The Consulting Guide

How do you pick the right stories to share in fit interviews?

Kenton Kivestu, ex-Google, ex-BCG, Founder at RocketBlocks
Published: April 27, 2017 | Last updated: May 29, 2019

There are lots of significant differences between the case interview and the fit portion interview, but primary realization is that the fit portion of an interview is driven by you

While the interviewer asks the question (e.g., "Tell me about X role or accomplishment..."), you get the latitude to pick the best story that will ultimately answer the question. But remember that with great power, comees great responsibility and the onus is on you to pick an anecdote with 1) truly answers the question and 2) shows off your best attributes.

How to find the right stories?

One great way to do this is to go through your resume (and career to date) and think about both the highlights and the lowlights. If you forced yourself to summarize the resume (which in turn should be a career highlights summary) without the use of school names and company brands, what key things would you highlight?

Defining moments

The key is to tease out the defining moments of those experiences. The removal of brand / school names here is critical. While it might be nice that you went to Harvard or worked at Google before business school, at most it's just a signal.

For example, what lasting mark did you leave on Harvard or Google? What did you accomplish in your time there? If you're struggling to separate the wheat from the chaff, consider asking your friends or family or significant other (basically just someone who knows you well). The question should be: what professional stories about me stick out to you? This exercise has hidden benefits. If other people remember details, likely the story is not boring and has some "sticking power."

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Authentic examples

You don't need a fancy or outlandish or extreme story. What you want are genuine, authentic stories that highlight your accomplishments, talents and ability to drive results.

Many candidates fear that if they don't have some incredible story, they won't catch the interviewers attention. As a result, they stretch the truth and often get "caught" when the interviewer probes for additional detail and specific actions taken. Nothing will kill a candidates chances faster than this.

Instead, focus on finding accurate, high impact examples from your past experiences and detail the specific actions you took to drive good results.

"Sometimes candidates come into these interviews and treat it like a video game - as if there is some sort of secret code and if they just hit the buttons in the right order, they'll get the offer."
Steve Kenning, former Bain & Co consultant

Finally, don't be afraid to paint an authentic view of yourself. Everyone knows no candidate is perfect and what resonates is often authenticity. For more on the power of authenticity, see our detailed discussion with former Bain & Co. Consultant, Steve Kenning.

Identify specifc, impact driving actions you took

Finally, ensure the stories you are selecting have a great impact that you can point to. Specifically, you want to find examples where you significantly changed the outcome for the better. Would the same result occurred if you hadn't been involved? Did the event result in meaningful learning for you, your team, your company or your industry? If yes to any of those, you've likely found a great story to tell.

It's important to remember that a story where you've got clear actions that drove a great impact is almost always better than a story about a phenomenal result you were affiliated with (e.g., my team/company/division accomplished some incredible goal). The consulting firms don't want to hear about success stories you were loosely affiliated with, they want to hear about success outcomes that you specifically drove.

For a deeper dive on the above topic, check out the below summary where I go into more detail:

Telling vs. selling
Once you've got the right stories selected, you need to spend time thinking about not just how to tell the story but how to sell that story to the firm. You not only want them to comprehend the key pieces of any given story, but you want them to be thinking: "Yes, that's exactly the type of attitude / skillset / drive / leadership that we could've used on my last case!"

P.S. Are you preparing for consulting interviews?

Real interview drills. Sample answers from ex-McKinsey, BCG and Bain consultants. Plus technique overviews and premium 1-on-1 Expert coaching.