interview Secrets and LOMS by Victor Cheng, and Day 1.0 by IIT Madras.
When do you think is the optimum time for the student to start preparing for the consulting firms?
I would suggest the students interested in consulting to start thinking about their consult prep from mid-June onwards. Do not underestimate the importance of a good resume, and build your resume from scratch. You should be ready with your resumes and (ideally) your cover letters too, by the second last week of July. I’m going by previous year’s timelines since I’m not sure how the coronavirus crisis is going to affect the schedules for this year, and the recruitment timelines are bound to be unpredictable. During mid-July, go through the set of 12 video lectures by Victor Cheng, which is available on YT. These are very short and will take you a couple of days to finish at the most. You will get a basic idea of what a case is, and what to expect in a case interview. You can also go through the Profitability and Market Entry frameworks in Day 1.0 and CIC, but don’t read any case except for the solved examples because then the cases will be wasted. You can do all of this on your own and you don’t need a case group for this. Start solving cases with your case group only when you’re done with all this and don’t blindly dive into solving cases without having any background knowledge. Form case groups by mid-July and start working on solving cases from the third week of July since you probably won’t get much time to prepare if the timelines are similar to last year. You could start with guesstimates since they don’t require the knowledge of frameworks and you could quickly solve them over a telephonic conversation, in case the campus reopens late.
Coming to the final question, suppose a student from second year is looking forward to getting placement in the consulting firm, what suggestion might you give to him?
It would be best if you start thinking of consulting as a career option during your CDC internship and not before that. Instead of thinking about consulting this early, trying to follow what people who got selected did and ‘building your profile’ accordingly, you should explore all kinds of opportunities IIT Kharagpur provides you. You would get invaluable experience from this and once you find out where your interest lies, pursue it aggressively and you’ll see that it’s going to reflect on your resume automatically. Don’t worry about checking all the ‘right’ boxes so much, just do all the things you like while trying to balance your academics. Maintaining a CGPA of at least 8 is extremely important, despite consulting firms claiming to not have any CGPA criteria.
Thank you for your time Anusha.