Matthew Calvert is an ex-Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Consultant and a RocketBlocks expert.
In this post, we'll hear about how Matthew prepped for his consulting interviews, what worked and what didn't, and the advice he has for candidates who are in the thick of the interview process.
I have a bit of a unique background. Right out of college, I did Teach for America where I taught third grade in Chicago. After teaching, I co-founded and operated a startup for a year and also worked at a venture philanthropy nonprofit organization.
After these varied experiences, I decided that I wanted to further my education with a dual MPP/MBA at Duke University. Following my MBA, I knew that consulting would be the best next step because it would allow me to gain experience across different industries and functional areas.
The first step I took to begin my interview prep was to speak with second-years at Fuqua who had been successful in their consulting interviews. I spoke with folks from different firms and tried to seek out different personalities as well. The first goal of these conversations was to understand how the interview process went for them and to learn about their prep process as well as what resources they used.
The next step for me was attending the weekly casing class that Fuqua held for first year students. I realize this is not available for everyone, especially those preparing for consulting interviews outside of an MBA program. The class began by showing what a mock case interview looked like and then broke casing down into its component parts such as frameworking, math, etc.
These session helped me to understand the purpose of each section of the case, how they fit together, and what was expected from the interviewee. I then took time to practice each of the sections using RocketBlocks. The drills and videos on RocketBlocks allowed me to learn and feel comfortable with each of the “pieces” of casing so that when it came time to practice an entire case, I felt comfortable.
I spent about 3 months preparing for interviews. In the beginning, the prep was just a couple hours a week as I was initially focused on networking and earning interview invites. I would create a schedule for the week that had goals such as “practice 10 frameworks” or “do 3 brainstorming prompts 3x this week”.
Having specific goals allowed me to feel that I was progressing on my prep without feeling overwhelmed. As networking wound down, my preparation grew. Overall, I did around 40 cases total. The right number of cases varies for each person. That number felt right to me because I spaced out my prep over months and never did more than 2-3 cases in a day.
I also made sure to give myself time to review and even re-do cases if I felt like I struggled with them. I’d always go back and create a new framework or see where I could improve my math.
I created a feedback form that I would give to my mock interviewers. It broke the case down into the following sections: Prompt/questions, framework, math, exhibits, brainstorming, conclusion. I would ask for feedback on each section as well as general areas where I could improve. This helped my interviewers give specific feedback on each section. I also kept a case log that would track all of my cases and where I needed to improve.
To practice, I used RocketBlocks drills for areas that I felt needed improvement. I must’ve done 100s of frameworks because I felt that was an important area that I struggled with early on. I also would go back to sections of cases and rework them. I felt like doing a framework, math section, or brainstorming over again gave me an opportunity to feel like I was redoing a case.
I believe breaking the case into its component parts and practicing with classmates and on RocketBlocks was the most impactful part of my prep. Doing this allowed me to feel comfortable on each part of the case. I felt like I was able to be myself and more conversational without stressing about a certain part of the case.
There are a few big time wastes in my mind. First, do not case with people who don’t give you good and honest feedback. If you case with someone and they’re giving you generic feedback like “it was good”, push for more specific feedback or don’t case with them again.
Giving good feedback can be modeled and you can show people the type of feedback you want, but if they are unable to provide that for you, don’t waste your time! Early on, I struggled with frameworking — I’d spend time thinking of the most creative and specific framework to impress the interviewer and then run out of time. A second year gave me the advice to create the framework that would help me to solve the case not to impress the interviewer and that was incredibly helpful for me.
Another waste of time and energy is trying to cram 4+ cases in one sitting. Cases are mentally draining and they each deserve time and attention. Cramming often leads to sloppy cases where you learn less and don’t give yourself a good benchmark for where you really are at.
Lastly, I think market sizing / super complex mental can be overwhelming and time consuming. I did a few of these practice problems in the off chance I got an interview question like these but I did not spend too much time on them. Very few of my classmates and colleagues ever got one of these questions.
I felt confident going into interviews. I was fortunate to be interviewing with a few firms so I had a few opportunities on the table.
I had heard from second years at Fuqua how important it was to project confidence during interviews. After all, the case interview is an opportunity to show consulting firms how you think AND how you are able to handle a potentially stressful client interaction.
In the days leading up to my interviews, I significantly tapered down my preparation and did some intentionally easy cases to further build my confidence. Another tactic I used to build confidence was to film myself during cases. I was able to see the growth from early cases to my last cases which was empowering.
I wish I had a better story to share here but my interview cycle was pretty uneventful. The worst thing I can remember was making a math error in a final round of the written case ection. I realized during my behavioral interview that I made the error and I brought it up. The interviewer appreciated my correction and we moved on from it.
I would give the advice to be yourself and don’t become a casing robot. Interviewers are often giving the same case over and over again which can become tedious. Bringing in your own personality and insights is what will make you stand out. Whether you’ve done 2 cases or 200, remember to be yourself and project confidence in your interview!
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