Hi everyone, we have Aarushi Gupta today, who recently got placed at Dalberg. So Aarushi, I will be asking you a couple of questions regarding the strategies to crack the interviews of consulting companies. What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Also, please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.
Well, I interviewed only for Dalberg. We started with a primary shortlist round; there were around 40 people. And after that, we had a test. About 12–13 people appeared for the test. Then we had a buddy session; there was a buddy assigned to all of us from Dalberg itself. So this buddy round went up to two weeks. My buddy did two cases with me, and she guided me on things to do. I am not exactly sure if this round is evaluated, but they help a lot. After this, we had interviews. I had four interviews conducted over two days. The first two were the senior consultant rounds, and the next two were partner rounds. The actual interview was an hour-long- 20 minutes for HR and 40 minutes for the case.
Okay. Moving ahead, Could you please list down the questions you were asked in the different rounds? Like the Cases, HR Discussions, or puzzles in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.
Right. So all the HR questions were general. The first question is always to introduce yourself. The next they ask is why consulting. Also, why social consulting in my case and why Dalberg in particular. So these are the questions I feel are common in every interview. All they want to know is about your interest and your preparation. Apart from that, they asked about my previous internships or PORs, anything they felt was interesting in my CV. So preparing your CV well is important. In the end, their questions were a bit different like what my plans were for the next five years in the future or particular instances by giving examples a little more in detail. As for the cases, all four of them were based on development sectors on actual projects my interviewers worked on. So they didn’t have a separate questionnaire; each one of them asked something from their previous experiences. If I have to talk about the actual questions asked, the first question I was asked was the development of the economy in a small country that recently became an independent nation from South East Asia called East Timor. So the discussion went towards a direction where I had to talk about the agricultural economy and how we can boost it. The second case was about opening bank accounts for women in India and what we could do towards it, finding out particular sections of the Indian society where women aren’t opening bank accounts and are left behind. So basically, we had to come up with ways we could combat this problem. The third round was a partner round about solar lamps in India. So, they wanted to see if we could replace kerosene oil altogether with solar lamps. It was more of a guesstimate where I had to calculate the total amount of kerosene used in India and then see how solar lamps could replace it. Then my last case was also a partner round. It was about introducing educational technologies in Andhra Pradesh. They wanted to introduce a new system that would teach better in govt schools. They wanted to look into how to do it, the cost, and ways to lower the cost. These interviews did not follow a general framework, but all of them had a few quantitative elements where I had to calculate something.
So my next question is 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.
The most frequently asked questions tell about yourself, why consulting and why that company. So these questions are to be prepared beforehand. Other questions were based on CV, and it depends on how the interview moves ahead, but these questions are asked in every interview, be it any company.
Okay, Aarushi, What do you think are things students sitting for placements next year can do from now on to maximize their chances of getting through a company in consulting?
So solving cases would help. I noticed in my Dalberg interviews that they were very off the books and did not follow a specific framework. So if you’re already familiar with the process, it becomes easy to answer every problem given to you. So practising is going to be helpful. It’s better to make a group and start practising as early as possible. Practising with others and getting ideas from someone who knows better is very important.
Okay. Moving on. Please tell us how your preparation for case rounds evolved once you were shortlisted? Also, please let us know about the resources you used as well.
I practised with my batchmates and people around me for case rounds. Also, practising with seniors is something you should focus on to know where you’re going wrong. We used IIT Madras and IIT Bombay case books. I did cases from these books, and once I got my buddies, the format changed. I then started with cases quite different from those given in books, the development-based one. My buddy helped me understand how to approach different problems. Also, a book called “Case Interviews Secrets” by Victor Cheng gives a broad idea of what you’re supposed to do in the field.
So, now we have almost come to the end of the interview. Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?
I think preparing for HR beforehand is essential because you have to come up with something that impresses interviewers. Try interacting with the interviewers because the cases are not necessarily straightforward. So interacting is very important since they can change the flow of the entire discussion, and you have to pick up on what they’re saying and react accordingly. These are a few things that books generally don’t teach us.
That’s all from our side, Aarushi. Thank you for being with us.