CQ_Consultalks | Shashank Sinha | BCG

Shashank Sinha
Placed at BCG

Interviewed By: Sumit

Hello everyone, today we have Shashank Sinha who has been placed at BCG. So we are here to interview him regarding his preparations and strategies to crack the interview of this company. So firstly what was the general interview process for the companies you interview also Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.

So I interviewed for the Boston Consulting Group and I’ll be talking about the recruiting process of BCG only. The process usually starts with the initial CV shortlisting round so there will be around 27 folks getting shortlisted based on their CV and once you are shortlisted then in 10 days, you’ll have case rounds with associates and seniors associated with the firm. So there are usually 2–3 rounds based on how you perform in those rounds and once this is completed you will have a span of 3 days in which you will have final interviews which will be with the principal and partners of the firm. In the principal rounds, the number of interviews will vary from 1 to 3 and again for partner rounds it will vary but most will be 2. The process roughly remains the same across years but the timeline usually varies.

Thanks Shashank for explaining the general interview process. Now can you please list down the questions you were asked in the different rounds? Cases, HR Discussions, or puzzles in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.

So in each of the rounds that I have mentioned there will be on an average 6–7 interviews by combining all the rounds and each of them will have 2 sections, first will be your experience section which is your CV discussion part and then there will a case round, roughly there will span of around 30 minutes for which interviews will last. 2–3 minutes for the initial round of personal experience then around 20 mins for case solving and 2–3 minutes for your questions for the interviewer, this will be the general structure for each of the rounds you will go through. So regarding questions, in terms of case studies, the cases generally can be broken into four parts which are guesstimates, profitability, market entry and unconventional. So in the initial rounds, you’ll have mixtures of the first three parts i.e guesstimates, profitability and market entry cases, these cases can be in isolation or a mixture and in the final round you will have mostly unconventional cases. So I’ll brief in my case, in my first two rounds I had a mixture of guesstimates and market entry and when I advanced to principal rounds, first I had a mixture of guesstimates and profitability and after that, I only had unconventional cases. For instance, in one of the principal rounds, I had a question like suppose there is a steel manufacturing company and I had to suggest recommendations to lower its cost.

That would be helpful Coming to the next question What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must prepare for? More specifically, in the context of HR rounds.

So in terms of HR questions, BCG doesn’t, in particular, has any HR round. In all the 6 rounds, they will ask questions based on your personal experience, they’ll check your personality so firstly you have to introduce yourself and then they’ll pick one of the relevant questions like regarding your recent internship or any other interesting section they find and then they will grill you on that. And once you advance through the partner rounds then the so-called fit / Hr questions come in. As in my case, was, I had a similar kind of role in my internship So they asked, “Why management consultancy and why BCG in particular ”, “Where do you see yourself in the next 4–5 years and what are your future goals and how you see those goals aligned with you spending your time at BCG” and then there will surely a question when you are interviewing for the consulting firm “Whether you want to do MBA or not”. These are some of the questions which they typically ask but with BCG your case solving skills is one that carries more weight.

That’s rightly said, so the next question is What are things students sitting for placements next year can do from now to maximize their chances of getting through a company in consulting?

