CQ_Consultalks | Sruthi Mahalakshmi | Bain and Co.

Sruthi Mahalakshmi
Placed at Bain and Co

Interviewed By: Arka

Interviewer: Hello, I’m Arka, a secretary at Communiqué, and today we have with us Ms. Sruthi Mahalakshmi who is a winner of the Bain True North Scholarship 2022. Hello Sruthi, Good Afternoon, how are you doing today?

Hello Arka! I am fine, and you?

I am fine as well. Firstly, heartiest congratulations to you for winning the Bain True North Scholarship, by one of the topmost management consulting firms in the world.What was the general interview process for the Scholarship ? Could you also mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process?

I got into Bain via the True North Scholarship program, which was open for women in their 2nd year of a 4yr course or 3rd year of their dual degree course. The process started around the end of March. It was a threefold process where the first part was to apply for the scholarship by submitting your CV and an essay on the given topic, which in our case was “True North”. The second step was to take a test which consisted of an aptitude test and a personality test. These two steps were standard for all applicants. Post this, there was a shortlist for the personal interview rounds. The interviews consist of two rounds. The first round is the guesstimate/case round, and the second round is the HR round. These interview rounds were similar to any consulting recruitment interviews. The winners were announced a couple of weeks after the interviews.

Thanks for briefing about the process. Could you please share tips for each of them or guidance for the same?

Alright. So, for the CV, I would suggest them to have a very well-made CV, following the general guidelines laid out for a consulting resume. The need to ensure that they have decent academics, good internships and active extracurricular involvements. For the essay, the topic for us was “ What does True North mean to you?”. The essay can be about your journey so far, an incident that has inspired you or a series of defining moments in your life. It is completely up to you but it is important for you to come up with a very well written essay with a story that is engaging and impressive while conveying as much as you can within the given word limit. Usage of good language and being to the point is very important. For the test, I would suggest that you go through the sample test link provided to gauge the type of questions. It might not need a lot of preparation since they are basic mental ability based questions. For the personality questionnaire, it is important to be consistent throughout.

That was insightful. Coming to the next question, Could you please list 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.

I don’t think any specific question was repeatedly asked in the interview rounds. In the first round, we were asked guesstimates like ‘estimate the market size of sim cards in India’, ‘estimate the number of street dogs in India’ etc. The questions varied from person to person based on their interests and other things. In the second round, they try to understand more about your career aspirations, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses.

So moving ahead, since you only applied for Bain, what are the most frequently asked questions you think the students should prepare for?

Since this was the first time this scholarship was launched in India, I’m unsure about the FAQs. But generally, it was very similar to the general process followed by MBBs. Preparing accordingly would be helpful. In case someone wants to prepare from early on, they can focus on improving their communication skills, think in a structured manner and develop business acumen. Otherwise, preparing after the shortlist would be sufficient, which is what I did.

Alright, so moving ahead, this is for the students who will be applying for the scholarship next year. So what are the things they can do from now until next March to maximize their chances of getting through this?

Again, this is very similar to the process of recruitment for consulting companies, especially MBBs. People applying for this should have a good resume which entails having good internships, PoRs, a good CG etc. Other than that, honing your communication skills, working on things you’re passionate about or doing anything that’d help you develop a well-rounded personality is recommended.

Thanks for the answer. So, moving on to the next question, how did your preparation for interview rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?

Since the scholarship was launched in India in 2022 for the first time, which was when I applied, I hadn’t started my preparation before the shortlist. They had explicitly mentioned what the round would entail in the email we received regarding the shortlist. Once I got the email, I started practicing guesstimates and cases with friends. The resources that I had used were the Vault Guide to Case interview and the Guessing Game: A handbook to guesstimates. More resources are available online for the same After getting a little comfortable, I also did a few guesstimates with my seniors. Sample guesstimates can be searched for online. I started preparing for the HR round after getting through the first round. Seniors played a massive role during my preparation, so I’d recommend you to approach them for help.

Okay, so would you like to share any last-minute tips that are very important, and it helps a lot.

The only thing that matters during the process is not to get stressed. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track, staying calm and focused is essential. As long as you can communicate clearly and follow a structured approach, you’d be good to go. Keeping in touch with your friends throughout the process would help you a lot, since they will be the moral support you’d need.

Thanks a lot for your suggestions. With this, the interview comes to an end. Alright Sruthi, it was great talking to you and knowing your experiences and insights.

Thank You. It was a pleasure being interviewed.

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