This week, join us for a discussion about Haas, McCombs, consulting, and case interviews.
Meet Erin Robinson, Destin Whitehurst, and Robin Ligon, the team behind Consulting Interview Coach. [0:45]
All three have extensive experience in consulting prior to starting their MBAs – Erin and Destin at Deloitte and Robin at McKinsey. And all three are currently first-year MBA students – Erin and Robin at Haas, and Destin at McCombs. Welcome!
What is Consulting Interview Coach? [1:30]
It’s an interview training service to prepare candidates for the case interview method. They also provide behavioral interview prep, resume and cover letter review. All three coaches have experience as recruiters and consultants.
How did they found this company? [2:43]
Destin and Erin started the company. They were thinking about ways to give back and help other candidates while also creating a venture during b-school. And they wanted something that would draw on their consulting skills. Robin joined the company this year – he had previously worked with candidates in Belgium.
What are firms looking for? [4:50]
The case interview screens for intellectual horsepower and problem solving skills – there’s not always a right answer to the question. The other big point of the interview is identifying candidates’ cultural fit with the firm. Some of that also comes across in a behavioral interview or in networking events. (And it’s one reason why networking events are important – so that candidates can get a read on the firm’s culture and understand whether it’s a good fit.)
Since “culture” can sound intangible, what are some ways to understand it? [6:45]
The firm’s work culture has to do with how consultants operate — whether they take a more academic approach, more time doing research, etc, or spend more time in the field with the client, for example. Another aspect is the tone of the work interaction: competitive? Cooperative? Team-oriented? Networking events can help you get a feel for firm’s corporate culture.
Their book: 20 Days to Ace the Case [10:00]
It’s a 20-day boot camp to prep for the case interview. (It also contains advice about consulting in general.) The book features industry insights, firm profiles, etc. It provides a structure for candidates. Their preparation strategy focuses on critical thinking, not memorization – the goal is to fit the framework to the case, not the case to the framework. They also provide profiles of successful candidates, networking tips, behavioral interview tips, etc.
Does the book give cultural insight on firms? [13:25]
It lets consultants speak about their experiences. But networking is really the best way to learn a firm’s culture.
Robin and Erin are first years at Haas. What’s going well and has met/exceeded expectations? [14:22]
Robin: The professors are really accessible, the classmates are great, and the location is ideal.
Erin: The way the classes are taught (discussion more than lecture) allows for exciting exchange of perspectives. And the class is diverse.
Anything they would change/improve? [17:30]
Erin: Because Berkeley’s a public university, it can be a little resource constrained.
Robin: There can be some extra challenges for international students.
Destin is a first-year student at McCombs. What’s going well and has met/exceeded expectations? [19:00]
There are great opportunities for experiential learning. Austin is a start-up hub, and there’s great support from professors and the community for entrepreneurs.
Anything he would change/improve? [20:40]
He wishes the school would try to brand itself as an entrepreneurial school.
Any surprises in b-school so far? [21:40]
Robin: The small size of the program at Haas makes it intimate and integrated. The profs are really approachable – it’s a great opportunity to have drinks/dinner with top scholars.
Destin: Working in consulting, the long hours didn’t allow me to spend time on personal interests. So having time to explore opportunities is exciting.
Erin: Adapting to change is never easy – moving to a new part of the country and adapting to a new place and lifestyle is a process.
Any unique challenges for international MBAs? [24:40]
Robin: UC Berkeley has a great international office, providing help with visas, etc. But coming to the US as an international student is a long administrative process. And finding an internship without a green card is a little challenging, since many companies prefer candidates who have permanent residency.
Pre-MBA, Erin spent 4 months at Bodhi Surf School in Costa Rica, surfing and doing yoga. [26:40]
She knew she wanted a break from consulting, pre-grad school, and this was the lifestyle change she’d been looking for. The experience taught her about personally taking risks. Destin went as well.
Common pop culture misconceptions about consulting? [30:30]
1. The glamorous lifestyle. Most consultants aren’t living it up in luxury hotels on the beach.
2. The theme of tricking clients into paying more. In fact, the process is about solving problems together with the client.
What mistakes do candidates make during recruiting? [32:20]
Robin: Not being humble enough or friendly enough. Remember that the recruiters are looking for people they want to work with, not just the smartest people.
Erin: Not laying groundwork. The networking you do before the interview is important – building advocates in the firm.
Destin: Many candidates are afraid to practice live interviews. Doing mock interviews is vital – it helps you be more relaxed and natural.
Advice for MBA applicants [36:45]
Erin: Self-reflection. You need to know exactly what you want to get out of the MBA process.
Destin: Give the application process everything you have. Prepare for the GMAT/GRE and get the best score you can; research schools. Put yourself in the best position for success.
Future plans post-MBA [39:35]
Robin: Plans to return to McKinsey
Destin: Hopes to pursue entrepreneurship but may return to consulting
Erin: Plans to return to consulting but in a new area: social impact. Also concerned with women’s leadership and wants to continue working on that.
• Consulting Interview Services
• The Case Interview: 20 Days to Ace the Case
• What’s it Really Like for Women in Consulting?
• Is ‘House of Lies’ an accurate portrayal of management consulting?
• Business School Interviews – Resource Page
• MBA Interview Prep – Free Guide
• Consulting at Top MBA Programs
• Consultants, Here’s a Guide Written Specifically for You!
• The Lauder Institute Changes to Reflect the World
• The Schwarzman Scholars Program: Leaders of the Future Unite
• An HBS Student Helping HBS Applicants
• What’s Important In MBA Admissions? With Rotman’s Niki da Silva
• Linda Abraham’s Admissions Assortment
• How to Become a Management Consultant