3 Skills Required to Get Hired in Management Consulting

How to Get Hired in Management Consulting
How to Get Hired in Management Consulting

If somebody mentions consulting, many things may come to mind, mainly because there are so many types of consulting. There are consultants in virtually every industry that will provide any number of services needed by their clients. But regardless of the industry or service sector, there are three primary categories of consultants.

Staff augmentation (Staff Aug) consulting: This is a filler role. It’s usually used when a person or a group of people with a specific skill is needed for a temporary project or a peak time. This can be handled by an individual, but they usually work with intermediary firms that connect people and skills with an organization’s needs.

Boutique consulting firms: This is usually a fairly small firm that focuses on a niche market. They may provide strategy consulting or provide services for one specific industry.

Management consulting: while this could be a boutique firm also, most people think of the top tier. Top tier firms include “The Big Four” firms (KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, EY, and Deloitte), as well as firms like IBM Global Business Services, McKinsey & Co., BCG, and Accenture.

For many, these large management consulting firms are the holy grail of consulting positions. They are tough to get into. They practice case interviewing, and they only pick the best of the best.

So what are they looking for? They have many criteria. But there are three specific skills that every management consulting firm looks for in every candidate.

Expertise

Management consulting firms offer many types of expertise to their clients. They may provide marketing advice, information technology solutions, finance models, and many others.

They want to hire consultants that have some expertise in one of those areas. When they interview college graduates, they know that the candidate won’t necessarily be deep with experience. But they are looking for someone who has a strong enough foundation that they can easily bring them up to speed on the advanced knowledge.

When firms hire experienced people, they are usually looking for someone with an expertise in some area or some industry that they can begin advising clients immediately.

Communication

Regardless of how deep your expertise may be, if you can’t transfer that knowledge to others, it’s worthless from a consulting point of view. Firms want to hire consultants that can communicate a point clearly so that the recipients can easily understand.

Some people are verbose. They are the type of people who, when you ask them the time, they tell you how to make a watch. These people don’t make good consultants. They provide more detail than is necessary and confuse people more than they inform.

Some people are too technical. They don’t consider their audience when they talk. They are often too caught up in showing their audience how knowledgeable they are. Like being verbose, they lose their audience and end up passing limited knowledge off to them.

A good communicator is succinct. She is able to consider the audience, organize her thoughts, and provide the information that they need; no more and no less.

Salesmanship

Many people think of hard-sell tactics used by door-to-door salespeople when they think of sales. But a good sales person is more of an educator.

If you go to a store to buy carpeting for a room in your home, a good sales person asks you questions about what room it is for and how much use it will get. Then she will show you what they offer, explain how it is made for durability, how easily it will clean, tell you the price, and answer any questions you have.

They educated you on everything they have available to allow you to make a decision. You may decide that you need to keep looking at other stores, but eventually you will have enough information to buy what you want and can afford.

The same goes for consultants. A good consultant working with a client will identify issues at the client where the firm can assist. She will ask the client questions that identify areas of pain for opportunities to help.

She will then provide information about possible solutions where the firm can help. By educating the client, the client has the information needed to decide whether to move forward with your solution.

Selling is a natural extension of consulting and a critical skill.

Conclusion

Every firm has different criteria for deciding who they hire. But they all focus on some core skills in every consultant. They know that a consultant has to have some area of expertise, the ability to communicate it, and the ability to sell that expertise for the firm and the consultant to grow.

It is critical for the candidate to demonstrate those skills during the interview process for any chance to become a consultant for a management consulting firm.

Which skills do you need to work on?

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Related Posts
A Mentoring Role Reversal
Most of us have had some exposure to a mentoring program.  Many companies implement programs at various levels of formality and to various levels of success. Some organizations establish formal policies ...
READ MORE
Are You Really Too Busy?
I didn’t get a chance to get to that. I’m so busy, it’s on my list, I’m just buried in work. I didn’t see that email in my overflowing inbox.  When did ...
READ MORE
Follow Through – Just Go To Benson
I grew up attending a small school district which was the consolidation of two small towns.  What is nowadays called middle school was called junior high school back then.  The ...
READ MORE
What Are the Benefits of an MBA?
Having studied business as a minor during my undergraduate studies, and later getting an MBA, I’ve often wondered about the value of the business classes I’ve taken. My undergraduate major was ...
READ MORE
How I Learned that Burning Bridges is A Career Limiting Move
When I was in high school, I had a job at a restaurant. At one point, being a mature 16-year old, I wanted to quit. I didn't just want to ...
READ MORE
Travel Expectations for the Nomad Consultant
In last week’s blog on business travel for consultants I discussed when and why travel is required of consultants and described how the work week is often scheduled.  This week, ...
READ MORE
The Lost Art of Saying Thank You
I have three kids whose ages range from nine to sixteen.   Whenever they receive a gift, whether it’s from a family member, a friend of the family or one of ...
READ MORE
10 Ways to Have a Successful first Year of Consulting
The most common feedback I get from my book Consulting 101, or from this blog, comes from experienced consultants. Invariably, they say something like, "That's great advice. I wish I ...
READ MORE
4 Ways the World is Changing In front of Your Eyes
Over the 1980s and 1990s, we watched the phenomenon of the Walmart revolution. New stores opened at an amazing clip while people flocked there for their low prices to buy ...
READ MORE
Hallway Conversations
The work from home trend has taken off. According to CNN Money, the number of people telecommuting has increased 115% in the last decade. A number of indicators show that that ...
READ MORE
A Mentoring Role Reversal
Are You Really Too Busy?
Follow Through – Just Go To Benson
What Are the Benefits of an MBA?
How I Learned that Burning Bridges is A
Travel Expectations for the Nomad Consultant
The Lost Art of Saying Thank You
10 Ways to Have a Successful first Year
4 Ways the World is Changing In front
The Lost Art of Hallway Conversations