What skills do consulting firms look for?

Today, the graduate recruitment market is more competitive than ever. As a result, employers look for very specific skills and attributes in candidates for their companies. And perhaps nowhere more so than in Consulting. With the advice of our in-house experts and our partner consulting firms, we have developed a list of the 11 things that consulting firms look for in successful candidates.

Academic success is essential for top consulting positions. Your academic record reveals both your ability to learn and your ability to graft, two key attributes of a consultant. Therefore, a strong record of school results (including A levels or equivalent and any school awards), as well as good performance to date in college (including detailed module results, & of expected grades) will show that you are a candidate worth considering. Consulting firms are looking for candidates who have already put their skills to the test in a relevant work experience placement.

The ideal would be a vacation plan or an internship that demonstrates your interest in the consulting world, as well as giving you some ideas about what you are looking for in a consulting firm. Other professional work experience with well-known brands is also great, especially if you can talk about the transferable skills learned, such as data analysis, presentation skills, teamwork, etc. Whatever the experience, make sure you can talk about the cases in which you took the initiative and the impact of your contribution. Presentation is a fundamental success criterion for any consulting applicant.

If you manage to become a consultant, you can expect to be charged clients several hundred pounds per hour, so it's imperative to demonstrate your attention to detail and your high standards from an early stage. The company must be able to trust you to develop documents for FTSE 100 companies and attend meetings with their executive directors, so you must demonstrate that you are up to the task. This includes everything from a clear, well-articulated application form without typographical errors, a well-structured CV with a consistent format, a readable font and good grammar, and a well-dressed, polished, clean and confident interview assistant. Once you've moved on to the interview stage, a consulting firm is looking for someone who is absolutely ready for consulting, rather than any other corporate role.

Your curriculum will have given them confidence in your studies, now is your chance to show them your ability to solve difficult problems, develop strong relationships and be part of high-performance teams. Make sure you have some success stories handy, about your academic, extracurricular and work experience. You should be able to talk about situations in which you've faced a challenge and how you've diagnosed and then resolved the problem, in a methodical and measured way. Consultants typically work 60 hours a week and sadly spend more time with their colleagues than with their friends and family.

Therefore, consulting firms are looking for candidates who can get along well with the rest of the team, who have the ability to build relationships at all levels of an organization, and who are fundamentally good at meeting new people. Having some interests is a great way to start conversations, so consulting firms will look for evidence of interests outside of their work; this is your chance to show that you are a fun and interesting person and not just a set of academic records and work experience records. However, remember not to overdo it: if you say that you love golf, you will most likely be invited to play at some point, so be honest. No matter how many frameworks, reference sheets, or strategy models you have up your sleeve, good consulting always comes down to analytical skills.

What matters is whether you can effectively deconstruct and classify information, identify new correlations, and draw conclusions from all of this. Strategic thinking is a unique combination of a conceptual understanding of a business situation and an understanding of its practical applications. Consultants must have an extraordinary perspective at all levels of strategy, from the most abstract and visionary ideas to everyday things as usual. Perhaps the number one consulting skill, then, is critical thinking.

Your customer will expect you to address complex issues affecting your business. They may have started the previous work and have a direction in mind. Or they can trust you to start the discussion. Business awareness is an understanding of how economic factors affect companies and the sectors with which they work.

Consultants need this skill to be able to create solutions that take into account economic problems. Research the company, the sectors in which it specializes, its recent projects and its competitors. Combine this with keeping up to date with what is happening in the economic and political world in general, as these events will affect the consulting's clients. You can draw on your business knowledge when participating in case study interviews with consulting firms or when answering typical consulting interview questions, such as “What do you know about us?” and “What is the biggest challenge that our company (or our customers) will face in the next three years?” Learn more about what commercial awareness means in practice and how to acquire it.

Problem solving is a fundamental part of consulting. Explore the latest graduate opportunities in consulting and start your career in the industry today. Note-taking is an essential part of observation, and notes provide you with material with which to work on your consulting projects. That means you'll have to demonstrate that you have management consulting skills in your application.

McKinsey hires staff from some of the best business schools in the world, such as Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD and HEC Paris, and there is a wide range of MBA jobs at McKinsey for students who have finished a career in consulting. Keith says he's looking for candidates who understand when it's appropriate to use advanced analytics and who can perform and execute an analysis on their own or together with an expert, good news for candidates for an MBA in STEM who are looking for a career in consulting. While this can be overwhelming for those wondering how to become management consultants or grow a consulting business, there are certain key skills that all good consultants share. These other consulting skills complement and reinforce your basic experience in dealing with clients and managing your consulting business.

However, a common piece of advice that BusinessBecause has heard in conversations with hiring consultants is not to prepare too much. Keith is also looking for clear communicators who are passionate about what they do, one of the key characteristics of a Bain consultant. However, while some expert consultants make solving cases seem very easy, their job is much more than meets the eye. An error in a customer's document can end up costing a lot of money, so management consultants must be able to see the details and the big picture.


Trent Monserrate
Trent Monserrate

Friendly social media enthusiast. Subtly charming web nerd. Passionate zombie buff. Subtly charming gamer. Extreme zombie ninja.