What was the general interview process for the company you interviewed for? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.
The process is pretty similar for most consultancy firms, it starts with an initial CV shortlist, which is done on the basis of your CGPA (should be 8+ ideally), internships, projects, PORs on campus, extra-curricular activities, or basically anything that helps you stand out. After shortlists are out you generally start with a couple of telephonic rounds, and if shortlisted, you have final interviews with the partners or directors of the firm. That is the case for Auctus Advisors as well, there were two telephonic interviews with the allotted buddy, followed by an online VC interview with a manager and then a director, all in the month of November, mostly all of them being eliminating rounds. If you make the final shortlist, you have 1 or 2 final interviews on December 1st, Day 1 of CDC placements.
Could you please list down questions you were asked in the different rounds? Puzzles, technical questions, any other discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.
Consultancy firms usually focus only on case interviews. In a case interview, you are given a problem statement, for example, ‘A restaurant is facing declining profits — figure out why and give suggestions’, and you are supposed to work with the interviewer to reach the solution. I was asked to estimate the number of crows in Bangalore in my first buddy round, another interviewer asked me to make a growth strategy plan for a chemical-producing company, my final interview with the director was helping an airline company decide if they should start a direct flight from Kolkata to Goa. The cases are supposed to be interactive in nature, they generally judge you on your solution structure, clarity of thought, quality of suggestions and problem-solving skills. There are different categories of cases as well — guesstimates, profitability, market entry and pricing are the most common.
What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must definitely prepare for? More specifically, in the context of HR rounds.
For HR, standard questions like — ‘Tell us about yourself’, ‘Why consulting’, ‘why this particular firm’, ‘best intern and why’, ‘CV walk-through’, and any questions from what you have written in your CV are common.
What are the things students sitting for placements next year can do from now until December to maximize their chances of getting through a company in this sector?
They can start with making their CVs and writing their cover letters for the application processes. Make sure you get your CVs reviewed by many seniors and alums, that really helps. They can also start making case groups with reliable people, which are essential when preparing for case interviews. A case group should ideally have 3–4 people. The timeline for this year’s process is very unclear as of now, so students can also start with their case prep after they are done with their CVs. For case prep, IIT Bombay’s CIC and IIT Madras’ Day 1.0 is the popular books, so practice those cases with your case group. Once they have the basics right, they can start contacting alums and buddies for practice cases as the number of cases in the books is limited. Also, practice cases with other case groups, so you get more comfortable with interviewing with different people, that also gives you access to more number of cases.
How did your preparation for technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?
There isn’t really any technical round in the recruitment processes of consultancy firms. Just focus on your case prep, and be very thorough with your CV. You should be familiar with the technical aspects of your internships or projects that you have mentioned in your CV. Some cases can be very math-intensive, and speedy and accurate calculations are important, so ensure you are comfortable with that.
Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?
So case prep isn’t an individual task, ensure you have a good case group of 3–4 people, also practice a lot of cases with alums and other case groups. Don’t wait for shortlists to start preparing, even if you don’t make the shortlists, there are a lot of firms that come during CDC placements which take case interviews or guesstimates. While doing cases, don’t memorize frameworks or stick to a rigid structure, you should be able to come up with a new structure or improvise as the case progresses, as per the requirement. With case prep, also try to squeeze in some little prep time for other profiles, like coding, quant, finance, etc., and be sure of what profiles you want to sit for in placements. For junior students, maintain a decent CG of preferably 8+, that is very important. All the best!