IIM Calcutta Student’s Strategy To Crack Consulting Interviews And His BCG PPO Story

Charneet is a PGP-II student at IIM Calcutta with a PPO from the prestigious Boston Consulting Group. Prior to coming to IIM-C, Charneet graduated in Computer Science from IIIT Hyderabad and worked for a couple of years with Amazon. He is a fitness enthusiast, loves to play football and a budding traveller.

 

Q. Hey, Charneet! Thanks for doing this. Let’s get this started. Can you describe the overall process?

A. Haha. No issues mate! The overall process can be described in 2 parts:

1. Firstly, CV preparation and applying for the companies – Here you prepare a 1 page CV describing yourself to the best of your ability, preferably quantifying your achievements thereby showing your result-oriented approach. The thing is that most of the major consulting firms need only your CV for the shortlisting phase, but some might have an additional stage like an online test too.

2. The next one is Interview preparation – After the shortlisting phase, you need to prepare for the interviews. Here the preparation can again be classified into 2 parts:

a. Personals – For this, you need to know about yourself like what your strengths are, what motivates you, etc. but you also need to able to articulate your answers. This is the key.

b. Case/guesstimates – This tests your problem-solving approach. Most of the case questions do not give out much information, hence testing your ability to deal with uncertain situations and ask the right questions. This part requires prior practice if not well acquainted I guess.

 

Q. That was pretty extensive. Now, can you shed some light on how you prepared for the interview?

A. Initially, I entirely focused all my efforts in CV preparation, taking help from seniors and peers. Here I started with a Master CV, which is typically 4-5 pages long and is eventually trimmed down a single page. I only started my interview preparation post the shortlisting phase, as there is ample time till the actual interview takes place. For the preparation, we formed study groups amongst ourselves in the batch and used to regularly solve mock cases trying to simulate the interview environment. That’s about it I guess.

 

Q. Can you also shed some light on some good sources to prepare from?

A. (Smiling) Of course. One very popular source is the book “Case in Point”. Also, most premium B-schools publish casebooks, which detail out the interview experiences of students from previous years. Another source I referred to was caseinterview.com, which I found quite useful. Also, quite a few online guides are available on websites for instance, InsideIIM.

 

Q. Cool. Now, how was your interview experience with BCG?

A. I had only 1 interview with the company. It started with the typical “Tell me about yourself”. Then the interview moved on to a profitability case. Here the emphasis was not to arrive at the right answer but to structure the problem correctly, ask the right questions and focus on the right things. The interviewer was really friendly and guided me wherever necessary. All in all, the interview experience was great. I enjoyed it.

 

Q.Haha. I am sure so did they. Now the important one. Some dos and don’ts?

A. Try to think through your answers. It is completely acceptable to ask the interviewer a minute or so incase you are stuck. It would help to keep a smile on your face. It shows the interviewer that you are not under stress and secondly, it also helps keep you calm. Other than the above, one should keep things in perspective remembering that it’s just an interview after all.

 

Q. That’s great. No wonder you got the PPO. Finally, why consulting?

A. Consulting for me was always my preferred field even before coming to IIM-C. Having worked before, I realized that working at the same place, in the same field was never my cup of tea. Consulting provided me a break from that. I got to test this hypothesis during my summer internship, where I was given an independent assignment. Though challenging at first, I loved the whole experience, which can be summarized by this 1 statement – “Work hard, party harder”. Chalo now, let’s go play football.

 

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About the Author:

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I am a graduate of NIT Karnataka, Surathkal. Post which I got into IIM Calcutta. I did my summer internship at Axis Bank. Right now, obsessed with Quora, Twitter and the song in my head – Zombie. Basically, a ‘fly in the fourth wall’ trying to make sense of the personified version between imagination and reality. Sometimes, I also go by the name – RedTooth, Eight Samurai, Invisible Hand.

Niteen Bali

Student at Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

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