So in any of the consulting firms you sit for, the process starts with CV screening and what they look for is “Spikes in your CV”, a term you commonly come across when applying for the consult. So you need to have at least a couple of spikes in your CV to get shortlisted and what I mean by spikes is like being in the top 3–4 candidates who have applied for the firm in that particular genre or in each of the parts that you have in your CV which are Academics, Intern, Position of responsibilities to name a few. So elaborating further, when we talk about academics, having CG above 9 is considered to be a spike, or your department rank 1 or 2. Coming to internships, having a Day 1 internship will be counted as a spike but not only that even if you secured an off-campus internship but at a very reputable firm i.e top in their respective sector then coming to projects if you have FT over there, then surely that will be counted as spike and coming to extracurricular activities if you have Inter-IIT medals that will help or any regional or national awards and when it comes to the position of responsibilities then VP, Placecomms, Gymkhana Gsecs, Senate positions and senior positions in the clubs and cells will be counted as spikes. These are just rough approximations and may vary from firm to firm on how they define it. Moving on to how you need to prepare, first you need to make case groups and the best time for this is in Summers while you will be interning so that you are not left out. Its usually recommended that your case group size is around 3–4. For case prep, there are no resources available, but to start you can watch “Case interviews cracked” workshops by IIT Bombay available on Youtube .so once you have started on then there are 2 case studies books which people usually follow IIT Bombay’s “Case interviews Cracked” which has a good no of questions and then “Day 1.0” from IIT Madras. These are the 3 particular sources which I referred to as I had 12–14 days to prepare so as I had mentioned you should ideally have 3–4 people in your case group and combining cases from both these books you will have roughly 80 cases, so no of cases that you have is very limited and so you don’t need to waste your cases so what I mean from that is, like in your case group there will be different people who’ll be making you do cases and then there will be you who will be making them do the cases. So whichever case you are making them do, basically you are reading through the cases so whenever you read through the case the case gets wasted because the core part of it like you solving the case without initially having a run through the cases is crucial as then your raw thinking comes into play as in the hindsight the case would seem very obvious. Now coming to the number of days you need to prepare so 40 days is usually considered ideal but in our case even 15 days sufficed. Now apart from the case-solving skill that you will find in the resources mentioned, your communication and business intuitions are very critical and those are something which you can start working right now, when you read about businesses and you know how different businesses work, how strategic decision making is done, you find yourself in an advantageous position as cases are business scenario simulations. To work on it you can read books on investing or you can refer to Twitter handles and news sources like the Ken. With around 8–9 months left for a candidate to prepare even if he/she gives 15–20 minutes daily then they can accumulate sufficient flavour of business.

How did your preparation for Technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted, please let us know about the resources you used as well?

So I mentioned earlier, the timeline you’ll have is very short, For BCG in particular we only had 15 days and in general, the CV submission opens by the time you will be wrapping your summer internships, so there will be a lot of chaos and once you receive the shortlist by then only your prep starts. There are 5–6 skills that are typically looked for which are communication, structuring, mathematics which is problem-solving ability then personality, critical thinking then business acumen. So once you have formed case groups and have started solving cases, you will tend to follow frameworks that you will get used to after solving 4–5 cases. It’s really important you revise each case and learn from the mistakes made and don’t repeat them and try to improvise your framework and make it more and more customized which suits your approach to each of the cases you encounter. Once you have solved sufficient cases in your case group you can start reaching out to seniors who sat for placements in previous years and also try to exchange buddy round cases of other shortlisted candidates.

So, anything else that you’d want to share with the students?

So something that I have felt in my stay at KGP. Since we have a crowd of around 1500 folks sitting for placements, it’s chaotic as times and people tend to run behind the things just for the sake of glory a particular profile brings with it. So you must take a break and understand where you fit in, try talking to seniors who will help you in the process. Now coming to specifically what you need to work upon is something I have already talked about just to add on that the case groups that you will be forming need to be people who are honest and brutal to you and share the same enthusiasm as you are the average of your case group. Also when you will be shortlisted what happens is that various companies will be releasing their shortlists in a short time so what usually tends to happen is people receive the shortlist in one and not in others so they tend to lose confidence and drop preparation midway so you need to have the right kind of people in your case group who don’t drop the preparation midway. Apart from that since consulting has very limited offers so at times people usually tend to think that it’s not worth investing 1–1.5 months for case interviews preparations but what happens is the very skills you develop from your case preparation helps you ace other interviews be it product, finance or Business analyst. So if you believe you have a knack for it you should surely give it a shot without being concerned about your chances of making it.

Thank you Shashank, for giving your precious time for this interview to Communiqué IIT Kharagpur. I hope your interview will help the students in their endeavours and we wish you all the best for your future achievements.

Thank you!

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